Over the past month, we’ve been regaled by confrontations at an Ivy League school, Yale, and at the University of Missouri, involving allegations of supposed racism on campuses. The former involved supposedly “insensitive” Halloween costumes and a faculty member who defended them as acts of free speech and opportunities for dialogue. With the latter school, for all practical purposes football players were instrumental in forcing the president of the university to step down. And a video caught a person who turned out to be a professor shouting, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!” The woman, Melissa Click, had what one follow-up article described as a “courtesy post” from which she’d agreed to step down.
What on earth is a “courtesy post”? In my 15 or so years of wandering from campus to campus to campus, I never encountered such a job category. The same article stated that she was still on the faculty of — are you sitting down? — media communications.
What hath 50 years of affirmative action and 25 years of political correctness on collage and university campuses wrought?
What it’s wrought is racial near-chaos, a situation in which a single allegation is its own evidence and proof, in which students complain of “microaggressions” and demand “safe spaces”; professors must announce “trigger warnings” before discussing material that might prove “offensive” to the fragile flowers who have wandered into their classrooms.
This mess has spread from campus to campus to campus. We have now seen disruptions at Amherst College, Ithaca College, Columbia University, Claremont McKenna College (which also saw a resignation), Occidental College, the University of Kansas, Brown University, Princeton University (where students who probably can’t get Woodrow Wilson in the right half-century want his name removed from campus facilities), and Dartmouth College where black students went on a rampage through the library early this week, confronting white students trying to study and hurling obscenities in their faces in ways which could have triggered violence had any white students grown a pair and raised some loud objections. To the best of my knowledge, the administration has remained silent! At Smith College protesters went from Melissa Click’s embarrassing threat of physical violence against a journalist to a demand for “solidarity,” i.e., what amounts to a loyalty oath!
What should be clear: these kids are all on Facebook and Twitter, among other social media. Their SmartPhones and iPads go everywhere they go. They are networked together at a level the generation I came up with can barely imagine, much less keep up with. And they are demanding “diversity” at a level not even the generation of leftists that began to take over the universities in the 1960s was capable of. In fact, even left-liberal professors have indicated their fear of these kids. Many, in this day and age, are adjuncts or contingent faculty, off the tenure track, and therefore vulnerable to student evaluations. Enough bad ones, and they’re out of the profession. This is one of the things adjunctification has done to academia: put it in a position where a generation of crybabies and bullies – crybullies, some writers are calling them – can dictate not just policy but hiring and firing decisions. Students at Yale wanted two faculty members fired, one of whom stood up for free speech and her husband who supported her. Another video captured a black female student shrieking obscenities at one of them.
These youth have fallen hook, line and sinker for what has been the official politically correct narrative for the past 30 years: all their problems can be blamed on present-day white racism piled on top of earlier white racism. Nothing is to be blamed on a black youth culture that is fundamentally anti-intellectual and violent. For a white person to declare himself to be not a racist is, by definition, proof that he is a racist; for a white student to be made uncomfortable by a black student yelling “Racist!” in his face, amidst obscenities, while he is trying to study is further proof of the white student’s racism. Few observers seem able to stand consciously outside the official narrative, where they can perceive the closed-circular “logic” here. How does one counter act it? One doesn’t. The only peaceful thing one can do is walk away — assuming one is not physically assaulted in the attempt (and it might come to that before this plays out).
Alan Dershowitz, who can hardly be accused of racism or “right wing extremism,” took the student protesters to task in a major article published earlier this week. His observations are obvious to those of us who have been at this a while, first in the trenches of adjunct teaching and then as outsider-observers. The black students do not want genuine diversity, a diversity of ideas. They want just the opposite: an academic culture of complete uniformity and coerced conformity to a hard-left ideology which views the U.S. as built on racism and the systemic repression of minorities by white males (although they are hardly being repressed now!). White males, according to this hard-left narrative, are civilization’s biggest villains — never mind that they invented science, the study of culture, and most of the technology these kids now take for granted when they tweet one another.
If they wanted real diversity, they would demand the hiring of more professors with conservative ideas. They would speak out on behalf of conservative and libertarian student organizations. They would demand not uniformity of ideas amidst a boutique diversity of faces, but a proliferation of competing ideas throughout every area of academic life: the sciences, economics and the social sciences, as well as liberal arts and humanities. They would welcome, not condemn, statements such as the following from one of the few conservative faculty members who has survived in academia today, Mike Adams of the University of North Carolina — Wilmington (who had to fight a lawsuit over his institution’s bias against conservative ideas that was blocking a promotion he had earned).
Here is the ideal first-day-of-class lecture, according to Mike Adams:
Welcome back to class, students! I am Mike Adams your criminology professor here at UNC-Wilmington. Before we get started with the course I need to address an issue that is causing problems here at UNCW and in higher education all across the country. I am talking about the growing minority of students who believe they have a right to be free from being offended. If we don’t reverse this dangerous trend in our society there will soon be a majority of young people who will need to walk around in plastic bubble suits to protect them in the event that they come into contact with a dissenting viewpoint. That mentality is unworthy of an American. It’s hardly worthy of a Frenchman.
Let’s get something straight right now. You have no right to be unoffended. You have a right to be offended with regularity. It is the price you pay for living in a free society. If you don’t understand that you are confused and dangerously so. In part, I blame your high school teachers for failing to teach you basic civics before you got your diploma. Most of you went to the public high schools, which are a disaster. Don’t tell me that offended you. I went to a public high school.
Of course, your high school might not be the problem. It is entirely possible that the main reason why so many of you are confused about free speech is that piece of paper hanging on the wall right over there. Please turn your attention to that ridiculous document that is framed and hanging by the door. In fact, take a few minutes to read it before you leave class today. It is our campus speech code. It specifically says that there is a requirement that everyone must only engage in discourse that is “respectful.” That assertion is as ludicrous as it is illegal. I plan to have that thing ripped down from every classroom on campus before I retire.
One of my grandfathers served in World War I. My step-grandfather served in World War II. My sixth great grandfather enlisted in the American Revolution when he was only thirteen. These great men did not fight so we could simply relinquish our rights to the enemy within our borders. That enemy is the Marxists who run our public universities. If you are a Marxist and I just offended you, well, that’s tough. I guess they don’t make communists like they used to.
Unbelievably, a student once complained to the Department chairwoman that my mention of God and a Creator was a violation of Separation of Church and State. Let me be as clear as I possibly can: If any of you actually think that my decision to paraphrase the Declaration of Independence in the course syllabus is unconstitutional then you suffer from severe intellectual hernia.
Indeed, it takes hard work to become stupid enough to think the Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional. If you agree with the student who made that complaint then you are probably just an anti-religious zealot. Therefore, I am going to ask you to do exactly three things and do them in the exact order that I specify.
First, get out of my class. You can fill out the drop slip over at James Hall. Just tell them you don’t believe in true diversity and you want to be surrounded by people who agree with your twisted interpretation of the Constitution simply because they are the kind of people who will protect you from having your beliefs challenged or your feelings hurt.
Second, withdraw from the university. If you find that you are actually relieved because you will no longer be in a class where your beliefs might be challenged then you aren’t ready for college. Go get a job building houses so you can work with some illegal aliens who will help you gain a better appreciation of what this country has to offer.
Finally, if this doesn’t work then I would simply ask you to get the hell out of the country. The ever-growing thinned-skinned minority you have joined is simply ruining life in this once-great nation. Please move to some place like Cuba where you can enjoy the company of communists and get excellent health care. Just hop on a leaky boat and start paddling your way towards utopia. You will not be missed.
I have no idea how to improve on that, except to note that the U.S. is hardly a “free society,” but I will assume he is referring to our professed ideals, ideals such as Constitutionally-protested free speech which these students are now openly challenging. I will again marvel that this man has survived in contemporary academia, without being fired by unscrupulous seniors in his department or in the administration, and apparently without having his classes disrupted or having to suffer the nuisance harassment of having garbage strewn on his front lawn (which happened to a conservative sociologist I once knew at Bowling Green State University) or obscene phone calls at 2 am in the morning (which happened to me a few times when I was living in Greenville, South Carolina). Bowling Green State actually has an informal “index” of banned books. My first one, Civil Wrongs (ICS Press, 1994) is on it.
Imagine that: an “index” of banned books at a major university in this day and age.
Welcome to higher education of the twenty-first century, as it approaches the nearest cliff!