One of the biggest criticisms conservatives have for people on the left is that they avoid engaging in honest debate.
We excoriate leftists for preventing people from giving arguments with which they disagree. We craft insightful polemics decrying the left for running away from arguments that contradict their views — and rightly so. But is it only leftists that avoid debate?
I’m going to be blunt. This happens on the right, too.
While most conservatives are more than willing to have our views challenged — there are some who aren’t comfortable with discussing controversial issues. Unfortunately, conservative pundit Tomi Lahren exhibited this behavior in a recent speaking engagement when some individuals wanted to question her stance on abortion.
Tomi Lahren’s Stance On Abortion
Earlier this year, Tomi Lahren revealed that she is pro-choice in an appearance on “The View.” She stated that the government should not be able to decide what women do with their bodies. “You know what? I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well,” she said.
She later defended her stance in a post on Twitter. “Listen, I am not glorifying abortion,” she wrote. “I don’t personally advocate for it. I just don’t think it’s the government’s place to dictate.”
Since expressing her views on abortion, Lahren has come under fire for her remarks from prominent conservatives.
Lahren Avoids Questions On Abortion
Lahren recently spoke at a conference held by conservative group Turning Point USA with founder Charlie Kirk. During the Q&A, attendees were allowed to ask questions. However, some attendees were not able to ask questions about Lahren’s stance on abortion.
Chloe Knox, a law student at Baylor University, was one of the individuals whose question was rebuffed. She took to Twitter to criticize Lahren’s avoidance. “I was just told I could not ask @TomiLahren my question at #SAS2017 because @charliekirk11 and Lahren don’t want to address the abortion issue,” she wrote.
Liberty Nation reached out to Ms. Knox to get the whole story. When asked about the incident, she said:
“Essentially, TPUSA staff members vetted questions for Tomi Lahren’s Q&A, something not done for other speakers. I had my question typed up, and after reading it, the staff said that Charlie and Tomi did not want abortion questions to be asked. When I pressed him further, he claimed that it was controversial, and they’d rather stick to issues about the economy, and the 1st and 2nd amendments.”
Believing the staff’s answer to be a mistake, Knox told him where she was sitting so that he could approach her to ask the question. He told her that he would check to see if they would allow the question and get back to her, but it appears he never returned. “I watched him continue to reject attendees, as they walked back to their seats after talking with him,” she said. “They were clearly upset as well.”
Afterwards, Knox overheard some other individuals who were discussing their questions being rejected as well. They decided to address the issue with Charlie Kirk. “While walking out, I heard a few discussing their denials, and that’s when we banded together to address Charlie,” she said. “He apologized, blaming it on a ‘communication error.’”
Conservatives Can’t Afford To Act Like The Left
As Knox said, Kirk did apologize for the mishap — and Knox accepted it — but there is no reason why this should have happened at a conservative event. We routinely criticize the left for refusing to engage in debate on critical issues — we must make sure that we do not fall into the same habit.
The staff member told Knox that they were avoiding the abortion issue because it is controversial, but they also discussed the First and Second Amendments, which carry their own level of controversy. The idea that a conservative group would avoid discussing abortion because of its controversial nature is disturbing.
As conservatives, we pride ourselves on being unafraid to tackle difficult issues. Moreover, we don’t just believe that free speech should be protected by the law, we also believe that those who have an opinion should be allowed — even encouraged, to share it. Knox and the other attendees should not have had their questions rejected. Although she disagrees with Lahren’s stance on abortion, Knox was merely attempting to engage in a dialogue on the subject. “This was not me attempting to corner her—this was me attempting to engage in a fruitful discussion to better equip myself for the future,” she said.
It’s not clear whether questions regarding abortion were rejected at Lahren’s behest, or if the decision was made by Turning Point USA. However, the fact that Lahren blocked Knox on Twitter because of her criticism indicates that she is unable or unwilling to engage with those with whom she disagrees. It’s yet another behavior we often see on the left.
Let’s face it. We are in the midst of a culture war. The left has control of our universities, entertainment industry, and our news media. Conservatives can’t gain the upper hand if we are not willing to tackle the tough issues. We do not value those who avoid dialogue and debate, and neither does the rest of the American public.
It’s not enough to just attack the left’s ideas. If we want to gain the upper hand in the culture war, we must be able to defend our ideology. Let’s not shy away from controversial issues. Otherwise, we will allow the left to dominate the conversation.