By Sarah Telle, Marshall County High School YAF Chapter Chair
One of the nicest compliments I ever received was also an insult.
Last fall, my school’s YAF chapter presented a 9/11: Never Forget Project at a school program. It became a topic of conversation afterwards, which, I like to think, means it made an impact. Several of my classmates enjoyed the program, but the fact that a conservative group spear-headed the project left them with a bad taste in their mouths. As chairman, I received some of the credit and all of the blame.
A friend of mine was sitting in class listening to liberal-minded students discuss how atrocious it was conservatives had done something so honorable. My name popped up and they began to freely discuss my ideological philosophy.
So Nice, but So Conservative
Before my friend could save my tattered reputation, one of the liberals declared, “Sarah Telle is so nice…but so conservative.” This comment was said questioningly, as if the person was wondering how I could be so misguided, and not be a ghastly, terrible monster.
When my friend told me this story a few hours later, I chose to take it as a compliment, but it has evolved into a wakeup call.
Why have conservatives allowed the Left to portray them as the dark creature that comes to plunder and loot? Why is it such a shock for someone in my generation to discover that conservatives don’t try and trip someone walking down the hallway?
It would be so nice if people chose not to base personalities off of ideologies. The two are mutually exclusive no matter what anybody says. But it seems that in today’s culture that is asking too much.
Beating Back the Stereotype
Conservatives need to fight the stereotypes that are turning us into the thing that goes bump in the night. Luckily, it’s not hard.
Here’s a very simple way to fight the stereotype: We need to be the bigger people.
When a liberal comes up and starts attacking your beliefs through personal attacks don’t sink to their level. Keep it polite and try to focus on policy issues, not character issues. If that doesn’t work, politely excuse yourself and walk away. This doesn’t mean that you have lost the argument, it means you have better things to do than get involved in a pointless debate. Let the other person make a fool out himself or herself—they don’t need you assistance or support.
Getting Attacked? You’re Winning!
For the past three years, my very liberal English teacher and I have had weekly discussions, mostly about public policy. As I have read more and become more informed about the issues, he has started to result to more personal attacks. I never respond to these attacks by getting angry, and neither should you.
After all, a wise woman—Margaret Thatcher—once said, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
So let us cheer up, and prove that we can be nice and conservative!
Sarah Telle is the chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Marshall County High School.