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Last week, anti-facist riots rocked France to its core during the 2017 election. Radicals clashed with police in Paris after it was announced that unusual candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanual Macron made it through the run-off election. Both candidates promote a platform that veers from mainstream French politics. I do not know enough about French social issues to speak on the French distain, but I can say with confidence that the riots were uncalled for. Yes, both candidates may differ from the comforts of typical French politics, but that is not a reason for violence. Instances like these highlight a truly disturbing occurrence that makes its mark worldwide: the death of tolerance. This is an issue that is relevant on our own campus.
The Paris riots are an example of polarization that dispels tolerance. The inability to discuss politics in a constructive way leads to violence. I see these issues within the campus of Colorado State University. We are a liberal university and that is to be expected, but just because there is a predominant viewpoint does not dismiss the views of others. Just because Colorado State University is liberal does not mean opposing views should be dismissed. The social culture of CSU is counterproductive in their efforts towards tolerance. In the effort to promote tolerance, we diminish it all together.
I recently spoke with a local conservative politician Juan Caro about what it means to be tolerant and I was perplexed by the conversation. One particular anecdote involved his views being so opposed that people spat on him and sent him threats after he shot down an ASCSU diversity bill. After hearing his past experiences, I was shocked at the lack of human dignity and tolerance from our fellow students. From my liberal viewpoint, I never really saw the underlying issues within the university because it did not affect my liberal self interests. I realized that tolerance on my campus did not mean being tolerant of every aspect of humanity—it meant being tolerant to the liberal agenda.
Of course it is important to be tolerant of social issues of the liberal agenda. Working to use proper pronouns or politically correct titles is a beautiful thing that should be encouraged. However, we cannot make this the only approach to tolerance. We do not treat conservative students with respect on this campus—in fact we only see the liberal mindset as applicable to our culture. We cannot pick and choose who we are tolerant to, we must be tolerant across the board even to those we do not agree with.
The Paris riots are an international example of tolerance at its worst. I am not a French politics expert, but I can say that riots and violence are no way to react to something you simply disagree with. Political polarization is harmful to any affair, international or local. Instead of reacting with violence, we need to understand how the other side thinks. We are vindictive and pick and choose what to hate.
I hope my voice reaches the administration at CSU. I want to live on a campus where I can discuss differences in a healthy and tolerant way. I want to be friends with conservatives and not have the relationship be taboo. I want to learn about conservative politics and issues, even if I do not agree. I cannot give a solution, but I would like to show my support in educating students in every facet of knowledge. Educating yourself is inadequate if you only listen to what you agree with and refuse to acknowledge the latter.
Opposition should be met with tolerance, not violence.
Allec Brust can be reached at email@example.com and on twitter at @allecbrust