Opinions

Dear Conservative Democrats, You Can’t Tabulate Oppression

In_x000D_
the latest issue of the Claremont_x000D_
Independent, Taylor Schmitt PO ’17 tries to invalidate as many_x000D_
liberal causes célèbres as humanly_x000D_
possible. He denounces “campus progressives” for often “privileging narrative_x000D_
over evidence,” making it hard for him “to sympathize with their cause” and_x000D_
causing him to feel “embarrassed” to identify as a liberal.

While Schmitt does manage to raise some interesting points, most of his assertions_x000D_
are dull, misleading or just dead wrong.

Such_x000D_
is the case when he deduces that “many [liberals] don’t want_x000D_
factual journalism at all” simply because they don’t bash MSNBC as much as they_x000D_
do Fox News. Instead of criticizing corporate cable news media for purposefully_x000D_
dramatizing its content in the hopes of selling more eyeballs to advertisers,_x000D_
Schmitt simply touts the Republican line of crying bias without producing_x000D_
anything substantive.

Schmitt_x000D_
then moves on to Ferguson, where he pedantically concludes that it was “slanted_x000D_
media reporting”—not that Michael Brown was unarmed, shot at 12 times,_x000D_
left for dead on_x000D_
the street for about four hours
 or that African Americans_x000D_
make up 93 percent of arrests made by the Ferguson Police Department even_x000D_
though they only make up 67 percent of the population
—which provoked_x000D_
hundreds of thousands of people in Ferguson and across the world to immediately_x000D_
put the blame squarely on former Officer Darren Wilson and all that he_x000D_
represents.

Moreover, large-scale protests against Wilson were absolutely merited_x000D_
when it became known that his extremely racist_x000D_
grand jury testimony
_x000D_
and the wide variations_x000D_
from eyewitness accounts
weren’t enough to require a trial. Schmitt even admits_x000D_
that the evidence against Wilson is “inconclusive,” meaning that a trial_x000D_
would have satisfied both of us. Unfortunately, justice was anything but served.

Next,_x000D_
Schmitt critiques the nationwide movement behind Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University senior famous for carrying her bed_x000D_
across campus
_x000D_
after the university exonerated her alleged rapist. Schmitt does well in_x000D_
pointing out that the alleged attacker has been unjustly berated by the court of_x000D_
public opinion. What Schmitt fails to mention is that the same man was accused_x000D_
of sexually assaulting two other women at Columbia. Still, I agree that Sulkowicz’s_x000D_
case is more complicated than what meets the eye.

Unsurprisingly, Schmitt’s following analysis quickly ends our short-lived cohesive relationship:

“To question the guilt of Darren Wilson was to be a racist, and to_x000D_
question the veracity of Sulkowicz’s story was to be a sexist rape apologist … I_x000D_
am struggling to come to terms with this new reality wherein sticking to an_x000D_
objective view of the facts is considered a conservative trait. The campus_x000D_
left’s complete unwillingness to adjust their opinions of these cases to fit_x000D_
with the facts shows a thought process completely devoid of reason. Facts are_x000D_
apolitical.”

On the surface, I sympathize with Schmitt. Many of_x000D_
us have witnessed social justice activists call out individuals, whether it’s_x000D_
online or IRL. This is why I’m sternly against such tactics, for they alienate_x000D_
massive amounts of uneducated folks and are ultimately counterproductive.

But_x000D_
after reading the piece over a couple of times, one thing became clear:_x000D_
Schmitt doesn’t seem to care about the issues at hand whatsoever.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that protests against Wilson and behind Sulkowicz were more than just about two individual cases. Rather, they served as catalysts for a much broader critique of a racist and sexist society. This means that if Schmitt was against racist police violence—something_x000D_
that stretches far beyond Ferguson
—he could very well protest the system and still be critical of_x000D_
college liberals’ vilification of Wilson. In the same vein, Schmitt could scrutinize_x000D_
Sulkowicz and her supporters and still voice concerns over sexual assault as a whole.

Nowhere does Schmitt ever come close to doing so. In_x000D_
fact, he does the opposite.

Backed up by a handful of_x000D_
hyperlinks, Schmitt spends the second half of the article desperately trying to_x000D_
discredit the issue of collegiate sexual assault, the validity of trigger_x000D_
warnings and the gender wage gap. Schmitt also claims that President Obama’s refusal_x000D_
to refer to the Islamic State as Islamic “downplays alarmingly high levels of_x000D_
sympathy for extremist movements in Muslim communities worldwide.” This last_x000D_
claim is backed up by an article from Breitbart, an overtly biased news site that, as pointed out by one of the comments on Schmitt’s article, uses unreliable sources and lies about the data_x000D_
obtained from others. Furthermore, a Gallup analysis of more than 130 countries in 2011 found that “one’s religious identity and level of devotion have little_x000D_
to do with one’s views about attacking civilians.” 

This brings me to the article’s most rage-inducing_x000D_
segment: Schmitt’s belief that his “facts” are “apolitical.”

For anyone who’s taken a quantitative methods_x000D_
class, you know that (1) data is never perfectly collected and (2) with the_x000D_
right methodology, you can make the numbers say anything you want. Data can_x000D_
also be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the reader’s internal_x000D_
biases.

This is the critique Schmitt wants to be making—that campus progressives are taking small, biased studies and blowing them out_x000D_
of proportion for the sake of a cause. Yet that is exactly what he is doing. Instead of denouncing the frailty of_x000D_
using singular and unique studies to make overarching generalizations, Schmitt_x000D_
uses his own data sets to try and one-up the liberals. Not only is_x000D_
Schmitt being fundamentally unproductive, he is also extremely misleading. 

So, to put it briefly: Apolitical? My ass.

By the end of the article, Schmitt is more Ted Cruz_x000D_
than he is Elizabeth Warren. Despite his self-proclaimed blue innards, he is_x000D_
hell-bent on slandering the struggles of millions of Americans by using_x000D_
individual cases of possible misinformation as a way to ignore systemic_x000D_
oppressions.

As explained by The New Republic’s_x000D_
Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig
, this is nothing new for_x000D_
Conservative, U.S.A.: “The right tends to pore over the specific details of high-profile_x000D_
cases like those of Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown, concluding that if_x000D_
those particular situations were embattled by complications or mitigating_x000D_
factors, then the phenomena they’re meant to represent must not be real_x000D_
either.” 

The Left, on the other hand, understands that discrimination manifests_x000D_
itself in both clear and subtle ways, coming together “to form a tightly_x000D_
composed set of prejudices and policies that are difficult to disentangle.” In order to understand oppression, then, the Left looks “at entire systems of_x000D_
oppression, not just specific instances or behaviors.”

So maybe it’s not that we’re embarrassing you, Taylor. It’s just that you were already on_x000D_
the other side of the fence and didn’t even know it yet.

Carlos Ballesteros CM ’16 is a flag-burning left-wing radical from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

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