Political and religious conservatives must not develop a hostility to “creative conflict” and stifle public debate in the same way the Left does, says Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts.  

“I don’t mean this to be offensive, but I care a lot less about your feelings than I do about your pursuit of truth,” Roberts explained in an appearance on “The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast.” Peterson is a Canadian psychologist, author and political commentator. 

Roberts and Peterson agreed that faith becomes dogma without debate. Roberts explained that the same goes for The Heritage Foundation’s policies and his belief that there should be debate, while also not compromising on core principles.  

“As long as the debate doesn’t become personal, everything is fair game,” he said. 

“I mean, if you have to hide away, and never be, you know, called to account for what you presume, there’s no faith there,” Peterson said. 

American institutions, especially since the 1940s and accelerating in the ‘70s, there’s basically the absence of that [truth]. In fact, the opposite of that. So that if you go in, and you say that I want to do intellectual combat, you know, somehow, you’re committing some grave sin inside the American academy. But it’s essential, because that’s where we refine our own positions,” Roberts said. 

The Heritage president explained that back when he was an untenured professor, there were some what he called “big lib” professors planning a symposium about Ronald Reagan’s presidential legacy. So, he talked to a conservative friend, and they tried to join the panel to have a “fair, objective assessment of his legacy … but because of the scheduled appearance of the two of us as conservatives, they canceled it. And they canceled it because, as you know well from your own experience, they can’t stand the disagreement,” said Roberts.  

Peterson has also been “canceled” for his conservative opinions, which led to the Ontario College of Psychologists stating he needed mandatory social-media communication retraining with their experts for, among other crimes, retweeting @PierrePoilievre and criticizing @JustinTrudeau and his political allies,” he tweeted.

Peterson said that by shielding students from proper debate “all we’re doing is removing the possibility from our students of exposing themselves to the sort of challenges that would actually make them strong … making them weaker, more hopeless, and more anxious, by protecting them in that manner.” 

Many of those students Peterson and Roberts taught have graduated, and some have even become members of Congress.  

“They’ve become members of the United States Senate,” Roberts said, but they “lead with their feelings.” 

Many people worldwide are frustrated with politics because of “the absence of what they perceive to be a real debate … even if they may themselves decide that they disagree with that person’s answer, they just want the questions asked,” Roberts said.  

He said he’s doing that at the public policy think tank he leads, The Heritage Foundation, which “exists to devolve power from Washington back to the states and ultimately back to the people themselves.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) 

“Ultimately, the most radical part of leftism is one that undermines truth very actively,” said Roberts. “And if you look at what’s going on in the political right … there’s a very healthy, sometimes kind of fractious debate that’s going on.” 

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