I grew up hearing stories of protest. About those years, a decade or so before I was born, during which America’s youth rebelled against the prevailing establishment, and forever changed the nation’s course in some meaningful ways.
Of course, many of you will accurately state that not much about the imperial state has actually changed since those days of protest, and that in fact, the out of control abuse of power both abroad and at home has gotten far worse in the subsequent decades. I will concede this point, but want to add a caveat. Certain things really did change, particularly with regard to racial discrimination in these United States. Not to say things are perfect, but to discount the significant gains achieved in this regard would be unfair.
Nevertheless, as far as the “shadow government” is concerned, not much has changed. Other than the fact that the status quo learned important lessons from those years of rebellion, and was forced to operate even more secretly than it did before. As an example, the military-industrial complex learned that it couldn’t have genuine journalists running around war zones after images taken in Vietnam shocked the nation and helped turn popular sentiment against it. As such, reporters in war zones these days are nothing more than propagandists and imperial shills. Indeed, increasingly effective propaganda and a captured corporate media has probably been the single most important tool used by the shadow government to maintain and consolidate control over all these years. In a nutshell, people have been dumbed down, as well as mentally and emotionally castrated, to the point of being almost unable to rebel against anything of real importance.
Which brings me to the point of this post. The reason I brought up the civil disobedience and activism of the 1960’s, is because it did at least represent a true conflict with that generation’s status quo, and it did in fact attempt to tackle some of the pressing issues of power, justice and freedom that existed at the time. This is in stark contrast to what passes as “activism” on college campuses today, which essentially amounts to “pro-censorship” students vigilantly defending an entirely invented and unconstitutional right to “not be offended.” Whereas the 60’s movements, for all their failings, were at least ostensibly about freedom (of the mind and body), today’s college movements are strikingly focused on shackling the mind, and turning campuses in unintellectual, zombie-filled wastelands.
Of course, while someone like myself might be tempted to just laugh off such infantile and pathetic “activism,” it is in fact one of the most dangerous trends facing modern American society. You’d think that a culture in which the most vibrant source of college protest centered around the defense of a non-existent right to not be offended, would be one where all other issues of national importance had been successfully addressed.
You’d never know there was an ongoing surveillance state panopticon systematically spying on everyone and trampling their constitutional rights. You’d never know that the U.S. government has special forces in 135 countries as it launches new wars almost every other week. You’d never know that the Federal Reserve, Washington D.C. and Wall Street had colluded to redirect all wealth into the hands of a few oligarchs via a centrally planned, criminally corrupt economic and financial system. You’d never know any of this, because America’s youth are focused on creating safe spaces for their precious feelings.
So this begs the question. Does intent matter? For all its failings, at least the 60’s protesters actually attempted to confront real issues, and sometimes even paid the highest price for doing so. Today’s college youth are not only not confronting any of the pressing issues of the day, but they aren’t risking anything at all, because they are the establishment.
For example, in almost all cases where coddled, thin-skinned students claim their feelings are hurt, school administrators bend over backwards to appease them, legality notwithstanding (see: Speechless – UCLA Engages in Absurd, Anti-Intellectual and Dangerous Attack on Campus Free Speech). In fact, if anyone is being discriminated against, it’s those rare and courageous professors who publicly stand up to this unconstitutional nonsense. Which brings me to today’s post about an ongoing incident at Yale.
As the always excellent Lenore Skenazy explains in her post: Mob of Yale Students Scream Profanities about Halloween Costume Insensitivity:
A Halloween message signed by 13 college administrators asked Yale students to be sensitive about the costumes they chose, so as not to demean, alienate or “impact” any groups or individuals.
But when the associate Master (faculty head) of one of the dorms on campus, early childhood educator Erika Christakis, wrote her own note to students suggesting that maybe we don’t want the authorities deciding what costume is or is not sensitive enough, you’d think she’d endorsed genocide.
Students, hundreds of them, insisted they longer felt “safe.” They protested. They screamed. They demanded her ouster, even though in her letter, Christakis bent over backwards to say that she knows that the costume guidelines came from “a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense.” What’s more:
I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect…on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.
Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense – and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin-revealing costumes– I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?
Well said, but here’s what happened next…
Over 700 angry Yalies (my alma mater) signed a petition saying that Christakis’ “offensive” letter “trivializes the harm done by these tropes” (stereotypes) and “invalidated” those hurt.
As the days passed, the outrage mounted, a until a mob surrounded Christakis’ husband, the sociologist/doctor/professor Nicholas. He is seen in this video being screamed at by a student swearing at him and insisting he and his wife step down, because their job is not to create an intellectual space, but a “safe space” for students.
Watch the video:
Did you hear that? She claimed, in a completely unhinged rant, college “is not about creating an intellectual space.”
I have a two week year old infant at home, and I’ve yet to see him throw a temper tantrum anywhere in the ballpark of that student’s performance. Which confirms my belief, that my new role as father is the most important job I’ve ever taken on in my life, and one I take very seriously.
As such I want to leave you with the following question:
With students being coddled in a fantasy world of “safe spaces” and fear of “micro-aggressions,” can we really expect them to grow up to be adults capable of confronting real issues of money, power and imperial aggression?