Politics at UCSB Part 2: The Insider Guide to the College Republicans

I have been looking forward to writing this post since I left the Republican meeting last week. It was extremely uncomfortable that before the meeting, I felt the need to take “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice” pins off my backpack. Yet, it was still illuminating to just sit there and listen to a completely different world view, while recording everything I heard. I admit, it made me feel like a double-agent – the good kind, of course.

So, here is some insider info from possibly the most sloppy double-agent you will ever meet:

1. The Republicans know who they are dealing with and are ready to play dirty. Don’t fall for their tricks.

One of the meeting’s hot topics was this white supremacist guy (they call him an All Lives Matter advocate), who will come to the campus on February 19th. Some of their plans to draw attention to the event was incredibly conniving – yes, their sole purpose was to draw attention:

a. Go to the Black Students Union meeting and invite them to the talk, then record their reaction to point out their hypocrisy. This is an actual plan and they will probably do it.

b. Organize a night operation and hang the event posters on every single hall.

c. Let the announcement sign for the event hang on Pardall pass and hope a Liberal will destroy it. Then present it as a proof to the university administration that their lives feel threatened. This one was proposed by a member after the club’s board member responsible for the organization said “I will remove the sign every night and hang it back in the morning, because I know some Fascist Jew will vandalize it.” (I don’t even know what a Fascist Jew could possibly look like, honestly.)

2. They simply enjoy ridiculing “the political correctness.”

I wonder if this would be a wake-up call for those bored of political correctness on why we need it. It was a weird and heart-breaking realization to see that I, as a woman and as a human being, had no value in the eyes of some. I am sure not all men in the meeting had the same ideas but these guys are the loudest part of the group. These were some of the things that I heard coming out of the mouth of an actual human being (sadly):

a. “Aw man, I LOVE manspreading! That disturbed look on women’s face, haha!”

b. “Let’s come up with our own sexual identities and write them on Gauchospace – mine will be homo-lesbi-animo-sexual HAHAHA!”

c. “Just think about it, dead Mexicans everywhere along the wall.”

d. They talk about Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan as “war-torn, fucked-up, shithole places”. It took me a while to realize this.

e. A guy, whose mother is Iranian and was personally affected by the Muslim ban said this: “To prevent Muslims from hiding their identities, I propose a test where we will burn Quran and watch their reactions, like they did in Japan.” after this very reasonable question: “What if they dump their own citizenship, become Canadian and then come to America?”

f. One of they guys was describing the vagina of a girl he had sex with just before the meeting started. Or maybe he was talking about his mother, I missed that part – I hope not. But the conversation definitely involved a woman, a relationship and a vagina.

If I didn’t see the attitude of the men at the Democrats’ meeting, I could maybe say they are just immature teenagers. But there is a stark difference between the two groups of men, and language only constitutes a part of this difference. Sadly, I have come to realize that Donald Trump is a role model for those folks, not as in the sense of a rock star but more as a subtle message on socially acceptable behaviors.

3. To be fair, some of them are very good at self-critique.

They are aware of most problems and this is what gives me hope about finding the common ground with the Republicans.

a. Everyone thinks the Muslim ban was executed very badly, but not for the reason you think: They say it gave the Liberals an opportunity to stir up another wave of protests. And yes, everyone knows it is a Muslim ban. But they think things will go smoother in the future (My understanding of smooth is very different). And they believe that the Muslims simply hate them because “We fucked up their country, why wouldn’t they want to do the same thing for us?” I wish I could lecture them on how love will eventually trump hate and no ordinary Muslim holds a grudge against these poor white boys.

b. Some are disturbed by why Trump did not ban more countries. Some tried to defend him, saying “Stranded Saudi diplomats would be a huge crisis, he just wanted to avoid conflict and made the smart choice.” The others were not very satisfied with this answer, mentioning his business relationship with the other countries in the region.

c. Most are very disturbed by how Trump follows Obama’s footsteps and relies so heavily on his executive powers. Someone said “Wasn’t this what we hated? Didn’t we want to give the legislative power back to the Congress? He is doing the same thing now, even though he doesn’t need to because we have the majority in both the House and the Senate.” There were some who defended this as well, saying “He was not left any choice and what Obama did was illegal. Trump is doing everything the legal way.” But they don’t like how the reliance on executive orders is becoming a habit.

d. They say Mexico is even more racist than the United States and is planning to build a wall along its own Southern border. I don’t know if there is truth to this but if there is, well, I am disappointed in Mexico.

e. Some made fun of Sally Yates but the others appreciated her stance: “It’s better to show her position and refuse to do something she does not stand for than being a doormat. But you have to accept the consequences.”

f. One comment on the Democrats was very striking for me: “Now there is a race among the leftists on who is more victimized.” I can’t say I fully agree but they were right about one thing: The left is divided.

 

My overall thought is that the College Republicans simply know how to play the game. They are aware of potential backlashes, reactions, which groups to target etc. The loudest group in the club also enjoys undermining the leftist ideas by making fun of them like high school children and are not hesitant to propose the most extremist ideas. Sometimes you can hear the voice of reason from the back rows or see an intervention by the board members, but this is it. They just laugh it off and think that burning the Quran to find who is a Muslim is smart.

This is what disturbed me the most: It is like they are not aware of what the actions they propose mean – it is like they completely shut down their empathy at the cost of other people’s suffering. Though, they are pretty convinced that they are not bad people as depicted on the media and only look after their country as anyone else would.

Once upon a time, another group was in the same position, felt the same way. They desperately needed security from an unknown, nameless threat and believed in a savior who promised the old glory and power. And then, there came a time when their savior asked for sacrifice and they delivered it.

I don’t believe these folks are pure evil or completely unreasonable. They are just terrified to the level that their brain has no energy left to spend on caring for “the other”. However, the path they are currently walking on is dangerously familiar. And this is exactly why we need dialogue and common ground now more than ever.

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