Today as I was enjoying my breakfast, I came across a quick Facebook post about a professor “watch list.”
This list was designed to allow conservative students to “expose and document” professors who they felt advocated a liberal agenda. As a conservative, a veteran and a student, I know this is wrong, we all know this is wrong.
So, I apologize for my colleagues.
Public lists are dangerous. Two years ago, several of my fellow aviators were also put on a publicly accessible list. This list was produced by the Islamic State.
It documented service members who had taken part in the initial offensive against ISIS. It included their names and contact information. Its design was to instill fear, and maybe inspire an internal terrorist attack against any of the individuals.
Today's watch list is designed to do the same. It breaks down each professor by a university. As far as I know, most of these universities are publically accessible. Which allows any individual to enter the premises and act. This is dangerous.
Within 20 minutes of reading that initial Facebook post, I received an email from one of my professors. There wasn’t a tone of fear associated with the email, but I sensed there was a reason it was being sent out to the entire class.
It included a New York Times Op-Ed “I Am a Dangerous Professor” by George Yancy. The piece illustrated the determination and resolve required to denounce the misaligned agendas of some conservatives.
As a graduate student at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, I am one of a few conservatives among a graduate student population of about 150. Through my short experience, the total number of conservatives in the entire university is below 150. This puts me in a very weak minority among Duke students.
When I first learned I was being accepted to Duke, I was immediately asked why I was attending a known liberal university, and why I was studying a predominately liberal curriculum. The answers are easy. I wanted to challenge myself. And it has been a challenge.
Two months ago, I watched as a fellow student stood up and shoved his hands in his pocket. All this occurred while the rest of the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
I sat in a classroom, while fellow students indirectly called me a racist, homophobe, xenophile and a sexist for my political (not social) beliefs.
These two incidents were rough, but we are in America. I didn’t put my life on the line earlier this year for personal glory. I put it on the line to protect the ideals and ethos of this nation.
Freedom of speech is the most sacred of the nation’s ethos.
In my opinion, there is a strong bias against conservatism in academia, or at least in my current environment. However, that is fine and what everyone needs. I don’t care what political affiliation you claim; we all must challenge ourselves. Have a conversation with the other side of the aisle.
As GI Joe taught me as a kid, “knowledge is power,” not ignorance. Don’t hide behind the veil the Internet and social media provide. Express your opinions to each other in a cognitive, logical and respectful manner. Allow the other side to do the same.
You may not change their views, and they may not change yours. However, through these conversations, we can gain a respect for different views, and hopefully a harmonious and evolving society.
This watch list was designed to propagate fear and hate.
It was not designed to protect conservative values. Once again, as a conservative, veteran and student, I apologize.
Bryan M. Orlowski is a U.S. Navy lieutenant studying for a master’s degree in public policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.