Last Wednesday, Mississippi State University students welcomed the Young Americans for Freedom’s chapter here at MSU with a juvenile chorus of "F-yous" and middle fingers from the more politically radicalized students among us. Apparently, anyone right of Karl Marx who peacefully stands next to a banner with the words "Build the Wall" across it is a cause for labeling that person a white supremacist, or at least this is indicative of how today’s Left sees our world.
I find it very ironic the political ideology promoting the values of tolerance and inclusivity are so hostile to opposing viewpoints, especially when prompted by the very people who disagree with them to engage in a discussion. The crux of the issue is, of course, politics.
Leftist extremists find it difficult to separate the political viewpoints of a person and the person themselves. So, rather than attack the arguments, they attack the people espousing them. From this point, it becomes simple to use ad hominem name-calling like fascist, white supremacist, misogynist, etc., or worse, take physical actions against the people with whom they disagree.
This is liberal intolerance. This is the reason we heard mindless chanting to drown out productive debate; the reason we saw stickers on YAF’s banner to cover the obscene image drawn by an overzealous Leftist; the reason we had to have a police officer out on the Drill Field as a preemptive deterrent to physical acts of violence.
This is symptomatic of a larger problem with our nation as a whole—the intolerant Left must be open to discussing ideas and use words instead of fists, so we may work together to find the best possible solution and restore civility to American politics.
Emboldened by the radical Left’s misguided crusade, the champions of social justice attempt to drown out all dissenting viewpoints through uproar instead of discussion. Partisan tribalism, the us-versus-them mentality has turned the arena of ideas into a war zone, and all is fair in war.
According to Jeffery Selingo of The Washington Post, “37 percent of college students said that shouting down speakers was acceptable.” In addition, “10 percent said it was acceptable, sometimes, to use violence to prevent someone from speaking.”
These statistics are an embarrassing reflection of how weak our understanding of the first amendment is, freedom from speech, as opposed to freedom of speech.
In no instance should shouting down opposing views ever be condoned; allowing our ideas to speak for themselves is what separates us from animals. Leftists are afraid of this. They are afraid of their worldview being challenged, so they would much rather attack the person instead of the argument.
When Brad Polumbo of National Review “dared to be both openly gay and vocally conservative,” at his liberal Massachusetts university, he was “harassed and bullied online by Left-wing students to the point where (he) had to delete every dating app from (his) phone.”
Such is the case for most students who deviate from the destiny the Left has laid out for them—stay in line, or we beat you into submission if you think differently. The Left’s hateful and uncivil manner toward those they disagree with makes a compelling case for conservatism, and drives students further right.
But a question remains: Why do liberals despise conservative ideas to the degree of hostility? The answer is simple; arrogance and the 100 percent conviction the liberal perspective is correct even in instances of irrefutable evidence.
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times said the reason conservative views are not taken seriously stems from “the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion.” Rather than waste time on idiotic opinions that could never work, in the Left’s eyes, simply shout down the speaker, so the people with real solutions, who conveniently always lean Left, can discuss what to do.
It is a dehumanizing effort on the part of the Left, and it is also the same reason they use charged words against conservatives. Who cares about the opinion of a fascist, a white supremacist or a homophobe, it is always going to be heavily slanted due to these extremist views?
The dehumanizing effort excuses uncivil behavior against conservatives by equating these extremist views with mainstream conservatism.
Ironically though, it is not just conservatives who are adversely affected by suppression efforts of Leftist extremists, but the Left themselves. The quality of education of the institution as a whole suffers when all ideas are not represented fairly.
Kristof writes, “When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards—and we all lose.”
This is certainly not the type of institution I want to be a part of, and most frightening of all is the fact we are doing this to ourselves. Constant fear of being shouted down, harassed, bullied or assaulted is always in the conservative mind simply because of the idea that they do not share what the Left assumes to be the majority opinion.
Fear breeds silence, and silence solves no problems. In the arena of ideas, for a position on the Left to be valid, it must be contrasted with a position on the Right. How can this occur if the conservative view is never heard?