EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Dear Reader (including those of you who want the interior of these parentheses to be a safe space),
Like Bill Clinton said when he was asked to referee a women’s Jell-O wrestling competition, let’s all just jump right in.
You Stupid Schmucks, Look at You Now
One of my favorite scenes in Scarface is when Meryl Streep compliments Peter MacNicol’s seersucker suit. Oh, wait. That’s Sophie’s Choice. I get them confused sometimes. One of my favorite scenes from Scarface is when Tony Montana shoots the Colombian assassin in the head before he can blow up some guy’s car. There are just way too many expletives for this family-oriented “news”letter to transcribe more of the dialogue than absolutely necessary. But you can find it here. Besides, the line I have in mind is pretty short: “You stupid f**k, look at you now.”
I’ve been saying words to that effect all week, watching higher ed go into full meltdown. Because this “crisis” is 100 percent liberalism’s fault. Sure, sure, you can divvy up the slices of blame in different ways, but those guys tailgating in the parking lot drinking beers and eating bratwurst? Those are the conservatives and libertarians enjoying a day off, because they don’t have to wait in line for even a morsel of blame.
I almost feel sorry for those decent, sincere career liberals standing there in the quad as the little Maoists scream in their faces and strip off the suede elbow patches on their tweedy jackets like a lieutenant being busted down to a private. As the kids fit lifelong members of the ACLU with their duncecaps, the poor souls can hear the conservatives hooting and laughing off beyond the fence, throwing nerf footballs and telling jokes at the liberals’ expense.
The Scarface reference wasn’t particularly literal since no one actually had their brains blown out. No, this mess is more attributable to the fact that these administrators have such open minds their brains actually just fell out all on their own, making a wet slapping sound like an unwrapped burrito hurled at a windshield.
Outside of the actual headquarters of the Democratic party itself, no major institution in America today is more thoroughly run and controlled by the Left than academia.
For several years now, whenever I’ve visited a college campus, I’ve tried to make the following point. It basically goes like this:
You kids think it is somehow rebellious to be liberal. So let me see if I get this right. The administrators at this school are liberal. The professors are liberal. Your high-school teachers were probably liberal. Your textbooks are, for the most part, liberal. Hollywood is liberal. The music industry is liberal. The fashion industry is liberal. Publishing is liberal. The mainstream media are liberal. Silicon Valley is liberal. Believe it or not, most corporations and the overwhelming majority of charitable foundations are liberal.
And yet, you think you’re sticking it to the man by agreeing with them?
Moreover, it’s been like this for generations. It was true when most of these administrators and faculty were born — they have grown up inside a universe where this fact was simply taken for granted. With the Left given total control of these oases of tolerance and citadels of progressivism, what do we get?
We get pampered and coddled students screaming that these institutions are hotbeds of racism, homophobia, sexism, and the rest of the 31 Flavors of Oppression.
I’m sorry, but over here by the hibachi in the parking lot, that’s just frick’n hilarious.
And it is fitting. It is just. It’s almost frick’n Biblical in its justness. You see, there is precious little bigotry and prejudice on college campuses. But the bulk of what does exist is aimed almost entirely at the guys and gals chilling at the tailgate party. Pro-life Christians, Israel-supporting Jews, libertarian professors, conservative scholars, climate-change skeptics, traditionalists of every stripe including classical liberals, and, of course, people who can take a joke: These make up the bulk of the victims of campus bigotry and prejudice. I can’t tell you how many professors I’ve met who have to keep their conservatism secret, at least until tenure, if not forever. I’ve never met or heard of a faculty member who had to keep her Marxism on the down-low.
Safe Spaces for Me, Spit for Thee
In words no Harvard man would ever utter, consider Yale.
When I was in college, an administrator or professor who came out in defense of the kids’ ability to wear whacky or offensive costumes would be considered cool. But the prudish mob sees it differently.
When I was in college, an administrator or professor who came out in defense of the kids’ ability to wear whacky or offensive costumes would be considered cool. But the prudish mob sees it differently. It’s not cool to let people do what they want. Everyone must be forced to care. If you can leave aside the threat to Western Civilization these little totalitarians pose, it’s a fascinating and glorious comeuppance these university staff are getting. For generations, liberals have cultivated the notion that college should be a safe space for political liberalism and, just as important, libertinism. And in response, like the ants set free from the ant farm, the kids cry out, “Freedom! Horrible freedom!” Instead, these frightened, failed libertines want to impose order from below. The administrators see themselves as Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, and the ungrateful brats respond by demanding subsidized all-organic sticks to shove up their own asses.
Oh, and having a stick up your ass is not voluntary. No, no. We all must have sticks up our asses. We all must not laugh at the jokes about lesbians screwing in a lightbulb. We must not chuckle at the linebacker’s Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume. And those who do laugh must be punished, reeducated — or banished to the really fun tailgate party in the parking lot.
That’s the most infuriating part about all of this “safe space” inanity. One person’s safe space is another person’s oppressive cult. As I argued earlier this week in my column, these kids are exactly the little Robespierres cultural Marxists have been waiting for. Just as the “free speech movement” was never actually for free speech, the safe spacers aren’t really for spaces that are safe. They are for little moving zones of political absolutism, where their worldview and, yes, their privilege, are unquestioned and celebrated.
One needn’t go full anarchist and say there should be no norms, no codes of conduct. By all means, if students are going around shouting the n-word at black students (and that is a big if), deal with them. But to the extent colleges are supposed to be safe spaces, they are supposed to be safe places to disagree with one another! And yet, when the William F. Buckley Program at Yale held a panel discussion, the privileged Huns responded by spitting on them.
Homo Universitas Yalensis
By my rough count*, Yale offers 26 courses on African-American studies, 64 courses on “Ethnicity, Race and Migration,” and 41 courses under the heading of “Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.” I am probably low-balling the real numbers (they don’t include independent study) and the extent of the indoctrination, since you can be sure that many seemingly conventional courses are chock-a-block with left-wing treacle. How many courses are there on the Constitution? Well, from what I can tell: two (though one is actually taught by a conservative visiting professor, Steven Calabrisi). The History department offers three courses on the era of the Founding, all by a single professor.
As for safe spaces, there is already an Afro-American Cultural Center, a Native American Cultural Center, an Asian American Cultural Center, La Casa Latino Cultural Center, and the Office of LGBTQ Resources. Included among the 80 or so official student organizations:
– A Learning and Interactive Vietnamese Experience
-Asian American Students Alliance
-Asian American Studies Task Force
-Association of Native Americans at Yale, Undergraduate Organization
-India at Yale
-IvyQ (as in “Queer”)
-Japanese Undergraduate Students at Yale
-Latina Women at Yale
-Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale
-Sex and Sexuality Week Planning Board
-Undergraduate First Generation Low Income Partnership
-Women in Physics
-Women’s Leadership Initiative at Yale
-Yale Urban Collective
-The Black Solidarity Conference at Yale
-The Yale Women’s Center
-Yale Southeast Asian Movement
-Q (again, as in Queer) Magazine
-Alliance for Southeast Asian Students
-Arab Students Association
-Association of Salvadoreñas at Yale Undergraduate
-Black Student Alliance at Yale
-Canadian Students’ Association at Yale [Talk about safe spaces!]
-Chinese American Students’ Association
-Chinese Undergraduate Students at Yale
-Club of Argentine Students at Yale
-Club of Romanian Students at Yale
-Cuban-American Undergraduate Students’ Association
-Despierta Boricua, the Puerto Rican Student Organization at Yale
-Eritrean and Ethiopian Student Association at Yale
-In the Q[as in Queer]loset
-Japanese American Students Union
-Kasama: The Filipino Club at Yale
-Korean American Students at Yale
-La Societe Francaise
-Malaysian and Singaporean Association
-Organization for Racial and Ethnic Openness
-Russian Cultural Club
-Sisters of All Nations
-South Asian Society
-Southeastern European Society
-Student Association of Thais at Yale
-Students of Nigeria
-Swiss Students and Affiliates at Yale
-Taiwanese American Society
-The German Society of Undergraduates at Yale University
-The Polish Students’ Society of Yale College
-Vietnamese Student Association
-Yale African Students Association
-Yale Black Women’s Coalition
-Yale British Undergraduates
-Yale Caribbean Students’ Organization
-Yale College Black Men’s Students Union
-Yale College Student Czech and Slovak Society
-Yale Dominican Student Association
-Yale European Undergraduates
-Yale Friends of Turkey
-Yale Hawaii Institute
-Yale LGBTQ Cooperative
-Yale Mexican Student Organization
-Yale Scandinavian Society
-Yale Undergraduate Portuguese Association
-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer+ Activism Collective
-Margin: Student Perspectives from the Left
-Middle Eastern Resolution through Education, Action & Dialogue
-Party of the Left
-Students for Justice in Palestine
And the response from the activists? A loaded-diaper tantrum about how Yale is a hotbed of bigotry against people of color and women. And what will placate the mob? Why, more institutions, courses, and faculty trained in the fine art of cultivating grievances.
The students’ first demand: that “undergraduates be required to fulfill an ethnic-studies distributional requirement and that the Ethnicity, Race and Migration Program be given departmental status immediately.” Another demand: a $2 million increase for every cultural center and a minimum of five full-time staffers. They want Calhoun College renamed and two colleges to be named after people of color. They want a monument on Cross Campus acknowledging that Yale was founded on “stolen indigenous land.” They want the lecturer and administrator who defended wearing fun costumes on Halloween booted from their positions and homes. Gone are the days when the activists wanted “honest conversations.” Honest conversations hurt the feelings of the little monarchs. Of course, they never wanted honest conversations. The mantra about “frank dialogue” and “honest conversations” was always a cynical ploy to bait dissenters into the open so they could be punished.
What Good Are Liberals?
If you ever read up on the campus crises of the 1960s, you’d know that liberals can never be counted on to stand up for their values when confronted by a mob to their left. Never. At Cornell, when armed black radicals took over the campus threatening to murder professors they disagreed with, the administrators and liberal professors collapsed like a soufflé in an earthquake. They all talk a good game about standing for tolerance, but they are utterly incapable of standing up to the intolerant cretins they themselves educated.
When Barack Obama ran for president, one of his great selling points was his appeal to patriotism. His 2004 Democratic Convention speech in which he inveighed against red states and blue states was part of a larger call to restore a new patriotic liberalism or, more charitably, to reject the idea that the Left is any less patriotic than conservatives. What has happened on his watch? We’ve seen a volcanic eruption of anti-Americanism, where students reject a 9/11 Memorial because it’s racist. The most liberal institutions in America — universities — are now derided as the locus of evil in the modern world, in large part because they don’t do enough to fight the racism and bigotry of the even more evil society around them. Feminists claim moral equivalence between the American college campus and the Islamic State.
No, really. For instance:
ISIS’ treatment of Yazidi women as sexual slaves may seem far removed from fraternity or athletic team members’ treatment of women as sexual objects for conquest, however the results are distressingly similar.
As tempting as it is to deny the parallels, we must acknowledge that institutionalized rape exists throughout the world and in the face of legal prohibitions. Recognition will help identify and eliminate the behaviors within our own culture. ISIS’ sexual enslavement of the Yazidi population is abhorrent and must be addressed. Propagating the idea that “they” commit atrocities while implying that “we” are innocent of condoning sexual assault does not help us understand and effectively act to end sexual violence against women and girls everywhere.
There is only one intelligent and moral response to things like this: You are a blithering idiot and should skulk away from the keyboard and see if you can get your old job back as a taste-tester at a lead paint factory (or you could say something like this).
Just imagine for a moment you are a Yazidi sex slave, spending an eternity of days being beaten and mounted by some filthy jihadi old man with cigarette-stained teeth and the blood of Christian children still splattered on his shirt. Then, U.S. Army Rangers storm the room, sending the rapist to the Hell he was long overdue for. They wrap you in a blanket and take care of you. Feed you. Mend your wounds, and do their best to salve your emotional and spiritual scars. They send you to America as a refugee. Blessed to live in a free and prosperous nation, you decide to take advantage of all America has to offer. You go to a good college on a scholarship and while there some woman authority figure with open-toed shoes and a closed mind tells you that you have it no better here than you did in that tent back in the desert.
This talk isn’t just dumb. It’s not just dangerous. It is, quite simply, evil.
And where are the liberals? Where is Hillary Clinton? She’s off prattling about how the Republicans have declared a “war on women.” Republicans? According to the Hieronyious Bosch logic of Left, the frontline of the war on women is on American college campuses, palaces of liberalism where Republicans are little more than court eunuchs.
Where are the liberals who are willing to stand up to this cancerous madness consuming their own rank and file?
Liberals want higher taxes and socialized medicine. They want abortion on demand and unfettered immigration to feed their voter rolls. Fine, we can argue about all that. But where are the liberals besides Jonathan Chait who are willing to stand up to this cancerous madness consuming their own rank and file? It used to be that liberals could be counted on to mouth clichéd pieties about how they may disagree with what you say but they will defend to the death your right to say it. This was always a lie. But it was at least a lie they thought they believed. Now they don’t even believe it. Because hearing things you disagree with is now “assault.”
Or to be more fair, many still believe it, but they are too cowardly to stand up for the idea when confronted by a bunch of college students if it might mean their being called a racist. And even liberals like Chait were fine when these tactics were used to defeat conservatives in the Gramscian door-to-door fight to take over the citadels of our culture. To his credit, Chait recognizes the problem. But he’s stuck in the Niemöllerian cul-de-sac, because when these people came for the conservatives and traditionalists, he didn’t care. And now there are too few true liberals on the left to mount anything like a counter-offensive.
So I ask again, what good are liberals if they will only stand up for their principles if the mob cheers them on? When you have an answer, you can find me over at the tailgate party.
Various & Sundry
I didn’t plan on dedicating this whole “news”letter to one long rant, but them’s the breaks. I did want to comment on the Donald Trump screed yesterday in Iowa. I’ll save most of my remarks for later. But one point I’ll make here. Isn’t it fascinating how sincerely flummoxed Trump is about Ben Carson’s doing so well in the polls? It really seems to vex him. I can think of lots of reasons why it would. For one, Carson is soft-spoken and dignified; Donald Trump isn’t. Because Trump’s popularity is inextricably bound up with his bombastic shtick, it just doesn’t compute that someone utterly lacking in bombast would be doing just as well — and actually be much more popular. But I think there’s something else going on. Have you ever won an award, accomplished something or got admitted to some organization you’re really proud of, only to see someone you don’t like or respect get the same award or accomplish the same thing? It can eat at you. Trump kept talking about how he can’t understand Carson’s popularity.
“I don’t get it,” he said in exasperation. What’s fascinating is that this is exactly what many of us say about Trump. And I think the fact that Carson is benefiting from the same atmosphere that is propelling Trump in the polls bruises Trump’s ego. Of course Trump should be winning, he’s Trump! Carson, in Trump’s view, is a bizarre fluke. And the possibility that the forces fueling Carson’s rise also explain his own is deeply unnerving and insulting to him because it undermines his confidence that he deserves to be leading in the polls. So he has to call Iowans stupid. Carson should be paying Trump rent, because he’s living in the billionaire’s most prized real estate: Trump’s head.
My column today is on Bibi Netanyahu’s use of the term “primitive medievalism” for Islamic extremism. I think it’s quite brilliant and a great way for both conservatives and liberals to frame the existential threat the civilized world faces.
Zoë & Pippa Update: We’re still making progress, though the dingo is still behaving like a bullying big sister. Zoë gets very jealous of any attention Pippa gets and has real problems even tolerating Pippa having any fun without her. For instance, Zoë has zero interest in tennis balls, but Pippa thinks they are the Most Important Objects in the Universe. Still, when Pippa has too much fun with a tennis ball in the house — I don’t even mean when someone is throwing one for her, just when she’s quietly chewing on them or picking them up and dropping them — Zoë will take the tennis ball away. The cultural differences are still profound, too. The other day my wife, the Fair Jessica, came upon a deer in a field while she was with Pippa and Zoë was still in the woods clearing out the squirrels from that sector. The deer couldn’t have cared less about Pippa, and Pippa felt the same about the deer. When Zoë came upon this scene, she was disgusted, “What is wrong with you people!?! Can’t you see that monster?” She then chased the deer back to its safe haven, and upon returning barked and chuffed at them both for their appeasement.
The new GLoP podcast is out. We spent a long time on this campus stuff as well.
Halloween Update: This year’s Halloween was pretty stressful. We waited for over three hours to get our zombie makeup, but by the time it was our turn, there wasn’t much time left for the make-up artist without missing trick-or-treating. So the Fair Jessica didn’t get made up at all. And Lucy and I had to get a rush job. Still, partly in homage to David French, we were zombie soldiers. Right before the end my wife said to the make-up artist, “Put a bullet hole right in his forehead.” Not only was this a little disturbing to hear from my wife, but it also only occurred to us later that having a bullet hole in my forehead contradicted the whole pretense, since a bullet to the brain kills zombies.
*Oh you might have noticed the asterisk in the text above about my rough count. That’s because those stats about Yale were actually compiled by my AEI research assistant Jack Butler. I’ve had help from researchers in the past, but Jack is the first full-time RA I’ve ever had. I figured if I can tell you about my dog, I might as well include other creatures in my life as well. I’m just kidding, I treat Jack with all of the respect he deserves. When I tell him, “It puts the memo in the basket or it gets the hose again,” I’m usually kidding. Jack also helps compile the weird links for the V&S section, so if you ever have a suggestion, tweet it at him.