TORRES: The one-sided campus

This year student organizations will invite conservative speakers to campus, offering much-needed opposing views to our stifled intellectual culture. Undoubtedly, many so-called open-minded people on the left will treat these speakers with derision and hostility.

Last year, when Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield came to a Pierson College Master’s Tea to talk about masculinity, some people came dressed in drag simply to provoke. Others asked ridiculous questions meant to denigrate Mansfield’s opinion rather than address it.

Norman Podhoretz, the former editor-in-chief of Commentary magazine, refused to speak at Yale two years ago because he expected that he would be received disrespectfully by the student body. (Instead, he chose to speak at the Yale Club in New York.) This is not even to mention the reception of many True Love Week speakers last spring. The list goes on and on.

This hostility is a singularly liberal phenomenon. I have heard no reports of conservative students staging protests inside (or outside, for that matter) Sex Week seminars on blowjobs or masturbation. Nor have I heard of conservatives insulting or disrupting lecturers who advocate the fluidity of gender and the necessity of a gender-neutral social culture. Liberal tolerance seems to end when conservatives assert their opinion, as many liberals so often choose protest over peaceful conversation.

Here at Yale, where civil discussion of opposing opinions is expected, the effects of disrespectful combativeness are particularly harmful. Conservatives are not only the minority on college campuses, but their opinions are too often disregarded rather than engaged. As such, liberals are rarely challenged, and they become complacent in their opinions and assured they are righteously correct.

Many liberals do not understand opposition as anything other than malevolence. So much of liberal ideology is based on intentions, and the left certainly means well, but liberals think good intentions alone constitute goodness. Liberals thus often equate disagreement with their policies with malicious intent. For example, those who dislike President Obama, they say, do so not because of politics but rather racism. Favoring traditional gender roles is sexism. Calling for tax cuts is greed and hatred of the poor. In all these instances, liberals attack the ethics or character of the opposition as opposed to the content of their opinions.

Gay marriage provides an even more contentious example. When many conservatives promote traditional marriage, the liberal sees fear or hatred of homosexuals at play. A conservative cannot advocate traditional marriage without immediately being labeled a bigot. No other explanation for their opinion is sought nor deemed plausible.

Ironically, and contrary to common opinion, it is liberals who have such an elevated view of their opinions that they seek to socially castigate dissenters. This leaves them in an intellectual vacuum.

Yale and its mission to provide a well-rounded education cannot exist properly with such closed-mindedness. When students do not attempt to understand conservatism, they do not tolerate conservatism and, as a result, they disrespect conservatism and conservatives as well.

This is not to say there are not exceptions. I have had many wonderful, respectful conversations with liberals with whom I disagree. However, these isolated incidents don’t change what seems like a common liberal approach to conservatism. Overall, liberals remain ignorant and hateful of conservative opinions.

So as this new school year comes to a start I ask that liberals — especially the freshmen, who have three more years than I do to make this school a better place — at least try to engage with opposing viewpoints, particularly those of conservatives. Engage, even if others’ views are disagreeable.

As many of you in the freshman class will soon discover, Yale prides itself in diversity despite existing as a liberal echo chamber. This does not have to be so. Students truly have the ability to change Yale for the better, if only by respecting conservatives as reasonable peers and allowing dialogue responsibly to take place. It is our duty as scholars at Yale.

Alec Torres is a senior in Trumbull College. Contact him at alec.torres@yale.edu.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    “When many conservatives promote traditional marriage”

    Do you mean “biblical marriage”? Solomon with 300 wives and 800 concubines?

    PK

    • River_Tam

      Like I’ve said – I think there’s a better constitutional justification for polygamy than gay marriage. The former has been part of the common understanding of marriage for millennia – the latter, not so much.

      I’ll be _shocked_ if anti-bigamy laws don’t get struck down some time in the next 30 years.

    • RexMottram08

      No, we don’t mean “biblical marriage.” We mean natural law marriage. See: George, Robert.

  • yellowasp

    Echo chambers of both political persuasions are to blame here. Though I do loath the liberal penchant to decry the opposition as bigoted, the conservative self-victimizing is just as bad.

    • Credo

      … what do you mean by self-victimization?

    • River_Tam

      Can you give some examples of non-conservative non-white males “self-victimizing”?

  • wellobviously

    someone call the whambluance, a conservative is upset that he can’t talk about gays and their yuckiness undermining tradition without someone getting upset. the horror.

  • River_Tam

    But don’t you see? They’re allowed to be disruptive and disrespectful, because they’re right and you’re wrong. It’s really their moral obligation, if you think about it.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: progressives LOVE the “fierce urgency of now”. It gives them carte blanche to try to steamroll dissent rather than engaging it. Everything is labelled a civil right, so that any opposition is seen as beneath discussion and so that IMMEDIATE ACTION is required by ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

    Being rude and disrespectful? It’s fine, THERE ISN’T TIME TO DEBATE THIS! Plus, your opponents are probably arguing in bad faith anyways. And they’re all bigots.

  • The Anti-Yale

    What?

    Conservatives can’t engage in disruptive protest because it is a “liberal” (i.e. hippie, i.e Thoreau, i.e Gandhi, i.e. M.L. King) TACTIC and would automatically nullify their credentials as a conservatives.

    So when their polite persuasion and prayer doesn’t work, they just pick up a you-know-what pick off an abortion doctor instead.

    UGH.

    PK

    • RexMottram08

      Churchill had it best on Gandhi: “It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer of the type well-known in the East, now posing as a fakir, striding half naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.”

      • Goldie08

        I don’t think “Churchill had it best” by any stretch

  • bulldogdad

    Fascism always comes from the left.

  • Credo

    While I think conservatives are wrong more often than when they are right, the blatant disregard for their opinions and reasonings (which are always of value) at Yale is quite disappointing.

    Good article. Glad someone said it.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Rex,

    I admire Churchill and imitate his lush prose in my campaign for the Vermont Legislature which you can read on my facebook page
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paul-Keane-Independent/355332381206168

    Too bad he was a bit of a murderer and a racist.

    Best,

    PK

    PS

    I actually saw Churchill when I was sixteen and his nurse, Muriel Thompson, gave me one of his cigars, which I still have 50 years later. See blog http://churchillandboy.blogspot.com/

  • Boogs

    > “I have heard no reports of
    > conservative students staging protests
    > inside (or outside, for that matter)
    > Sex Week seminars on blowjobs or
    > masturbation.”

    From my experience, most conservatives on campus aren’t against blowjobs or masturbation. With the exception of religious conservatives, those activities are actually fairly popular. There’s really not much of a conservative ‘movement’ on campus because few of the fiscal conservatives really want to live the lifestyle of the religious conservatives.

  • Robbie

    In a political climate that produced such men as Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Joe Wilson and Rush Limbaugh, trying to paint conservatives as a silent, noble class of people who grin and bear criticism rather than attacking their opponents is laughable. The antics of students protesting on colleges campuses pale in comparison to the attacks launched in the last 25 years by right-leaning figures in much better positions to promote change.

    • claypoint2

      Well said. Also, I’m glad that someone is still thinking of Lee Atwater and placing him first on the list of people responsible for setting the GOP on its current path.

  • The Anti-Yale

    One sided campus?

    I recall going To Woolsey Hall in 1960 to hear Barry Goldwater (ya know, “let’s nuke’em” Goldwater?) and the place was PACKED.

    No rudeness, no incivility.

    Paul Keane

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paul-Keane-Independent/355332381206168

  • Leahhhhhh

    My feeling is, though Yale students may be ‘blindly liberal’ to some extent (and as others have pointed out, that is very much at this moment in time and certainly doesn’t represent the student body throughout Yale’s history), it’s exactly what this country needs because there are more than enough people who are blindly conservative. And while liberals may be in control of campus, in a few months conservatives may be in control of the whole country; they’re certainly already in control of Congress and the Supreme Court. One just needs to look at the voter disenfranchisement going on in Pennsylvania right now, which has been openly admitted to be an attempt to get Romney the presidency, to see that. After tonight’s debate with Rick Santorum, many students have complained that people were unnecessarily rude and only attended to satisfy their own self-righteous liberalism. While I don’t believe being rude is necessary, I think Rick Santorum has been far more than rude to enough people in this country to deserve every bit of it. How is hissing or laughing at him on a college campus considered aggressive liberalism, but Santorum admitting on a national stage that you believe gay people to be an abomination is just him quietly taking liberal criticism? If I am blindly liberal, I am quite proud of it given the absolute conservative mess that is American democracy today.

    • River_Tam

      Ah, the old “at least our idiots are right” argument.

    • Credo

      HAHA Saul Alinsky would be so proud of you (hint, I’m being sarcastic)

  • Tracker

    Today’s liberal is tomorrow’s conservative. “Just you wait” until you get a little older (wiser?), have a family and deal with some of life’s issues with more perspective. Your opinion like likely swing toward the right. It’s not a bad thing, just reminds us that there is a season for everything.

    • shadythomas123

      that is so patronizing..

      • EightyFiver

        …but so true.

    • River_Tam

      Not only that; the liberals will move ever further left and leave some people behind. In thirty years, Yale class of 2016 will be voting against legalizing polygamy and will be getting spat on by angry Yale students who call them bigots.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The minute I boight a house I became less tadical. PK

  • The Anti-Yale

    bought / radical

    – List item