I remember college. I remember graduate school too. Lest anyone accuse me of touting anything I didn’t earn, I do not have a graduate degree, but am not far from the requisite number of credits. Unfortunately, in Texas, a graduate degree is worth only about another $1000 dollars of salary per year, and I make far more than that with my singing and writing pursuits, so I doubt I’ll be picking up that masters anytime soon.
I was a non-traditional student, determined to earn a degree in education as quickly as I could. I took overloads every semester, always 21-22 credits, and finished in 2.5 years. In that, I was a bit unusual, but by no means a pioneer.
In fact, virtually everyone in college those days was there to earn a degree, and was focused on doing whatever was necessary to achieve that goal. We didn’t whine about “safe spaces,” or “trigger warnings,” or “microaggressions.” Practical people, we knew the difference between intellectual confusion and inconvenience, and actual threats to our safety. We expected that life would be unfair, that everything would not go our way, that we might even be exposed to ideas we didn’t like, which we pretty much saw as the point of higher education. We expected to spend long hours in classes, and longer hours studying, and knew that our success would be in direct proportion to the effort we expended to achieve it.
When people were thoughtless or rude, as people sometimes tend to be, if we could afford to redirect our attention from the book or article we were reading or the paper we were typing, we might think “jerk” for a second or two, but no more. Anyone whining about any idea a professor espoused—unless it was blatantly immoral and patently offensive to any sentient human being—would be tolerated, unless the whining went on too long. “Too long” would normally be in excess of ten seconds. Anyone crying about such things, or claiming they feared for their safety would be immediately considered unbalanced. Anyone demanding that college faculty or administration provide them with “safe spaces,” or protect them from having to live life, would be…wait a minute! No one ever did that sort of thing. They would have been—figuratively speaking—eaten alive, and everyone understood and accepted that.
While the occasional student might ask that an exam be postponed, they never expected it to happen. Anyone suggesting they were so distraught about some political issue they couldn’t be expected to complete assignments or attend exams would have been quickly disabused of any notion of special snowflake status by faculty and fellow students alike. Repeated instances of such simpering behavior would have earned strongly worded invitations to seek higher education elsewhere. Attendance at college was earned, and was seen as a contract. The college upheld its part of the contract by providing educational opportunity and the serious, businesslike atmosphere expected by adults and conducive to learning. Students upheld their part of the contract by taking advantage of that opportunity.
To be sure, many kids drank too much, had one night stands, skipped the occasional class and bombed—figuratively speaking—the occasional test. Some were in college with less than absolutely pure academic intentions, but as a whole, we were a pretty serious bunch when it came to getting what we came to college to get.
This is why I find the follies at Yale and the University of Missouri so bizarre. At U Miss, it appears that all of the fuss is about a mere handful of supposedly racist incidents, incidents, which had no causative connection to anyone at the University. In one such incident a drunken lout in a passing vehicle supposedly yelled “nigger” at a black student. We have, to verify this, only the word of the aggrieved student. In another, someone supposedly engaged in a bit of feces finger painting, leaving a swastika on the wall of a dorm bathroom. As this is written, it appears that there was a campus police report about the incident, but the released copy is heavily redacted. The Powerline guys suggest there is evidence the incident actually happened.
This, of course, is not evidence the incident is actually a malicious attempt at racist intimidation. Unfortunately, these days, most such incidents are found to have been created by the very same people claiming to be victimized by them. The spectacle of an entire university recoiling in horror and fear about a bit of shit smeared in a purportedly symbolic fashion on a dorm bathroom wall portends nothing so much as a culture so weak and mindless that subjugation by barbarians is a foregone conclusion.
Rational people might think a swastika to be symbolism aimed at Jews rather than people of color, but for the perpetually aggrieved, I suppose any potential expression of intolerance, real or not, will suffice.
A Side Note: Apparently the Jewish angle was explored on the campus (take the preceding link), and people were wondering about the symbolism of the mixture of feces and a swastika. This is nothing new to me. Burglars often defecate in the homes of their victims, though smarter burglars don’t as they realize they’re leaving their DNA. Was this an intentional act of anti-semitism? Of racism? And why feces? There are two likely possibilities: It was the act of a juvenile idiot trying, on the spur of the moment when the exceedingly dull spark flickered briefly in his brain, to do the most outrageous thing he could think of doing with the materials at hand (pun). Or it was the act of a campus agitator, probably an anti-semitic or “Black Lives Matter” type, trying to maintain their organizational relevance.
The invaluable Mona Charen notes:
There has been some tut-tutting, even among liberals, about modern university students’ hypersensitivity. But let’s not kid ourselves — though it is couched in the language of safety, what these little snowflakes want is repression. Brenda Smith-Lezama, for example, is vice president of the Missouri Students Association. Asked about efforts on the Missouri campus to ‘muscle’ student journalists away from a public event, she offered a view that would make Castro proud: ‘I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here,’ she told MSNBC.
Yes, that darned First Amendment is rather tiresome, isn’t it?
Even so, the University president has resigned, apparently because he is somehow responsible for a racist atmosphere on campus, because he didn’t apologize quickly or abjectly enough for something over which he had no control and no part in creating, because he didn’t make black students feel “safe” when Michael Brown, a drug-addled thug, robbed a quick shop, tried to kill a police officer, and ended up dead for his trouble, or merely because a number of very special snowflakes demanded the blood of someone, and he was already bleeding from a thousand cuts.
If such things happened during my college days, if anyone were aware of them at all, they would not think to blame the college administration, nor would they demand their—or anyone’s–firing. And if they did—well, you can imagine the response, gentle readers. I can see my college pals sitting around a table in the cafeteria as though it were yesterday:
Bob: “Hey, did you hear somebody smeared a swastika in shit on the wall in a dorm bathroom?”
Mary: “You got that right.”
John: “Hey, anyone got notes from physics last Friday I can borrow?”
We didn’t blame people for things they didn’t do, nor did we demand they control that over which they had no control. We certainly did not, for a moment, think them responsible for trying to guarantee that the easily offended never suffer offense. We tended to see such people as inherently silly and not worthy of a moment’s consideration.
No one would have thought to equate terrorist murderers and rapists with the hook up culture on campus, nor did anyone, including college officials or the police, recognize our college as a hotbed of rape and anti-female abuse. Somehow, all of the women on campus managed to miss that one too. Consider this from Jonah Goldberg:
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.
My favorite display of preciousness is the football players that threatened to withhold their immeasurably valuable skills. Of course, at my little state college, there were no outlandishly lucrative scholarships and innumerable perks of college football godhood to be had. The guys played football because they liked to play football and wouldn’t think of blackmailing the coaches that had absolute power over every minute of their playing time. In those long ago days, anyone threatening to withhold their unimaginably wonderful athletic talents would be strongly encouraged to peddle their talents at a college that gave a rat’s ass, which would not have been within a two state radius. If it were necessary to cancel the entire season and demand that athletes actually live or die on their academic abilities, it would be done and everyone would feel good about it.
These precocious athletes understand the realities of the modern university very well. In a rational world, the power relationship is very different. The University holds the cards because it is built and maintained with the tax dollars of the people, who allow athletics essentially for their entertainment. Athletes enjoy any status because the people, through their hired administrators and teachers, allow it. Athletes demand nothing, and are grateful for the opportunities and status they’re allowed.
How could people be so intolerant? How could people care so little about the perpetually aggrieved, the social justice warriors?
We didn’t think anyone owed us anything, other than the opportunities promised by our educational contract, for which we were paying tidy sums. They did their part; we did ours. We didn’t bother others; they didn’t bother us. We went about our business; everyone else went about theirs. If we chose to miss an exam, we accepted the consequences. If we spent our time exposing our personal weaknesses in public rather than attending class—which we would not have done—we would have expected consequences. We would also have expected that no one would feel the least pity for us when we behaved like perfect little savages. We certainly didn’t scream obscenities at teachers, in private or public. We might disagree—politely—from time to time, but doing more was a line no one dared cross, and not because there would be consequences, but because it made the screamer look like an ass. Civility entered into it too.
Maybe the good old days, at least in this, really were pretty good after all. And maybe, if we get an actual adult in the White House, we can begin to rebuild a civil, productive, self-confident America. It won’t begin on campus. It begins when we all say “enough,” and are willing to do something about it.