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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Coalition of the Whining

Published: March 14, 2008
Section: Opinions

In the last month weeks alone The Hoot ran at least four articles about conservatives or Republican on campus. Every single article dealt with how very difficult it is to be to the right of center in college and how the tyranny of the liberal majority made life difficult for those who dared criticize Barack Obama or support the war in Iraq.

Just last week The Hoot ran a letter by the pseudonym ‘Wanda Tinasky’ accusing me of being outright sympathetic to the deposed Hussein regime. I didn’t feel ‘oppressed’ by it. You just move on.

This phenomenon is hardly unique to Brandeis; practically every article about college conservatives will include the standard complaint about rampant leftism in academia or how declaring oneself a supporter of President Bush will lead to getting burned in effigy. Early in 2003 the late William F. Buckley’s magazine the National Review even ran a cover story branding America’s colleges “places of dangerous unreality” because the average college student believed (among other things) that global warming and evolution were real but that Saddam’s WMDs were not.

In their mad passion for victim status, some college conservatives have even adopted being right wing as a sort of ‘political homosexuality’ by celebrating ‘Conservative Coming-Out Day’ in which they declare their conservativism to the world, even though they know such beliefs might well cost them absolutely nothing.

Why does the right-wing community on campus feel so aggrieved? Simple: most college conservatives do not know what oppression is. Hearing opinions they don’t like, being outnumbered in a class, occasionally being called a racist for making racially-charged statements; these are the limits of their imagination so far as suffering for their beliefs goes.

There are many forms and degrees of oppression. Some kinds of subjugation involves denial of opportunity, limits placed on your freedom of movement and expression, threats to physical safety, or any combination of those things. It is getting your right to vote taken away, or being assaulted in the street for what you look like, or being thrown in jail for what you believe. It’s probably fair to say that most of the people attending a first-tier liberal arts school have never had to go through any of those things (though obviously some of us have).

The conservative lust for victimhood functions superficially as a sure way to protect themselves from criticism. On a deeper level, though, being conservative is about being in power and defending the status quo. The smallest bump in the road can feel like an affront, and any inconvenience is a threat. Anyone who would rob the right-wingers of their well-deserved sense of dominance is asking for trouble.