“Conservative” is not a dirty word

Luke Swift, Reporter

Words such as racist, bigot, misogynist, extremist and many more have become a way to express hatred for the Republican party and their policies. Believe me, most of us are not racist bigots often expressing how much we hate the #metoo movement or other progressive developments. I am not here to advocate for those who may feel victimized by these phrases, but instead to raise awareness for a group of students who may feel disenfranchised by fellow peers who don’t share the same ideologies.

What I have witnessed from spending time in both a conservative and a liberal town is that we both don’t know what each group truly believes in and what they are like.

No, conservatives are not all gun wielding, confederate flag waving racists, and we do not believe in the abolition of immigration in the U.S. or the continual abuse of women in both sexual and violent means. Rather, we are a group who upholds the rights our country was built on, like the rights of the natural born citizen through due process.

Liberals, too, are not young pot smoking hippies letting anyone and everyone over our borders and taking away our right to feel safe. Rather, they are a group of people that believe in progress and not being stuck in our often questionable history as a nation.  

I know I don’t speak on behalf of both parties, this is only a rough representation of their beliefs from what I have experienced by socializing with different people.  

I most closely relate with conservatives, especially in the ideas that I have expressed, and I often feel uncomfortable talking about it among both students and staff, much like many students who share the same ideologies. Some feel like their opinions aren’t heard or appreciated around their friends and especially in their classroom.  

“Sharing your opinions in class is usually never listened to and you tend to get yelled at by students or are told you are a racist or just hate everyone else. But teachers usually have a more knowledgeable reason behind whether they disagree with you or not,” said a DHS student who wished to remain anonymous.  

However, some feel comfortable sharing their opinions but are constantly afraid they are going to offend someone else or be profiled by certain stereotypes.

“I feel comfortable when talking about it, but I try to present in a way so that I don’t offend anyone or be considered something as silly as a racist just because I believe in securing our borders,” said a second anonymous student.

Both students declined for their names to be mentioned in the article.

We are supposed to come to school for a safe space to discuss whatever beliefs or ideas we may have and be comfortable knowing that those ideas/beliefs would be accepted by our fellow peers and teachers. That’s what makes this a democracy…right? How can we say “we support each other” and “take pride in each other” if we can’t even feel safe saying what we believe without being ridiculed by fellow students?

Some teachers are trying to combat the division between students by using healthy evidence packed debates. This allows students to formally talk to one another without feeling unsafe about what they may say.

“I do have a wide diversity of opinions in my class, so one way I approach (politics) is we have time for students to speak their opinion. I don’t allow debates and I don’t allow two students to speak at the same time. But at the same time I like to challenge the viewpoints of any students and demand they bring in evidence to support it,” said social studies teacher Edward Cash.  

A message to all students, liberal and conservative, try to be open to both ideas and both sides, because as I have realized, it is far worse to be closed minded than to be aware of the world and its many cultures, ideas and people.

Therefore, instead of rolling over our friends and fellow students, let’s encourage healthy discussions, like many teachers at the high school, by challenging differing opinions and your own opinions to make up your own mind rather than someone else’s.