Opinion: Liberals aren't the only ones guilty of being 'snowflakes'

Conservatives get offended too

The term “snowflake” or “special snowflake” has entered the lexicon as a pejorative term. 

Conservatives have used the term, which usually implies an individual who is easily offended and struggles with differing opinions than their own, almost exclusively against those who are young and hold left-leaning social views.

In modern conservative dialogue, higher education has become a nightmarish place seemingly dominated by easily offended, leftist boogeymen. Now many conservative clubs on campus cast themselves as the defenders of free speech against a greater threat — college snowflakes. 

But the truth is that conservatives are no less guilty of overreaction and taking offense than the worst of the left. Campus liberals and young people are not the only perpetrators of this. 

Conservatives would be wise to recognize that they also have snowflakes of their own.

The term snowflake has risen in popularity as concepts and terms like “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and “microaggressions” have entered the popular lexicon. 

Collins Dictionary listed “snowflake generation” in its list of top ten words of 2016. The idea coming from conservatives seems to be that campuses are dominated by left-wingers determined to coddle themselves and stifle free speech. 

Kellen Moore, a conservative student at ASU and junior majoring in economics, said he believes that both sides are guilty of this behavior, but said that the dominance of the left on college campuses creates a unique situation. 

“I think a lot of it stems from universities, at least in college campuses I do feel like it becomes a little problematic from the left because they hold so much power throughout our universities,” Moore said.

Following Nike ads featuring Colin Kaepernick, who generated controversy for kneeling during the national anthem, some conservatives took to the web to post videos of themselves destroying their own merchandise.

A similar instance occurred following Keurig pulling their advertising from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. People took to social media to post videos of themselves destroying their own Keurig products in support of Hannity. 

Charlie Kirk, founder of the youth conservative group Turning Point USA, is no stranger to getting worked up over small things. He tweeted expressing his displeasure about a Starbucks he visited where the employees had gender pronouns listed on their name tags, complaining that “We are creating a society of people waiting to be offended.”

Twitter users were quick to point out in the replies of the tweet that it sounded like he was the one being offended. 

In a 2017 piece for the conservative magazine National Review, psychological scientist Clay Routledge wrote that, “Trumpism reflects the right-wing version of emotional safety and victimhood culture many conservatives criticize.” 

In the article, Routledge cites what he sees as increased psychological fragility among younger generations of Americans.

Perhaps, but people from any age group get offended by things. One's particular age group just seems to help determine what exactly one finds offensive.

A 2018 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 63 percent of respondents in both the 50-64-year-old age group and the 65-plus age brackets found it was “never appropriate” to “protest by kneeling during the national anthem.” Compare this with the only 38 percent in the 18-29 age bracket who thought so. 

This does not mean younger Americans aren't necessarily more offended about things than older generations, they just have concerns with different issues. 

After all, just 56 years ago it took the National Guard being federalized by former President John F. Kennedy to allow just two African American students to enroll at the University of Alabama. 

Being offended is not a uniquely liberal or conservative issue. It is not an issue distinct to a younger generation either.

Conservatives would be foolish to pretend they are uniquely immune from acting like "snowflakes." 


Reach the columnist at djrubio2@asu.edu and follow @DanielRubioAZ on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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