Political Discussion at Brebeuf

Political Views, or Personal Attacks?

Kevin O’Sullivan, News & Features Editor


Politics and religion are powerful things. The belief system that an individual subscribes to can determine his or her moral, spiritual, and practical view of the world.

When government officials debate with integrity, these ideas are taken seriously by committed supporters on both sides of the aisle. Political discourse is difficult to have, and students at Brebeuf Jesuit have not shown the ability to have reasonable political conversation supported by facts rather than feelings. This was present most visibly in the recent diversity dialogue, where students on both sides made claims without providing any evidence or analysis and instead relied on anecdotes and emotional responses on several of the issues.

For those who know me, it is no secret that I am a Republican. I live in a split household with a liberal father and a conservative mother and have been influenced by both of them in different ways. I am  pro-choice, pro-path to citizenship, and pro-gay marriage, which are typically liberal values, yet I identify as a Republican none-the-less due to my belief in welfare reform, reduced spending, and reduced role of government in the economy. The reason I feel that it is important to identify my general view on political issues is so I can better provide context as to how I view certain situations.

In the first semester of my sophomore year, I was beginning the journey toward defining my political beliefs. As such, when I first realized that I generally line up as a Republican, I felt that I wasn’t a real Republican unless I agreed with the entire party platform. Thus, I used to be anti-gay marriage, pro-life, and in many ways anti-immigrant.

There are dozens of Brebeuf students who hold these political views and would line up along the social and fiscal conservative platform. As a sophomore, I took a class that was an in-depth study of the 1960’s taught by Mr. Oliver and Doctor Sperry. It was a truly incredible experience and helped dramatically shape the way I view many things today. However, I can recall a discussion that began with one issue and devolved into the gay marriage debate. Seeing as how I was still trying to be a “true” conservative, I was the only person in the class that took the stance of anti-gay marriage.

I can recall saying a large number of things that I disagree with now and reciting the normal conservative talking points. The discussion was relatively civil; however, after class I heard multiple people go around calling me “stupid.” Now, I didn’t really mind what these people thought of me, but I thought it was fascinating that instead of debating the real issue, students felt it necessary to personally attack someone who disagrees with them.

However, I hear people who share similar views as mine say outlandish and ridiculous things as well. I have heard dozens of campus Republicans paint pro-choice Democrats as “pro-abortion.” Being pro-choice and pro-abortion are two distinctly different things, and saying someone wants abortions to occur is a dishonest portrayal of their views. In addition, this is once again a personal attack rather than a debate on a political issue.

Brebeuf is a school that promotes dialogue in a unique and distinct way. However, if students are more willing to demonize the other side than talk about the issues, then these discussions are simply worthless