Journalist delivers lecture on democratic values at Brown University

Journalist delivers lecture on democratic values at Brown University
Journalist delivers lecture on democratic values at Brown University
Journalist and historian Jelani Cobb, known for his work at The New Yorker, recently delivered a lecture at Brown University on the varied interpretations of democratic values in the United States, specifically free speech.
 
“When we talk about … the values of universities and of higher education, we typically talk about the support of open inquiry, of rigorous intellectual analysis, of dialogue across differing opinions, of the open pursuit of questioning what we believe we know -- and these are foundational to universities,” Cobb said. “But universities are not removed from the values of society.”
 
His lecture, titled “A Note from the Margins: The Unsafe Spaces of Democracy,” was the first in Brown’s “Reaffirming University Values: Campus Dialogue and Discourse” series. Cobb discussed how freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are often used to excuse situations that remove other freedoms from marginalized groups -- for example, the right to due process being used to justify slavery, or freedom of religion used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ communities.
 
Cobb urged attendees not to shy away from circumstances that are not entirely democratic, or shield themselves in safe spaces, but to exist within difficult situations to forward the goal of democracy.
 
“This is a difficult charge -- and it’s not fair -- but it is the same challenge that generations prior to us have confronted,” he said.

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