Our country is divided, and no one is listening

Gaby Cedeno & Aerin Hererra

This Election has brought out the worst of both sides of the political spectrum. Not only have we seen hate crimes committed against marginalised groups (people of color, LGBT+ people, etc.), but there have also been attacks on Trump supporters.

Many people who lean more towards the left of the political spectrum pride themselves in being open-minded. However, after the election, another side of the left-wing has emerged that many of us may not have seen before. 

Instead of trying to understand and hear the reasons why some people would want to support and vote for Trump, we have seen and heard of verbal, and sometimes even physical, attacks made on Trump supporters.

 Recently, a video of four people beating up a man in Chicago has surfaced and has since gone viral. 

In the video, the perpetrators are yelling, “Beat his ass! He voted for Trump!” In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, the victim,  David Wilcox, said that he and the suspects had a minor fender bender and so he got out to exchange information. Next thing he knew, they were attacking him. Though he did vote for Trump, there was no way they could have known that for certain. According to Wilcox, he heard someone yell, “Yeah, it’s one of them white boy Trump guys,” which implies that he was attacked based on his race. 

As far as we know, there haven’t been any physical attacks against students who voted for Trump here at Whittier College. However, there have been incidents of students being verbally assaulted for voting for Trump, which were covered in a previous issue of the Quaker Campus. As a result, students who voted for Trump feel unsafe and unwelcome. 

On Monday, Nov. 14, a bill was introduced to ASWC that requested that Whittier College administration prohibit “explicit public acts of support for Donald Trump and his rhetoric.” This proposed bill is essentially calling on administration to implement a rule that prohibits students from exercising their First Amendment rights. 

Luckily, the bill that was introduced to ASWC has since been revised and looks like it is headed in a more reasonable direction. Instead of seeking to silence Trump supporters, the bill is now going to address hate crimes. Still, the fact that the bill was first introduced as a plan to silence Trump supporters shows how unwilling we are to acknowledge those who see the world in another light. 

Cassie Hewlett, a student from West Chester University, opened up in her blog about what it felt like to be a Republican college student following Election night.     

“The response to this Election has made me, and many other college students who voted Republican, feel that students need to hide or downplay our satisfaction over our victory because of the fear that our opposing peers will label us,” she wrote. “That is not right … silencing those who simply exercised their right to vote in our free nation violates the core principles for which our country stands … those who are content with the results should feel safe in expressing their joy and optimism for the future of this country without fear of being ostracized.” 

Hewlett’s post touched those who are in the same bus, that is, college students who voted for Trump but was afraid of being persecuted if others found out. It circulated through social media as people reposted it and shared it with their friends. The post even caught the attention of some social media outlets, such as Refinery29, MSN, and Fox News.  

It’s understandable why many students are unhappy with the results of the Election, but lashing out at those who voted for Donald Trump is counter-intuitive. If we want people who think differently than we do to understand where we are coming from, we have to be willing to do the same for them.

 New York Times reporter Michael Lerner wrote an article called “Stop Shaming Trump Supporters.” In this article, he explains why it is important for the left-wing voters to stop shutting out the right. “The left needs to stop ignoring people’s inner pain and fear,” he says. “If the left could abandon all this shaming, it could rebuild its political base by helping Americans see that much of people’s suffering is rooted in the hidden injuries of class and in the spiritual crisis that the global competitive marketplace generates.”

If we really believe that “love trumps hate,” we cannot hate Trump supporters. Attacking them and their beliefs, physically and verbally, will cause more separation than is already present in this country. It is hypocritical to preach love when we assault and silence those who have other political ideals.

During his rant after the election, UK News reporter Jonathan Pie made some good points about why it is a bad idea to shut out those who are on the right side of the political spectrum. “We have made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut down,” he says in a frustrated voice. “Every time someone on the left has said, ‘You mustn’t say that,’ they are contributing to this culture.”

“What culture?” you may be asking yourself. It is a culture in which we are so blinded by our own ideals that we don’t stop to think about what others think. We take our beliefs for granted and assume that any sane or good person sees the world the same way. It is a culture in which those who don’t see the world the way we do are written off as being evil and bigoted. 

“It’s time to stop ignoring your opponents or, worse, trying to silence them,” Pie says. “Being offended doesn’t work anymore. Throwing insults doesn’t work anymore! The only thing that works is fucking bothering doing something. And all you have to do is engage in the debate. Talk to people who think differently than you and persuade them of your argument … Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or sexist or stupid and talk to them! Persuade them otherwise!”