Ostracized Others: A Red Voice from the Blue Bubble

We have a big problem at the Claremont Colleges. It’s a problem of minority discrimination. Don’t believe me? Case in point: When you read the next sentence I’m about to write, most of you will stop reading or deem this an article unworthy of your attention.

I am a conservative.

The second I say I’m a conservative, people immediately jump to the conclusion that I love war, hate women and oppress minorities. What is the culture at this consortium that encourages so many people to judgmentally reach that obviously immature conclusion?

Even though I am a proud Republican, I still appreciate every liberal person I know. When someone tells me they are a 'devout leftist' I don’t call them derogatory names. Rather, I respectfully listen to what they have to say and I see if there’s any overlap with my own ideals. And in the end, I may not vote for that person in the next election, but I respect them; I appreciate the way their mind works; I appreciate their opinions and I refuse to be a close-minded extremist.

Why? Because I know that no extremist can ever be correct.

The reason both Republicans and Democrats exist is because both have desirable traits that balance each other out depending on the nature of the time. So, you may happen to lean toward the left, while I lean toward the right. We’re all just part of a greater balance. 

And if you can’t accept my role as a conservative in that balance then you are not mature, and you cannot call yourself an open-minded, accepting and non-judgmental person. You, by definition, cannot call yourself a 'liberal.'

I am not by any means referring to every politically liberal person on this campus. I have been blessed to meet many people who are as happy as I am to respectfully agree to disagree. The issue I am speaking about comes from the group of people who think they have agreed to disagree but have actually just shut their minds with stubborn arrogance.

This alarmingly large group is responsible for the experiences I am about to relate.

I have been given dirty looks for saying that I voted for Mitt Romney. I have been told I am, and I quote, “a crappy person” for not agreeing that Beyoncé is the ideal feminist. I have been called wrong in front of classes by professors who told me that the liberal opinion is fact, and I have been called a child for choosing not to watch risqué movies or listen to sexually explicit music. I have been called sub-human for supporting George W. Bush.

I am the 'evil other.' I’m the conservative that many hate on in class discussions. I’m the conservative that many people on my campus are trying to bully into silence and acquiescence. I belong to the group that is freely brought up as the enemy in almost every conversation. Students have no qualms about publicly asserting that conservatives cause stereotypes against the poor and minorities. But what’s ironic is that this very assertion is a stereotype against conservatives. These students are accusing conservatives of what they themselves are doing.

As students of the Claremont Colleges, we spend class after class talking about the dangers of categorization and overgeneralization. We read book after book about what happens when we demonize a group of people and make them seem less than human. We talk endlessly about the contradictions of a free country that still holds racial and economic stereotypes. These are all beautiful principles. But then why is it entirely okay to ignore these discussions when talking about Republicans?

In every generation, the 'oppressed other' was believed to be rightfully oppressed for what seemed, at the time, to be completely justifiable reasons. A good and relevant example is the anti-Communism movement on college campuses from the 1930s through the 1950s. At this time, due to the Red Scare, colleges, and conservative Americans everywhere for that matter, were hysterically trying to ban anything that even slightly suggested possible communist association. 

Radical conservatives banned respected literary words, fired employees almost erratically, and put innocent civilians on trial. They didn’t even want to entertain the ideas of racial equality for fear that it stemmed from and would propagate Communist ideology. At the time, these measures seemed necessary and valid. Only in retrospect can we see how extreme the movement actually was. 

The same applies today. Just because it seems like conservatives have beliefs that are contrary to a school’s atmosphere does not mean that silencing them will bring about the truth. Quite to the contrary, it will deny us any important point Republicans can offer, and it will make us seem foolish when future generations look back at our mistakes.

So go ahead, attack me in the comments. I don’t care. Why? Because unlike many people here I genuinely support open dialogue. I believe in disagreement, but in order for it to avoid being hypocritical, it must be given politely and with an open mind.

And to everyone who hates me at this moment, as a person holding the unpopular opinion: I have the right to speak, and I will not be silenced by college students. I am a proud, conservative woman. Yes, I support the right to bear arms; yes, I am against drug legalization; and yes, I support the United States military. I respect your opinions. But these are mine. 

Shoshana Arunasalam SC '16 is a biology major from Apple Valley, Calif.