Whether they know it or not, liberals are in the midst of a battle for the direction of their ideology and whatever it encompasses.
Currently, being liberal means different things to different people, like supporting same-sex marriage, abortion rights,taxing the wealthy, criminal justice reform, legalization of marijuana, extension of voter rights, and the list goes on.
Language has become the most interesting weapon that liberals have deployed, placing a heightened emphasis on the acceptance of their notions of “equality,” “social justice” and “tolerance.” There’s an undeniable exclusivity in the annals of the liberal mind, to the extent that if you’re not fully on board, you might as well just hop off.
Throughout my time at college, I saw the rise and acquiescence of forces outside of the liberal mainstream, including the Black Lives Matter movement and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Coinciding with emergence of these forces, I saw the popularization of the ‘illiberal contingency,’ a group that believes itself to be so morally impervious that they refuse to engage in intellectual debate.
These are the same people who choose to protest over the names of college dorms, demand reparations for slavery, question the need for the Constitution and, most notably, created a stir at Oberlin over the ‘cultural appropriation’ of dining hall food.
As editor-in-chief of my college’s student-run newspaper, The New Paltz Oracle, I was able to avoid illiberals until our last editorial of the year. In it, we addressed the presence of Anti Fascist Action (Antifa) at an adjunct faculty protest. We condemned the appearance of their 10-foot tall flag in front of the Humanities Building and relayed the danger they presented since they were responsible for the fire bombings at the University of California at Berkeley in February. We also chastised the administration and UPD for not being aware of Antifa’s presence and speaking out against radicals on campus.
From there, the Conservative Review wrote an article about our editorial and praised us for standing up to Antifa. Things got interesting after I shared their article publicly to my Facebook page. Some current and former students took hours out of their Sunday to vilify my staff for embracing the coverage, claiming that our biases were exposed. Additionally, they leveled charges at the paper itself, stating that it was “fascist” and propagated “white nationalist” causes.
Most people who know me would consider my views to be a lot of things, but those of a white nationalist fascist? That was new.
From the dialogue I waded through, it became obvious that these comment section philosophers are threatened by the mere existence of conservative students, which is hopelessly pathetic. In my short life, I’ve met people from every corner of the political spectrum. Just because someone doesn’t agree with me doesn’t make them an unreasonable hate-spewing boogeyman.
I didn’t waste my time trying to respond to every single comment in the thread because I knew that they never tried to reason with me in the first place. I don’t take it personally, I think it comes down to a basic realization that the illiberal contingency simply doesn’t know what they choose not to pursue.
The fear of encountering that which might be unsettling or contrary to their cemented point of view leaves them in a paralytic state of political shock. This bubble-wrap mindset was first implemented through participation trophies and further metastasized by unwarranted trigger warnings. Unsurprisingly, it has left an entire generation of political participants on the sidelines.
I enjoyed my time in college but the burnout was real and I ache for a return to the center-right world. I could only stand so much nonsense policy projection before I beckoned to move up and out of the kids table. I know liberals hate being called “snowflakes,” but the only other comparative noun I thought was applicable were “butterflies.”
To that same end, the fact that supposedly well-minded liberals, socialists or even communists aren’t beating the drum to criticize actual radical left-wing paramilitary groups on campus is woefully tragic. If there were a cause that was on my side but flew so far over the fringe, I would want to get ahead of it and negate its influence.
Growing up in a conservative town and then attending college in a liberal, hippy village has created a bridge raised me to believe in bipartisanship. Yes, I’m a Republican, but I also value intellectual discourse among all, including liberals. However, those who so readily cling to their notion of regimented fairness and tolerance have discarded any discourse as it merely stands in the way of affirming their point of view.
In my role as editor-in-chief, I provided space for others who I did not agree with to be heard. Regardless of how I felt, I really just cared about making sure others were able to articulate their points. People supported causes I could not get behind, whether it was Bernie, BLM or communism, and I still let them speak. This was despite knowing that if the situation were reversed and I approached them while wearing my “Palin 2012 – Conservatism Lives” t-shirt, I would not be afforded that same opportunity.