I am writing in response to Melissa Langsam's piece, "The Last Oppressed Minority" (Opinion, March 31), in which she parallels political intolerance for Republicans with the discrimination that historically persecuted sexual, ethnic and religious minorities have faced for centuries. She writes of "being in the closet" as a Republican while here at Harvard, comparing the historically homosexual hiding place with her own reticence about her political beliefs. Such a comparison is disingenuous at best, downright offensive at worst. Homosexuals have been actively discriminated against from the Holocaust to the Red Scare, and I am not aware of any such movements to silence, haunt, terrorize, deny the rights of and oppress Republicans.
Maybe Langsam is not aware of the various referenda that have popped up in several states to deny lesbians and gay men equal protection under the law. Maybe Langsam has not heard of the custody battles in which lesbians can be denied the right to see their children based on their sexual orientation. Maybe she is not aware that gay men can be denied the right to visit their dying partners because they are not legal spouses. Try as I might, I cannot find any comparable legal denials of the rights of Republican people.
Yes, Langsam has every right to feel frustrated if her political views are being mocked, diminished, marginalized or ignored. But to state that Republicans are "the one unprotected minority group at Harvard" is preposterous. The University-wide non-discrimination policy protects our varying belief systems, and our political beliefs are protected under this clause. If Langsam ever finds herself in a situation in which she is being discriminated against on the basis of her Republican beliefs--losing a job, exclusion from a Harvard facility, physical threats, et cetera--she has opportunity to seek legal recourse.
I am eager to attend a college in which all people with various views can express themselves. In order to create a tolerant community, we should not be comparing oppressions like quantities to see who is worse off, instead we ought to be working as individuals to become more openminded and more tolerant of the differences that exist among the many students in the undergraduate body--whether they are differences of race, culture, politics or sexuality. --Diana Adair '98