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LETTER: Rutgers Conservative Union is ruining name of conservatism at U.

As a child, I became obsessed with knowing the lives and achievements of America’s Founding Fathers. I was fascinated with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton and how they contributed to American history. What surprised me was that in efforts to appear more enlightened and avoid taking a direct stance on certain political issues, Founding Fathers such as Hamilton engaged in political cowardice publishing their opinions under the names of famous Greek and Roman authors. And to my surprise, this trend has seen a resurgence here on the banks of the Ol’ Raritan in the form of the Rutgers Conservative Union (and most certainly not in a good way).

As someone who has been a Republican for six years, I wholeheartedly condemn the Rutgers Conservative Union as a manipulation and perversion of conservatism. Many students know this group for its incredibly offensive and ignorant rhetoric spouted in flyers posted across campus that bear striking similarities to notable white supremacist groups. And although my better angels tell me that these individuals did not recognize the disturbing parallels, their rhetoric alone is troublesome. But I decided to do some research.

I began perusing their organization’s stated goals and Facebook group and found nothing, in my humble opinion, that is a fair representation of conservatism or in defense of the lofty ideals of the United States. Instead, I have witnessed a staggering degree of ignorance on a wide range of topics and a distinct lack of respect for “the Left." As someone who is not a member of the Left, I stand in complete opposition to the ideals of this group. Let me explain:

The Rutgers Conservative Union has no concrete political ideology supported by any legitimate evidence. The majority of these online posts degrade women, promote a false narrative of Islam and represent a childish effort to mock those with sincerely-held political beliefs that run counter to those of President Donald J. Trump's supporters. Although these individuals are entitled to their opinions, they clearly lack the academic foundations of their arguments and appear closer to one’s average internet troll. I implore individuals in this group to engage in honest reflection and historical examination.

So Seneca, Cato and many others who choose to remain anonymous, you are well within your constitutional right to promote your borderline hate speech, but I have just as much a right to call you out on it.

Ryan Pugliese is a graduate student in the School of Education.

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