Opinion: Engaging with bigots on campus isn't as effective as political participation

It does no use to make rational arguments against irrational thought

We cannot deny that there are people on campus who come from organizations that preach radical ideals, shouting obscene and highly offensive remarks at students to receive attention, all under the guise of faith. 

Many preach about how being gay can be a ticket to hell or how believing in anything other than Jesus makes you deserving of eternal damnation. 

The presence of these demonstrators draws students who can't help but counter their rhetoric. This results in raised voices, arguments surrounding these hideous ideologies and a crowd to watch and add fuel to these interactions. 

Many feel anger and frustration when they learn that people with these outdated mindsets still exist. But the best way to combat this type of ignorance is through political participation rather than direct action.

It’s understandable that it feels therapeutic for students to argue with the ignorance that's right in front of their faces. However, this is highly unproductive and it motivates these people who might feel as though they are creating awareness for their organization and its causes.

New York Times columnist and political scientist Eitan D. Hersh calls this phenomenon political hobbyism, which he wrote is for people who "want easy ways to register their feelings" that provide instant gratification.

Nancy Morgan, a faculty associate in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, said that heated exchanges or providing attention to bigots cannot effectively foster communication.

More often than not, change takes place within the legislative system, and the most effective tool to end ignorance is through policy.

Pew Research Center reports that millennials are now almost as big of a political force as baby boomers.  Although historically younger generations tend to have low voter turnout, with increasing political awareness and voting eligibility, voting among millennials is on the rise.

With the growing political power in the younger demographic, it makes far more sense for students to invest time in politics rather than with on-campus agitators.

Number of Millennials eligible to vote approaching that of Boomers

If a student is upset by seeing a demonstrator on campus, then the solution is for them to become educated on issues that they feel are worth fighting for and find the best way to become active in that cause.

There are numerous options available for students to create change if they are feeling hopeless about current politics, including registering to vote, canvassing, joining a campaign team, calling elected officials to let them know where you stand on a position and of course, voting. 

“Our power is the power of voting. It is both privilege and a responsibility,” Morgan said. When it comes to political efficacy, she said, “you have to resist the pressure to feel hopeless.”

Reach the reporter at ajmistry@asu.edu or follow @jay_mistry52 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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