In today’s Oracle, guest columnist Haya Radwan and staff columnist Victoria Bekiempis discuss the comments made by the Pope in Germany earlier this month. This issue isn’t new, of course. It may even seem to some that the Oracle’s Opinion section is beating a dead horse, especially in light of the fact that the Pope is busily making amends for his controversial quote from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor by meeting with Muslim leaders. But the two columns, presented side by side, illustrate an interesting truth: Neither columnist, while left perfectly free to do so, questions the Pope’s right to free speech.This could be a stepping stone to overcoming the “historic enmities” the Pope discussed with Muslim envoys Monday. There are certain principles every person of every faith can embrace, and those principles are at the heart of both columns: the rejection of violence, the freedom to speak one’s mind and respect for fellow human beings, even when they disagree on a fundamental level.
After all, the two columnists could not come from more different standpoints. Bekiempis makes a case championing the Enlightenment of the West and its emphasis on logic and rationality, whereas Radwan speaks from a standpoint of religion. Even Radwan states explicitly that the Pope has the right to say what he said – she just doesn’t agree with him.
It isn’t often that an opinion section finds truth. Opinions aren’t about truth – they’re about ideas. But when two columnists sit down independently and find agreement in certain basic ideas about what human beings should be allowed to do … if that’s not truth, it’s at least a step toward a global community where even a devout Muslim and a self-described atheist can agree.
This isn’t beating a dead horse – it’s a reminder of truths too often forgotten. Aptly enough, it was all made possible by words that offended millions.