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Democracy is not a ‘spectator sport,’ Huffington says at CSULB

Arianna Huffington speaks at Cal State Long Beach, in the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Arianna Huffington speaks at Cal State Long Beach, in the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Stefan Agregado / Daily 49er

Stefan Agregado / Daily 49er

Arianna Huffington speaks at Cal State Long Beach, in the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Zien Halwani, Staff Writer

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The Carpenter Performing Arts Center boomed with laughter Thursday night as syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington gave a clear message: Democracy is not a “spectator sport.”

Between advising her audience on sleeping habits and assuring them that her accent is “for real,” the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post gave a stern repudiation of American politics and the mainstream media.

“The media missed the two biggest stories of our time,” she said, citing intelligence failures before the Iraq War and the recent financial meltdown.

The event was Cal State Long Beach’s fourth annual Distinguished Speaker Series. It attracted its largest audience with Huffington as speaker, according to program director Art Levine.

Huffington continued her criticism on the mainstream media, saying that it has shirked its responsibility to truth.

“[The media’s job is] to ferret out the truth and not to split the truth between both sides,” she said. If you report on the Holocaust, Huffington explained, you don’t quote someone who denies its existence.

“Not every issue is divisible as left or right,” she said.

Huffington said that the new, online media is the solution to these problems.

“Twitter is not the triumph of technology,” she said. “It is the triumph of humanity.”

Huffington was even more forceful when referring to her dissatisfaction with American politics.

“Politicians have really betrayed the middle class,” she said. “Our system in Washington D.C., at the moment, is broken.”

This thought and the brokenness of American politics was the driving force behind Huffington’s speech, but that didn’t stop her from taking a shot at Delaware’s Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell.

“[O’Donnell] doesn’t know if she believes in evolution, but she’s definitely against masturbation, which would be a big problem if she ended up in the Senate because that’s all they do,” she joked.

Between laughs, though, Huffington’s speech became sobering.

“What people expect from the American Dream is changing,” she said, explaining that the U.S. is 10th, internationally, in upward mobility.

However, Huffington made it clear throughout the night that the solution to government failure was the American people.

“Right now we have a responsibility beyond our immediate preoccupation,” she said. “We have to be our own saviors.”

After the speech, Huffington engaged in a question-and-answer session with a three-member panel that included Associated Students, Inc. Vice President Lucy Nguyen.

“The Distinguished Speaker Series gives students the opportunity to broaden their view on issues important to today’s society, enhancing their intellectual, social and physical development,” Nguyen said.

According to a program, the event’s profits went to CSULB’s general scholarship fund that is used to help middle-income students “who must work to pay for their educations.”

According to Nguyen, it was a big deal for CSULB to nab Huffington for its speaker series.

Nguyen said, “Arianna Huffington as a speaker is a testament to how much esteem Cal State Long Beach holds.”




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