By: Phillip Nagler  | 

When Disagreement Turns Disrespectful: Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

The YU Commentator, in its latest edition, published an article entitled: “To the Silent Majority: We Need Your Voice,” which bothered me for a particular reason. In the article, the author takes multiple swipes at the Editor in Chief of The YU Observer, quoting two of her articles, a recent editorial and an opinion piece on women’s roles in Orthodoxy from earlier in the year.

As an opinion editor of The YU Observer, I would normally encourage students to respond to opinion pieces they disagree with. However, in this case, the author did not actually argue with any of the points that my colleague made in her article about women’s roles. Instead, he launched an ad hominem attack on my colleague by stating: “she reveals that she no longer identifies as Orthodox… As hard as it is to admit, the administration does not need to conform to any other set of values and adjust itself to fit you.” Firstly, she does not explicitly mention that she is no longer Orthodox, but rather attended a Conservative synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. What’s most concerning, however, is that the author’s argument here essentially is that since my colleague doesn’t fit the mold of a classic YU student, her opinion should not matter.

This is a criticism that I have heard on campus a lot, specifically in regard to the LGBTQ student movement. Many students are arguing that since LGBTQ students only make up a minority of the student body, their needs are unimportant and do not need to be addressed. Not only is this argument flimsy, but it is also quite frankly inappropriate in its strident dismissiveness.

Returning to the article in question, I was genuinely confused as to the author’s main point. Based on the title of the article, it would appear that he wanted to encourage all students to voice their opinions, even if they are the majority opinion. However, he later concedes this thesis by stating: “There’s no need for us to start a ruckus when YU’s stances fit us fine.” He then further states: “Modern Orthodoxy has worked for us our whole lives, there is no reason to fight about it now.” Why exactly would the majority of the students need to raise their voices when the system works in their favor?

Additionally, the author states: “Countless editorials in both of the papers seem like they were selected by throwing darts at a board to randomly select what the writer is going to bash YU for this week.” Yet, he only cites examples of editorials from The YU Observer. While this may be coincidental, it is very careless and suspiciously telling to make the above statement and then cite an example from only one of the student newspapers.

To me, it appears that this article was written with nothing more than the intention of attacking the Editor in Chief of The YU Observer, as it did not contain any substantive points to prove its thesis. To the author: in the future, before writing a piece, please consider whether or not the arguments you are presenting are appropriate to be published in a public forum.