Unhinged Activists Never Enter the ‘Real World’

(Photo: Vlue/Dreamstime)
They move seamlessly from academia into government, art, and activism.

It’s almost summer, but it’s not too late for one last campus absurdity. At Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., biology professor Bret Weinstein is reportedly no longer safe on campus:

As a biology professor for 15 years at Olympia’s The Evergreen State College, Bret Weinstein has seen his share of protests, but he’s never been afraid of being on campus until this week.

“I have been told by the Chief of Police it’s not safe for me to be on campus,” said Weinstein, who held his Thursday class in a downtown Olympia park.

An administrator confirmed the police department advised Weinstein it “might be best to stay off campus for a day or so.”

His principal crime was dissenting from a so-called “Day of Absence,” an event in which white students and faculty were asked to leave campus for a day. In response, he wrote a letter to all faculty and staff containing arguments like this:

There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles (the theme of the Douglas Turner Ward play Days of Absence, as well as the recent Women’s Day walkout), and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.

And this:

You may take this letter as a formal protest of this year’s structure, and you may assume I will be on campus on the Day of Absence. I would encourage others to put phenotype aside and reject this new formulation, whether they have “registered” for it already or not. On a college campus, one’s right to speak — or to be — must never be based on skin color.

He was, of course, accused of “anti-blackness” and cornered by a group of students who engaged in a Yale-style shoutdown, and now he’s not safe on campus.

Conservatives tend to respond to incidents like this by rolling their eyes, calling the students “snowflakes” (a term many on the right need to stop using, given their own hysterical reactions to leftist critiques), and relishing their inevitable education in the so-called “real world.” The presumption is simple — these kinds of antics won’t fly when they’re trying to sell insurance or write code or balance a company’s budget. The “real world” is a harsh teacher, and soon they’ll have to grow up.

This response, however, is fundamentally wrong. For the most committed campus radical, the “real world” doesn’t await; a lifetime of activism does. They’ll move seamlessly from academia into government, art, and politics, and sometimes right back into academia.

Remember Emma Sulkowicz? She’s the former Columbia University student who carried a mattress on her back to protest the university’s handling of her sexual-assault claim against a fellow student. The university found her alleged attacker not responsible, and law enforcement refused to prosecute, but she insisted on his expulsion anyway. She was hailed from coast to coast by people with no first-hand knowledge of the incident and celebrated as a feminist hero. Shortly after attending the State of the Union address at the invitation of New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, she filmed a pornographic depiction of her alleged rape. Now she’s a “performance artist living and working in New York City,” and in her latest piece she was “bound, berated, and hung from the ceiling” as some sort of comment on Donald Trump.

It’s easy to take your activism straight to work.

Have you heard of Eric Clanton? He’s a college professor who was arrested for beating three people with a bike lock at a Trump rally in April. He’s apparently served as a part-time instructor at Diablo Valley College, teaching a class described as “introduction to philosophy with a background in teaching ethics, critical thinking, and comparative philosophy East/West.”

Yes, even ethics professors are beating people with bike locks now.

Indeed, even the “real world” isn’t what it used to be. Now that we live in hyper-partisan times and increasingly work in geographically separated ideological cocoons, it’s easy to take your activism straight to work, even if it’s not a philosophy department or progressive law firm. Corporate boycotts directly extend campus politics into the world of commerce, and any person who works for a major progressive corporation knows very well what they risk if they publicly dissent from the company line on the same hot-button cultural issues that trigger campus meltdowns.

There are many real worlds now, and a person of any ideology — if they so choose — can live their entire life without facing the stereotypical “wake-up call” that tends to moderate political extremes. So don’t look at campus craziness and take any comfort at all from the fact that these so-called “snowflakes” will graduate and enter the marketplace. The real world they’ll choose to join will indeed change them, but not in the way that conservatives imagine. Their real world will only magnify their voice.


Another Professor, Another Mob

The Battle of Berkeley

The Rioters Are Winning 

— David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, an attorney, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular


What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More