In spite of the fact that my college (Colorado College) perceives itself as “open minded,” the amount of hostility expressed towards conservatives is staggering. Instead of being seen as a different opinion, conservatism is seen as flat out incorrect, and people who wear Romney t-shirts or criticize Obama are chastised.
While I myself am liberal, I have no problem with people’s opinions so long as they are informed and based on evidence which they perceive to be important. As a student of philosophy, it would seem to me that there isn’t a satisfying answer to any of the questions people face.
On the other hand, uninformed opinions are derisive and create tension between people.
This especially in an us-against-them system of government that we have fostered for ourselves. When Democrats, especially at my school, refer to Republicans, there is a tinge of Freirean otherness to their comments, so to a certain degree, I can see how conservatives feel a certain degree of persecution here at Colorado College.
But this, just as with anything, needs to be taken with a grain of salt, the reason that Democrats and other liberals feel that they have the right to be so oppressive on campus is because the Republican institution is generally perceived as “the Establishment” by those who may or may not be a part of it. Regardless of the fact that many people at this college prescribe to some counter culture or other, their own fervent protection of their ability to be who they want has made it difficult for other groups of people to express themselves, and in many ways, the counter-culture has become the hegemony that the counter-culture loves to hate.
And why not? We are hardly ever exposed to any other ideas, web giants such as Google and Facebook now have algorithms that ensure that your news feed tends to share or at least lean towards your own political viewpoint based on your lexicon and the lexicon of others, we read the Communist Manifesto as a paragon of Western thought, yet we do not analyze the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations outside of Economics classes.
This is a dangerous road down which to travel, as Freire says in his magnum opus, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.” It is clear to me that on campus this role reversal has taken place, and our ability to recognize the fact that it is happening is imperative in order for us to have true discourse.
Of course, even intentions can be good and foster a perspective of otherness. This video of Maddow criticizing Republican inability to accept Obama as the victor last week, while it had good intention of requesting that discourse be restarted, it is impossible to do so without a dialectic relationship trying to understand the perspective of the other, in this case, conservatives.
Perhaps the oppressive nature of the liberals on my campus is indicative of the fact that the Republican party platform caters to, as a colleague of mine put it, angry white men. As much as I don’t appreciate the way “fringe” perspectives are treated on campus, the actual establishment, aka hardline party Republicans need to take a step back and realize that the issues that America faces are not the issues that the elite face.
The reason that liberals, especially minority liberals, feel so threatened in this country is because rather than simply disagreeing on economic policy or the way a solution could be presented to social issues, they choose to deny the issues exist and banter about how high their taxes are. If I were female, I would want to move out of any state that told me it was a requirement to receive a trans-vaginal ultrasound in order to have an abortion, if I were an immigrant (or looked more Mexican), I would have left Arizona for greener, less racist pastures.
This discussion goes much farther than liberals and conservatives, we conceive of the other side as either monsters or weaklings. However, it is still important to take into consideration that we are all still people regardless of our political views. Bassem Yousef makes mention of it at the end of this interview he did with Jon Stuart.
The fact of the matter is, there is a complete lack of productive discourse in our current political system, and until we can realize that people, in spite of their perspectives, are still people. To continue down our current path is to create a situation that will lead to the eventual stagnation of the powers that be, as we will not be able to recognize the human in anyone. As with any good writer, my assumption is that someone has probably said what I’m trying to say, but better. So, on that note, in the words of Paulo Freire, “Any attempt to treat people as semihumans only dehumanizes them. When people are already dehumanized, due to the oppression they suffer, the process of their liberation must not employ the methods of dehumanization.”