Don’t blame the left
In Aaron Sibarium’s ’18 latest piece “Donald Trump is your fault” (Nov. 2, 2016), he blames Trump’s rise on liberal, elite Yalies. However, the beliefs of the elite are not necessarily bad. These beliefs are, at their core, an ode to a tolerance and pluralism that comes from a liberal arts education. Trump’s rise is based on the antithesis of these principles and is mostly based on expressing anxiety toward the changing demographics of America.
Trump’s supporters are angry. They are angry with the media for presenting what they believe to be a biased view. They’re frustrated with comedians for mocking their real issues. They’re mad seeing their problems ignored in favor of people in cities they will never meet. America seems to have left them behind, and so Sibarium is right that calling them “deplorable” will likely not change minds.
Yet Sibarium overlooks the cultural progress toward tolerance that has been made by the so-called liberal elites. The liberal, educated elite recognize that an ostracizing shift is happening, but make the active choice to place improving the lives of historically underrepresented communities over that of the largely unaffected majority.
Under Sibarium’s argument, what is a member of the elite supposed to do with a liberal, minority opinion (like that of trans rights)? Are we supposed to ignore sincerely held beliefs of an unprivileged minority in favor of the sincerely held beliefs of a slow-to-change majority? I agree with Sibarium that Yalies are part of a privileged class.
But this privilege allows us to look beyond ourselves and vote in the interests of others. Are we to accept the beliefs and practices that hurt many minorities as part of “intellectual diversity”? There is nothing intellectual about beliefs based on prejudice. And when we educate each other and change minds, by Sibarium’s logic we have now created more liberal, educated elites rather than helped to create a better community.
Finally, Sibarium’s argument is that protests at Yale are part of the rise of anti-elitism and Trump. I would argue that no student who participated in the protests thinks that changing the name of “master” was the most pressing issue in America. The dialogue at Yale is Yale-specific. Indeed, most of us would likely place structural poverty, the effects of redlining and unconscious bias as far more important systemic issues. However, students can only affect what is within their grasp. For example, this is why Yale Students for Prison Divestment is protesting Yale’s involvement in private prisons rather than the whole of the private prison system itself. We need to start in our own house first.
There will always be conservative reaction, but in the end we should value doing the right thing. Part of the purpose of a liberal arts education is to change majority culture for the better.
Peter Chung is a junior in Pierson College. He is a former Editor of YTV.