An open response to our conservative friend
Letter to the Editor | Friday, April 16, 2021
On April 14, recent graduate Sophia Sheehy published a column titled “An open letter to my liberal friends” portraying herself as a representative of BridgeND. While she makes a number of claims and judgments regarding the ideologies of “liberals,” one cannot help but notice a sense of irony in Sheehy’s column.
She claims “public shaming has no place in our politics or culture,” while taking to a public forum to publicly shame the views of Democrats and liberally-minded individuals. Sheehy’s words, however, do more than simply invoke shame; they cause real, tangible harm. Such words have no place on our campus.
Sheehy categorizes the viewpoint of the “modern left” as “boldfaced hypocrisy … which demands [she] look the other way and mind [her] business until it is a cause that is socially acceptable to lambast others for.” If this were the viewpoint of the left, we would count ourselves out, too. We have no interest in joining a group that demands we look the other way on matters of injustice.
But she could not be more wrong. The Preamble of the 2020 Democratic Party Platform states, “We must right the wrongs in our democracy, redress the systemic injustices that have long plagued our society, throw open the doors of opportunity for all Americans, and reinvent our institutions at home and our leadership abroad.”
This is the message of the left. We are called to act, to do better and to be better. That is what the modern left asks of us. In the same sense that we know Trump’s far-right ideology is not a representation of all Republicans, do not over-extend the beliefs of a few as those of the left.
So, maybe this is all a misunderstanding. Perhaps Sheehy’s entire column could be chalked up to a miscommunication: an incorrect portrayal of the beliefs of the left and a well-intentioned letter opening discussion between differing political ideologies. It could have been read this way, until the final line of her piece.
“You would not like the kind of cop I’d become.”
This past Sunday we were all forced to reread the headline that continues to reappear: “Black man/woman shot and killed by police officer.” We repeatedly see instances of police officers using unwarranted force that targets Black people. At best, her choice of words is tone-deaf. At worst, those words are a threat.
Choosing to end her column by saying that we would not like the kind of cop she would become shows blatant ignorance and cruelty in a time when our country is struggling to come to terms with the systematic inequalities and racial injustices we’ve all become too familiar with. It shows an incredible lack of ability to sympathize with and understand the realities of the students of color who share her former campus and live in her former dorm.
Perhaps she did not intend her words to be a thinly-veiled dig at the Black Lives Matter movement and their call for police reform. Perhaps she could not have foreseen the response that such imagery would elicit. If that is the case, then we ask she show a little BridgeND spirit.
BridgeND’s mission statement expresses a commitment “to bridging the partisan divide through respectful and productive discourse.” Respectful and productive discourse requires a consideration of the realities of every American. It requires an understanding and commitment to discussing ways to make life better for all of us. The last thing we want is for anyone to “stand by” or “stay silent.” A true bridge extends equally to both sides.
So, do not tell us that the left is “performative virtue signaling” when we call out racism in this country. Do not tell us it is “selective public shaming” when we refuse to allow racist, misogynistic or homophobic ideologies to be spewed in public forums.
Label us the PC police, misrepresent the views of our party or write a viewpoint belittling the views of others while claiming to represent a club that is diametrically opposed to your writing. After all, it’s not on us to tell you how to live your life. See? Maybe liberals and conservatives do agree about some things.