For months pundits, journalists and your second cousin have all tried to explain the political success of Donald Trump. Some blame the mainstream media for glorifying the candidate’s sensationalism and essentially handing him billions of dollars in free advertising. Some point to the corruption and incompetence of Congress. These are valid charges. But there’s one group many have neglected to accuse. They are who many refer to as the Regressive Left. The political correctness and viciously anti-conservative rhetoric of this faction of liberals have inspired Donald’s supporters to retaliate. The liberal media’s shaming of right-wingers has incited anger. The left-wing bias at American universities has all but silenced conservative opinions in higher education. Liberal professors outnumber conservatives 5 to 1 overall and by an even larger margin in social studies departments. Conservatives feel disrespected and outcasted. Their misguided but understandable response was in nominating the most outspoken presidential candidate in American history.
Democrats are known for standing up for the rights of gays, women and people of colour. However, while the hippies of the 60s and 70s fought injustice through dialogue and peaceful protest, the hipsters of today fight it through angry tweets. These “progressives” label anyone who criticizes the doctrine of Islam as Islamophobic. Even Muslims like Maajid Nawaz who call for Islamic reform are called "porch monkeys". Anyone, including women who question the statistics regarding the wage gap are called misogynists. Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, a feminist democrat was heckled by students at UMass simply because she stated facts disputing the accuracy of the pay gap. Anyone who opposes some of the aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement is called racist. Leftists will verbally abuse even a black person*** for disagreeing with BLM.
Of course, one is free to challenge any of these people. But whether or not one agrees with Nawaz, Sommers, an objector to BLM or a Trump supporter, they must remain open to hearing their viewpoints. If one disagrees with them, they should debate them with superior arguments, not name-calling. If Nawaz and Sommers are wrong, their opponents must use facts, not emotional outbursts to correct them. These people are being demonized simply for expressing their opinion. While the Regressive Left may think of themselves as proponents of open dialogue, they only want to listen to those who share their views. For example, at colleges across the US students have been protesting against the invitation of conservative speakers and often assault those who attend their speaking engagements.
In the past 3 years, the environment at American universities has drastically changed. Schools like the University of Michigan have instituted “inclusive language” laws whereby students and faculty are not allowed to use certain words such as crazy, gay and illegal alien in class. These regulations were established in order to avoid offending students. Of course, hate speech of any kind should be condemned. But these rules do not take context into account. Professors can be punished for merely having a class discussion about terms like faggot or the N word. The proponents of these regulations feel as though if we just don’t mention such words, homophobia and racism will decrease. They are wrong.
Progress comes out of conversation. If we don’t talk about contentious issues they will never be solved. Black and white people need to have difficult discussions regarding race relations. Feminists should be encouraged to have debates with men’s rights activists. Muslims should be provided an opportunity to defend themselves against criticisms of Islam. But they will not have a chance to do so if professors and students are condemned for talking about religion.
One of the main purposes of post-secondary education is for young people to learn to question their own beliefs. They must be exposed to opposing viewpoints in order to learn to debate rationally. But inclusive language laws prevent these discussions from occurring. Students and faculty feel as though they cannot speak up. They run the risk of expulsion or termination if they say something that is deemed discriminatory or hurtful. When students aren’t offered the chance to come to a mutual understanding on controversial topics, ignorance and resentment are fostered. The Regressive Left’s intolerance of their opponents has resulted in frustrated conservatives and disaffected liberals supporting Donald Trump. To them, he represents the antidote to this institutionalized discrimination of ideas.
Don’t get me wrong. I would never vote for Trump and I disagree with many of his followers’ reasons for supporting him. But name-calling, vitriol and generalizations are not the solution. We must remind ourselves that while we may believe in different philosophies of government, we all want a safe and prosperous world. When regressive leftists refuse to even hear a conservative opinion and call anyone who expresses it a racist, Trump’s stock rises accordingly. His supporters believe that he will be a voice for them in the left-leaning, politically correct media. Again, I disagree with and abhor most of what The Donald says. But one of the reasons that he has been able to tap into the hearts and minds of fearful and infuriated Americans is because the Regressive Left has painted these people with a broad brush of xenophobia. Those that have been unjustly labeled this way see Trump as their ally. They know he won’t hide his positions in calculated rhetoric. In their eyes, his candor supersedes his ignorance. Most of all, they love his hatred for political correctness. Any time liberals criticize Trump for his “unpresidential” behavior, his supporters’ fervor grows stronger.
I think it is terrifying that such an unqualifed and uninformed person could be elected President. Those of us who oppose Trump should do everything in our power to make sure he does not reach the Oval Office. However, flinging insults at Trump supporters is counterproductive. Rather than making assumptions about their motives and morals, we should be arguing with them rationally. If we see their basis for supporting him as flawed, we should counter with better ideas instead of bombastic retaliation.
***I linked readers to this video solely for them to see the argument between the black Trump supporter and his opponents, not the unrelated debate previewed in the outro to the video.