There’s something ironic about the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) community when we say that we’re “all inclusive,” because that statement could not be further than the truth. We value freedom of speech, but we also police it heavily within the campus of our school … which is not inherently bad, because some individuals might harbor harmful thoughts, and I can understand how people want to avoid these sorts of confrontations. However, it is important that we are able to identify the totally legitimate opinions behind beliefs we disagree with.
The most recent election is probably one of the most controversial in our nation’s history; we elected a joke of president to reign over our country. Friendships were destroyed, and bridges were burned over this election.
How did we even get here if everyone was going to be voting for Bernie Sanders? It really boils down to communication and how important it is to actually talk to people who have dissenting opinions instead of simply shutting them down. There is something inherently problematic when someone says, “Anyone who voted for Trump is a racist / sexist / homophobe.” Blanket statements should seldom be taken seriously and are just as stupid and pointless as the stereotypes that we’ve been trying so hard to get away from.
I think that one of the most successful instances of talking out opinions in a professional civil manner can be seen in an Eddie Huang video titled “HUMAN PANDA INTERVIEWS TRUMP SUPPORTER” on YouTube. In it, a woman, named Andrea, is invited to sit down with Huang as he asks the almighty question: “Why.” It’s a nine-minute long video of these two people just talking about their opinions. Whenever one disagrees, they tell the other why they disagree and continue on to the next topic. Andrea expresses her fears about a future where Hillary Clinton is elected, and Huang continues to pry her reasons behind why she is voting for Trump.
When we are able to analyze a situation under calm circumstances, we can come to the best conclusion, and both sides of the party will have learned something.
Under tense, emotion-filled scream-fests, nothing will be learned and both sides will have continued to strengthen their confirmation biases such as, “all Democrats are piss cry babies” and “all Republicans are old cranky white men.”
We need to understand that from our own perspectives, our opinions are always going to be correct. By human nature, we love to be correct and hate being wrong. Being “right” or “wrong” sometimes isn’t always clear cut, because when it comes to something subjective like political candidates, our personal experiences affect the way that we perceive other candidates. This makes it incredibly difficult to come out as a “victor” during a discourse. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Democrat or the Republican party, and with most of our school having a huge crush on Bernie Sanders, we should note that even Sanders formed his policies based on the best of both parties, sometimes agreeing with his Republican constituents.
SAIC particularly struggles in communication. Whenever there is something that SAIC’s community believes is wrong, they turn into a large hive of wasps in order to shut down any dissenting opinion. There’s never any conversation and it sometimes ends in screaming and tears. It’s even worse when there’s multiple people ganging up on individuals with opposing thoughts.
It’s pretty terrible to know that a good portion of SAIC’s population are actually afraid of speaking what they truly believe in for fear that they’ll be cast out as social pariahs. This is serving to create a much more hostile environment than what SAIC claims to have where “everyone should feel accepted and safe.” It is imperative that every student is equipped with a guide to discern between opinions and hateful statements.
There is nothing inherently wrong for voting for Trump. Mike Rowe said it best when he recounted three of his friends saying on social media that they would “unfriend” anyone who voted for Trump. He said claiming anyone who voted for Trump is a racist / bigot / xenophobe / homophobe is similar to claiming that anyone who voted for Clinton condones lying under oath and obstructing justice, a grave sin in the world of politics. You can read his full post on his Facebook page.
Ouch. Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?
Malicious thoughts that have no real moral backing behind them are a problem, though. Personal attacks, libel, and slander are more important than which political candidate a person voted for. If someone voted for Trump with the idea that they’re going to “make America great again by getting rid of anyone who isn’t white / straight / cis,” that’s when you can slap someone.
You can’t assume that just because someone voted for Trump that they’re bigoted. Maybe they’re more against Hillary Clinton than they are for Trump. Don’t we preach at this school that we shouldn’t assume things about people without knowing anything about them? What if this is one of those instances?
Rather than blindly turning into a keyboard warrior that turns a blade to the throats of anyone who dares to step over their “line of comfort,” it is extremely important that you take just a moment out of your time to ask yourself, “Why does this person believe this?” This will make SAIC a much less hostile environment for a large number of people, and, what’s more, it will even further sharpen your blade so you’re more well equipped to engage in a war of words when that becomes necessary. It is important to learn something from every battle. If you’re walking away from the brief skirmish thinking, “Oh man, that person is more of a degenerate than I thought and I am for sure in the moral high ground,” maybe you’re the ignorant one.