Republican Hirsh Singh touches down at MIT

11/19/23 • MIT Students for Open Inquiry

Our first event established a solid footing for free speech.

The newly-established MIT Students for Open Inquiry (MSOI) began its crusade to spread free speech with "Hirsh Singh: A Political Odyssey" on Tuesday, November 14th. Singh, a lifelong Republican and a self-described "nerd from New Jersey" with a "background in engineering", delivered an insightful talk to a group of students, teachers, and alumni on politics from the inside, lessons learned, and his personal journey, from college inspiration to taking action.

Singh said former House Representative Ron Paul and the Mises Institute, an Austrian economics center, spurred his political involvement. He affirmed the importance of defending economic liberty and America's founding values. Singh chose politics because "I love this country with all my heart, and I believe this country can do so much more than what has been going on", and supported free expression: "Even if someone says something that I absolutely disagree with, I believe in the concept of letting them express it so that I can understand what I might not understand. If new information presents itself that...calls into question what I believe, I will take it under consideration and always adapt and change to be right."

The talk included theoretical and experiential wisdom. Singh balanced hope and action, noting "You can't actually fix the world or move it in the right direction if you're operating from the standpoint of idealism. Idealism should be the guardrails, but you have to take what the current situation is into hand before you start actually adjusting it." On money, he opined, "Yes, you need money for being involved in the game, but money doesn't win anything, because you're not convincing people by throwing money at them."

To the youth, he conveyed a sense of gaining solidity: "If you have interest in really being political, go and dive deep into each policy issue so you can understand what you believe, because you're not going to convince anyone else unless you're speaking from your own personal conviction." Singh recounted his own experiences: "When you're young, you think you know everything, and only through going through that wringer do you actually become more capable of understanding how the world really works." A final reassurance came with self-confidence: "Make sure you know why you stand where you stand, because if they come at you with gotcha questions, at least you know you're standing on your own two feet."

A Q&A session followed, in which many attendees of different perspectives asked diverse questions for Singh. The most common topic was foreign policy: Russia-Ukraine and China-Taiwan. Singh was "very much so opposed to continuing aggression in the Ukraine space" and did not want to "send American sons and daughters over to Ukraine to die." But Taiwan, which he called "very different", saw Singh advocate for "show[ing] firm resolve that under no circumstances are we going to allow [China] to take Taiwan. And if they understand that, then they’re not going to threaten [Taiwan’s] future.”

Singh assessed the American economy and its competition, and was "not threatened by [China’s belt and road initiative]. I actually think that we just need to bring manufacturing more back to the U.S. for core issues, and allow for diversified economic utilization of factories." When asked about labor, Singh zoomed in on his home state and drew a nuance in unionization: "New Jersey is a very union state, and I would say’s such an expensive state have a bureaucratic overstep because of the unions having superior power, which is baked in the cost of a lot of things and has disconnected the original intent. So, I’m pro union worker more so than pro union."

No MIT Students for Open Inquiry event is complete without—as the name implies—touching some taboos; when asked what the most forbidden topics in academia were, Singh's two answers were the covid vaccine—"forcing someone to inject themselves with something that has not been fully tested or something you have a particular doubt about is anathema to America"—and questioning the 2020 election. Critically, Singh argued for free speech on third rail topics: "Whenever you try to limit someone's speech, the bad ideas don't disappear. They go under, and they get uglier, and they get worse." The MSOI commends him for defending free speech.

Disagreements arose when a trans advocacy group sent an email to MIT undergrads suggesting a cancellation, saying Singh would bring "harm" and "discomfort." The MSOI repelled these attacks on open inquiry and stood its ground, concluding the dialogue with an apt "Thank you for your free speech!" The exchange is available at the MSOI's website, here.

Overall, the event was a big success, an intellectual stream of politics and observations, with civil discussion and audience viewpoint diversity notable. The MSOI has established a beachhead for uncommon opinions on academia's soil, especially right-wing ones, as it continues the campaign for free speech at the math and tech capital of the world.

The video of the full event can be viewed on Odysee and Rumble.

The MSOI's fall semester is packed with diverse speakers on diverse topics. Their events can be viewed here. The MSOI next invites Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, MIT '87 inventor of email, systems scientist, and Independent presidential candidate to the stage.