Chautauqua should embrace diversity | News, Sports, Jobs
All Chautauquans are grateful for the expressions of support for Mr. Rushdie, Mr. Reese and their families. The attack was an atrocity.
I want to correct some inaccuracies in the institution’s statements. Mention is made of the expressions of WSJ editor Latour, who admittedly hadn’t been in the field for years, as well as “others who had never heard of Chautauqua” and the “resulting glowing and even poetic descriptions of Chautauqua and our mission” who followed. I respectfully suggest that these opinions based on a printed document “assignment” look really good on paper, but just aren’t based on fact.
Factual descriptions would imply first-hand knowledge. It is therefore curious that the administration finds Jason Riley’s op-ed piece so worthy of distinction as “standing in stark contrast” to those others, especially since he is the ONLY person referenced here who has actually been in the field for the past few years, and lived through the “assignment” as it exists today.
There is reference to the “150 forward” plan in government communications – and the word DIVERSITY pops up everywhere. Miriam-Webster defines diversity in two ways – “the inclusion of people of different races”and “an example of being composed of different elements or qualities…..diversity of opinion”. It is the second that creates the problems addressed by Mr. Riley and shared by hundreds of Chautauquans.
The Chautauqua conference platform has always been the place where we could hear all sides of the issues and policies – those we agree with and those we disagree with…those we know and those we had never heard of before…the education the community received was surprising in its inclusion of every point of view on the stated topic. Government officials, corporate presidents, nonprofit presenters and other experts in their fields ensured that issues were explored and discussed, and questions asked and answered from all sides. problems.
Here are some examples of the 2022 conference platform:
Week 1 – America’s Role in the World
Was there a conference criticizing the approach of the current administration? NOPE
Is there reason to debate the effect of the US energy shutdown on our European allies? YES
Is there reason to discuss the effects of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the new “wake up” military” YES
Is there reason to discuss the effects of the current approach to China? YES
Week 3 – The Future of Human Rights’
Have there been discussions about guaranteeing the rights of African Americans, LGBT people, cultural minorities? YES
Has Jason Riley been asked to discuss his book, “Please stop helping us” Where “False Black Power” – the two books that explain how current policies prevent minorities from thriving and having a chance to realize the American dream? NOPE
Week 5 – Voting and Democracy
Was there a discussion about January 6? YES
Were there any discussions of events that contributed to the controversies surrounding the 2020 elections, such as changes to state election laws that some considered unconstitutional? NOPE
Wouldn’t that have been a good time and a good place to hear what the “The other half” of America thinks it happened, even though we don’t agree with it? YES
The Chautauqua Institution has earned its unique position as a center for dialogue, education, and change by facilitating discussion of government attitudes, policies, and activities from all perspectives. In the past, the amphitheater has hosted important speakers from all walks of life, and those of us who have had the privilege of occupying the seats have come away with a deeper understanding of the thoughts behind the policies. There was not “right” Where “left” presented as facts – only as opinions to be heard, discussed and even challenged.
The administration said it wants diversity and breadth of opinion expressed from the amphitheater stage. It was declared to a group of Chautauquans seeking education who met with the administration 2 years ago. Yet these voices continue to be ignored.
What is the administration afraid of? Are they afraid of“wake up” will the agenda not stand up to dialogue and debate? Do they think the Chautauquans aren’t smart enough to handle controversial topics? Do they fear that their power will be diminished if other opinions are heard?
Do they have a fundamental lack of respect for the Chautauquans who have expressed their deep commitment to fair and open dialogue on issues?
The existence and future of the Chautauqua Institution hangs in the balance. We all understand that the nature of experience has changed over the years, and we all understand how changing demographics and lifestyles have impacted on the institution’s marketing and financial health. But access to diversity on the conferencing platform doesn’t need to change!!
The cost of speakers “for” a subject and “versus” a subject is the same as 2 speakers on the same side! Why not have the courage to let the diversity of opinions reign in Chautauqua? Why not become known as the “The administration that saved free speech in Chautauqua”? This can be their legacy!
Frances Roberts is a resident of Northport.