Last Wednesday, the College Republicans removed another student from its meeting because said student did not share the same political views. According to the news story, she was present to hear a gubernatorial candidate speak; ostensibly, to listen and learn more about the candidate. This student wasn’t conducting herself in a manner that would’ve disrupted the meeting’s proceedings or in a manner that would warrant that her presence be questioned.
The Daily Nebraskan’s Editorial Board finds this deeply troubling. Collectively, the reasons the College Republicans gave for removing the student from their meeting boil down to a deep-rooted intolerance for others who don’t share the same (political) beliefs as they do. Moreover, the organization embraces — and is actively pursuing — an exclusionary policy that effectively isolates the group from anyone who disagrees with its views.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. There are several quotes about the benefits of doing so on the Internet somewhere. There are also several quotes on the Internet about the importance, and indeed, the invaluable benefits one receives by engaging with those who share different, but not incompatible, beliefs. Embracing the risk of being trite, we’d like to point out that our university should be a place where we all collectively strive to achieve the latter.
The undercurrent of fear and mistrust that belies the actions of the College Republicans is a consequence of our country’s ever-present undercurrent of fear and mistrust of those who idle on the other side of the aisle. However, it’s worth pointing out that these aisles, divisions, parties and beliefs are social constructs. Meaning, our actions reinforce or dismantle these divisions; they build trust and acceptance or breed distrust and intolerance.
It would be overly simplistic to deride the College Republicans for alarmingly blatant discrimination — to stop there is to take the easy way out. What’s necessary here is the need for a serious and open dialogue about divisions and beliefs and our roles in creating and sustaining them.
Unfortunately, we’ve inherited all of our forefathers’ hatred, fears, indomitable pride and the impossibly resilient conviction that our beliefs are or at least should be universal.
Remember that we have a choice.
We don’t have to internalize this hatred, this fear, this pride, this conviction — we can do better.