Once a Liberal, Now a Conservative, Peter Jedick Urges Dissent
Peter Jedick is not a hippie, although he used to be. The freelance writer and Cleveland native explained this to a small room full of Oberlin students on Thursday, Feb. 22.
In a markedly un-hippie-ish move, rather than asking students to burn flags as they entered the room, the liberal-turned-conservative asked that the audience stand up together and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, as a small group of students tentatively placed their hands over their hearts.
When the patriotic gesture ended, Jedick announced that he did not really want to give any kind of lecture, but rather have an informal dialogue.
Jedick cited working as a fireman and becoming a taxpayer as experiences that influenced him to become more politically conservative.
“Starting a family also really changed my view about things,” said Jedick, a father of six.
When asked about deficit spending of the Bush administration, Jedick started by suggesting that students did not know their history and that it was John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, who had started the trend of deficit spending.
“[Bill] Clinton didn’t do anything real great for the deficit either. He just happened to be there during the computer boom,” Jedick said.
When asked about his opinion on gay marriage, Jedick agreed that people should be able to “do what they want,” but that he was uncertain about “changing something that has worked for thousands of years.”
Jedick went on to add that he was wary of the kind of effect legalizing gay marriage would have on what he saw as the already severely damaged structure of family life. “All these problems go back to family structure…When I was a kid, everyone had a mom, and everyone had a dad…the graduation rate was 97 percent...[then] the family structure fell apart, and the government encouraged it.”
He felt that the government facilitated domestic decay through welfare and social programs such as “school bussing,” which mandated that children commute to schools outside of their own neighborhoods.
“[Welfare] encourages single mothers and discourages two parents,” Jedick said. “One kid out of wedlock is fine, but after that, you [should be] cut off.”
Continuing on the topic of welfare and poverty, Jedick suggested that rather than going to a foreign country to experience different cultures, Oberlin students should go to Cleveland.
“You guys don’t know what’s happening on the streets of Cleveland…go there and see what’s happening…instead of [in] Asia.”
Jedick did not formally address the question of his opinion on the Iraq war until the end, saying, “Because the planes hit New York, that is all people talk about…but they hit the Pentagon — that’s like Pearl Harbor…that’s why Iraq is like WWII…we were attacked.”
A student voiced the opinion that he did not like the way the current presidential administration was “taking ownership for something that had no direct effect on them…and turning it into a conservative project.”
Jedick encouraged this student to “get all his anger out,” but disagreed with his opinion. “Saddam Hussein was like Hitler…if he didn’t like you he would throw you in a tree shredder,” Jedick said, citing Hussein’s notoriously inhumane dictatorial practices.
Jedick concluded by thanking those who partook in the spirited discussion. “If anyone would like to get a beer and continue to talk…I love arguing. People are too apathetic now,” Jedick said before thanking one student for being a particularly fiery voice of dissent.
“You are smart people; you are all the leaders of tomorrow,” Jedick said, appealing to Oberlin students not to demonize other points of view but rather to initiate dialogue whenever possible.