When the Georgetown Academy appeared to be making a comeback on campus this fall, we were initially hopeful that it would effectively fill a needed role on campus: that of the sober, dispassionate observer with a strong and principled conservative take on events. We expected it to publish thoughtful articles on Georgetown culture in the same tradition as publications such as “First Things” or works such as Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind.” Unfortunately, those hopes have been dashed. The Georgetown Academy in its current iteration is an example of the petty, ill-tempered, Twitter-age keyboard warfare that has become so common in today’s discourse. While we are sure that the authors are seeking to espouse what they see as strong conservative principles and are duly devoted to their cause, this commitment to principle is overshadowed by bombastic rhetoric and personal attacks on individual students.
The Academy does very little to advance conservative thought or principles on campus. It merely fulfills liberal stereotypes that we conservatives are angry and bigoted. This is not true conservatism, and it is shameful that a publication with such potential makes a mockery of the conservative ethos. It is always acceptable to disagree, but in that disagreement, one must never be disagreeable. Unfortunately, the Academy’s disagreement with many aspects of campus life is presented in a highly disagreeable style. Examples include, but are not limited to, the use of inappropriate GIF images in a recent article entitled “Punishing Speech and Expression” and recent comments made by the official Academy Facebook account regarding a student’s ethnic background and worthiness of their admittance to Georgetown. No movement or idea is beyond reproach; however, the content of such criticism must be measured, sober and respectful. This is not to say that criticism should not be sharp; sometimes, forceful pushback is necessary. However, such forceful pushback must be delivered with a positive and optimistic tone, rather than one tinged with acid and bordering on sarcastic dismissal.
Moreover, the current version of the Academy betrays its own roots. Through the past few decades, the Academy has cropped up on campus from time to time, always commentating from a conservative angle, but never in its current form. The Academy was founded as a high-minded and optimistic publication and has now sunk to a low, making anonymous, racially-charged comments over social media. This is antithetical to everything the Academy should be. It should provide a positive, optimistic viewpoint presenting constructive suggestions on campus culture, but has continually failed to do so.
Furthermore, the Academy considers its often offensive rhetoric to be merely satirical. It claims to delight in ruffling the feathers of oversensitive liberals and watching the righteous indignation that ensues. While there is certainly merit in lampooning the campus left from time to time, this must be done with a fine instrument, rather than the clumsy rhetorical sledgehammer currently wielded by the Academy writers. Good satire requires a certain wit. Unfortunately, the Academy has lately proven itself to be more foot-in-mouth than tongue-in-cheek.
Anyone can throw around slogans devoid of substance, argue with students over Facebook and resort to ad hominem attacks. The Academy should rise above such nonsense, winning converts to its line of thinking through the strength and eloquence of its ideas. If it truly wants to change the campus culture, it will put forward philosophically sound and dignified articles, rather than the low, reactionary invective that it is currently producing.
Patrick Musgrave is a senior in the College and the former President of the Georgetown University College Republicans. Ken Nunnenkamp is a senior in the College
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