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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Practice what you preach: retaining tolerance in politics

<ing the 2004 Democratic National Convention, in the speech that is credited with propelling him into the national political spotlight, Barack Obama condemned “those who are preparing to divide us … who embrace the politics of “anything goes.” He went on to declare, “We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.” Unfortunately, Carleton students who participated in Tuesday’s caucuses failed to heed the Illinois Senator’s advice.

A Carleton student planning to vote in the Republican caucus rode the bus sponsored by the CarlDems to his caucus location at Northfield High School. When the bus driver announced the stop, the boos and jeers were so intimidating that the student felt uncomfortable disembarking and remained on the bus. The bus driver later drove this student back to his caucus location, explaining that he completely understood the student’s trepidations. Such voter intimidation is illegal under federal and state laws, but more importantly it goes against what Carleton stands for. Those students who participated in this mob action should be ashamed!

As shocking as this experience is, it is not isolated. These inconsiderate students are likely among the same group who challenged a Republican Carl’s right to a ride to her voting precinct in the 2006 general election or challenged my decision to attend Carleton based on my political ideologies. Such repeated harassment is reflected in the fact that of the roughly twenty Carleton students who caucused republican, only five chose to ride the school-sponsored bus.

Fellow students, we should be embarrassed. Classmates of ours engaging in one of America’s most sacred traditions denied a fellow student that same right. This is undemocratic, unjust and unfair. It is maddening that Carleton College, a place that is supposed to be grounded in the ideals of tolerance, understanding and acceptance has become a place where the opinions of the majority oppress the minority. It is frightening that rather than accepting fellow students for their differences, our classmates react with discrimination. Quite simply, it is unacceptable.

Admittedly, the students who perpetrated these atrocities make up a small percentage of the student body. Nonetheless, it is our duty as fellow students to emphatically declare that such actions are NOT ok!

This responsibility starts with the organizations that organized and advertised the caucus buses. I call on the leaders of CarlDems and Carls for Obama to show proper leadership by reminding their organization members that thought must remain free within our community. Furthermore, as CSA provided the necessary funding for the voter buses, it seems prudent that these organizations provide a solution to the aforementioned problems before a voter bus is funded in the future.

Responsibility is not, however, limited to student organizations or leaders. Each of us possesses the responsibility to ensure that all students, regardless of race, religion or politics, feel comfortable among the Carleton community. We all must take it upon ourselves to let the guilty parties know that their actions are not ok and will not be tolerated ever again.

In the next nine months, the Presidential campaign will only increase in intensity. It will also allow voters to shatter social expectations of who can become President, by potentially electing a woman or an African-American. Similarly, this will offer our campus the perfect opportunity to redeem itself and prove that we do support the rights of all students to be politically active, regardless of their party affiliations; that we do respect the Constitutional rights of all students; and that we continue to exude that “Minnesota nice” which our school is renowned for. Come on Carls, let us all work together to fix this injustice!

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