Jew vs. Jew

The next evening, my roommates sat me down in our living room and demanded that I move out. They explained that when they agreed to accept me as a roommate, they did not know I was politically conservative. Michelle said that she felt “unsafe” around me, and that she would not be able to take her birth control or bring her queer friends around me. My other roommate, Sarah, said that she did not think to ask about my political views because I was the first young conservative she had ever met. They both repeatedly said that my political views made them “uncomfortable.”

In an email later that week, Sarah wrote me: “If you cannot unequivocally say that you are anti-racist and support gay rights and women’s reproductive health and prison reform and defunding the police, among other important platforms, then we have an irreconcilable differences that would not lead to a harmonious living environment.” She continued: “I implore you to look inside yourself [and] consider why your viewpoints make us so uncomfortable.”

While I would have been happy to engage with my roommates on these important issues, I was not willing to subject myself to litmus tests and interrogations. In that spirit, I replied: “Personally, my politics begin and end with being kind to others, never being exclusionary, and welcoming all people and views.” I explained: “I just moved across the country to this house, willing to live with whomever thanks to our shared Jewish faith and the belief that disagreements can be overcome through dialogue and respect for each other.”