I want to start off by saying I appreciate and support the work that [antifa] and other progressive activists on campus have been doing. The campus political climate, like that of the United States, is becoming increasingly divisive. In my opinion, this is in part due to the reemergence of the Grinnell Republican Club and their refusal to denounce our new president and his administration.
I’d like to respond to an article the GUM recently published, titled “Cut the Liberal Pablum: The Right is Not Your Friend.” I agree fundamentally with the ideas presented; I think conservatism inherently marginalizes groups of amazing people. However, this article, which reflects the sentiment of numerous other people on campus, criticizes the Scarlet and Black for its Features article about the Grinnell Republicans Club, while failing to mention three other stories published last week: “Anti-fascist art vandalized, criticized;” “Immigration ban sparks response from students and administration;” (both of which criticize Trump and/or fascism) and “Grinnell community speaks on President Trump’s Executive Order.”
The S&B is a non-partisan newspaper, just as the College is a non-partisan institution. Many of us on staff have progressive values; some of us have more conservative ones. What bothers me, however, is that a 600-word piece on page four about a revived club on campus has gotten way more publicity than the two anti-fascist 1500+ word articles mentioned above, which were above the fold on the very front page.
I want to emphasize that I’m no longer responding to this GUM article directly; instead, I’m responding to what I have observed since the S&B issue with these articles was published. The S&B is being criticized for giving a voice to conservatives on campus who refuse to denounce Donald Trump, but from what I’ve seen, the many Facebook posts antagonizing club members are doing exactly that. I’ve noticed some conservative voices opening up and leaning on conservative ideals to personally attack individuals, which is wrong. As a news source revolving around this campus, it is the S&B’s obligation to report on the activities going on here, including new clubs. I wish people would resist the Republican club by publicizing further positive action, rather than attacking these 40 individuals using the 600-word features story as a referent. Make Grinnell an institution with a progressive student body by responding to and using the things we do well. Don’t make Grinnell a progressive institution by attacking people because they have conservative beliefs. For me, it can be hard to conceptualize that half of this country voted for Trump, even though he is the devil and most of us on this campus seem to agree. Campus Republicans are more vocal this year than Grinnellians have been used to, but I think provoking them to respond in a way that only ends in circular arguments is counterproductive.
This is what I want to talk about: There are so many people on this campus taking positive steps in response to the horrible situations being thrust upon us by the new administration. Five GCSA members stayed in Nollen House all weekend to protest the College’s investment in fossil fuels. Campus Democrats are holding weekly call-ins to encourage people to call representatives. Six history, political science and religious studies professors hosted a teach-in to educate the campus body on how and why we have to protect our international students. Angela Voos published a letter to the editor in the S&B saying no matter what Betsy DeVos does with Title IX, the College will continue to support victims of sexual assault. I want to show each other, as well as other communities, how much power we can have when we push and publicize our positive initiative.
In regards to things going on outside the bubble, Grinnell College students aren’t talking about the Grinnell community members who voted for Trump, the ones who are not deterred by any of his recent actions and policies. In the S&B’s last Community Speaks article, one Grinnell resident said, “I voted for Trump. I totally believe that what he’s doing for the country so far has been right spot-on. He’s doing exactly what I voted for.” Although we do live in this college bubble, we also live in Iowa, a state that voted for Trump. There’s more work to be done than attacking the 40 Grinnell College Republicans, especially when there are thousands more, many of whom are probably worse, right next door.
I think that it’s easier to respond to things you can criticize. I think that criticism is important and challenging actions, policies, and rhetoric that are wrong is important. Moreover, I think that conservative values are wrong and harmful. I’m not trying to compromise or negotiate. I simply want to highlight that the S&B has published much content critical of Trump and fascism, and I feel strongly that we cannot allow the positive actions of Grinnellians to be overshadowed by a 600-word piece about campus conservatives.