Opinion: Shock at the cancellation of the drag show



By Women’s March Executive Director, Rachel Carmona

The Prairie News is a student-led free press. All opinions expressed herein are solely those of the writer and not those of WTAMU.

Texans, especially ranchers and farmers, know the importance of sifting and winnowing.

First, you sift by loosening the chaff, which you don’t need, from the edible grain. Then you winnow, removing the loose chaff from the grain by throwing it in the air. The most substantial grain falls first.

Farmers know about this process, but I learned about it at my university, where we were taught the following: “Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that {our university} should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

As an Amarillo resident, I was shocked at West Texas A&M University President Dr. Walter Wendler’s decision to cancel a scheduled campus drag event. His actions were unprincipled. In Texas, we don’t throw rocks and hide our hands. This is not the process of finding the truth.

When I was a student, I learned that the role of higher education is to give ideas their day in court. To sift and winnow and let the meritless ideas drift away while the ideas with heft and depth find their way into our practice, education, communities and culture. The fact that Dr. Wendler infringes on ideas with which he has personal and religious-based disagreement is a significant miscarriage of his role.

WTAMU is not a religious institution and it is not charged with the spiritual guidance of its students. Dr. Wendler is violating WTAMU policy, which states that the school cannot deny any access or benefits “on the basis of a political, or academic viewpoint expressed by the organization or any expressive activities of the organization.”

It is bad enough that Dr. Wendler is engaging in this egregious behavior, but he is doing so under the banner of women’s rights, something that false advocates increasingly hide behind. Feminism fights for LGBT rights and women’s rights; neither are possible in an environment where free speech is attacked, or discrimination is allowed. We will not allow our communities to be pitted against each other by people who wish all of us harm.

At WTAMU, Dr. Wendler is failing to execute his job faithfully. He pretends to be an ally when in fact, he doesn’t have the political courage to allow opinions that differ from his to be sifted or winnowed by the WTAMU community of students and educators.