Lately, immigration has been a hot topic, as it usually is during the election season. The voices on my side of the political spectrum can get shrill and hysterical, at least to my ears. The following quick bios about my college students add up to anecdotal evidence, but I feel compelled to share my experience here in Southern California, not in a comfy office in New England or an echo-chamber radio studio.
The students’ last names are withheld to protect their identity.
Jorge: he had a physical disability. It took him a while to hobble through the desks to get to my seat so I could look at his research essay during the draft stages. But he was always laughing and smiling at my awesome jokes (sorry). He also had a strong intellect (which is connected to laughing at my jokes).
Andrew: he was also quiet—hardly said a word, but he looked like a standard intellectual: dark, horn-rimmed glasses, no wild displays of emotions, deep, as if he was thinking through the issues.
Reyes: he wants to be a history teacher. He liked to study WWII, writing a definition research essay on Blitzkrieg. He was a conservative and opposed same-sex marriage (when we could still debate it) and other liberal viewpoints. He’ll make a great high school teacher. He seemed born studious and grown up.
Isaak: he was an odd mixture. He favored legalizing marijuana, but he opposed same-sex marriage. He was something of a class clown, but a mild version. He laughed at my awesome jokes.
Gabriela: she wanted me to call her Gabby. She told me her high school nickname had “go” in it somehow. So I called her Chicago, pronounced Chica, go! The students laughed at my ingenuity (sorry), and she said her aunt couldn’t stop laughing when she heard her niece’s new hip-hop name.
Ivan: he missed a few too many classes, but when he wrote his papers, they were very intellectual. At the end of the semester, he appreciated a conservative viewpoint and the discussions and told me so (I present both sides).
Christian: he too was conservative and always got his work done and quite well, too.
Name withheld because of its rarity: she tried hard and succeeded. She opposed abortion and same-sex marriage, to name only two topics.
Christopher: he served in the military and got out while he was still young. He had a bad marriage breakup, but he went to school to better himself.
Elizabeth: she was an extremely hard worker. She’s studying to become a dentist. She’ll definitely succeed.
Esmeralda: she caught on to basic grammar and succeeded in her essays.
Jacqueline: she like sci-fi. She attended a convention on the subject. She came across as intellectual and nerdy. She favored legalizing marijuana, but opposed abortion.
Rosemary: I called her Rosa Maria. Cool name if you think about it. She came to school on some days in her dental office uniform. She worked hard at her job and at school.
Name withheld because it’s so rare: she was in her early twenties and worked in sales for a major hotel chain. She won awards, like a vacation to Hawaii that she went on during the semester. No doubt she got a free hotel room or at a reduced rate
Erica: she was so advanced she probably shouldn’t have been in that lower-level class. She didn’t mind. She still learned something, and she shared her Christian faith to the benefit of all.
Monica: she was such an awesome writer that one of my colleagues singled her out to me, congratulating me, as if I had anything to do with her brilliance (he saw her in the Writing Lab). I said, “She got her talent before I met her. I only hoped I didn’t interfere with it.” Truly amazing.
Consuelo: married, she was nervous about going on to university. After hard work, she did. Later I saw her at random in a well-known coffee shop, and she said she wants to go into law school.
All of these students listened intently to the two broad viewpoints: conservative and liberal. Many of them had never heard the sound, intellectual reasons, for example, why traditional marriage should be maintained. When they did, I saw their eyes light up. I’d say about half, more or less, wrote in favor of it—when we could still debate the issue before the SCOTUS Five scotched it.
The listed students were assimilated. Very few, if any, were illegal. But whatever their status, they just need evidence and reason to open their minds.
The hyper-conservatives and WHINOS embarrass me until I remember the proud, intellectual, and rich heritage of conservatism without them. Most or all of the Founders would stand with us (but not with the shrill and hysterical). So would Tocqueville, Burke, Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, Reagan and many others who today write for conservative, intellectual websites.
Conservatism enjoys better evidence and arguments and conclusions than liberalism does. Think limited government; respect for a limited, historical (not deconstructed) interpretation of the Constitution; low taxes; strong economy through free enterprise and pro-business policies (where wealth is created); peace through military strength; and a moral compass on the social issues, which are negotiable on some details. Conservatism will always hold the winning hand for reasonable people like those students.
When we engage in over-the-top rhetoric, we lose the gentle powers of persuasion and reason and the short-term battles and long-term war of ideas.
I predict these assimilated students in my list and countless others of the same background whom I have had the privilege to teach over the years will better America.
I honor and celebrate them.
This article first appeared on July 23, 2015 at American Thinker, but has since been expanded and revised.