To the Editor:
In a recent contribution to The Daily Princetonian, Benjamin Gelman ’23 opines that my congressional office should be disqualified from recruiting Princeton students for internships because my policy positions are “dangerous” and my politics are outside the “window of acceptable discourse.”
It’s disconcerting that any student at Princeton, much less a politics concentrator, would hold such a narrow view of what is acceptable discourse. The entire purpose of a liberal arts education is to challenge students’ views, expand their intellectual horizons, and to have them engage deeply with conclusions and viewpoints at odds with their own.
The same week the ‘Prince’ published Gelman’s advocacy for cancel culture, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) published its free speech rankings for U.S. colleges. Princeton came in at an appalling 169th place. Princeton alumni are not accustomed to scrolling so far down on any national ranking list to find our alma mater.
Over the years, Princeton has increasingly become a place hostile to free speech. According to FIRE’s survey, a meager 24 percent of Princeton’s students believe shouting down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus is “never acceptable.” The other 76 percent, presumably, have imbibed the indoctrination curriculum deeply, and share Gelman’s stultifying theory of the “window of acceptable discourse,” which, of course, is hyped-up language for ‘the exact same viewpoints I hold.’
I am honored to serve in a legislative body in which my colleagues regularly challenge my views. I am also honored to work with my political opponents to solve America’s most pressing problems with bipartisan legislation. It is a hallmark of this exceptional country that adversaries put their differences aside and focus on our nation’s needs.
I always marveled when I played football for the Tigers how easy it was for spectators to criticize the gladiators in the arena. I suggest Gelman share his “acceptable discourse” with hardworking Americans who have not enjoyed the privilege of an elite education and see how the political arena treats him. Unlike Gelman’s attempt to cancel my views and my relationship with Princeton interns, I would support his right to speak. As a loyal Princeton alumnus, I would even help him find career counseling and employment outside the arena.
For Princeton students looking for a break from the cancel culture of campus life and seeking a challenging internship on Capitol Hill, please submit resumes to email@example.com by Nov. 15 for the spring semester. I look forward to hosting more Princeton interns in my office.
Ken Buck ’81 represents Colorado’s fourth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.