Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, one of the greatest military victories in the annals of warfare. An American navy that had been battered since Pearl Harbor, with its only three serviceable aircraft carriers and no battleships, faced and defeated a Japanese navy force of four carriers and two battleships that controlled almost all of the western Pacific Ocean. The story has been well told about the luck of the Americans who were in the right place at the right time because of Admiral Chester Nimitz’s decision to gamble on partially decrypted Japanese communications, and who, despite having lost entire squadrons of torpedo bombers in the early phase of the battle, wound up with unplanned coordinated attacks on the Japanese fleet, which in some cases was in the midst of changing ordnance on its planes, eventually sinking all four carriers, a blow from which the Japanese navy never fully recovered.
Admirals Nimitz, Raymond Spruance, and Frank Jack Fletcher are rightly celebrated, along with code breaker Commander Joseph Rochefort and aerial attack planner Captain Miles Browning. But it is no cliché to remember that the true heroes that day were the young men who manned the ships and took to the skies to face the formidable and battle-tested Japanese. Of those young Americans, 307 died on that day, losing the carrier Yorktown and somewhere around 150 aircraft (while killing 3,057 Japanese). Those men, we should not forget, were mostly in their 20s and 30s, and had already been in battle for months, while many of them would go on to fight for three more years. Dozens of those young men climbed into their fragile bombers that day in June 1942, knowing the odds against them and that they may well not return.
Which brings us to today’s 20-somethings, many of whom serve honorably in our armed services, some fighting today’s wars for the rest of us; hold down steady jobs; contribute to their communities; and quietly raise families.
But not all.
Over the past several years, universities and colleges around the country have been held hostage by mobs of students and outside agitators, childish, emotionally unhinged, pathetically self-absorbed, spoiled, and violent. Young adults with no responsibilities and coddled by an educational system that feeds every imagined grievance while holding them to no standards, they are the shock troops of the new infantile elite. If they truly believe what they say, then we can only conclude that for a segment of the U.S. population, cognitive processes and the interpretation of reality are literally different from what they are for the rest of humanity.
How else can one interpret the scenes most recently out of Evergreen State College (admirably critiqued by David and others), where the campus has been taken over by student mobs because one white professor rightly refused to evacuate campus for a day of racial grievance-mongering (only whites were demanded to leave). The quisling faculty at Evergreen State united to condemn their colleague, Bret Weinstein, and the president of the college, George Bridges, not only caved in to all the protestors’ puerile demands, but allowed himself to be publicly emasculated by profanity-spewing, hyper-dramatic, temper-tantrum-throwing undergraduates.
Most notable on this Midway anniversary, however, are the screamed comments by a number of students that “they feel threatened every day” (at 4:25 in this edited video), that no one can imagine the courage it took them to walk into the college classroom where the public show trial of the president was occurring, or how they “want to cry . . . I’m shaking in my boots” (at 3:25 of this edited video).
For those unaware, Evergreen State College, has an acceptance rate of 97 percent, a retention rate of 78 percent, and an enrollment rate of 31 percent. It has just over 4,000 students and is located in Olympia, Washington. According to its latest statistics, there were a total of 20 burglaries on campus in 2015, no murders or manslaughter, and no aggravated assaults (there were five forcible sex offenses and six stalking incidents reported). One wonders just what terrifies and so threatens these fragile students.
Maybe the two cannot be compared; maybe I’m ungenerous, unfeeling, and unprogressive to do so, but I can’t help but think about the young pilots of Midway, 75 years ago, and the pathetic, alienated, ignorant students of today. For those who think it takes the courage of an Achilles to walk into a safe, protected classroom where they can with impunity scream obscenities at their elders, I can only imagine how they would have felt taking off into the clear dawn off Midway Island, flying directly into the guns of people who truly wanted to kill them and were lethally trained to do so.
The longer the adults in higher education and society acquiesce in the infantilization of today’s college students, the weaker this country will become. The snowflakes’ demands won’t stop at the campus gates nor after graduation. They have seen that intimidation and violence get their goals achieved, and they will bring it into the workplace next. And when we may need them, or their successors, some day to defend the society that gives them these rights that they so little understand and so cavalierly abuse, then we’ll find out that they are helpless children, hateful of their country and unable to accept an adult’s role, all because they imagined that somebody hurt their feelings.
May the heroes of Midway continue to rest in peace.