We’ve all been in a moment when a conversation is going on among people around us and it becomes apparent that most of what you hold dear is held in contempt by everyone around you and you wonder if you should speak up. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t. It’s like as a conservative you have to live in the closet and only “come out” at your peril.
Think about it, in our culture it’s much easier for celebrities to announce they’re gay than admit they’re conservative. For our culture, liberalism has become the default setting. This column written a student at theThe Harvard Crimson really nails it:
The other day, a friend of mine made a heartfelt confession. I’d known it was coming, and I was prepared to offer support. I swaddled her shoulders in a rainbow blanket, played Elton John softly in the background, and reassured her that no matter what, she would always be the same person. This was only one small facet of her personality, and it wouldn’t change the way we thought about her. If anything, we would love her more for her honesty.
But when she blurted out, “Alex, I think I’m conservative,” I realized that I had been deluding her with false hopes. I couldn’t bear to look at her. Clearly, this girl I had always thought of as an intelligent, rational being was secretly a sub-literate moron. All those times we‘d innocently joked about Bristol and Levi, she’d been harboring perverted desires to do things like watch FOX News and vote for McCain. “At least tell me you still think Sarah Palin is Satan,” I pleaded. She shook her head and muttered something about the liberal media distorting things, but I couldn‘t quite make it out over the sound of our friendship crashing to an end.
Yet, for the sake of old times, I decided to try walking a mile in her shoes. The results were sobering. If you enjoy being yelled at, try sitting down next to a stranger in the dining hall and telling him you’re thinking of voting for McCain. Whenever I attempted this experiment, I was excoriated, stared at incredulously, or even slapped in the face. One time a group of people got together and tried to perform an exorcism on me.
Harvard prides itself on its diversity—economic, racial, social, geographical—but it remains intellectually segregated. It’s not what conservative commentators seem to imagine—a bastion of liberal professors force-feeding radical opinions to a naïve student body. It’s simply that the tacit assumption, in the classroom as well as outside it, is that everyone is liberal. Why is this? Perhaps because Harvard is located in the People’s Republic of Cambridge in the heart of blue Massachusetts: the sort of community whose Oktoberfest parade features a Communist marching band and an elaborate float of pigs strapped to lipstick rockets. But the Harvard student body comes from all over—even from red states. More than 25 percent of the class of 2012 hails from the traditionally more conservative Midwest and South. In fact, Harvard’s world-class reputation enables it to attract people from diverse backgrounds with diverse viewpoints. The problem is that instead of allowing this diversity to promote enriching discussion, everyone just assumes that anyone with any degree of intelligence is ipso facto liberal.
This “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy ultimately benefits no one, liberal or conservative. By isolating ourselves from those with whose opinions we disagree, we lose the ability to defend our beliefs. For me, as for most of my Harvard compatriots, the long, probing, in-depth discussions I’d heard were one of the best parts of college have been limited to topics like Youtube and the weather. When it comes to politics, every discussion is just a group of people agreeing with each other. This applies to campus conservatives as well:. Those comfortable enough in their political affiliation to come out as Young Republicans interact only with other Young Republicans, in an alternate, parallel universe similarly devoid of dissenting viewpoints. Given time, this sort of environment produces things like the Men for Palin video. This is good for no one.
And because of this, we have no idea how to respond when people disagree with us. This explains all the exorcisms and flame wars. The assumption that to be intelligent is to be left of center implies that anyone who disagrees is either confused or has recently experienced some sort of intellectually damaging event, like walking into a post. When someone bashfully admits to wanting smaller government or thinking that privatizing social security might not be such a bad idea, instead of trying to discuss, we rush them to UHS for a battery of tests and sprinkle them with secular water.
And that’s what makes things worse for people like my friend. Life is hard in the closet. It’s dark, and there are never enough hangers. But Harvard’s current culture of implied assent means she will never get to discuss her opinions with anyone. She will never be able to introduce her candidate to her friends. She can wear McCain gear to class, but she will have to pretend it’s ironic. And when she manages to come out, no one will hug her and whisper over the Elton John music, “It’s okay…I’m a moderate.”
This student does a good job of writing, even though I’m pretty sure we’d disagree on…just about everything. This is something we’re going to have to deal with in the future. And I think we need to speak up more. We need to speak out. How many times have we chosen silence over confrontation? On some level, we’ve aided in secular liberalism becoming the popular culture.
H/T Phi Beta Cons