Phi Beta Cons

Little Children on Campus

The circle is now unbroken. The Millennials are old enough to write about their juniors, meaning they communicate in politically correct doublespeak when writing about politically correct doublespeak. An example of what’s to come appeared recently in the New Yorker. If anyone can read the “whole thing,” please reply. The article, “The Big Uneasy,” by Nathan Heller can be found here. (I don’t get the parallel between a city on the Mississippi and college, probably because I came along when what we thought and wrote was objective — and metaphors were rarely mixed.)

Heller chose Oberlin College in Ohio to serve as the micro for the wild and hairy U.S. university macro. The issues there are common for liberal arts schools, with a notable exception — Hillsdale College in Michigan, maybe the only institution of higher education that has avoided the incurable PC plague responsible for the agonizing decline of U.S. higher education. Even better, Hillsdale does not accept federal funds.

The striving for diversity and identity is here at Oberlin. Student cry-babies scream for trigger warnings, safe space, inclusive foods in the cafeterias, “allyships” between ethnic and social groups, but nothing about transgender bathroom use — yet.

At the core of student issues, even today, dwell two time-honored battles known for engendering conspiracy theories and deep emotional feelings — exacerbated by the insolubility of the problems.  One is black students’ and teachers’ threats of demonstrations and violence against the white community if the latest list of ludicrous demands are not met. Heller suggests that their angst emanates from the pressure on ethnic minorities to get used to a change in status. The past affirmative action-driven warm welcome has changed to expectations that students succeed in “doing the work of diversity” (or maybe just doing the work?) No matter the realities, black demands remain — and white people are to blame for all their problems

Second is the resurgence of the phenomenon of anti-Zionism and anti-Jewish opinions roiling around since the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. The criticism of Israel that hit college campuses in the 1960s was exacerbated by the rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO grabbed headlines with violence and sympathy from far Left types, such as actress Vanessa Redgrave. The PLO was secretly connected and trained the domestic terror gangs that popped up at the same time in Germany, France, Japan, and the U.S. No surprise Yasser Arafat was exposed as a paid Soviet provocateur at his death.

The Big 2, race and anti-Semitism, not only have in common seniority as the uber issues for the first campus protests, the participants shared a common trait: strong beliefs in conspiracy theory, a characteristic alive and well today. Heller provides examples of both out of the mouths of current protesters.

First, black demonstrators delivered the following to the Oberlin administration and faculty chairs: “You (the college) include Black and other students of color in the institution and mark them with the words ‘equity’, inclusion and diversity, when in fact this institution functions on the premises of imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy.” (The author assumes readers know what “cisssexist means.” Wikipedia offers this definition: “Cisgender (often abbreviated to cis) is a term for people whose experiences of their own gender agree with the sex they were assigned at birth. Cisgender may also be defined as those who have ‘a gender identity or perform a gender role society considers appropriate for one’s sex.’ It is the opposite of the term transgender.”

Not to be outdone, anti-Jewish protesters declared, in Heller’s words: “Zionists had been involved in the 9/11 plot, that ISIS was a puppet of Mossad and the C.I.A., and that the Rothschild family owned ‘your news, the media, your oil, and your government.’”

Mired in half-truths, utopian stupidity, conspiracy theory — with a twinge of collective mental illness – campus activism, from  the 1960s to today, is a steady stream of self-delusion and paranoia. Once again, tell me why colleges and society put up with it.

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