A rather disturbing video of a student of Yale screaming at a professor is making the rounds with comments. Now the discussion of Social Justice Warriors is more or less outside the scope of this blog, but I feel that it has to be dealt with for no other reason that the students involved in this dustup are, more than likely going to go into government jobs and be in charge of you, real soon now.
These people are truly rebels without a cause. The funny thing is that they should be upset, but not for this stupid stuff. They should be concerned about the state of the economy and why there may not be any jobs out there for them. Instead they are worried about safe spaces. Well the real world doesn’t have safe spaces.
The fact is that what these people were really trying to do is recreate the long history of student bullying by Ivy Covered Snob Factory students. A tradition that goes back to the middle of the last Century when the generation after the WW2 generation and the first wave boomers showed up on the campuses. Back then the screamers were spoiled entitled jerks and that hasn’t changed.
Those who purport to speak for marginalized students at elite colleges sometimes expose serious shortcomings in the way that their black, brown, or Asian classmates are treated, and would expose flaws in the way that religious students and ideological conservatives are treated too if they cared to speak up for those groups. I’ve known many Californians who found it hard to adjust to life in the Ivy League, where a faction of highly privileged kids acculturated at elite prep schools still set the tone of a decidedly East Coast culture. All else being equal, outsiders who also feel like racial or ethnic “others” typically walk the roughest road of all.
That may well be true at Yale.
But none of that excuses the Yale activists who’ve bullied these particular faculty in recent days. They’re behaving more like Reddit parodies of “social-justice warriors” than coherent activists, and I suspect they will look back on their behavior with chagrin. The purpose of writing about their missteps now is not to condemn these students. Their young lives are tremendously impressive by any reasonable measure. They are unfortunate to live in an era in which the normal mistakes of youth are unusually visible. To keep the focus where it belongs I won’t be naming any of them here.
The focus belongs on the flawed ideas that they’ve absorbed.
Everyone invested in how the elites of tomorrow are being acculturated should understand, as best they can, how so many cognitively privileged, ordinarily kind, seemingly well-intentioned young people could lash out with such flagrant intolerance.
It’s rather amazing that I could have predicted the background of this special snowflake. Grew up in Fairfield County CT, check. Mother has vanity business, check. Brought up in cocoon, guided to the Ivy league, check. No self control, check. Never mind the skin color, the self entitlement is something that I’ve become all too familiar with here on the Gold coast. I could throw a rock in my area and hit two kids like that. Though most of them are better behaved. At least for now.
I suspect that the internet is not going to be kind to her. Heretofore her tantrums have been restricted to a limited audience. Not any more. Social media is going to be merciless. As they say, there is life after Yale and I imagine that screaming at helpless RA’s looks so good on the resume.
By putting up with stuff and surrendering to the moronic demands of these students the Universities are not doing these kids any favors. In the past kids learned discipline and thrift when they were younger, but those days went a away a long time ago. For our shame, we boomers and later have not been good parents, probably because many of us didn’t grow up either. So it’s no real surprise that these kids haven’t learned the grownup traits of restraint and discipline. So we get the spectacle of these kids in grown up bodies. And the elite schools pander to them.
As these events transpired, I wrote an essay for Tablet magazine concluding that the university, my alma mater, would do a disservice to its students if it lent the impression that their behavior—interrogating professors as if they were murder suspects, issuing “demands” on account of unfounded accusations that Yale is an inherently “racist” institution—was in any way acceptable. “If the administration is truly committed to equipping young people for the real world and not a chimerical fantasyland where they never have to hear something disagreeable,” I wrote then, “the best thing it could do, both for their sake and Yale’s sacred mission, is tell them to grow up.” Unfortunately, over the past year, Yale has failed to fulfill that mission.
Despite endless opportunities to do so, Yale has gone out of its way to avoid addressing the nub of the matter: how so many of its charges have been conditioned into thinking that a retort to administrative busybodies constitutes racism. In an email to undergraduates the very day after a student mob berated Nicholas Christakis for defending his wife, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway expressed his “unambiguous” support for the Intercultural Affairs Committee Halloween costume guidelines, which, while perhaps “off-putting or even pedantic,” were nonetheless and at the same time “exactly right.” Two weeks after the campuswide protest, the university largely acceded to student demands, announcing a doubling in funding for the cultural-center budgets and racial-sensitivity training for administrators and faculty. Come April, Salovey announced Yale would do away with the title “master” because it “carries a painful and unwelcome connotation,” presumably not unlike Jewish students being forced to address someone as oberführer. This, in spite of the term’s Latin origins, legacy in the Oxbridge system on which Yale’s own was founded, and having absolutely nothing at all to do with American slavery. As for the Christakises? While President Salovey offered perfunctory statements of support for them, by December, Erika had decided to resign her future teaching obligations and Nicholas announced his decision to take a sabbatical for the upcoming spring semester. In May, the two resigned their posts at Silliman College.
The fault for this outcome lies squarely with the Yale administration, which over the past year has attempted to maintain two mutually exclusive positions: coddling its students while half-heartedly defending the Christakises. Ultimately, however, either the protesting students were behaving inappropriately and venting illegitimate expectations, or the Christakises were indeed the heartless racists they were made out to be. Because Yale was never willing to treat its students like adults and read them the riot act, it sent the message that their alleged grievances against the university and the Christakises were valid, thus making the couple’s position untenable.
No doubt rendered anxious by the generally perturbed reaction from bewildered and outraged alumni, the Yale administration has tried to sweep this entire sorry state of affairs under the rug, claiming that the infamous video and other examples of censorious student behavior were “taken out of context” and did not accurately portray the real tenor of campus protest. In an interview last fall with The New Yorker, Dean Holloway asserted that students angry over the Christakis email were not “questioning the rights of free speech” but rather voicing displeasure at “this incredible pain and frustration related to the issue of being constantly marginalized.” When I returned to New Haven this past summer for my 10th reunion, I heard President Salovey say much the same, telling alumni that a sensationalist media had distorted what happened the previous fall in order to fit a predetermined storyline of politically correct students waging war on free speech. Last month, The New York Times reported that “there are plenty at Yale who believe the video narrowly and unfairly depicted the event to fit a narrative of so-called crybullies whining to be protected at the expense of others’ rights.” Matthew Frye Jacobson, a professor of American studies, history, and African-American studies, insisted to the paper that the resulting media storm was “a complete misconstruction of what happened.” He described the series of events thusly: “The cultural-affairs committee made its statement about Halloween costumes. The Christakises critiqued that; the students critiqued them. Then everyone in the world criticized the students. From beginning to end, it was never a matter of free speech.” Among other things, this retelling conveniently leaves out the last part of the saga, namely, the students who “demanded” the “immediate removal” of the Christakises from their positions.
This historical revisionism was promoted again this month in a thoroughly dishonest Timesop-ed by Jim Sleeper, a lecturer in political science. Sleeper is a former columnist for the New York Daily News who used to write interesting things about race, but for the past two decades has mostly penned diatribes for obscure online outlets wherein he invariably reproaches his adversaries for traducing a set of never-defined “civic republican” values (a Google search of his name and this phrase turns up more than 2,700 results). I should know, having been termed a “fedayeen Uncle Sam” and purveyor of “neo-Stalinism” by Sleeper my freshman year. For some reason, the Times’ op-ed editors allowed Sleeper to accuse the man who recorded the video in the Silliman quad, Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), of being part of a right-wing conspiracy to destroy liberal education. “If anything,” Sleeper accuses, “the real threat to free inquiry isn’t students, but that same market imperative that First Amendment defenders claim to hold dear.” Sleeper never seriously addresses the behavior of the students, preferring instead to attack FIRE for serving unnamed “mercenary and ideological agendas.” More grievously, he falsely asserted that Lukianoff identified the screaming girl in the video, who was later subjected to death threats, when, in fact, it had been the conservative Daily Caller that had done so. (As Lukianoff pointed out in a response to Sleeper’s slander, “few have done more to spread the identity of the young woman in the Yale video than Jim Sleeper, who has repeatedly linked to reports that include her name.”)
Lest there be any doubt that the one-minute, 21-second video made famous last fall did not accurately convey the confrontation between a Yale professor and his students, consider the following 25-minute-long recording of the events that transpired immediately beforehand. To my knowledge, these videos—revealed to me by a source on the Yale campus—have not been publicized by any media outlet.
What these videos show is that, far from being some sort of outlier among the protesting Yalies, the childish hysteria displayed by the shrieking student in the original video was only slightly more intemperate than the behavior of her peers; indeed, another student (at around 3:00 in Part IV) can be seen calling Christakis “disgusting” to his face just moments before the young woman who became infamous across the country and around the world screamed the same thing.
Nor are Yalies outliers among college students nationally. A recent Knight Foundation survey on campus attitudes to free speech finds that the kids are anything but all right: 27 percent of college students believe administrations should restrict “offensive” political speech, 63 percent favor schools banning costumes, and half believe that news reporting on campus protests should be prohibited. Another poll conducted last year, meanwhile, found that more than half of all students nationwide support campus speech codes.
What’s amazing is that the tactics of isolation and destruction worked. The University was giving in so that the university could avoid the controversy and apparently they hoped that capitulation would get the whole thing calmed down and off the media. That never works. What happens is that the crybullies are only emboldened and will escalate things to the next level.
This has nothing to with Halloween costumes or social justice. It has everything to do with silencing and censoring opinions that the crybullies don’t have the fortitude to listen to. A typical conservative, of any age hears opinions in opposition to what they think and believes endlessly. If they didn’t develop the ability to deal with opposing opinions they would either capitulate their principles or just become one of the lowing heard. At best it sometimes seems to be best to just become a chameleon and never actually express an opinion. Of course the best approach is always be willing to fight a good fight. and mock the other side. Especially indulge in the mockery. The crybullies can’t handle mockery.
Somebody from the left, believing in tolerance, they think has a hard time dealing with the kind of crybullying attack that has become all the rage these days. Since they by and large have always lived in echo chambers, the kind of attacks, the violent suppression of their points of view is something that they have never had to deal with. Typically they have never studied history, not read their Kipling and have no way to deal with the assault.
Of course the real issue is power. The crybullies want to shut anybody other than themselves out of the political sphere. All the screaming is just posturing because they know that screaming and the seeming irrationality that goes with it make people very uncomfortable and people generally want to make the source of that discomfort go away. In the old days that would involve head knocking, but the crybullies know that that is unlikely or at least they think that if anybody does any head knocking it will be them. That may be why the last election was such a rude shock.
The crybully nation has been pressing the advantage, supported by a friendly Administration for some time now. They’ve been making their silly noises all over the place as Occupy whatever and on campuses for the last eight years. As outlined in the links below.
The problem is that the crybullies are R types in a K world and winter is coming. They could be indulged in the good times, after all they made music and were slightly entertaining. Now the short times are coming and the crying and screaming when people are trying to make things work again has gotten to be too much.
Of course, unlike the left, the right studies history. We know what happens when some people get power. The bad examples are all over the historical landscape with their bloody trails and ruined cities and dead cultures. We on the right can hopefully learn from those bad examples and keep our powder dry. Because the other side has no tolerance and no mercy.
When the below video becomes the reality, the game is over for us. But I don’t think that the video will become reality and if it does I hope that the young lady never hears the shot that kill her.
Because the gods of the copybook headings never lie and never go away.