The political Left takes pride in its tolerance and acceptance. In my experience, that pride is not justifiable.
Stanford, like most universities, is an extremely liberal institution. The University also goes to great lengths to foster an inclusive environment. Stanford provides numerous on-campus counseling services, ethnic-theme housing, and community centers for identity groups. Surely, allowing conservatives to hold events every once and awhile, even though most students are liberal, would be acceptable in this vision of inclusivity. Some liberals on campus think otherwise.
Ben Shapiro spoke at Memorial Auditorium in November, causing intense upheaval. Following the speech, Daily headlines asked, “When will Stanford begin to protect its students?” Activists portrayed Shapiro as a cockroach to be exterminated. A large crowd amassed outside Memorial Auditorium to harass attendees, shouting loudly about the lives that had “come under attack” as a result of Shapiro’s appearance.
Does something so trivial as a speech by a conservative really warrant this type of hysteria and outrage?
The mainstream at Stanford singles out conservatives as evil, a familiar feeling to many Republicans in liberal hotbeds like California. But there is no critical reflection of Left-wingers who are wildly popular on campus. Take Bernie Sanders, a man who has praised Fidel Castro for his “literacy program,” complimented the USSR on their “youth engagement,” and said that breadlines are “a good thing.” One wonders what standards can possibly justify Stanford’s definition of “mainstream” political views.
As crazy as these positions are, you would be hard-pressed to find a crowd to protest Bernie on Stanford’s campus. As expected, many of the same people protesting Shapiro and the audience for being conservatives are die-hard Bernie supporters. Nobody seems to even acknowledge the moral quandary in supporting figures like Sanders, yet attack those willing to just listen to conservative ideas!
Many left-wing and socialist ideas are offensive to those who respect the process of democracy and a society based on personal and economic freedoms. Consider unfettered markets, which have lifted billions out of poverty (despite inequality that comes with it), versus the en vogue Democratic Socialist stance pushing for more hold over the private sector. The latter position has a less-than-succesful track record in places like the USSR and Nazi Germany. Conservatives have accepted a more defensive role on campus, which perhaps is to our disadvantage. At least, unlike Leftists, we tend to highlight why their ideas can have detrimental ramifications, rather than claim those ideas put our lives in danger.
Activists on the Left have deemed basic conservative ideas -- capitalism, individualism, limited government -- to be dangerous, even violent. Therefore, violence may be necessary against any who hold them on campus.
Even in California, Republicans do exist. People hold conservative values for a number of reasons, and the Left’s breathless assertion of moral superiority beggars belief. Stanford students hail from a myriad of backgrounds, countries, and family structures. They also think differently. No one should make the assumption that everyone grew up in a PC bubble like the Bay Area. Stanford strives to have a heterogeneous student body, and that should include politics.
Diversity and tolerance are important, but must also be afforded to political minorities on campus. We should be celebrating diversity of thought in the same way we celebrate all other forms of diversity. Sharing unique experiences and offering varying viewpoints can only strengthen a community more. Who wants to go to a politically homogeneous school, where everyone accepts one ideology? Apparently, some of our liberal peers do.
I hope that as a student body, we can break down the barriers preventing civil discourse in our classrooms. Stanford has a long way to go in terms of political tolerance, but the longer it takes us to get there, the worse it will be for our vibrant intellectual environment. Suppressing certain opinions because you aren’t comfortable with them, through public shaming, is degrading to Stanford as both an intellectual institution and a collaborative community. Through accepting differences and debating from equal standing, we can do so much better and learn even more than we already do from our peers. Liberals and conservatives alike stand to benefit.