Ralph Cintrón, Professor at the University of Illinois, Presents a Lecture on Democracy to the Penn State Community | University Park Campus News

On Thursday, Penn State’s Hintz Family Alumni Center hosted members of the local community for the Kenneth Burke Memorial Lecture by Ralph Cintrón, author of the book “Democracy as Fetish.”

Currently a professor of English and Latin American and Latin American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cintrón presented a presentation entitled “Is Democracy Under Attack? »

Cintrón offered the idea of ​​what democracy really means when under attack and explained how both political parties perceive a democracy under attack.

“If you sincerely believe that democracy has been taken away from you, then you feel that democracy has been attacked,” Cintrón said. “The left wants us to believe that democracy is under attack from a different perspective than the right.”

When it comes to democracy, Cintrón America is best off when a common vision of democracy is shared.

“With democracy, there’s a neutral mentality that if we do it right, America will be better for it,” Cintrón said. “Democracy, to some extent, is a problem of measurement that can be tweaked in the name of equality, fairness and justice.”

Also at the event, Penn State student Fernando Ismael Quiñones Valdivia received the 2022 Kenneth Burke Prize for Rhetoric and shared a few words about what the conference and democracy mean to him.

“I think the idea that we need to start thinking about democracy beyond horizontal or vertical terms is very important because we’re dealing with issues of equality and need to understand how we come to negotiate the constraints of democracy.” Valdivia (graduate in communication arts and sciences) said.

Building on his ideas of equity and justice, Cintrón proposed the ideas of inclusion and exclusion and how they are essential to democracy.

“Equality is the liberation of competition in the name of democracy, because every inclusion is the exclusion of someone else,” Cintrón said, “Every intervention harms someone somewhere.”

Cintrón showed the importance for individuals to be active participants in democracy and underlined how justice and democracy are concepts that go hand in hand.

“For me, justice is the reservoir of social energy,” Cintrón said. “If I have a cause and can tie it to freedom and justice, I begin to create a position of right and good on the issue.”

Cintrón further explained his idea of ​​freedom and justice including details of how freedom is “fragile” and means a lot to many people – especially those who have served in the military.

“There is nothing in itself in freedom, it can generate a lot of things, but in some hands it can also generate a lot of bad things,” Cintrón said. “People who died for our freedom didn’t think freedom was an artifact of language, it meant more to them because they were putting their lives on the line.”

Cintrón also showed how communicating about democracy is not an easy idea and showed how the grievances of the two political parties shaped the discourse.

“The left has its grievances, and the right has its grievances, so much so that grievances have become rights,” Cintrón said. “The grievance becomes the limitation that compels us to find a solution that grants us the right to have grievances.”

Cintrón linked the idea of ​​grievances with the ideas of modernity and volatility and how they are negative drawbacks when it comes to a successful democracy.

“Modernity is seen as that moment when volatility enters the whole structure of being and today meets the apotheosis of volatility: the revolt of the planet,” Cintrón said.

Cintrón left the audience with words of inspiration to solve society’s problems and encouraged the audience to think with curiosity.

“If there is something crazy out there, we should run there and figure it out, to use our skills, answer questions and solve problems.”


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