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Conservatives: Don’t retreat from the campus culture

Ceding ground will only make the political environment worse

At the University of Denver, two conservative student groups have been decimated in recent months and years, after its members were repeatedly harassed and slandered in print and in person. Students who joined Denver’s chapters of Young Americans for Freedom and the Federalist Society were accused of—what else?—“white supremacy,” that catchall indictment that liberals increasingly deploy whenever they’re confronted with an idea they do not like. Understandably, the young men and women in these clubs were reluctant to be tarred as violent racists, and so most of them have left the organizations, electing to keep their mouths shut rather than risk being one Google search away from future career suicide.

You can understand the impulse. And yet we should be doing all we can to encourage young conservatives to stay in the fight. The campus remains, for good or for ill, a critical juncture of American socio-political culture. Ceding more and more of it to progressives will not, in the long run, be good for anyone.

Yes, being accused of racism when you’re innocent of it can be an awful if not terrifying experience. Nobody should have to deal with it. But it is worth pointing out that progressives’ weaponization of racism accusations is more or less entirely transparent, the desperate attempts of an ideologically hollow political vanguard to assert itself as the dominant political force. Put more simply: Falsely accusing people of racism is a stupid, idiot tactic, and one that should be easy enough to dismiss. Young conservatives on campuses across the country would do well to meet this silly and baseless strategy head-on, exposing it for the obvious fraud that it is. Don’t be scared of paper tigers.

Campuses, like the rest of society, won’t change overnight; there is a long road ahead if we hope to shift the balance away from American liberalism back toward something saner and more grounded in reality. But we won’t be able to do that if there’s no conservatives left. So don’t flee; stay, and fight. It’s worth it.

MORE: Our campus display explained why we’re conservative. Our peers tore it down.

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