Editorial | DI Editorial Board responds to Lt. Col. Allen West speech

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board supports the First Amendment regardless of personal beliefs.


Editorial Board

As a news publication, The Daily Iowan knows the importance of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

Liberty does not exist without the freedom of speech, the press, assembly, religion, and protest. These fundamentals must be granted to all, even on college campuses. But liberties can clash in the presence of disagreement.

The DI Editorial Board fully believes in the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment, even when we disagree with how such liberties are expressed. The Editorial Board believes protestors and lecturers have the right to be on the University of Iowa campus.

On Nov. 30, retired Lt. Col. for The Army Allen West lectured on the UI campus. West was invited to speak by the Young Americans for Freedom Iowa chapter, a campus organization that supports limited government control, individual freedom, and traditional values.

During the lecture, among other topics, West spoke in opposition to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and critical race theory.

“Equality of outcomes is when someone else is making a decision about where you can go and what you can end up being,” West said. “We start to believe that we are meant to all be equal, we’re not all meant to be equal,”

The Editorial Board firmly believes diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives make the workplace and greater community a better place. We believe social conceptions of race and ethnicity exist and persist in the U.S.

Our board does not stand for the comments made by West regarding DEI and critical race theory. That said, the Editorial Board stands by West’s right to speak on campus.

The first amendment is not absolute. As established in the 1919 Supreme Court case, U.S. v. Schenck, freedom of speech is not protected if the words incite dangerous panic or violence.

Although the Editorial Board disagrees with West’s arguments, we recognize his right to speak on campus. Likewise, the Editorial Board recognizes protesters’ rights to be on campus.

Inside the lecture room, ten protestors held signs calling West a war criminal and a member of the alt-right. Protestors interrupted by booing while West spoke. Three protesters also stood outside the room.

This was in relation to West’s time in the army, as he was charged with participating in the torture of an Iraqi police officer. He was reported to have ordered the beating and simulated execution of the police officer.

Some individuals may argue protestors impeded on West’s right to speak during his lecture. But the First Amendment must equally apply to the freedom of speech and the right to protest.

The liberties of West and protesters can conflict when brought together. But neither party has any less liberty to stand or speak on the UI campus; West’s speech may have been interrupted by protestors, but he had the liberty to continue speaking. Protesters may be asked to leave, but they had the liberty to stay.

The undeniable liberties given to Americans by the First Amendment may not always be convenient when used in opposition.

Nonetheless, all individuals have the right to exercise their liberties on the UI campus.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.