An inclusive community starts here
Much has been made about the tone of political discourse in this country, notably the sharp downward spiral it took during a presidential campaign that seemed like it would never end. While the results of that race are in, the issues we continue to face remain as divisive as ever — not that we expected it all to reverse course after Nov. 8.
The election is the easy target for finger-wagging, isn’t it? But, at most, the election seemed to give everyone — on both sides of the political aisle — a reason to cast aside civility for righteous outrage. The boiling over was a long time coming. The election itself solved none of our problems.
We — as a community, as a country, as a society — can take some cues from a letter published in the Dec. 1 issue of The Elm, Washington College’s student newspaper, and signed by faculty and staff members, including President Sheila Bair. In it, the faculty and staff state their understanding and respect for the diverse student body and its members’ varying political views.
“The expression of these views is a fundamental element of the free exchange of ideas and intellectual inquiry that makes WC such a vibrant institution. We are committed to ensuring a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful environment,” the letter states.
The faculty and staff go on to state that they will not tolerate hate speech, violence or bullying, that they will “support, cultivate, and help preserve the many diverse communities within Washington College.”
The letter closes with: “Our. Doors. Are. Always. Open.”
We all can stand to tone down the righteousness that is so pervasive in the discussion of politics, world events and even the season finale of “Westworld.” Must everything be a “hot-button issue” setting off a “firestorm of controversy?”
The fault lies with more than just the election. It extends beyond the 24-hour news cycle and the questionable talking heads on television. It is not Facebook’s fault or Twitter’s fault. The hard truth is that it is us. We are both the consumers and the purveyors of so much noise.
What does it say about the state of political discourse that after reading an awful fake news story online about Hillary Clinton supposedly running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza place, a North Carolina man showed up there with an AR-15 assault rifle to “rescue the children,” as The Washington Post reports. Then, The Post notes, “some claimed the gun incident was either staged or even a hoax altogether.”
The fight to end discrimination was neither won nor lost Nov. 8. The election did not solve the issues of our changing economy. We continue to face threats of violence at home and abroad. Our crumbling infrastructure still needs to be addressed.
And all the shouting gets us nowhere. It serves only to continue alienating us from our own neighbors.
We support the free exchange of ideas. We want to hear all sides because no one person has all the answers. We need to work together to uphold this nation’s ideals of an inclusive society for everyone. And, as with so much, it all starts right here at home.