In recently discussing the aphorism: “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” with my students, I recounted the tragedy of Kitty Genevose, the young New York City Woman, who, on March 13, 1964, was stabbed to death outside her apartment building. The commonly known narrative is likely inaccurate to one degree or another, but the point was that despite knowing what was happening, no one took affirmative action to help Genevose. My classes of 16-17 year-old Texas teenagers were aghast. To a boy and girl, they affirmed that if that happened in Texas, the first person–including them–to lay sights on a killer would blow them out of their socks, then they’d call the police after helping the victim.
This week, we compare the relative morality of the denizens of higher education with high school students. You, gentle readers, decide who are the adults, and who are the moral. First, we visit Debra Heinie at PJ Media:
The president of Northwestern University told students on Monday that anyone who opposes ‘trigger warnings’ or who ridicules the pain of those ‘microaggressed’ is an ‘idiot’ and a ‘lunatic.’
In his convocation address on Monday, NU President Morton Schapiro took a firm stance against censorship, but said he disagreed with University of Chicago Dean of Students John Ellison, who recently told first-year students they should not expect ‘safe spaces’ in which to escape from ideas that make them uncomfortable.
Oh dear. I suddenly realized that I not only oppose trigger warnings, and have ridiculed the “pain” (snicker, snort!) of those microaggressed (go here, and here, and here, for horrific examples of my micro–and macro–aggressions, heh, heh!), but I am obviously an idiot, and a lunatic too! Well! If this be lunacy, oh waiter, I’ll have a second helping, and with a cherry on top, please!
Author of many a pro-‘safe space’ op-ed, he suggests he’ll also use his day job as a platform to promote the code of campus political correctness, now that the semester’s begun.
‘The people who decry safe spaces do it from their segregated housing places, from their jobs without diversity — they do it from their country clubs,’ Schapiro said. ‘It just drives me nuts.
Segregated housing? Hmm. Does the Hispanic family next door count? Does my job teaching kids of all racial backgrounds count? And my country club? I occasionally take a bike ride past the local municipal golf course. Does that make me a lunatic? In any case, I’m sure Mr. Shapairo’s drive to nuttiness is a short one. Perhaps in one car door and out the other?
[…]Calling people who deny the existence of microaggressions ‘idiots,’ Schapiro said he clearly remembers every microaggression he has experienced.
Microaggressions ‘cut you to the core’ and aren’t easily forgotten, he said.
Hmmm. People have actually shot at me. That involves triggers and aggressions, doesn’t it? I haven’t lost any sleep over it. I wonder how Mr. Schapairo has managed to survive all those microaggressions that cut him to the core. Oh, right: nuts.
Schapiro also criticized those who ‘conflate’ the use of trigger warnings with undermining the First Amendment, saying students should be warned about potentially traumatic content, such as the Holocaust or lynching of black people.
‘If they say that … you shouldn’t be warned to prepare yourself psychologically for that, that somehow that’s coddling, those people are lunatics,’ Schapiro said.
Golly! My students are reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I didn’t trigger warn them. Perhaps I should have ambulances standing by from now on? Naaaah! I’m a lunatic, after all! And people pay tens of thousands of dollars per year to attend Northwestern? To what end? Sounds like all they’ll be fit for after graduation is in-patient psychological treatment.
And now let’s travel to Vermont, where Campus Reform reports that the University of Vermont at Burlington is very hip and down with the latest social justice gig, Power to the (black) people!
The University of Vermont’s Burlington campus is flying a Black Lives Matter flag alongside both the American and state flags.
Several students from the school took to social media to express their support for the move, with some saying the school is ‘winning for this’ and another noting that since the school is supportive of the movement, ‘we should be too.’
‘[The BLM flag] just really hits close to home for such a small community of people of color on this campus.
Of course it does. But why are those “people of color” in school in Vermont when they could be out there race hustling and shaking down communities for cash, while picking up the occasional new TV, stereo, or prescription drug looted from a WalMart or local pharmacy? Nothing says “social justice” like committing felonies!
One local news outlet is reporting that the flag is being sponsored by the school’s Student Government Association (SGA), whose president called the move a way to ‘show symbolic support for our community.
Uh, are there any buildings in Burlington that haven’t been burned down or looted? If that’s support for the community, well…
The Student Government Association is sponsoring the flag at this time to show symbolic support for our community when so many are struggling with the violence and search for justice in this country,’ SGA president Jason Maulucci wrote in a statement. ‘It is fitting that the flag flies adjacent to the recently engraved benches that pronounce the values of Our Common Ground—Respect, Integrity, Innovation, Openness, Justice, and Responsibility.
Oh of course! Nothing says “Respect, Integrity, Innovation, Openness, Justice, and Responsibility” like the rioting, looting, arson, destruction of property, aggravated assault, murder, and other crimes rampant wherever the BLM movement chooses to demonstrate such exalted values.
Many students at the school, though, say they are happy to see the BLM flag on their campus, with some even saying they would like to see the flag stay up on campus ‘forever.
Well why not? After all, isn’t blatant racism and a never-ending appeal to anarchy a good thing? Apparently some don’t think so:
Other students, however, object to the decision to fly the BLM flag in such a prominent location, right outside the Student Center.
‘The university is known for being very liberal, but this statement of support for Black Lives Matter goes beyond anything that can be excused,’ one student, who did not wish to be identified, told Campus Reform. ‘A public university, funded by the taxpayers…has no right to make such a blatant political statement. It is inappropriate for a public university, where opinions and views are supposed to be freely expressed, as BLM is known…to stifle free speech.
Racist. The University has explained that they fly flags by all sorts of groups and for all sorts of reasons. I’ll bet. How about the flag of the Republican National Committee, or the Tea Party? Wouldn’t that be inclusive or diverse? I know! How about a Donald Trump campaign flag? I’m sure they’d be delighted to do that, maybe forever! Think of how socially just that’d be!
And now let’s travel to North Carolina where one 16-year-old student has more patriotism and common sense that most of the administration and student body of two universities. Todd Starnes of Fox News reports:
Alex Dunn is Captain America.
The 16-year-old junior at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, is a red, white and blue patriot who loves America.
And he especially loves the American flag.
‘I have a father in the military who taught me the way to respect the flag,’ Alex told me.
When he saw that his teacher was desecrating the flag during a classroom discussion, the teenager knew he had to do something. And what he did has patriots across the fruited plain cheering.
First, he asked the students for a lighter. Then, he picked up a pair of scissors on his desk and tried to cut the flag. When that did not work, he tossed it on the ground and stomped on Old Glory.
Well why not? I mean, isn’t desecrating an American flag an essential part of any history curriculum? Didn’t all your history teachers, gentle readers, do that too? They didn’t? Oh.
It was such a disgraceful thing for a person to do – especially in front of so many military children who understand the meaning of the flag – apparently unlike him,’ he said. [skip]
‘I didn’t want to believe that it was really happening,’ he said. ‘But when he stepped on the flag – I just thought about all these men and women who fought for that flag that he just walked on – all these men and women who’ve come home with that flag draped over their coffin.’
So Alex grabbed his phone and snapped a photo – a photo that would eventually go viral on Facebook. Then, the teenager rose from his seat, picked up the flag and took the defiled banner to the principal’s office.
Of course, though Alex’s parents are proud of him–and one suspects, much of America–the teacher wants his head:
Mr. Francis told me Alex ‘broke the law’ and should be punished.
‘I believe that child does need to be punished in some way – absolutely,’ the teacher told me. ‘I can’t take a picture of them, and in turn, they cannot do the same of me.
Ah, I see! Free speech for me, but not for thee, eh Mr. Francis? Now that’s a bold, brave professional educator. Desecrating the American flag to make some sort of vague, brave point, but denying the same principle to students.
NOTE TO NC CONGRESSMAN AND SENATORS: Perhaps this is the sort of young man our service academies seek?
But worry not, gentle readers, some in North Carolina are still rational, as local station WTVD reports:
FAYETTEVILLE – Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Till said in a statement Friday that Massey Hill Classical High School teacher Lee Francis, who stomped on a U.S. flag in class will face disciplinary action.
Till did not specify the punishment in his statement, but Francis told ABC11 that he has been suspended without pay for 10 days.
‘In a first period class at Massey Hill Classical High School on Monday, September 19, Mr. Lee Francis taught a lesson on the First Amendment by stepping on an American Flag. As I have already stated, this was inappropriate in our schools. I have conducted an investigation that focused on three areas: (1) the actual event; (2) the legalities; and (3) the events after Sept. 19.
Regarding the legal aspect, many quote Texas v. Johnson where the First Amendment protection explained in this case does not extend to a teacher in the performance of his or her duties in a public classroom. Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West has determined that there was no criminal violation. Although there is no action that falls under the jurisdiction of Mr. West, it is a wrong conclusion to draw that it protects his actions in the classroom. As former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, ‘Freedom of speech does not allow you to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” ’
There are policies and procedures that impact the teaching in our schools. After reading statements from staff and students at Massey Hill Classical High School and other material that was available to me, I have concluded that the actions of Mr. Francis were not an act of civil disobedience by the school or the Cumberland County Central Services. All agree that his actions were inappropriate. Therefore, I have determined discipline is appropriate based on violating our policies.
The most hurtful aspect of this incident is the comments made by Mr. Francis during his interviews with reporters and media. Although I disagree with many of his statements and wish he had remained silent, there was nothing said that violated school policy.
I will have no further public statement.
Now there’s a bit of social justice for a change. It’s generally not a good idea to publicly excoriate your employers and community unless you’re anticipating a sudden change of both.
Keep this in mind, please, the next time you’re tempted to agree with those that think our high schools and students a lost cause. Not quite. Not yet.