Remember the days when college pranks were about swallowing goldfish or counting how many undergrads could pack into a telephone booth? Gone are the days of Bluto smashing a folk guitar during a frat party at Delta House. Now writes Victor Davis Hanson in NRO, “Twenty-somethings brag about tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee without a clue what Gettysburg was. Disrupting a conservative lecturer on campus is the current generation’s version of cramming phone booths and swallowing goldfish.”
In the 1950s, the university had evolved beyond being a bastion of eccentricity, nonconformity, and free expression, as tweedy scholars and old-style elbow-patched liberal academics were displaced by hip voices railing against supposedly clueless straight culture.
America thought it could live with that — even at the price of watering down the curricula with -studies activist courses — because free speech was for everyone, at least in theory. But tenured radical professors eventually became sixty-something administrative bureaucrats and are now being devoured by the very radical offspring they have sired. We lament political correctness and Stalinism on campuses, but the real crime is the ignorance that empowers it.
The unspoken fuel that drives so many protests on campus is the self-awareness that so many students simply cannot do traditional college work and desire weaker courses, personal exemptions, and time off. A sense of student inferiority naturally leads to demands for everything but a more comprehensive education. The result of politicizing mediocrity is the classic toxicity of youthful ignorance and arrogance.
Orwellian administrative language, sanctioned from those who should have known better, masks an anti-democratic reality of which even its adherents are ashamed. “Safe spaces” mean segregation. “Affirmative action” is synonymous with implicit racial quotas. “Theme houses” are race-based apartheid living quarters. “Trigger warnings” are censorship. “Student loans” are paramount to indentured servitude for over a decade. And “diversity” ensures monotony and orthodoxy in thought and expression.
Read more from VDH here.