To the Editor:
The conversation between Karl Salzmann, Anthony Perasso, and Kwesi Aaron seems to epitomize the pitfalls of conversations on race in college campuses and the broader problems with the politicization of the race discussion. Both sides contributed valid points, but they quickly devolved into general partisan sniping thinly veiled by the language of American race relations.
This type of argument is unproductive, and especially unhelpful to the minorities at Boston College. I write to the editor to help clear the air on the original issue, and, more generally, to reposition the place of political correctness in our society today.
Karl correctly pointed out the inappropriately detailed description of Gasson 100 as “ a hall lined by portraits of BC’s 24 white Jesuit presidents.” This description clearly indicates contextual support of Eliminate Boston College Racism, and although many, including myself, see their agenda for BC as constructive, that does not change the political nature of that agenda.
Karl attributes this to a larger problem he sees at BC, a “liberal hegemony” enforcing “orthodox ‘progressivism’” among its students. Although this conclusion is based on a strongly conservative ideology, it comes from indisputable evidence, and points towards an invaluable lesson in today’s political environment on campus.
The political reductionism today surrounding socially progressive issues does exist, as Karl theorizes, but it is not the result of a carefully colluding group of liberals. In fact, political correctness has always come from the methods of social construction in any society. As a social tool, political correctness functions as a way for societies to continue advancing socially without having to change the social environment of their discussions.
Because students at BC communicate more with the outside world more than at any other point in the University’s history, an inclusive, liberal reductionism naturally occurs. This does not mean that conservatives have no place in BC, nor does it mean liberals are wrong in their beliefs.
The solution to political reductionism to stop practicing it. The solution is not a knee jerk reaction from conservatives who claim that white Christians are on the defensive at a school that could only be described as white and Christian. Although this line of reasoning constructively criticizes political correctness, it also completely ignores or misunderstands the problems of BC minorities today.
However, the solution cannot be to suppress any viewpoints short of progressive. What is the use of promoting a progressive agenda aimed at inclusion and diversity when it fights both of these in the discussion of race on campus?
The solution is to have a discussion of the issues without striking any point down for the sake of political correctness. The Heights should recognize that implicitly endorsing Eradicate Boston College Racism, although a popular choice, is still a political statement that has a place in the editorials section. Karl Salzmann should not worry about being under personal attack for being Christian at a Jesuit, Catholic institution. And Anthony Perasso and Kwesi Aaron should not mistake the popular political opinions they’re representing as facts.
Even if the opinions in Perasso and Aaron’s article widely perceived as correct, they are still political opinions. They, along with all other popular progressive ideologies our society takes for granted, should be contested and questioned just as much as Karl’s letter to the editor was. Even if this eliminates the crutch of popular opinion that marks conversations on race or the social direction of America, at least it will be a rational discussion.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Staff