Room for Debate: Liberalism at Latin

Will Slater and Lauren Salzman   Lauren Salzman: In 1987, Delta Airlines had to issue a public apology for arguing that in the instance of a plane crash litigation they should be allowed to pay less in compensation for the life of a gay passenger than a heterosexual passenger because the former may have had AIDS. Fast forward 28 years, the Supreme Court votes that states cannot ban gay-marriage. On a smaller level, schools like our own have opened their minds to all types of people, no matter their gender, race or sexuality. There is no doubt that the world is a more inclusive place now than it was just 28 years ago, but has Latin crossed the line focusing solely on a liberal agenda? Let me start by saying that I have a very liberal mindset. I believe that people have the right to identify in any way they choose. I have marched at a pro-choice rally and have gone door-to-door campaigning on behalf of liberal politicians. That being said, is it right for the Latin community to solely push a liberal agenda and make students who don’t have the same views feel undermined and unappreciated? William F. Buckley Jr, famous American author, once said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” Putting this into context of a school environment, I think it is important to understand that not everyone is liberal. For it is not anyone’s right to judge another human being’s beliefs. There are a number of students who are feeling left out, confused, and alienated because their political or religious beliefs might differ from those of their peers.  Additionally, some feel that although a cause may be important, our time shouldn’t be solely devoted to just a few topics and ideas. One sophomore states that, “I believe our assemblies are very selective and don’t convey all views, for example, we have had many gatherings focus on LGBT inclusivity. While this is an extremely worthwhile cause, there are many other causes that deserve our attention and support as well.”  Of course, we are not advocating for anti-LGBT, or anti-anyone topics for that matter, but rather think we don’t need to be preached to all the time. Often, you’re preaching to the choir.   Latin is always conscious of making everyone feel accepted. This is a good thing and something I’m proud of. Yet, often times it is taken to the extreme. One explanation for this is simply because of the world we live in. Everything needs to be politically correct. But in reality, many students feel that one person’s views, or a group of peoples’ views are imprinted onto the whole group in order to make sure all the boxes are checked. Instead of spending all of our time focused on the liberal point of view, let’s have discussions that contain both points of view, so students are more educated, aware, and can form their own opinions. Someone is murdered in Chicago nearly every single night, but I don’t hear an outcry for gun control. Let’s bring in speakers who represent both sides of the gun control issue and talk about ways to lower the crime rate.   Where is the conversation and education about these crucial issues in our own backyard, whether it be from a conservative or liberal standpoint? As a student, I want to talk about these issues, and I want to know more than just one perspective. Yes, I am pro Israel, but I want speakers to come in who would talk about multiple viewpoints on this issue. Both sides of the story. Let’s broaden the conversation.    Will Slater: Let me begin this article by clarifying that the point of the debate between my piece and Lauren’s piece is whether Latin is pushing a liberal agenda, not a democratic one. The difference between these terms that are oft used as synonyms is undoubtedly pertinent and objectively important. Liberals support the advancement of ideas and progress in society, whereas democrats more specifically prescribe to a political ideology.    Liberals in this country alone were responsible for the end slavery and later the end of segregation; they were responsible for the development of women’s rights; they currently spend their time fighting for an end to climate change and LGBT rights. The fact that nowadays liberals are generally democrats is purely a sign of the times.   With this history in mind, you may be able to predict the crutch of my argument – liberalism should trump conservatism in schools. It was Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, who once asked a nation “what is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, but against the new and untried?” Education should be based around the values of progress and improvement that liberalism signifies. We should strive to try new things. It was newsman Roger Cronkite who said, “I think being a liberal, in the true sense, is being non-doctrinaire, non-dogmatic, non-committed to a cause but examining each case on its merits.” As learners, what better qualities can we aspire to embody than those stated? If we approach classes, clubs, and assemblies with the liberal ideals that Cronkite speaks of, is that not unequivocally superior to the stagnation that comes with conservatism?    All of that said, I don’t think that Latin is pushing a Liberal agenda, and if it seems like it is, that is a byproduct of an often aggressively liberal student body and the nature of education. Young people tend to be more liberal than conservative, and liberals, by nature, push new ideas. Latin is receptive to these ideas and works with students to develop and implement plans. This doesn’t seem to aggressively push any sort of agenda, but merely supports students when new ideas are brought to the table. Addressing the admittedly left-wing based announcements at gatherings and liberal speakers, I once again see no fault of the school. The reason for this is simple – student government or clubs organize announcements and guest speakers. The student body chooses the agenda it wants to be fed, not the school. To this, some highbrow conservatives may claim that the reason liberal ideas are shared more is that conservatives are in such a minority and are bogged down. In a school where sharing ideas and even complaints are encouraged, I don’t find this to be a viable excuse.   Which argument do you agree with? Take this poll to vote and see what Latin thinks, and be sure to comment!]]>