The narrative of the minority conservative has plagued the news lately. A recent article published by The Hill claims that reality TV star Roseanne Barr is bringing conservative women “out of the closet,” a phrase reserved for queer or trans people. Conservatives are considered “minorities” on many U.S. college campuses. But these stories have a misconstrued understanding of what a minority is, and inappropriately use language associated with marginalized communities.
According to Merriam-Webster, the word minority has three definitions: being underage, the smaller of two groups which constitute a whole, and “a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment.”
While it would be technically accurate to say that conservatives are a minority on, for example, the University of Oregon campus, this narrative is often accompanied with words like “discrimination” and “oppression.” What these people really mean to imply is that they are marginalized.
By referring to themselves as minorities and taking the language reserved for marginalized communities, conservatives are drawing attention away from communities who actually experience discrimination, or prejudiced treatment, and oppression, or “unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.”
These words and connotations bring to light the hardships that marginalized communities actually face and highlight the power dynamics involved. We face institutionalized discrimination at the hands of those in power, whether it comes to the pay gap, higher rates of incarceration or the right to marry (which was ruled on only three years ago). I have yet to hear any statistics about conservatives being faced with increased rates of police brutality or being tried and sentenced as adults in court despite being 16 years old.
As a conservative, you may be among the few rather than the many in some areas, such as college campuses. However, the Republican party currently has control of all three branches of government. Conservatives do not suffer at the hands of the government, because the government is on their side.
Most people do not like to be yelled at. But having slurs hurled at you because of the color of your skin or your sexuality — things you cannot change — is very different than being yelled at because you proudly align with a party or a candidate that has blatantly racist, sexist and elitist policies, to name a few issues.
This is not to say that I believe all republicans are the same or everyone who voted for Trump is a soulless heathen. But using self-victimization to paint yourselves as brave leaders is not an appealing narrative for a group that will most likely never experience marginalization. The only people who are going to buy that narrative is other conservatives, and that does nothing for the group as a whole.
Actual minorities are beaten to death for being gay or because a white girl made up a story that you wolf-whistled at her. This narrative does not apply to conservatives and I urge them to abandon it, as well as the connotative language that goes along with it. It’s never enjoyable to be yelled at for your political views, but if that qualified as discrimination, everyone could consider themselves discriminated against at one point or another. The consequences for minorities are much more severe than being yelled at.