Letter to the Editor: Response to “A quick critique of our liberal bubble”

Bex Heimbrock, First Year

When clicking on the article “A Quick Critique of our Liberal Bubble,” I mistakenly assumed that I would be diving into a delicious critique of neoliberalism running rampant on campus. It’s about time, I thought, for someone to realize that the social current at Whitman does not challenge itself to go further left! Instead, I was met with a strange quasi-conservative opinion piece that espoused a both-sides-ism that one could expect to find on #Resist twitter–not a ‘liberal arts’ newspaper. 

Malcolm X once said, “if you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” I’m deeply concerned that the “Liberal Bubble” op-ed brings us one step closer to this fate. We do live in a “Liberal Bubble” on campus, just not the one illustrated by the author. 

Whitman’s liberal bubble prioritizes white voices, weaponizes ideas of inclusion for oppressive purposes, says “Black Lives Matter” but in the same breath wants to uplift those who say the opposite. The facade of respectability politics lauded in this op-ed ensures that conservative and liberal ideologies will remain happily married, with no lust for concrete change—only self-aggrandizing conversations. 

In our social groups,” the article claims, “we share our feelings of disgust at anti-vaxxers and pro-lifers, and we accuse them of being ‘apathetic,’ ‘selfish,’ or ‘blatantly cruel.’” This first paragraph conflates complex issues with conservatism, ignoring the realities of vaccination disparities in the US. 

To that extent, this is a valid criticism of liberalism—just not the one the author intended. Rather than challenging fellow liberals to work towards diminishing vaccine hesitancy among disenfranchised communities, this op-ed attempts to rehabilitate the privileged conservative and demand that we all act a little bit nicer, lest we commit the cardinal sin of… progressivism? 

Then there is the issue of this apparent dialogue-desert. “When we are opposed to a hypothetical ideology that we rarely ever have to confront,” Hunter writes, “it is easy to mistake the whole ideology as totally irrational and immoral.” Well… if the shoe fits. 

Having watched as conservatives stormed the capital only a few miles away from my home, I don’t have a problem labeling the ideology as immoral. In fact, I’ll go one step further: the American conservative ideology is immoral and has slid so deeply into fascism that they came remarkably close to staging a successful coup. 

What is the point of having a conversation with or wanting to hear more from the people who raised $2 million for Kyle Rittenhouse, the man who murdered two BLM protesters in Kenosha, WI? Why are we constantly urged to play nice with the people who throw out the rulebook every chance they get, who snidely dog-whistle and feign ignorance when called out for it, the people who deny your humanity and then claim that the first amendment gives them the right to do so?

Do you want to understand conservative ideology? The Southern Poverty Law Center has endless resources to that effect. If you must hear it directly from a conservative, listen to conservative celebrities like Joe Rogan—one of the most popular conservative podcasters, recently coming under fire for saying the N-word numerous times on his show—or Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, who promotes the white-nationalist idea of ‘cultural Marxism.’

Disingenuous debate is the pièce de résistance of the conservative playbook, and, unfortunately, liberals continuously fall into their trap. Dr. Peterson was made famous, in part, because of his carefully crafted persona as a “coolly rational man of science facing down the hysteria of political correctness” (as Guardian columnist Dorian Lynskey puts it). 

Liberals who call for these round-table discussions are endorsing a brand of respectability politics that rehabilitates the conservative image and makes us feel crazy for calling it like it is—immoral. 

To argue that we should “make our conservative peers feel like they have an esteemed place amongst our ranks” is to argue that there is a place for hateful ideology on this campus: which, maybe there is, god knows how many blue lives matter stickers I’ve seen around town… but that’s a problem, not something to be celebrated.