This came to me as an email this evening:
I'm unable to copy/paste this letter, so I'm submitting it via email to you. Avery and her mother have both givenme permission to submit it to OpedNews. Avery is my 16 year-old niece, a junior in a Louisiana high school. I have removed identifying information for her protection, though she did not stipulate that I do so. Cormier's article ( The Obama Backlash - Before And After, And It's Escalating!
) convinced me that this should be made public. I think you will agree.
My name is Avery ....... I'm a junior at ........ High School , and for the past two years, I have been an ardent supporter of President-Elect Barack Obama. This is, of course, an uncommon position to take in this area, but I know my politics and have been able to stand on my own since I became involved, many years ago.
The passions that have been ignited by this historic election are something that I can understand - four years ago, I was the one who was singled out and picked to pieces after my candidate lost. I've always made a point to be diplomatic in my discussions with those who agree with me and those who don't, and ignore those who refuse to engage in rational discourse. Our classes were involved in following and discussing the prospects, especially my Western Civ. class. However, since the vote came in, the policy of "no politics in school" the teachers have been instructed to follow has, in my opinion, done more harm than good. Beyond the fact that this election is historic in its own right, and the mere fact that we as students are old enough to witness and have opinions about it, there have been rumors and unacceptable things being said that some teachers feel hesitant to dispute. In one of my classes, some friends and I were discussing the outcome of the election after having completed our work, and were enjoying an exchange of views when our teacher came over to make us stop talking about it. I have also been reprimanded for speaking out against some of the nastier rumors going around, such as those regarding President-Elect Obama's personal life, and for reminding several students that death threats of any sort, but particularly those towards a President, are a federal crime.
I wear my ID on an Obama lanyard, and since the election, have been verbally attacked on several occasions; notably, I've been called a communist and a 'n-word-lover.' I'm not insulted, except by the use of the racial slur, but I think it needs to be made clear that such behavior and prejudice is intolerable. A good friend of mine, who has asked that I don't use names, was insulted by a teacher for a liberal shirt she was wearing.
These instances don't suggest much maturity among my classmates, but the truth is the few, truly embittered students who are making this so difficult are keeping those of us who are interested in, and those who don't know a lot about, this incredible step our country has taken from engaging in our own political discourse and from discussing relevent issues in class. Considering that we did this quite often leading up to the election, it's a letdown to have to pretend that nothing has changed.
I have no intention of getting involved in ugly arguments, because I know from experience that there's no point. I will not, however, listen to students at school spread lies and hateful, racist comments without stepping in, nor will I be insulted for my beliefs without defending them. I would quite like to be able to count on the support of my teachers, should it come to that, without being reprimanded for engaging in political discussion to begin with.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I realize that this is a heated time in America , and especially in conservative areas such as St. Tammany Parish. I strongly believe that the best way to counter the vileness that has overcome so many students is to allow for respectful discussion among students and teachers of relevent classes, in order to prevent misinformation, as well as a no-tolerance policy for those who overstep the boundaries of such respects. I can deal with being called names, but overhearing lunch conversations in which assassination attempts are discussed in detail is not something I want associated with my school.
Respectfully, Avery ...
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