Top five moments from our conversation on free speech with Manu Meel

Learn more about Chris Walsh.
Chris Walsh
Director, Freedom and Democracy
George W. Bush Institute

Bill McKenzie and I recently released the latest edition of The Pluralism Challenge looking at the ‘juice’ of free speech and pluralism – particularly on college campuses. No big deal. Very easy … right? 

We hope you’ll give it a read. 

Relatedly, Manu Meel, the CEO of BridgeUSA – a nonprofit organization that creates spaces on high school and college campuses in which students can have open discussions about political issues – joined us for a Strategerist podcast episode on the topic. He provided listeners with valuable insights into his personal story, his organization, and why pluralism and respecting differing viewpoints is so important to our increasingly diverse society. Here are some of our favorite quotes from that interview. 

  1. “My story would not have been possible without a society that was fundamentally pluralistic. Pluralism created the conditions for me to not only exist but to understand, learn, to be a part of this ‘melting pot’ that helps me be a better person.” 
  2. “The reason why I think getting the question of pluralism right is because by 2045 the United States is going to be the most diverse democracy in the history of societies. The reason why that is unique and interesting is because it’s not normal for a society this different to be stable, effective, successful, productive … that’s what makes pluralism exciting.” 
  3. “We’re [BridgeUSA is] the largest and fastest growing student movement trying to change how we talk politics, ending polarization, and specifically helping young people – not to compromise – but be better debaters, dialoguers, help young people be better agents in society.” 
  4. If you live in a truly pluralistic society, you can disagree and still have a society at the end of it. Fundamentally, I think unity is the wrong endpoint for any project because it’s like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”  
  5. The way that we get people to engage is to help them to see the value in that disagreement…. Disagreement is the engine for democracy. Disagreement helps us get better ideas. Not only does it help us get better ideas, but it helps us abandon bad ones.” 

Listen to the full episode here.