Reading Melissa R. Langsam's "The Last Oppressed Minority" (Opinion, March 31), in which she wrote about friends expressing shock and even revulsion when she admitted to being a Republican led me to realize that our stereotype of conservatives as close-minded is a prejudice just as egregious as stereotyping all African-Americans as thieves or all Jews as misers. I think a large number of people, especially upon arriving at a campus as diverse as Harvard's, is overwhelmed by the realization of just how big the world is, and how many different ways there are of living and of seeing things. One of the natural reactions to this sensory overload is to draw back in fear, and to comfort oneself by assuming that one's way of living and thinking are the only proper ways, and that different lifestyles are in some way inferior.
This sort of closed-minded thinker, whose bigotry often offends many liberals, would likely be attracted to the conservative camp, and I believe that many people automatically associate this mindset with all conservatives. This association is far from accurate, however, and I would assert that there are far more Republicans who are conservative from conviction--and lack any strong sentiment against people different from themselves--rather than from fear. I find racial bigotry or intolerance of alternative lifestyles offensive, but I also recognize that students such as Melissa Langsam are by no means necessarily bigots, and I think it is a shame that many Republicans suffer from the prejudices laid upon them. One of my roommates for next year is Republican to the core, but he is not conservative because of any fear of diversity, rather because he has certain opinions and is not afraid to hold to them. I find the sincerity of his views far more admirable than the earnest liberalism of many Democrats who bend over backward to show the world just how free thinking they are. Politically, we are opposites, but I believe that he is one of the finest people I have met in my first year at Harvard. --David Egan 'OO