I’m a ninth grader at Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, New York. As such, I live in a town, and region, of the country that is largely populated by liberals. In fact, in my social milieu, it has become a custom to be liberal. This custom alienates me because I am not a liberal. I have chosen to cleave to my own conservative principles. In my community, being conservative is viewed as a character flaw. But, even when I feel discouraged, I try to stand up for my beliefs.
The vast majority of my student peers at Edgemont are liberal. They assume that everyone is liberal and were surprised when I first disagreed with them. Not only do people dislike my being conservative, they also blame me for the faults they perceive in the world and in the Bush administration. My peers often approach me and ask, “What do you have to say about Bush doing …(something of which they disapprove)…? You put him in office.” Many people repeatedly pick verbal fights with me but shun productive discussions. When asked difficult questions, they simply utter something about the “idiotic Republicans.” When someone says, “That’s stupid,” the next words spoken are often, “Not as stupid as George Bush.” They label a ninth-grader as the cause of the world’s problems and make President Bush, a man I respect, the butt of their jokes. This makes me feel alienated from them and sad that they hold these ludicrous beliefs.
Though the teachers of Edgemont are older and presumably wiser than the student body, they are no less liberal. Sadly, the faculty is worse. One of my teachers, upon overhearing me talking to a classmate about the media’s liberal bias, lectured me for 10 minutes on the error of my conservative ways.
Another teacher suggested that to gain perspective, his students should not only read mainstream media, but the ultra-left publications such as The Nation and Extra as well. He did not suggest reading the right-of-center press. Why not? He told me after class that he believed mainstream media to be conservative.
A former teacher of mine often spoke out against Bush and in support of environmentalism, providing a liberally biased classroom atmosphere. However, the teachers are not wholly responsible for teaching with liberal biases because the school curriculum also emphasizes liberal values. Take environmentalism. In sixth grade, we completed two detailed units about whales and watched the entire video series, The Voyage of the Mimi, which I believe had segments that were no more than environmentalist propaganda. A great amount of the material I have learned at school has been influenced by both liberal teachers and curricula. Therefore, I must be a knowledgeable (not just a “knee-jerk”) conservative to be able to present a different point of view to my self-righteous teachers.
I am a Jew and one of the few conservatives in my religious community. The conventional wisdom at my Scarsdale synagogue, Westchester Reform Temple, is that Reform Jews should be politically liberal and that conservatives are--dare we say it?--evil. Although I disagree, my temple remains liberal.
The rabbis’ sermons are sprinkled with remarks that deride President Bush, conservatives, and business. One rabbi at my temple implied in a sermon that Republicans and businessmen care only about profits and not about people. Several years ago, I had an excellent and exciting Hebrew School teacher who surprised me when she said that good Jews are liberal and should vote for Gore. I often argue with the opinions that my teachers state as facts and defend my own opinion. Recently, my teacher, who had graduated from Yale, told us that he was not proud that someone as stupid as George Bush had gone to his college. I raised my hand and stated facts that tended to indicate that Bush is smart. Such actions have exposed my political leanings and have clearly lowered my social status at Hebrew School. The people at Hebrew School now view me as a lower form of life, thinking that I want to starve the poor, destroy the environment, reenact segregation, and kill the whales. I do not; I share many goals with the liberals, but I have different, conservative approaches to attaining them.
I have a dream that one day my teachers and peers will realize that all prejudice must be eliminated, not only against certain skin colors, but also prejudices held against those with certain political beliefs.Judd Rosenblatt is a ninth-grader at Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, New York. A version of this essay was written for an English class to fulfill a course requirement to write a paper which explained a custom which detracted from his dignity.