If you think college is bad, wait until to find out what is going on in America’s elite high schools. The mania over political correctness and victim culture does not begin in college. It begins, as Prof. Jonathan Haidt discovered, in the indoctrination mills that prepare children for college. It’s a bit much to say that they are schools at all.
Parents are clearly worried about the abuse that is systematically visited on boys. They are surely also worried about the way that their daughters are being turned into a revolutionary vanguard. Whatever you think about helicopter parenting, you might consider that parents might very well want to protect their children from the leftist culture that prevails in high school.
Haidt describes a high school assembly that he had addressed in an upscale suburban high school. After his talk, he was denounced and attacked by female students while all the male students, save one male feminist, kept quiet.
Later, he spoke to an adult audience, comprised of parents of many of the children he had spoken to earlier:
So if these teenagers are coming into political consciousness inside of a “moral matrix” that is uniformly leftist, there will always be anger directed at those who disrupt that consensus.
That night, after I gave a different talk to an adult audience, there was a reception at which I spoke with some of the parents. Several came up to me to tell me that their sons had told them about the day’s events. The boys finally had a way to express and explain their feelings of discouragement. Their parents were angry to learn about how their sons were being treated and… there’s no other word for it, bullied into submission by the girls, with the blessing of the teachers.
No more teaching. Incipient feminists bully the boys and the boys have no right to say anything about it, lest they be denounced to the thought police.
Haidt found the same atmosphere at a top New England prep school:
Last summer I had a conversation with some boys who attend one of the nation’s top prep schools, in New England. They reported the same thing: as white males, they are constantly on eggshells, afraid to speak up on any remotely controversial topic lest they be sent to the “equality police” (that was their term for the multicultural center). I probed to see if their fear extended beyond the classroom. I asked them what they would do if there was a new student at their school, from, say Yemen. Would they feel free to ask the student questions about his or her country? No, they said, it’s too risky, a question could be perceived as offensive.
It’s as though it isn’t enough to give poor grades to any student who offers a dissenting opinion. He must also be punished by having to undergo thought reform.
One must note that the feminist victory is pyrrhic. These empowered girls will go off to college and will hook up with boys who will mistreat them. When these girls decide go looking for relationships with boys, the boys they have been beating down throughout their school years might not be interested in anything more than using them for sex. When these liberated girls sext pictures of their private parts to wanna-be boyfriends, the boys will probably not feel a gentlemanly concern with keeping the images private. They will more likely pass them around the locker room.
Perhaps it is payback for the high school classes and assemblies in which the boys were forced into silence.
And then… they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree. They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into “moral dependents” who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.
So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix.
One needs to ask whether these children are being prepared for the real world, whether they are being taught what they need to know to succeed.
Haidt has more than a few doubts:
As long as many of our elite prep schools are turning out students who have only known eggshells and anger, whose social cognition is limited to a single dimension of victims and victimizers, and who demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, it’s hard to imagine how any university can open students’ minds and prepare them to converse respectfully with people who don’t share their values. Especially when there are no adults around who don’t share their values.
They used to be called high schools. Now they seem to be nothing more than indoctrination mills.