By Hannah Dalsheim
The University of Maryland’s business school hosted a debate April 5 between former Mexican President Vicente Fox and the former leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage.
Farage has made world headlines at the forefront for Brexit—Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Farage is controversial to some because of his perceived white nationalist political views and support for President Donald Trump.
So many turned out for this event in the Edward St. John Learning & Teacher Center that some students and guests had to watch the debate from a T.V. in a separate room.
Mary Kissel, a Wall Street Journal reporter, discussed the role that globalization and nationalism have played on the world stage in the past couple of years.
Fox argued for globalization, focusing on how it moved the world forward.
“Today, knowledge is present, together with education. Today, middle classes are growing around the world and income has increased substantially,” Fox said. “So my question is why should we change the way that has shown to be successful for a new adventure that some call nationalism? They want to go back to the nation-state and forget about what we have built.”
Farage spoke highly of nationalism, saying he was pleased that this debate took place, as so many students had emailed University President Wallace Loh prior to the debate, asking him to cancel the event because of Farage’s nationalist views. He also talked about the “revolution” of 2016: Brexit, and President Trump’s election, which he called the “revival of the nation-state.”
“Don’t be frightened by Brexit, don’t be frightened by Trump,” Farage said. He emphasized how he has “no problem with countries working together,” but he doesn’t want an outside party, such as the European Union, dictating the decisions a country wants to make.
Junior Katie Farlese, an international business and supply chain management major, thought she was going to hate Farage, but instead found him quite amusing.
“I consider myself to favor globalist ideals more,” Farlese said. “While this didn’t change my views, I found it very interesting to listen to the opposing side. I thought Farage was honestly kind of funny and I was not expecting to enjoy listening to him as much as I did.”
Mark Augustino, a sophomore accounting and information systems major, said he learned how to truly listen to both sides of the argument.
“The biggest thing that I took away from the debate is the importance of acknowledging both sides of an argument,” Augustino said. “I believe that many people make up their minds, particularly in politics, and then lose their open mindset. There are always going to be valid points on both sides of an argument, and I believe that it is important to become knowledgeable and assess all viewpoints before respectfully forming an opinion.”
The debate tour completed at Lafayette College on April 6.