Conservative college students enrolled in modern American universities face a dangerous and seemingly insurmountable problem. It is the tyranny of the minority.
The Tyranny of the Minority that Plagues Colleges
One oft-repeated critique of conservative articles on highly liberal college students is that those articles only describe a small minority on each campus. That argument usually makes the point that while many college students are liberal, most are moderates and it is only a small proportion of those that are the far-left social justice warriors seen on the news. And on its face that argument is true. Most students, liberal or conservative, are in college to learn and make themselves more competitive in the job market. It is only a few students on the far-left that riot like Antifa, attack and tear down statues of American heroes, or demand safe spaces in which they can go cry about Trump being elected.
What that argument doesn’t take into account is the sway that those admittedly few far-left students have on campus. Yes, their numbers are limited. But their influence is not.
One reason for that is that they often have the full backing of their university’s administration. That gives them free reign to verbally abuse and harass conservatives, often through reporting them for “hate speech,” while being relatively immune to conservative counterattacks. Many campus reporting and judicial systems are designed to favor the accuser over the accused, which is directly in contradiction to the American belief in being innocent until proven guilty. Liberal radicals take full advantage of that and the administrative support they receive to make the lives of conservatives who disagree with them a living hell. Few students, even on the left, do that. However, the ones that do so act frequently and purely to shut down conservative thought. Even when conservatives are able to show that liberal students are abusing the system, nothing comes of it. No one is punished for making false accusations. Because they have administrative support, the leftist radicals are often untouchable.
A related problem is that the Social Justice Warriors are able to use their feelings, emotions, and administrative backing to set the tone of campus debate. They verbally attack whoever they please in the most vicious ways imaginable. They report fake crimes, use online anonymity to smear reputations, and use highly publicized and sensationalized protests to turn away speakers. Their assaults on conservatives and conservative speakers often go unpunished; that creates a problem for debate on campuses. Because conservative students don’t feel safe standing up to the far left, the debate often becomes a shouting match between the radical left and radical right. The reasonable middle is forced out of the conversation. Similarly, what reasonable debates that are had can end at any moment as soon as a liberal student is “offended.” By falling back on their emotions and claiming victim status they simultaneously shield themselves from appearing to lose, and make conservatives look like the bad guy. Through making the length and scale of campus conversations dependent on the whims of their emotions, liberals are often able to eradicate any hopes of a reasonable discussion. It is a sad situation that will continue as long as moderate students and professors enable it.
How is that a tyranny of the minority? Because it is a minority of students using their victim status and emotional whims to destroy educational opportunities for everyone else. Campuses are supposed to be a safe haven for free speech, not a refuge for the weak spirited and feeble minded. By using their emotions to shut down debate, leftist students have stolen opportunities for discussion from everyone else. Despite being a minority, what they say goes. It is a ridiculous situation that exists only because of conservative adherence to the social norm of backing down in the face of a crying, “triggered” liberal, and because that ridiculous, weak behavior is enabled by many administrations.
Professors should force their students to have uncomfortable conversations and use facts to defend their true beliefs. That is hard to do, but incredibly necessary; it is what teaches students how to think and defend their ideas. Those are the two big takeaways from college that every student should have. But, when classroom and campus debates can’t happen because one side is too emotional, that opportunity is lost for everybody. Instead of being forced to confront the radical nature of their convictions and then defend those convictions, students on the far fringes of both sides are instead able to retreat into their enclaves of affirmation and extremism. Just think of the far-left defenders of the LGBT movement. Because of the tyranny of the minority, they are able to present their baseless claims about gender and sexuality as fact and then retreat into a smokescreen of emotions and victimhood when presented with opposing arguments. If they were instead forced to get over their emotions and listen to opposing viewpoints, perhaps their radical views would be tempered. Or they might at least develop a structured and factually sound argument.
The Consequences of a Tyranny of the Minority
The side effects of the tyranny of the minority are already apparent. Students, especially millennial students, leave college without being able to form and defend a coherent argument. They are used to the other side voluntarily giving in or having to give in because of pressure from professors and administrators. Once students can’t analyze a topic to create and defend an opinion, they are useless in most sectors of the economy. They can’t work in business or finance; imagine a Goldman Sachs or Berkshire Hathaway employee bursting into tears when management asks why they think a certain course of action is the right one. They’d be fired immediately. They can’t work in politics (unless they’re AOC, Omar, or Talib) because most voters prefer reasonable people that have real policy suggestions and the ability to back them up. So, all they are left with is working in higher education; they become the next generation of professors and administrators that allow a tyranny of the minority to destroy campus culture and debate.
What is the solution?
Frankly, I don’t see a solution to the tyranny of the minority problem. The only solution is for colleges and universities to start hiring professors and administrators that are motivated by a love of learning rather than a love of the far left. No self-respecting academic would allow a student to escape counter arguments by retreating to a safe space or claiming that they “take offense” to particular conservative arguments. Good professors, of which I have fortunately had many, instead force their students to debate and learn from debates. If professors of that quality once again become the dominant force on campus, then the tyranny of the minority can be shut down. But because of institutional hurdles, such as the current far left nature of many universities and the tenure tract, that is unlikely to happen. Another problem is that conservatives don’t become professors or teachers; they become military officers or business leaders. And so each generation of conservative college students is left to the whims of increasingly far-left professors as the alumni base watches in horror. It is a sad situation that will be hard to fix. The only path forward is to push for schools to hire conservative, or at least objectively academic, faculty.
I would like to end this by saying that I am only describing a small fraction of students. The far-left fringes of most student bodies are the ones that cause problems and they are by far in the minority. Most students, liberal or conservative, get along well and are respectful. That majority seeks open and honest discussions and learns from the discussions that aren’t hijacked and crashed by the tyranny of the minority. However, the problem is that despite their limited numbers, far-left students are able to enforce their will on everyone else and in doing so deprive their peers of important educational opportunities. Perhaps you think that I “doth protest too much.” I think I’m just delivering a warning that needs to be delivered. We need to defeat the tyranny of the minority so that our system of higher education becomes great again.
By: Gen Z Conservative
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