Letter to the Editor: Being apolitical only serves to perpetuate oppression

A recent column by Wesley Shirola lambasted the tide of polarization that has swept over our country in recent years. He first cites President Donald Trump, but then, in an act of false equivalency, contends that we should all be held accountable for the present political climate. He further adds that “both (political sides) are equally responsible and equally affected” by the current situation, and seems to imply that as a result, we are on the verge of a generational crisis. His proposed solution to this pandemic polarization is to temporarily “disconnect” from social media and ignore what is happening in Washington from time to time. Happiness, he claims, is an essential aspect of our society, and we have strayed from this goal by being so heavily bogged down with politics.

Sadly, while these idealistic solutions may help one feel better, they do nothing to dismantle the systems of oppression in our society that actively disenfranchise minorities, women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. This dangerous ideology can preserve existing power imbalances while also disregarding the systemic inequality that exists throughout the United States. Ignoring political problems does not make them go away, and especially in the current Information Age, there is no excuse to not be an informed citizen. A plethora of problems plague our country, and each one of them — many of which are inherently “politicized” or at the very least, could be addressed through political action — deserves our attention and activism, beyond mere tweets or Facebook posts.

Aside from this, Trump has engaged in a substantial campaign aimed at delegitimizing the independent press, which led to an FBI arrest for a terrorist threat at CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta. In my eyes, Trump is the most dangerous individual alive — he has threatened nuclear war with North Korea, given the wealthiest people in the country a monumental tax break and stolen former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick through the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by denying Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing. We do not live in normalcy anymore, and sitting back and pretending we do won’t change that fact. The Republican Party has manipulated partisanship to advance a radical agenda that the majority of Americans do not agree with. This has been useful for all those able to benefit from it, as the GOP has by advancing gerrymandering and discriminatory voter ID laws to limit and restrict democracy and voter turnout in states across the country. Should we just pay no attention to all these political issues — even temporarily — because ignorance is bliss?

The author’s piece had good intentions, and I will not fault him for that. But to argue that politicization must end this year is an outlandish claim with little merit. One of my favorite quotes is “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” by South African human rights activist Desmond Tutu. It is a testament to one’s privilege to be able to espouse such an ideology that advocates for political disinterest. Being political is a requirement for the advancement of equality in the modern era.

Kevin Corkran, SESP senior