Loras College does a wonderful job of introducing first years to what a liberal arts education at a welcoming Catholic college will look like for the next four years. The college introduces new students to the standards of respect that we have for one another, and leads them to examine their lives up to this point. But this examination uncovers implicit biases and disguised prejudices that prevail in the inattentive mind.
The International Programs Office (IPO) hosts talks to promote discussion among students. I have always felt comfortable bringing up perspectives in class that oppose what my professors believe. The presentation “Is White Supremacy Mainstream?” on Nov. 28, presented by Dr. Lisa Garoutte and Dr. Neely Farren-Eller, was not a forum where Loras promoted discussion, welcomed different ideologies, or took stock of the implications of the material.
A redeeming element to the presentation was the way Dr. Neeley Farren-Eller gave a personal account that was compassionate instead of pointedly tearing apart the other side.
Academic lectures certainly have a place at Loras. Examining the findings of a research study has a place at colleges. Sharing a heartfelt personal story for the enlightenment of an audience, like Dr. Neeley Farren-Eller did during this presentation, absolutely has a place at Loras. But accusing the entire right-wing movement of oppressing all non-white ethnicities — and attacking and sneering at the “Make America Great Again” slogan — based on subjective opinions — ostracizes conservative students and faculty, and should not have a place at Loras.
As a conservative student who has to deal with constant societal backlash in response to her beliefs, attending a lecture to better understand the historical power disparity between people of Caucasian European descent (white people) and the rest of the world was not a place where I expected to feel censured for my party alliance.
“Let’s Make America Great Again,” was first used as a slogan by President Ronald Reagan in his 1980 presidential campaign. How did Reagan plan to make America Great Again after a series of mild recessions and four years of President Jimmy Carter‘s administration? By decreasing the inflation rate, decreasing unemployment, and increasing the GDP growth rate, through conservative economic principles. Conservatives have been nostalgic for the Reagan years ever since he left the Oval Office. Reagan-Bush election memorabilia is being marketed to a new generation of conservatives and can even be seen on t-shirts and hats of Loras students.
It’s no surprise that Trump’s team chose to capitalize on the popularity of the slogan by re-branding it for his election campaign. This slogan has been central to our party for nearly 40 years, and focuses on the economic prosperity of the United States. To suggest that all people who support the “Make America Great Again” slogan are in support of white supremacy closes the possibility of productive discussion between liberals and conservatives by demonizing one side.