A couple of weeks ago, Amber Rudd was no-platformed at Oxford University some thirty minutes before she was due to give speech in honour of International Women’s Day. This was done in protest by some students and the appearance was pulled.
I’ve thought about it a lot, straddled both sides of the fence.
Society… we function as extensions of each other’s actions; the reason we thrive is that we make room for other schools of thoughts. Whilst these need not be so radical as to cause human destruction they in turn should be nuanced and to a great extent challenging as to invite a healthy discourse. I’d be remiss to dismiss the points of view of those protesting Rudd’s attendance and to a great extent, understand their reasoning- smarting from her involvement in the Windrush scandal for one- but there is also a fundamental need to engage in conversation or not deny others who want to. The freewill to exercise would be to avoid attending the event.
With actions like these, we run the risk of becoming a linear society that has no room for corners, which in itself is a danger that gives room to extremism. Energies are usurped in a pointless war. Regardless of ideological differences or political views one must not recline so far as to almost fall into the potholes of rigidness. As humans beings we have a lot more in common than that which divides us; if only for the simple fact that we are not running around trying to off each other .
To treat a fellow human as a scourge because of actions or lack thereof without the room for challenge does a disservice to society. Rather than no-platforming Rudd, she ought to have been allowed to speak as planned and following that, engaged in a discussion where her alleged actions could have been challenged. She is of a particular ilk, belongs to a class that wields power and is often more likely never to be found wanting for wrong doings and yet, suppressing her in such a way remains problematic. It insults the intelligence of the wider audience and it weakens us. We should be tolerant enough to challenge thought provoking conversations, make space for people whom we want to hold to account otherwise we run the risk of living in a society that only has room for people who look and sound like us.
We do not have to agree on everything in order to coexist, for it is in our difference that we forge partnerships and understanding that make us a part of the society we hope to leave behind; one of healthy conversations, debate, and challenges that help us grow. To be challenged, to express a different opinion, to see things from a different perspective etc. promotes mutual understanding and respect for one another and surely in the light of the world today, that is something we should all be working towards. Regardless of our political dispositions.