Tolerance is a frequent topic of conversation in today’s culture, particularly on our nation’s campuses. It seems that people bend over backwards to convince others, and perhaps themselves, of their own tolerance, taking pride and self-satisfaction in how accepting they are of members of a different race, gender, religion, sexual persuasion, or just about anything. I say “just about” because there is definitely one area where, for many people, there is zero tolerance – politics.
Here is something I discovered a long time ago: Anytime I hope to have the slightest chance to engage in an honest and civil conversation about anything political, it is absolutely imperative that I first qualify myself in a variety of ways in order to preempt the all-too-familiar hair-trigger “counterattack” based on some people’s dismissive predispositions, such as: “Where’d you hear that, the New York Times?” if I sound liberal, or “Where’d you hear that, Fox News?” if I might sound conservative. The simple truth is that I’m a Dutch and American citizen raised in a very blue state, and I have views on some issues which one might consider left of center. It’s also true that as the daughter of a man who served in two wars, I have the deepest sense of respect and gratitude toward our military, as well as the policemen and -women who risk their lives every day to protect and serve our country’s citizens, despite the rare bad examples that exist in every profession. It is my humble opinion that a country should not have open borders or sanctuary cities. Comments like that cause people to immediately brand me a Republican. My sense is that most listeners, first and foremost, will want to determine whether I am Democrat or Republican, and whether I voted for Hillary or Trump, before they decide whether to listen to a word I have to say.
As it happens, I am a registered Independent and have voted for people from both parties. Honestly, I saw too many character and personality issues in Donald Trump to be comfortable giving him my vote, nor did I support or condone the decades of self-serving dishonesty and abject corruption from Hillary Clinton, along with her years of destroying victims of her husband’s alleged sexual assaults and other unconscionable behavior. My own opinion is that Trump would probably never have been elected at any other time in our history, and that Hillary Clinton may very well be the only candidate the Democrats could have found who was flawed enough to lose to him. So like it or not, Trump won 2,622 out of the 3,112 counties in 2016.
I am still a teenager, but I have deep concerns for our future in regard to our freedom of choice and our rights of free speech and thought. When I learned a year ago that I was accepted to Hamilton College, I ran across an article written by a senior about conservative students being harassed by other students and even some professors. I am happy to say I have not experienced that here, but other colleges are not so tolerant. Examples of this intolerance elsewhere include posting pictures of conservatives seemingly in order to increase harassment of them. Then there are tweets like the one from journalist Jesse Farrar, who said professors should “hold the conservative students heads under water until they stop breathing.”
After explaining my reasons, and my qualifications as someone who cannot be pigeonholed and therefore immediately dismissed, I am usually able to obtain “permission” from people I try to engage in a political discussion. It is just unfortunate that anyone should have to.