The ‘tolerant’ left on today’s college campuses

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A few weeks ago, I planned and hosted a State of the Union Watch Party for the students of my local university. My idea was very simple. I wanted to incentivize my fellow students to become involved and get informed about their national government, regardless of party affiliation. By hosting an event that showcased President Trump’s first State of the Union address, my hope was that a bi-partisan group of students would come together to listen to the President’s speech and discuss it.

After planning the event I did what every student organization does. I placed flyers around campus to advertise the event and encouraged my Republican and Democrat friends to attend the speech. As the date of the event drew closer I started to notice something. My flyers I had put up started to mysteriously disappear. Now, I will confess, this didn’t surprise me at all. I was fully expecting to see vandalism on some of the flyers I put up. At one point I even had a friend send me a picture of a flyer that he placed that had been torn to pieces but remained taped on the wall. I responded by telling him to leave it. I thought that leaving the torn flyer up would make a larger point about the status of today’s political discourse on college campuses, specifically towards conservatives.

The rise of political correctness is without question a factor in this. In recent years, the left in America has branded itself as the party of ‘tolerance.’ They like to tout their rigorous support for a marketplace of ideas model. That is, if you agree with what they deem to be acceptable. I think the best way to sum this up is with a quote from Charlie Kirk, the founder of the widely successful conservative group Turning PointUSA. Many times, Mr. Kirk has asserted that today’s college campuses “Want everyone to look different but think exactly the same.” This summarizes the state of the modern college campus. I’m not here to say that all college professors are indoctrinating students to adopt the more liberal side of political thinking.

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What I can say is that the majority of college professors are in fact left-leaning. It is all too common to enter a classroom and find out that a professor is biased towards some of the most politically correct schools of thought that are present in America. They proclaim that diversity is a good thing, but if you are a conservative student that challenges the myth of white privilege and the victim mentality that accompanies it you are strongly rebuked. If you are a conservative student that believes that the concept of truth is not subjective and that there is such a thing as right and wrong with no room for a grey area then you are rebuked as small minded and rudimentary. If you are a conservative student that believes that a life begins at conception and that marriage is a sacred institution that has long been one of the most important factors to a civilized society then you are strongly rebuked. If you are a conservative student that even dares speak out against the notion of so called “gender neutral pronouns” or the even more outlandish idea that there are only two genders, then you are strongly rebuked. Essentially, if you are a conservative student on today’s modern college campus and disagree with the mainstream progressive agenda, then you are deemed intolerant.

The irony has become so rich in recent years. The great William F. Buckley once said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” This perfectly describes what many conservative students in today’s academia deal with. College has long been a place where students are taught to think critically. It is a laboratory for ideas to be combated and heavily debated, and that is a noble and great idea. But if the left really wants to claim to be tolerant, then perhaps they should be open to ideas that contradict them.

A model society is one that encourages an open dialogue free of contrasting ideas. Is the left truly tolerant if they refuse to hear other objecting opinions? What I can say with certainty is that there are conservative students across America that are afraid to speak up in class because of retaliation from their left-leaning professors. As Americans, we should all be eager to listen to each other to better our republic through open and civil dialogue. This dialogue should be more common on college campuses, and I am confident that conservative students all over the United States will continue to argue for their point of view. The work of young intellectuals like Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk are at the forefront of defending conservative students on college campuses, and because of this I am confident that true ‘tolerance’ for all ideas can one day finally be attained.

Joseph Duncan is the chairman of the Claiborne County Republican Party. He can be reached at