Erroneous generalizations: The dividing wall between us

Kim Dunlap

To the leftists on campus: You are all a bunch of over-privileged drones who take up a cause just because it happens to be en vogue on such a liberal campus as Lawrence.Oops. I just made a generalization about your entire group based on a limited perspective garnered solely from reading an article in the One Minute Left. It’s not very fair to make generalizations like this one, is it? Of course not–and, of course, I was being sarcastic. I know that there are several leftists on campus who have taken up causes legitimately and purposefully. My overgeneralization most likely represents a very small portion—if any—of you.

If only the writers of the OML would also recognize that making broad, negative generalities based on a small “sampling” of a particular group is detrimental and completely erroneous. Take Jesse Heath’s article, for example, about the ignorance of pro-war folks. He writes, “In general, the sudden moralizing over human rights [ . . . ] sounds strange, especially when coming from people who normally put little or no effort into educating themselves about human rights and supporting their defense.” Food for thought: Mr. Heath, when we assume we make an ass out of you and me. Who is really to say that a staunch pro-war supporter is not in support of human rights? In fact, that individual may be in support of the war just for that reason . . .

A further example: In the latest edition of the OML, Adam Kader states that Bay Buchanan’s recent speech on campus “typifies the conservative attitudes on campus this past year, which I would go so far as call a ‘backlash’ to the progressive achievements which have been made. I am tired of the ‘diversity of opinions’ which hinders any productive exchange between the left and the right.” Mr. Kader, have you realized that the bulk of the past two issues of the OML have been devoted to the left’s reaction against the conservative views that are slowly but surely eking their way across campus? Furthermore, in your article, you stated that “Buchanan did nothing [to create a dialogue]” on campus. Did you not stop to consider that neither you nor I (nor Ms. MacWilliams-Brooks, for that matter) would be writing on this subject had Ms. Buchanan not been invited to speak at Lawrence? And that’s not even to mention the recent proliferation of dialogue that has indeed been occurring (and I have taken part of) between leftists and conservatives since the speech .

In addition to making false generalizations, there are those leftists (on this campus at least) who are completely unwilling to listen to differing viewpoints. This unwillingness to listen cannot be solely attributed to the radical left–I believe that this attribute is true of almost any extremist group (right or left), whose members allow their passion to get in the way of their ability to consider another’s opinion. (I readily accuse many conservatives of their unwillingness to listen just as I accuse liberals.) If you attended Bay’s lecture, than you should recall that she concluded by emphasizing the need for individuals of differing political viewpoints to come together to discuss their positions so that they either reestablish their stance even more firmly or they mature in their beliefs by considering and accepting the other position.

The College Republicans, for their part, took steps to promote an active dialogue on campus. Thus far, I feel that their tactic has worked. What I am now calling for is the confluence of the left and the right at Lawrence to partake of active, personal dialogues among each other, which respect the “diversity of opinions” that are prevalent on this campus. It is only with this confluence that the large gap between the left and right and their misconceptions and flawed generalizations of each other can be eradicated. Further, I feel that we—conservatives and liberals—have a lot to gain through engaging and listening to each other in discussions about the issues we really care about. Do not challenge me by writing another reactionary article—challenge me by stopping me on campus and talking to me. I assure you that you will find that I cannot be easily categorized by your conception of a conservative and that there is a lot more to my political beliefs than mere criticism of your “liberal achievements.