The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update


September 26, 2013

Viewpoint: College students should be given choice

By Carole Carlson Anderson resident


Shocking! As one who was growing up in a truly free place where my life and non-criminal choices were treated with respect, I knew I’d never be a Communist.

There’s another interesting angle to this incident. The library director was a longtime card-carrying member of the American Socialist Party. Her party was as valid as the Democrats and Republicans. As long as she did nothing traitorous or seditious, nor advocated that others do these things, she was legal.

Now comes ex-Gov. Mitch Daniels, who thinks that Howard Zinn’s 1980 book “People’s History of the United States” is “crap” and should be removed from a Purdue University class’s suggested reading list. Instead, he thinks the students should be reading Reagan cabinet member Bill Bennett’s book on public education, “The Last Best Hope.”

Well, here’s my crazy idea: How about Purdue students reading both of them? In a democracy you can find every opinion, because we don’t practice what Daniels is proposing: Censorship. Ergo, you’re going to (supposed to, anyway) respect every opinion whether you agree with it or not. And you’re going to respect the ability of most college students — observant, speculative, young adults — to decide for themselves. They’re preparing for a lifetime of independent thinking and discussion, just as the authors of the U. S. Constitution wanted them to.

When I was studying journalism in Missouri long ago, the university encouraged us to take courses all over the campus on many subjects. In our careers we’d write about everything on earth and authentically present all points of view whether we agreed with them or not.

Now if Purdue has a Modern Germany history class, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” may be on the suggested reading list. It was when I want to college, and none of us in that class started wearing Nazi armbands.

In short, Daniels insulted American college students’ intelligence. Ironically, he also may have gotten Zinn’s book back on the “best seller” list. Daniels’ comments got full coverage in all varieties of the American news media. Hooray for press freedom. Maybe even more free Americans will go to a free library and check out that book.

Naturally. Decide for themselves. That’s how this country rolls.

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