Saturday, August 3, 2019

America's Campus Revolution

David Brooks, meet your colleague, Bret Stephens

While Brooks, see the previous post, has expressed his deep admiration for New Age crank Marianne Williamson, Bret Stephens shows us what happens when a moral revolution occurs on America’s campuses. There we see the cultural revolution that Brooks believes we need, in action, destroying the minds of young Americans.

Stephens explains:

Anyone who has followed the news from college campuses over the past few years knows they are experiencing forms of unrest unseen since the late 1960s.

Now, as then, campuses have become an arena for political combat. Now, as then, race is a central issue. Now, as then, students rail against an unpopular president and an ostensibly rigged system. Now, as then, liberal professors are being bullied, denounced, demoted, threatened, sued and sometimes even assaulted by radical students.

But there are some important differences, too. None of today’s students risk being drafted into an unpopular, distant war. Unlike the campus rebels of the ’60s, today’s student activists don’t want more freedom to act, speak, and think as they please. Usually they want less.

Most strange: Today’s students are not chafing under some bow-tied patriarchal WASP dispensation. Instead, they are the beneficiaries of a system put in place by professors and administrators whose political views are almost uniformly left-wing and whose campus policies indulge nearly every progressive orthodoxy.

And Stephens is smart enough to understand that it’s not about Donald Trump. He does not see it as the Obama legacy, but we can forgive him, for now. He is reporting on a book written by the former dean of the Yale Law School Andrew Kronman. It is called The Assault on American Excellence:

What’s happening on campuses today isn’t a reaction to Trump or some alleged systemic injustice, at least not really. Fundamentally, Kronman argues, it’s a reaction against this aristocratic spirit — of being, as H.L. Mencken wrote, “beyond responsibility to the general masses of men, and hence superior to both their degraded longings and their no less degraded aversions.” It’s a revolt of the mediocre many against the excellent few. And it is being undertaken for the sake of a radical egalitarianism in which all are included, all are equal, all are special.

“In endless pronouncements of tiresome sweetness, the faculty and administrators of America’s colleges and universities today insist on the overriding importance of creating a culture of inclusion on campus,” Kronman writes.

“They stress the need to respect and honor the feelings of others, especially those belonging to traditionally disadvantaged groups, as an essential means to this end. In this way they give credence to the idea that feelings are trumps with a decisive authority of their own. That in turn emboldens their students to argue that their feelings are reason enough to keep certain speakers away. But this dissolves the community of conversation that the grown-ups on campus are charged to protect.”
This is a bracing, even brutal, assessment. But it’s true. And it explains why every successive capitulation by universities to the shibboleths of diversity and inclusion has not had the desired effect of mollifying campus radicals. On the contrary, it has tended to generate new grievances while debasing the quality of intellectual engagement.

Ah yes, on our therapied campuses, no one cares about learning. No one cares about competing for better grades. No one cares about working hard to excel. Because if you do well someone else who does not do as well will feel bad. And we can't have that.

Everyone now cares about feelings, as though college were a therapy mill designed to make everyone feel good about himself. It’s the therapy culture on steroids, and suffering its own special kind of roid rage:

All this is meant to make students “safe.” In fact, it leaves them fatally exposed. It emboldens offense-takers, promotes doublethink, coddles ignorance. It gets in the way of the muscular exchange of honest views in the service of seeking truth. Above all, it deprives the young of the training for independent mindedness that schools like Yale are supposed to provide.

Clearly, Kronman is right. As is Stephens. As for Brooks, as I said in the prior post, an intervention is in order.


UbuMaccabee said...

You mean the Bret Stephens who just announced on the pages of the NYT that he admired Pete Buttigieg, but that packing the SCOTUS was a bridge too far (quoting RBG)? A bridge too far? I have a different language for that proposal but will wisely refrain from saying it in print. To be clear, worm-tongue wants to ensure a permanent leftist judiciary overclass that will prevent any electorate, however dissatisfied, from rejecting direct democracy and the boot of socialism. You will have to shoot your way out.

Admire what, exactly? Is this the same Pete Buttigieg who advocates for the dissolution of the electoral college? Stephens admires a guy who is attempting to win the presidency on a platform of destroying two of our three pillars of republican government?

And has Mayor Robespierre weighed in on what we shall do with this hopelessly undemocratic US Senate? I have to assume his position is the same as the electoral college.

When an arrogant lunatic, leveler like Buttigieg, however polished, stands before the greatest political construction in world history and urges it's the dissolution because he is wiser than our founders, I fail to find the word "admire" in my vocabulary. Another word comes to mind: Alamut.

Bret Stephens is a very well-educated pussy. He knows reads history but cannot bring himself to connect the dots. He cannot walk down to the killing floor and smell the blood; he hides up in the attic with George Will and Bill Kristol. At root, he just wants to be liked by the right sort of people, the sort of people who read the NYT and care deeply what that rag prints about them. He writes while looking over his shoulder. He will be swept away and forgotten because he lacks the one virtue that matters: courage.

Bret, we knew the university was a wasteland in 2000, nice to see you put down the hash pipe.

Sam L. said...

UbuMaccabee said...(among other things) "To be clear, worm-tongue wants to ensure a permanent leftist judiciary overclass that will prevent any electorate, however dissatisfied, from rejecting direct democracy and the boot of socialism. You will have to shoot your way out." Well, there are a lot of folks in this country who have the guns and the ammo and the willingness to "do just that".

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I’m with Ubu 100%.

This move to eliminate the Electoral College is insane. When you see a state like Delaware (of all states!) vote to enter this National Popular Vote Compact (NPVC) — which is already enacted by California, New York and Illinois — you know things are getting bad. Because it is constitutional for states to set their voting laws. Don’t knit about the NPVC? Look it up... it’s moving through state legislatures like a freight train.

This is another disgraceful effort to undermine republican government and a path to Leftist lunacy. And what are we replacing the wisdom of the Founding Fathers with? With the migrant madness happening at the southern border, all bets are off. If RBG gets her wish, you can kiss your civil rights goodbye. If Texas goes blue — through magical migrant demographic gerrymandering — the Democrats will win every presidential election thereafter. And if this NPVC is successful, you will see voting fraud on an unprecedented scale, which will mean Democrat control of Congress, in perpetuity. There will be no countervailing force. After that, some “wise” man will recommend National proportional representation as a solution to the two-party system, and the United States will atomize into a political fracas that would make members of the Israeli Knesset shake their heads.

The United States Constitution is a brilliant compromise designed to protect against concentrations of power within a constitutionally-limited federal republic. Eliminate the safeguards contained therein and you will see a quick end to your individual freedom. For all his vaunted intelligence and principles, Bret Stephens has not been able to see this unfolding. It’s easy to be a critic.