No matter where you stand in the debate over Jimmy Carter's book, one thing was clear to spectators walking out of Glenn Memorial Church after Carter's speech on Thursday: The debate over the Arab-Israeli conflict affords Emory a unique opportunity to further distinguish itself from other universities as an forum for debate on Middle East issues.
Before Carter's speech, University President James W. Wagner explained that institutions such as Emory are one of the few places in the world where you can have a disagreement over something as volatile as the Middle East with words rather than violence. Emory has an opportunity to play a prominent role in this debate because it is one of the few schools in the country with the resources to facilitate such a debate. We have faculty members like Carter, who passionately advocate one side, and faculty members like Deborah Lipstadt and Ken Stein, who advocate another. Likewise, we have exceptionally strong politicial science, religious and Middle Eastern studies and Jewish studies departments, along with one of the best theology schools in the country.
Our biggest concern is not that we don't have the resources to facilitate such a debate, but rather that these resources will be deployed improperly. As the controversy over Jimmy Carter's speech at Emory illustrates, if the planning of the debate is handled improperly, it can disenfranchise important members of the Emory community and also earn the University negative publicity. Emory must be careful, but we believe the potential rewards of becoming the academic home for the debate over the Middle East outweigh the risks.
The above staff editorials represent the majority opinion of The Emory Wheel Editorial Board.