The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Political Civility

By Sarah Levy

It’s no secret that Macalester is obsessed with appearances. We’re International! We’re Diverse! And-multi-denominationally-God forbid we would be seen as Politically Homogeneous!! But in light of last week’s writings on the potential threat of political homogeneity and consequently in robust support of the MacGOP, this begs the question-is political diversity the same as other kinds of diversity?For instance, in Jonathan McJunkin’s article about the MacGOP Resurgence, he quotes Brian Rosenberg as saying: “Last spring there was a panel of about 40 graduating seniors and alumni about the experience at Macalester… and almost all of them-many of whom I’m sure would describe themselves as liberal democrats-said that they wished there were more conservative thought on campus.”

This strikes me as utterly absurd. Does it make any sense that if you actually cared about your political position you would wish for more people to be in opposition to you?

It’s as if after years of counter-protesting the anti-abortion zealots that come out every Good Friday in the Twin Cities to demonstrate in front of Planned Parenthood, one year they finally didn’t show up and instead of celebrating, the pro-choice activists got together and mourned their absence, perhaps saying, ‘Man-Now that they’re gone, I kind of miss the zealots. We didn’t actually want you guys to leave! We just wanted to revel in the great diversity of opinion this city has to offer!’

Not that I think the MacGOP doesn’t have a right to exist- or that I wish everyone had the same political views. It’s the degree to which Macalester is championing MacGOP for what seems to just be the prospect of adding another diverse political label to its college catalogue-that strikes me as problematic.

The point is, we shouldn’t get caught up in trying to project an image of diversity, for its own sake, especially when it undercuts the whole point of diversity in the first place. Because political diversity is not the same as other forms of diversity.

If you’re trying to have men and women represented, and then you go a step further in the name of Diversity to make sure that the voice of people who don’t think women should have a voice is represented, you’re not moving towards a Higher Level of Diversity and Acceptance-you’re just legitimizing sexism.

People have a right to support what they believe, engage in debate and analysis, and either continue to support their views, or change to support and fight for something else. Thus attacking someone’s politics is not the same as attacking them for something they simply are.

Less theoretically, there are practical implications of this skewed mentality, such as the school putting so much effort into bringing renowned conservative speakers to campus, while putting it all on a student group to organize the entirety of Black History Month with a fraction of what it’s received for funding in the past. Again, not that conservative voices should be silenced, but what if the majority of students would rather see the money go to a strong Black History Month? Or something else entirely? Should such financial decisions be fully disclosed and open to a campus-wide debate?

Rather than simply cheering the MacGOP and consequent vision of Heterogeneity, what should be fostered is more political discussion and analysis period. The aim shouldn’t be to move past our political differences and champion all views for the sake of looking heterogeneous, but rather to encourage more political debate and discussion, so that people can figure out what is right and then fight for that vision.

If the Mac GOP does indeed resurge, hopefully it will encourage other left-leaning students to raise their voices as well and stand up for what they believe in. Students shouldn’t get sucked into the institutional back-patting of our newfound Diversity, that may in fact undermine the ideal’s true significance.

Sarah Levy ’12 is a contributing writer for the Mac Weekly and can be reached at [email protected].

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