Lincoln High School Statesman

The silenced majority

According+to+the+South+Dakota+Secretary+of+State+website%2C+there+were+256%2C502+Republicans+and+159%2C188+Democrats+registered+to+vote+in+2018+election.+
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The silenced majority

According to the South Dakota Secretary of State website, there were 256,502 Republicans and 159,188 Democrats registered to vote in 2018 election.

According to the South Dakota Secretary of State website, there were 256,502 Republicans and 159,188 Democrats registered to vote in 2018 election.

Clipart Library

According to the South Dakota Secretary of State website, there were 256,502 Republicans and 159,188 Democrats registered to vote in 2018 election.

Clipart Library

Clipart Library

According to the South Dakota Secretary of State website, there were 256,502 Republicans and 159,188 Democrats registered to vote in 2018 election.

Somer Luitjens and Parker Hibbard

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According to a recent Statesman poll, 80 percent of LHS conservatives are scared to voice their political opinions in school, while an estimated 38 percent of LHS liberals are scared to voice theirs. This needs to change.

One of the hardest parts about being in high school for me, a conservative republican, is that I feel as though I cannot speak my mind when politics are the topic of conversation. Not because I am uneducated or clueless as to what is going on, but because I am afraid. I am afraid I will be viewed as a sexist, a homophobe or even a racist.

It wasn’t always like this. Today’s news and media has a tendency to either lean to the far-right side or the far-left side of the political spectrum, causing viewers to not only lose their core values, but also create a deeper divide in America.

“It used to be that the media was truly journalism and just presented things that were happening in history and the facts that allowed people to make their own decisions,” said Dr. Brad Thaemert. “Now, both written and TV is more opinion, it’s not really facts. That is a very different media then it used to be, even 10 years ago.”

This problem of division has spread so far that we are now seeing it affect the halls of LHS. Some students feel the division more than others, and it is changing the way they complete their school work and handle their encounters with their teachers. It doesn’t matter who you’re friends with or what you’re involved in, once politics are brought up, the gloves come off, the arguments heat up and the conservative usually loses. If a statement is made and the left side of the argument has nothing more to say, they may at times match it with bigotry remarks about racism, sexism and homophobia wrongfully associated with the Republican Party. These hurtful, distressing phrases that are brought up, have a major effect on the conservative who is just trying to voice their opinion. After a while, these painful remarks cause Republicans to just be silent because being categorized as a racist is something that we will avoid at all costs, even if the cost is our voice.

“We are a public school district and everyone has the right to a freedom of expression without the issue that they will be bullied or ridiculed for their opinion,” said School Board Vice President Cynthia Mickelson. “I don’t want students to feel intimidated by other students so they can’t express their opinions.”

Let’s put this into perspective: When an LHS team plays a WHS team, we want to do nothing more than to kick their butts. We love to beat them and we hate to lose to them. When we play WHS, we have a little extra incentive to give it our all. Let’s say it like we mean it. We hate WHS. But it isn’t a right vs left hate. It’s a hate developed from respect. When the game is over and we are in our street clothes, no longer on the court or on the field, those feelings quickly dissipate. We meet our enemies with a smile and talk about our favorite movies, music or whatever the topic may be.

We high five, hug it out and go home with no bad feelings towards them as individuals. We go home as friends. Why can’t it be this way at LHS? Why can’t we have a respect for those who have a different opinion? Why can’t we say, “Great argument. I don’t agree with you, but you stated your opinion well and I respect where you are coming from.” It’s time to create unity at LHS.

“I think a lot of the time we live in shame and fear of the truth,” said LHS senior Caiden Capaldo. “It’s really important that we stand our ground when we feel something’s right. You can listen to someone and you can respect their view but that doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. We ultimately want to have a caring community where we all hear each other.”

No matter what race you are, you are accepted. If you’re gay or straight, you are accepted. No matter what religion you follow, or if you choose to not follow one at all, you are accepted. Athletes, musicians, actors, debaters and scholars are all accepted and equally appreciated. That’s the Lincoln way. No matter what you look like or who you hang with, if you’re a Patriot, you’re a part of the family. However, the second someone states their conservative views, they feel rejected. When someone who leans left raises their hand and shouts from the rooftops, they are applauded for standing up for their beliefs, even if their words have an edge or a bite to them. On the contrary, when someone wants to share their conservative feelings on a topic, they know they need to “speak softly” and temper their opinions. Those who lean right are met with more than resistance. They are hit head-on with looks of disgust, eye rolls and are often interrupted by classmates or questioned by teachers. It isn’t their opinion that is attacked, but rather their character.

The disdain for conservatives is so thick that many students feel they need to remain silent. It’s difficult not to wonder which direction your teacher leans. The heavy cloud that conservatives feel makes them second guess how their views will be received. Should I pick a different topic for my paper? Should I keep my hand down and my opinions muzzled? Will it negatively affect my grade if I express myself in a way that is contrary to my teacher’s hidden beliefs?

I realize those of you reading this may have just rolled your own eyes or even whispered the word, “Seriously?” out loud. Please don’t take what is written in this article to be a fact or even a substantiated opinion. These aren’t spoken in reality but rather feared as a perception. The problem with perceptions is that they are real to the perceiver. Everyone knows LHS has some of the best teachers in the state of South Dakota. We have the highest AP and ACT scores for a reason. I don’t want this article to insinuate anything else. My hope is that this will create an awareness so that we all can examine our motives, our reactions and our tolerance of others’ opinions. We are all one family, and no family ever sees eye to eye 100 percent of the time, but when the dust settles, we walk away arm in arm proud to be a Patriot.

 

 

*Originally featured in the November Issue of the Statesman.

Author
Somer Luitjens, Staff Writer

Somer Luitjens is a new member of the Statesman.  When Luitjens isn’t sitting in her bedroom watching “Friends,” she’s eating “sketti” with...

2 Comments

2 Responses to “The silenced majority”

  1. Linda Anderson on December 1st, 2018 9:02 am

    Well said, Somer! I am a 73 year old conservative and my husband and I share the same feelings which you have expressed. You are to be commended for having the courage to speak out in your school newspaper. You are a true patriot showing passion and concern for our country and the lack of respect for one another’s beliefs and opinions. Your thoughts are refreshing and filled with truth. God bless you for putting them on paper!

  2. Jacob delaMontanya on December 6th, 2018 8:13 am

    I think that it’s important to realize some of these things when you’re having discourse. To remember that the other person has a different experience than you and a different perception of the world. Both ways. I think the reason why you can see such a burning heart passion from democratic students is because the current political climate is so divided and marginalizing to Democrats where school may be the only place that they feel safe expressing their opinions in their community. I think in general students need to calm tempers in discourse and understand that they cant convince anyone but be open to a new point of view and I think that being open is the most important thing we can do in a divided climate because otherwise nothing will get done. We Democrats need to be more careful about using words like homophobia, sexism, and racism out of their place. So that when it is the time, they have an impact and it’s not just another buzzword like fake news, snowflake, or communist. But hey that’s just my take.