Across the Aisle 3/8-3/12

By Kanika Tiwari

Welcome back to Across the Aisle! For this week, we will look at a Twitch stream by the Neoliberal Project having what they call an "Anti-Debate," an opinion piece by former editor and writer for the New York Times, Bari Weiss, and a conversation between Representative Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) on the impact of COVID-19 on education.

First up is an "Anti-Debate," hosted by the Neoliberal Project. The debate occurred between Jeremiah from the Neoliberal Project and Dylan Burns (DylanBurnsTV on Youtube) on the subject "Should the Democrats be less woke?" The idea of the Anti-Debate is to come to some level of agreement between two sides, instead of trying to score points or own the other side. The goals are to come to some level of understanding of the other side's position, stay civil in discussion, and agree on some parts of what was discussed. Jeremiah took the position that "Democrats should be less woke," and Dylan took the opposite position, that wokeness is a "positive thing" for Democrats to be. Dylan notes that "woke" as a term has become pejorative in nature, akin to SJW, indicative of purity testing. He sees it as someone "socially progressive," "trying to be careful with their language" and "trying to cause the least harm and accept vulnerable community groups." When Jeremiah thinks of wokeness he thinks of "cultural battles that...[are] linked with the progressive movement and mostly progressive social issues," but for him, "woke viewpoints" are involved with "wedge issues that are cultural issues." At the end of their conversation, Dylan and Jeremiah are able to explain each others' points of view and come to a point of agreement. This model seems to be a healthier way of having a political discussion, and these two model the respect and base understanding that I wish to see in future political conversations.

Up next is an opinion piece in DeseretNews by former New York Times writer Bari Weiss entitled "The self-silencing majority." Weiss makes the case that people on all points on the political spectrum find themselves practicing self-censorship. The piece focuses on the recent rise of "cancel culture," and what Weiss sees as the detrimental effects of such thinking. She describes an "illiberal orthodoxy" that, in her view, seemingly speaks of progress, but in reality, holds the goals of "canceling" those who do not conform to their views.

Finally, we listen to a conversation between Representative Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) on "the impact of COVID on education, virtual learning, and how to safely reopen schools." Their discussion focused on "learning loss," internet difficulties students faced, mental health concerns in students, and other challenges students have faced over the pandemic. This video also serves to inform the public on how to safely reopen schools, the safest ways for students to participate in extracurricular activities, and how the government can help schools keep students safe. Rep. Miller-Meeks makes the point that the discussion among state and federal governments on how they can make the transition to in-person learning "needs to be apolitical because the science is dictating this." Senator Kaine discusses the racial disparities in COVID cases and the disproportionate economic effect this pandemic has had on those communities. Rep. Miller-Meeks also makes the point that students should have access to mental health counseling on school campuses, "especially in a virtual learning environment."

Links to this week's pieces:

NeoliberalProject: "Should the Democrats be less woke?"

DeseretNews: The self-silencing majority by Bari Weiss

ASP Explores: The impact of COVID on education, virtual learning, and how to safely reopen schools