Harding University is aptly being referred to as Fox News University; if you are associated with this highly conservative school or know much about its right-wing values, this point does not shock you. It appears that Harding enjoys educating the masses on how not to be balanced when it comes to various points of view. Let me be clear here: I am speaking of its prestigious American Studies Institute, a quasi think tank that hosts a speaker forum that has included the likes of former Soviet Union premier, Mikhail Gorbachev…whom I had the chance to hear speak. However, they have also brought in or invited the likes of ideological pundits who offer very little to intellectual discourse such as, Laura Ingram, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity. I am not speaking about all members of the faculty at HU. There are a number that encourage students not to hold true to certain values because they appear to be ubiquitous or institutional.
Keep in mind, they have brought in speakers that add some semblance of value to the academic cultivation of thinking. This past April George W. Bush was the speaker; I most recently used him as an example of how parties can shift one’s ideology too far in one direction. Case in point: the Republican Party has become known as an ideological right-wing party that caters to its base: white, religious Christian, upper middle class, and anti-federal government. The same can be said of the Democratic Party that caters to those who favor taxing the wealthy, expanding social reforms to the masses, and employing a system of greater pluralism.
There are two things Bush did during his speech that impressed me:
1. He stated that he would not take punches at Obama — which of course the highly right-wing audience wanted him to do (see video here).
2.When asked about religion and politics, Bush stated “I think it’s really important for the United States of America never to lose the vision that we can worship any way we want to in America. You can be a Jew, Christian, Muslim, nothing, and you are equal. That is vital freedom, an essential freedom, to the future of this country.”
Point #2 is a great point; it is one that speaks to the beauty of American pluralism. Bush realizes that he can be a leader and speak to the processes of America without fear of “others” pushing him farther to the right. In the end, the United States is a liberal nation; if one disagrees with this, I recommend reading the Bill of Rights.