An Open Letter to Matt Walsh

Matt Walsh, 

Some weeks ago I had no idea of your existence. Your ideas, thoughts and perspectives were unheard of in my life as you and I shared earth living our lives peacefully and not knowing of one another. This changed when my academic institution announced that you would be giving a lecture on ideologies many would deem controversial on the premises of my campus. Suddenly, your beliefs had a name and had a face.

I am starting this letter by highlighting that I am not one to judge others for having beliefs that do not align with my own. Hence why before engaging in the angry petitions, conversations and doing my effort in preventing you from coming to Saint Louis University, I decided to give you a chance. Upon looking through your social media, YouTube videos and other commentaries you engaged in throughout your career, I came to a clear answer. The following points I am going to discuss are my perceptions regarding who you are and what you stand for. Whether any of this is true or not is up for debate. I leave such judgements to you and the readers of this letter.

 The basis for your embracement of controversial and unorthodox perspectives is not for me to interpret; the bottom line is that people’s reactions–both good and bad– are what make you famous and grant you a platform. However, I am here to discuss why your views are dangerous. It is not because you are conservative. It is the way you voice your conservatism. There is a fine line between articulating your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions in a way that is educational and constructive, rather in a way that is emotionally provoking. A common theme in your rhetoric is putting emphasis on things you believe your viewers should be afraid of, which circle around topics of social justice and the current state of the pandemic. With that in mind, please allow me to ask you several questions. What are the intentions behind your beliefs? Are you preaching your rhetoric on the grounds of love for others, or based on the fear of change? And lastly, do you think your ideas will be the basis of the constructive change needed to make our world a better place? 

A common pattern I noticed in core conservative principles is that they emphasize the necessity of preservation. Some may see this as an act of maintaining old values and virtues, but I and many others read this as a fear of change. The fear of unfamiliarity is something that lingers in a lot of us, but this exact fear can become dangerous as within it lies the potential for dehumanizing others. Deeds, concepts, ideas, and eventually people are blamed for the shift of society from old principles to new, unfamiliar ones. The second a person is placed into a category, labeled and blamed for things they may or may not have caused, they are no longer a person, they are a problem. When used in the context of condemning someone, the words “leftist”,“gay”, “African American”, or “transgender” strip the person of their integrity and turn the someone into something; the act of dehumanization becomes obsolete when the person becomes an “it.”

Out of your own ignorance or maybe outside your sole intention, you are dehumanizing entire communities. In the language of addressing your opponents, you tend to use incriminating terms such as “demonic”, “crazy” and “pathetic” to describe them. Additionally, when discussing certain situations, I have caught that you also never use the person’s name or background, but will almost always point our their social, political, racial, or sexual demographic; things that will undoubtedly generate angry responses out of viewers who already feel a sense of dislike towards these groups. As I highlighted earlier, dehumanization is the basis of all evil and is the reason humanity has gotten away with doing unspeakable horrors to marginalized groups throughout the course of history. The second you strip a person of their humanity and begin portraying them as a parasite who is getting in the way of society’s flourishing, you begin to create a slippery slope of hatred and hostility. Once these ideas get voiced loudly enough to those who thrive on violence and chaos, things can turn lethal for those who are oppressed. 

I want to end this letter on the note that if you fear others, they will fear you. The energy we put forth is absorbed and reciprocated by everything surrounding us. The same account goes for respect; if you do not respect others, they will not respect you. If people felt any degree of respect from the rhetoric you have been preaching, a sizable portion of students attending my institution would not be furious with your arrival. Lastly, productive dialogue requires four major concepts: empathy, precision, relationships, and humility. You lack these proponents in your arguments remarkably. When talking to others, we need empathy because it allows us to understand one another and embrace different perspectives. We need precision because it grants us the ability to show others where we are coming from. We need relationships with those we communicate with because it gives us the willingness to maintain contact and conversation. And lastly, dialogue demands humility because objectivity is not real. Believing one’s ideas are the ultimate truth and morally superior creates oppression, intolerance and exclusivity. Spewing hateful rhetoric as an attempt to convince your audience that an entire group of people is responsible for stripping you of your utopia will create nothing but hatred and hostility. But through accepting the beauty of heterogeneity and understanding that it is not our job to convince human beings with different moral, religious and personal backgrounds that certain viewpoints are right or wrong, we can create peace, tolerance and harmony within one another. Coexisting won’t solve our disagreements on the fundamentals of our beliefs. But it will make us more loving, empathetic and understanding of one another. 

So as you wrap this letter, you are presented with two choices. Are you going to spend the rest of your career provoking fear, intolerance and hatred between people? Or will you put aside your personal beliefs and feelings to internalize that as human beings–gay, straight, transgender, non-binary, rich, poor, Black, White–it is our moral obligation to coexist and do our part in making the world a better place. I leave such decisions to you.


Anastasia Hanonick. 

Junior at Saint Louis University