Embrace Diversity (Unless It’s Different)

Benjamin Burnette, Staff Writer

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Embracing diversity is the first Eagle value we go through on the announcements each morning, and it’s one many consider an important part of Marshall culture. And in a lot of ways, we do it very well. And yet, students show remarkable close-mindedness in areas that relate to politics. A majority of the students lean left center, which is fine. We live in Southern California, no one expects a conservative campus. However, the level of opposition and derision conservatives deal with on this campus is in strict conflict with the value of embracing diversity.

So to begin with, let’s address why it’s important that we not just dismiss all Republicans as idiot Trump supporters, and why we can’t even label Trump supporters as idiots. The easiest answer is just that the fact that some Trump supporters are clearly intelligent. To cite some of the more higher profile examples, Eric Metaxas feels that Trump is a more viable option than Clinton, and he is a Yale graduate and best selling author. These credentials don’t necessarily mean he is correct in his political opinions, but they make it hard to dismiss him as stupid.

Yet the other day, one of my fellow student said that “[People] aren’t intelligent if they support Trump.” This attitude, and the flaws in it, both apply to Republicans in general. You don’t have to agree with them about everything, but you do have to respect that they think the way they do for a reason, and that to some degree, those reasons have validity. This is so important because it addresses the heart of the reason that embracing diversity is important. We embrace diversity because understanding where others come from is vital to forming complete and educated opinions, and because unless we respect others opinions, we cannot expect them to respect ours.

Which brings us to the problem. Many Republicans I know at Marshall are nervous about expressing their opinions because of the hostility they feel they will encounter. And the sad part is, they aren’t wrong to be concerned. If a conservative expresses their opinion at Marshall, frequently the best they can hope for is condescension, and sometimes people just resort to ad hominem attacks. And ad hominem attacks won’t change the mind of the person you are talking to, so they don’t really help the situation.

Now, though I have yet to meet any at Marshall, if there are conservatives at Marshall who respond with hostility to the opinions of the other side, either with condescending attitudes or ad hominem attacks, they absolutely need to work on that too. Neither side should treat the other side with disrespect. To conclude, Zoltan Bathory observed, “They can’t divide you without your consent.” I’m all for disagreement and productive discussion, but let’s not forget the positive things that tie us together here at Marshall.

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