I was scrolling through Instagram today, swiping through the glut of stories complaining about the possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court when I noticed a conservative St. Albans student’s post celebrating the leaks. These sorts of conservative stories are not only out of the ordinary, but nearly non-existent. Why? Because the moment he submitted his story, this student received a flood of messages from people that barely knew him that labeled him as a sexist and angrily sought to change his views. One furious commenter replied, “You’re being sarcastic, right?” to the story, demonstrating the failure of many liberals to realize that not everybody agrees with them. Another commenter who doesn’t even know this student somehow thought that this young conservative “has no say” because he is white, male, and therefore “does not understand what struggling is.” Being shamed by liberal social media users for their views is something that all conservatives experience at some point—a right of passage of sorts.
After this point, most conservatives resort to concealing their views from the public for fear of retribution in the form of public shaming, blacklisting (i.e. coordinated social isolation of one with conservative views), or cancellation. For these reasons, there is clear social bias against conservatives on the close (and often discrimination from some teachers), such that conservatives have resorted to concealing their beliefs, learning to be very careful about sharing their views. Just recently, I witnessed my friend be verbally accosted by a liberal teacher that did not agree with my friend’s conservative views. Another time, a teacher told a student that they thought a different student was nice, but they just couldn’t deal with or accept the fact that the other student was conservative, and for this reason they did not like the other student. It’s not difficult to understand why conservatives at St. Albans are afraid to share their real views.
However, for too many conservatives, political ideology is a major part of their identity, and it’s neither easy nor fair for them to conceal their views and opinions. I, for one, fondly remember watching the 2016 conservative primaries and debates with my parents while learning about the views of the different candidates. Additionally, many vocal conservatives have been involved with their own activism around issues like the rights of the unborn and cancel culture. Despite this, rather than being celebrated as an aspect of diversity, the conservative identity is under attack by the very same people who claim to promote said diversity and tolerance. Therefore, vocal conservatives face discrimination and oppression just as other marginalized groups do. Although conservative social and academic oppression takes a different form than America’s systemic racism against minorities (if you believe in that), the silencing of conservative voices means that they need a safe space to express their opinions and discuss their struggle with intolerance and cancel culture.
Therefore, like other marginalized groups, conservatives seek a group of our own—an affinity group, a club, etc.—protect them from the intolerance of Washington, D.C. liberals. St. Albans was once a place that respected and even praised all opinions, but it has started down a dark path of silencing the views of thoughtful and involved students. Teachers and administrators have promised to protect reasonable free speech on campus, and it is time that these people in positions of power follow through on this promise.
*If it weren’t for the social and academic consequences that accompany expressing conservative opinions, I would publish this article under my name. However, I must remain anonymous for my own protection. Conservatives only “hide in the shadows” of The Exchanged for fear of retribution.