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The Blue & Gray Press | October 23, 2017

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Political Differences Should Not Lead to Hate

By Leah Kieff

I was surprised yesterday when a liberal friend of mine turned to me in class bemoaning the intolerance and harshness of not a conservative, but another liberal.

I was surprised that my friend not only recognized intolerance and close-mindedness when it appeared in one of her own, but that she would go as far as to be shocked by it- commenting that she, “couldn’t believe how someone who preached tolerance could be so intolerant.”

These sentiments are all too familiar among the political minorities of this school, stereotyped as being intolerant when in reality the vast majority of these minorities, while perhaps wary of certain viewpoints, are not intolerant of them.

Perhaps Voltaire expressed these sentiments best when he said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I have always valued the freedoms of this country and loved the richness of debate.

While sometimes I am infuriated by my peers’ comments, I love that these points are made.

I respect anyone who has a well thought out, well reasoned, fact-based argument for anything.

I may disagree and argue with you, but I respect and love that you are putting your argument out there.

Such arguments have helped me question my own views and open my eyes to other perspectives.
Intolerance arises not only from the desks of the classrooms, but from the podiums as well.

Professors who present their own opinions without facts or opposing and supporting positions are wasting their students’ time and money.
This is not teaching; it is preaching.

My favorite professor began the first day saying that if at the end of the semester we knew his personal political leanings, then he had not done his job.

There have been classes where I have felt as though I couldn’t express an opinion because mine would differ from that of the professor, resulting in either a reprimand or a snide retort.

I have witnessed this preaching in many different departments.

I would never want anyone to say students or professors at Mary Washington were intolerant.

I would want someone coming here to be impressed with the well-rounded, balanced education presented by professors and the thoughtful, well founded and eloquently expressed viewpoints of the students.

I would ask everyone, liberals, conservatives, anarchists, wherever you fall on the spectrum, to show respect for all viewpoints.

So, for the sake of the freshmen, can’t we practice tolerance?