UW grad slams ‘white liberal peers’ for phony activism

  • A recent University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate claims that the overwhelming majority of white liberal students are "unwilling to enter conversations about the social justice goals that they claim they're attached to."
  • Yusra Murad says her peers view progressivism as simply "failing to be a conservative," noting that while they proudly post liberal views on social media, they fail to attend social justice events or defend their values in person.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison called out her “white liberal peers” for their phony activism and virtue-signalling in a recently published op-ed. 

“By and large, white liberal students at UW take great pride in their politics despite doing very little work outside of simply failing to be conservative,” writes Yusra Murad, a Pakistani-American who just graduated from UW-Madison, in an op-ed for Madison 365.

"If you’re white, all you really have to do to be considered a progressive student at UW is shrink into the crowd and occupy the negative space."   

Murad asserts that students at UW-Madison, particularly white students, are eager to adopt progressive stances on Facebook and Twitter—retweeting statuses about police brutality and marijuana legalization, for example—but ultimately are silent when their voices are truly needed.

[RELATED: Dartmouth student accused of ‘violence’ for op-ed on diversity]

Students believe they “are activists for not voting for Donald Trump. They don’t not support gay marriage. They are ninety-nine percent on board with ‘Yeah, police brutality is totally a thing—did you see what I retweeted?’” Murad writes.

“If you’re white,” she explains, “all you really have to do to be considered a progressive student at UW is shrink into the crowd and occupy the negative space. With your Bernie 2018 t-shirt and Black Lives Matter laptop sticker.”

But ultimately—despite their liberal posturing on social media—Murad told Campus Reform that the overwhelming majority of UW students claiming liberal status are “unwilling” to back up their progressive beliefs with action. 

"The white liberal behavior is pretty apathetic,” Murad noted. 

“There was low attendance at all sorts of events that deal with issues that liberals are supposed to be concerned about,” she said, lamenting that students are “unwilling to enter conversations about the social justice goals that they claim they're attached to.” 

[RELATED: Student op-ed: Outdoor clubs are too white]

Murad said she first encountered this paradox during her freshman year, when she and her roommates learned from a TV report that a grand jury had declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. 

Though the verdict left Murad visibly shaken, she claims some male students used it as an opportunity to “argue with me about how Michael Brown deserved what he got,” adding that she knew there were many other liberals in the room, but none stood up for her. 

“Me, the only woman of color in the room, I was fighting with these two white guys, trying to get them to understand my point of view,” Murad recounted. “But everyone else was silent. It was like they were just spectators. Despite the long conversations I had with many of these students in private settings—knowing that they were all on my side—none of my peers spoke up.”

“If you say you’re liberal, why aren’t you acting like it?” she wondered.

[RELATED: Student op-ed: Conservatives ‘must re-evaluate their beliefs’]

In her op-ed, Murad terms this phenomena “white liberal cognitive dissonance.” 

"It's when your beliefs don't line up with your behavior. When someone experiences cognitive dissonance, they avoid situations that exacerbate that feeling,” Murad elaborated. “That's why I think white liberal students were almost completely unwilling to stand up for the social justice values they claim to stand for." 

When push comes to shove, she told Campus Reform, white liberal students fail to stand up for their social justice values because “to do so would have been to admit that their behavior doesn't reflect their own attitudes.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

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Toni Airaksinen
Toni Airaksinen | Columnist at PJ Media

Toni Airaksinen is Columnist at PJ Media and a Consultant at Youth Radio. She was previously a New Jersey Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform with a focus on Title IX, the OCR, and the First Amendment. During college, she also was a columnist for Quillette and The Columbia Spectator. Her exclusives have been featured on FOX News and The Drudge Report. She graduated from Barnard College in 2018.

20 Articles by Toni Airaksinen