The Beakon: How to confront hate

Facing opposition

“As Gandhi never quite said, ‘First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win,’” political commentator and author Andrew Sullivan wrote on his blog.

Sullivan is an anomaly. He was raised in a Roman Catholic household and grew up staunchly conservative. To this day, he’s still an old-timey conservative, but around the time he came out as gay, he started to adopt more liberal ideals. He represents something unique because he can vouch for both sides.

But for most of us, we find ourselves strictly on one side of an issue or another, and can’t settle in a comfortable place in between. For instance, if you believe that God is a woman, but you go to Bible class every Sunday and listen to verses with “He” this and “Him” that, you may still feel content with your beliefs.

However, intolerance is perceived as being rare in today’s world. Even in journalism. But that’s not always the case.

If you’re a conservative, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The New York Times? Maybe, “Why can’t I identify with any of their views?”

If you’re a liberal, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Fox News? Maybe the same concerns a conservative would have about news being more left-center biased?

Well, journalists themselves have to embrace their inner-Sullivan and learn to put aside their deepest personal beliefs when interacting with sources. For example, some of the Talon’s student journalists attended the counter-protest against the Westboro Baptist Church who showed up at Thousand Oaks High School.

Our student journalists were on a mission. They had to interview protestors from both sides. They approached the “GOD SENT THE SHOOTER” and “GOD’S WRATH IS REVEALED” protester signs with an open mind, anchoring themselves in their objective disinterest.

One of the Talon reporters, mentioning the event, said the WBC protester she interviewed “was very passionate about what she was there for. She was very sure that her beliefs were the correct beliefs.”

The reporter didn’t believe in the same things WBC does. Regardless, she said, “I had to maintain my composure and talk to her the same as I would any other interviewee. She was definitely used to press and had her answers ready to go and without any hesitation.”

At the Talon, we learn how to deal with bias in all its forms. Journalism may not be the middle ground or neutral voice in every politicized event, yet journalists must always ensure fair representation for students, staff and civilians alike.

From time to time, we all channel our own version of Sullivan: intervening at the Thanksgiving dinner table between politicized remarks, fixing a disagreement between friends or fighting with your mom about which side to part your hair on – all are examples of a struggle between opposers.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how strongly you feel about your views compared to other views, it’s about how you face disagreement. You can either grin and bear it, or try to understand the opposition in all its forms, just like we do at the Talon. Understanding, by the way, is not agreeing, nor is it accepting.

So, if you hate The New York Times, take a glance at their newest stories on abortion or minimum wage from time to time, and if you abhor the sight of Fox News commentators, try tuning in and listening for a change.

You don’t have to love what you hear or read. You certainly don’t have to hate it.

You also don’t have to change your views, but you must change your perspective.