Political, religous labels hinder discussion

Hiding behind labels such as conservative and liberal can stifle

In her Sept. 20 letter to the editor, Jen Carlson lamented The Minnesota Daily’s “blatant left-wing bias.” She indicated profound discouragement, suggesting the Daily rarely provides informative facts, stating she usually avoids the Daily altogether.

Carlson identified herself as a “Christian” and “conservative.” She said she would like to see objective reporting of the news and that the Daily balance its editorials with “conservative” and “liberal” opinions. Her tone indicated great annoyance and disaffection. She suggested “liberals” would likely not be able to “handle” hearing perspectives other than their own. She cited a complaint was filed against her “… because of a President George W. Bush sticker on (her) Nalgene bottle.” She did not submit a statement indicating the final disposition issue.

 Carlson completed her letter questioning “… the open-mindedness that liberals scream about,” and said she was “… afraid the left is so consumed with creating their own truth that they are unable to deal with reality.”

 I read over her letter a few times and wondered what she meant when she referred to herself as a “Christian” and “conservative.” I pondered the verses, spirit and basic philosophy of the New Testament that have become important to her. I also wondered why she, like other people, objectifies people as being either “conservative” or “liberal,” as if no broad continuum exists, and that people should, in her mind, fit in neat little pigeonholes such that life would be easy for her. I am also concerned about her ability as a leader in a secular, nonpartisan environment.

 I believe the Daily’s editorial staff generally does a fine job and works with what they have before them; accommodating people throughout the philosophic spectrum. Carlson, as with all members of the Daily audience, has an open mic to express her opinion and perspectives. The Daily printed her letter. Her thoughts and opinions were not forgotten.

That said, I have problems with people who bandy about words such as “left,” “right,” “liberal,” “conservative” and “Christian.” Before using those words in an effort to blindly detail and define one’s existence, a pursuit of understanding individual perspectives and methods in an open society should be investigated and discussed. I believe each one of us should attempt to stand on our own with grace, patience, wisdom, friendship, common-sense and respect to the unique qualities available among us.

Hiding behind banners such as “conservative,” “liberal,” “Christian,” “Muslim” and “Jew”  can stifle original thought, new and old wisdom, and vitality in our intensely ever-changing and ever-mingling society. Wisdom, as we know, is not commonplace in our society (this is not to say that identification and communion with religious and political communities is wrong or that communities such as these are devoid of wisdom).

 Carlson should take time to lay her political and religious values out before herself, explore and question them, and ask herself if objectification or naivete obscures her from wisdom, common sense, good leadership and good practice. Lamenting the Daily’s “left” slant is, in my opinion, weak. Instead, I hope she will present analytical thoughts and wisdom to our community and question such thought and wisdom; or remain silent.

Healthy, strong and mature adults don’t cry about these concerns or look upon them with disgust. They act in ways that bring about patience, knowledge, wisdom, good humor, peace, safety, health, cooperation and improved opportunities. Each of us is left to the task of determining how best to express ourselves and affect society with our thoughts – and then to following through on our answers.

Barry Peterson is a University alumnus. Please send comments to [email protected]