Mutual respect for those with right-leaning political beliefs is lost on liberal students at the Claremont Colleges.

Most students probably come to that conclusion within their first week at Claremont. I certainly did after just a few days in Scripps’s freshman seminar course, “Core,” a mandatory curriculum to introduce—although “indoctrinate” more accurately describes my personal experience—the theories and philosophies Scripps faculty deem necessary for students’ college education (Angela Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete? was the class Bible).

I did not feel that I could freely express my own views without being shunned by my classmates and professors alike. So, I did not. I kept my head down and did my best to avoid sparking controversy.

A few weeks ago, however, I saw how personally my peers take politics upon sharing a photo of me standing with Vice-President Mike Pence and Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Knowing my Facebook audience was politically diverse, I made no political comments. Instead, I shared my excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to intern for Rodgers—the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress—and to interact with such impactful and important people in my job.

The photo should not have caused any trouble. But my Scripps College and Claremont peers begged to differ.

According to my peers, taking a photo with Vice-President Pence is anything but neutral. In fact, it constitutes direct violence and oppression against marginalized groups.

Shortly after posting the photo, I began receiving vicious comments and private messages accusing me of not caring about LGBTQ rights and attacking me for getting anywhere near the Vice-President. Close friends and distant acquaintances alike lashed out in fury, subjecting me to lectures, rants, and name-calling—all while ignoring the photo’s plainly apolitical context.

One person accused me of “ignoring the plights of marginalized people to achieve personal gain,” saying I was a person who “smiled with [their] oppressors.” Some took to mockery, inquiring, “Did you manage to ask him why he thinks women are second-class citizens?” and “How many LBGTQ folks do you need to help send to conversion therapy in exchange for reproductive rights from Pence?”. A friend asked me why I would stand next to someone who is “a threat to human rights everywhere.” A classmate simply commented, “Bitch.” Many others “liked” these comments, endorsing this shameless harassment.

How did we get here?

How did we get to the point where taking a photo with someone is an act of violence? How will we ever be able to have adult conversations if no one is ever willing to listen to those who have opposing philosophies? How can we coexist when we write off our political opponents—as well as those who dare to take photos with them—as morally bankrupt?

A mere “I saw you got to meet the Vice-President; what was that like?” to begin a friendly conversation would have been enough—or simply saying nothing at all. But instead, my peers thought the best way to respond was to confront, accuse, and lecture.

No one seems to remember what their teachers have taught them since Kindergarten: Be respectful of others. Apparently, when it comes to those with whom they disagree, many of my peers are only capable of disrespectful engagement.

For them, there is no value in one of their classmates working for a member of Congress if that member is a Republican. They are horrified that someone in the Scripps community would take a photo with the current Vice-President, a man with whom they disagree.

It is as if every student must follow an understood uniform code of conduct and speech—as if I must share the liberal politics of my peers in order to be treated with respect or considered a decent person. Their lecturing about diversity apparently does not extend to diversity of thought.

This is not as it should be. We need a genuine dialogue—now more than ever.

While division clearly exists between Republicans and Democrats serving within our government, many members of Congress recognize the importance of engaging with individuals across the aisle.

A member of congressional leadership addressed me and my fellow congressional interns this summer with what he said was the most important piece of advice he has received in all his years in government: Be passionate about what you’re passionate about. But, he said, it never serves you well to anger or alienate the other side. What does work is to treat your political opponents with respect and seek common ground with them at every opportunity.

The Claremont Colleges are full of passionate individuals. However, you will not persuade anyone by being the loudest to yell, or condemning others because their views do not align with yours. Instead, we should engage in civil discourse and allow respect and reason to prevail.

Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Categories: Opinion
  • In Agreement

    Could not have put it better myself. The lack of good old fashioned, open-minded conversation on campus is becoming increasingly evident. It’s particularly entertaining to see how easily some can have their feelings hurt.

    • DC

      Sounds like this student has suffered several Title Nine violations, appears like its lawyer time.

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  • Catarina Guerra

    How nice that you had the chance to meet the Vice President. You know, some people want to have the spotlight all for themselves and get mad when people don’t cater to their every need. They’re losers who have victimization fetishes. Stay away from that crowd, but you know that 🙂

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  • CryMeARiver

    People are being mean to you? What a whiny little snowflake.

    Especially amusing considering you write for a paper that regularly doxxes POC and doesn’t give a crap about the “bullying” and online threats that ensue. Also amusing: your naive, cute little statement about your prom pic w/Pence having a “plainly apolitical context.” Are you kidding? Pence and Rodgers are “apolitical?” Hahaha

    Lastly, if you’re listening to Paul Ryan’s advice on “seeking common ground” with political opponents, then you surely didn’t learn shit in DC. Grow up, baby girl.

    • McKinley Morganfield

      Just to paraphrase, CryMeARiver believes that everyone should shut up and stop writing unless what they choose to write falls directly in line with her point of view.

      People like you make people who don’t closely follow politics hate Democrats. That behavior led to a disassociation from the true party values. Both Republicans and Democrats should believe in free speech. You obviously do not. It is your behavior and mindset that led to Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office. Although, I would guess based on your anger, that you believe it was the white supremacists. That group is a full of human pieces of garbage, but probably only account for between 10-20,000 individuals. People who think like you number in the tens of millions which is why we’ll be stuck with another four years of a Trump presidency. G*d help us.

      • Tory

        McKinley Morganfield…are you really THAT oblivious to the irony of vociferously screeching about the glory of *free speech* and then directly indicting through YOUR political and intellectual illiteracy and shameful ideological rigidity, the absurd contention that Trump and anyone who voted for him are somehow the cause of *liberal* bullying and cowardice? For real, hon? The utter lack of intellectual and moral dishonesty and hypocrisy in this statement falls into the class of comedy. You, dear, are in dire an urgent need of at least some of the trappings of intellectual and moral maturity. You, hon, do not *closely follow politics*, but you cowardly and lazily simply swallow that easily digested soundbites manufactured by a nearly comically bias-driven media. Do your due diligence. Did the neo-Nazis ( and please stop conflating them with conservatives, hon) start any violent confrontations? No. Did they have a legal permit to assemble per their First Amendment rights to peaceable assembly? Yes. let’s stop right here and assume you are going to cite the false canard of ‘hate speech*—there is no such thing , only the freedom to speak one’s piece in a peaceful manner, just as you are doing, even though I find your ignorance and hypocrisy abhorrent.., you have the right to speak and I have the right to point out your fallacies. Did the neo-Nazis discharge any weapons? No. So, then please enlighten us as to who showed up and threw bottles of piss, poop, and other projectiles, if you please? Even the sick young man in the car now looks to have been trying to escape the leftists ‘ violent fascism of literally beating down any and all who dissent from that fascism. had they refrained by the outright evil they engaged in, there would likely be three people still alive who are no longer. You and yours with this pathological need to demand consensus *by any means* own this. Painful? Yep. But grow up and deal with it. Stop blaming straw men. Stop pretending to be literate in politics and history, when your commentary leads one to believe that you endorse the Stalinist, Hitlerian pattern of destroying monuments that make you *feel* bad, Neo-nazis are repugnant but they are not wrong to protest revisionist history that prevents futire generations from learning from history rather than hiding from it. I can’t commend Ms Deutsch enough for having the moral backbone and emotional and intellectual maturity to stand up for something she should not have to. and to withstand the absurdity of her critics. SHE will go somewhere in this life., with that moral backbone and fiber. Think on that. Ha…I made a funny.

      • Marty

        Major reading comprehension fail, McKinley. She said no such thing as your bogus paraphrase implies. Indeed, she called for MORE speech and genuine dialogue of opposing views. Her point was that it should be respectful, not hateful.

        • Marty

          Actually, this was a fail on my part. I thought you were replying to the author of the article rather than another commenter.

        • All she did was string a bunch of insults together. Crymeariver added zip to the conversation but insult.

    • Lori B.

      Your calling Ms. Deutsch a ‘snowflake” for calling out the hypocritical, intolerant Left is laughable. She’s not whining. She is exposing and challenging the sanctimonious self-righteous “virtuous” “victims” who are the really snowflakes – a better term would be crybullies – who yearn to shut down the First Amendment rights of anyone who disagrees with their leftist, fascist political ideologies.

    • Pepe Frog

      Case in point for the hateful, fascist attitudes of the typical leftist zealot.

    • Michael

      You literally just proved the authors point. Before you start we know, we know: racism blah blah blah homophobia blah blah blah. Please walk into oncoming traffic you intolerant bigoted close minded POS.

    • Leo

      in response to > “crymeariver”

      only a loser or a drunk guy would talk shit in a comment section, and I suspect you aint drunk.

    • Hugh Jorgan

      Crymeariver… With those views, I certainly hope you don’t have any issues with what happened in Virginia last weekend. If so, then you are a hypocrite.

      Personally, I think you should speak to others like your parents are standing there with you.

    • Michelle Quinn

      I would love to have gone to college in America now and have left wing moan bags try to intimidate me with their marginalized group rubbish. The truth is, left wingers are dragged up, not brought up. Disrepectful little thugs who need a good old fashioned “fk u.” Conversation!

    • Boogur T. Wang

      Reading Comprehension – get it !

    • Dontneed2know

      I wish I can say the words I really want to say, but all I can say is Grow the hell up

    • bill

      You’re the one whining now. So you get to, and she doesn’t?

      Okie dokie.

    • And that was a professor!

    • Paul Ehrlich

      CryMeaRiver you fucking nigger piece of shit. Get the fuck out of Claremont. And if you’re a goddamn illegal spic you can bet your ugly ass you’re going to be deported.

      • Was that supposed to be a productive speech?
        You missed by just under 12 parsecs!

    • Homer Price

      To Cry me a River, Your reply is full of hate to anyone who stands up for their own beliefs. Our beautiful Democratic country has always had two political parties. There are many people who don’t agree with your political views so it is you that needs to understand that intimidation will never attain what you desire. The harder you push people to see things your way, the farther apart their views will be. McKenzie has every right to take a picture with whomever she pleases and it is you that needs to grow up!

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  • Bill

    left wing radicals are all about acceptance…. as long as you are a left wing radical yourself. Don’t listen to them. Stand up to them. If they don’t like your picture with the VP, they are more than welcome to switch to left wing radical media. Be strong!

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  • JoAnnP38

    Shaming the messenger is tactic that doesn’t strengthen your argument. You should passionately debate your ideas for sure. And if appropriate, gather a majority and pass legislation or heck even change the constitution. But personal attacks are a direct assault on the functioning of our nation. There is no place for that, but unfortunately has become all too common.

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  • barack hussein obama smith

    Hey Mckenzie,

    Don’t worry about what those AIDS infested degenerates think or say. When you graduate from college and have a successful career those losers will be sitting in a rat infested hell hole waiting for their next welfare check to come in. Go about your business and ignore the animals. They aren’t worth it.

    • You: the idiot who wrote that comment.
      Are: a condition of being, often in action.
      Not: a General Negation applied to the following concept.
      Helping: identifying, isolating, managing, solving or confronting an actual problem.

  • Gregory W Brittain

    **Taking a picture with VP Pence “constitutes direct violence and oppression against marginalized groups.”

    Speech they disagree with is violence” is how they justify using violence to suppress speech they disagree with. You cannot have a discussion, debate or dialogue with people who believe this.

    **”It is as if every student must follow an understood uniform code of conduct and speech—as if I must share the liberal politics of my peers in order to be treated with respect or considered a decent person. Their lecturing about diversity apparently does not extend to diversity of thought.”

    Are you just learning this? Better late than never.

    **”you will not persuade anyone by being the loudest to yell, or condemning others because their views do not align with yours. ”

    Persuasion is not their goal. It is intimidating everyone who disagrees into shutting up.

    These are leftist, totalitarian fascists who share the same goals and mindset as the Antifa “brownshirts” even if the students who attacked you with words have not used clubs, pepper spray and homemade flamethrowers.

    You can either submit and keep your mouth shut or band with other freedom loving Patriots at the university and stand up to the leftist, totalitarian fascists and stand up for freedom of speech.

    –“The ultimate measure of a man [or woman] is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King

  • “Yeah, but we represent the real, actual caring people. You just need to die a hateful symbolic death publicly to teach bigots like you that when we say play nice we mean it! Disagreeing just admits your bias.”
    Yeah, right.
    All 5 colleges need to enforce a low-tolerance, old-school freedom of expression policy and step HARD on any organised efforts to marginalize ANY student’s own freedom of expression.
    Let’s start by suspending any students who attempt to “shut down” any authorized event by force or intimidation.

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  • D

    We would like to interview you about this-please message me.

  • Melissa

    I disagree with many of Pence’s views, but that doesn’t give me permission to attack someone for being in a photo with him. Good for your for pointing out the lack of civility on campus. Still, Pence is pushing an agenda that’s not in the interest of women. Take a good look at his platform and ask yourself – is this a man you want to be associated with?

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