Everyone, it seems, is an activist these days.
Actual injustice isn’t necessary, just a victim mentality and a longing to make history, you know, like those old people that protested that war and stuff.
So long as there’s conflict, the cause can be manufactured. After all, it’s not the millennials’ fault they weren’t young back then, when riots raged against the legitimate struggles of racism and misogyny, a golden era of revolution mentioned fondly and often by their aging professors. Sadly, however, time is a one-way street.
But don’t tell them that — decade be damned, they will concoct misguided movement after misguided movement in futile attempts to align themselves with that era where, you know, Woodstock and stuff.
This new pseudo-Civil Rights mentality has been on breathtaking display at college campuses across the country following an initial spark at the University of Missouri, where massive protests resulted in the recent resignation of Tim Wolfe, the University’s President, and the university’s chancellor.
The Mizzou students’ gripe: an odd juxtaposition of Planned Parenthood funds being cut; two, yes two, alleged racial slurs; and a swastika drawn in feces which, if true, speaks more to someone’s insanity than institutional racism.
Despite the largely circumstantial nature of the students’ cause, some of the country’s most powerful political personalities, themselves starry-eyed admirers of that grooviest of decades, couldn’t resist making the illogical comparison between this half-baked crusade and one of the most important decades in American history.
“I come from the 60s, a long time ago,” Hillary Clinton said during the most recent Democratic debate. “There was a lot of activism on campus — civil rights activism, antiwar activism, women’s rights activism — and I do appreciate the way young people are standing up and speaking out.”
I’m sure the Queen of False Victimization does.
Even worse, President Obama told George Stephanopoulos that the protest “harkens back to a powerful tradition that helped to bring about great change in this country. The civil rights movement happened because there was civil disobedience, because people were willing to go to jail, because there were events like Bloody Sunday.”
Perhaps Mr. President, but the “safe spaces” in Columbia are light years in reality removed from Selma. These petty fits bear no resemblance to the sacrifices that made them possible.
The Missouri protests went so far that one of the primary organizers didn’t eat for a week and the university’s football team refused to practice or play until a list of demands were met that rivaled North Korea’s requirements for diplomatic relations.
Among the more unreasonable: the university president should admit that white privilege exists before being removed; mandatory racial awareness education for all students and staff; and the hiring of people of color across several university departments. In short, a shakedown.
Of course acts of racism are deplorable and have no place in modern America. They should be taken seriously and dealt with properly. As should acts of extortion, and the behavior of the students at the University of Missouri places them firmly on the same moral low ground as their purported persecutors. Irony and stuff.
The obvious moral chasm between the situation at Mizzou and the Sixties is that racism a half-century ago was institutional, not anecdotal. Risking life and limb for the rights guaranteed you by the courts is a far cry from two isolated racial slurs on a campus of 35,000. Actual civil rights activists such as Ernest Green suffered daily abuse so that others may chase the dream of an education, not make a mockery of educational institutions that didn’t cater to their every whim.
The right to an education is the right to be challenged. To be uncomfortable. It is neither a right to be coddled nor to disrupt the education of others.
But don’t tell that to the students at Yale, where a professor’s email lamenting the censorship of Halloween costumes on a campus that supposedly values free speech resulted in her husband being surrounded, cursed at, and shouted down by a group of traumatized students.
The source of their trauma: the suggestion that students offended by a costume should simply “look away,” or express their offense. I know, I know, the humanity!
What a tragic decline, from the vicious assaults on the Freedom Riders to temper tantrums over Halloween costumes; from simply demanding the rights guaranteed under the Constitution to demanding those rights be revoked because an individual finds them offensive; from actual justice to whiny, woe-is-me entitlement unworthy of a spoiled child, let alone the select few fortunate enough to attend one of the country’s most prestigious universities.
Or any university for that matter. Predictably, the chaos at Missouri and Yale spread like wildfire to campuses across the country, an inferno of iffy victimization raging from Amherst to Southern California. It’s raging, and there is no rain in sight.
Today’s Civil Rights wannabes have a choice — they can either honor the sacrifices of their predecessors by earning their educations or defile their legacies by fighting false battles. Sadly, it seems, they have chosen the latter.
America’s universities aren’t perfect, but they are far from hotbeds of civil rights abuses, unless of course their overwhelmingly liberal faculties are secretly racist. And therein lies the greatest irony: the very leftist academics whose Sixties-centric worldviews have enabled these episodes of acting out are now the ones whose livelihoods are most threatened. They have, to borrow the old cliché, created a monster.
Of course, this monster isn’t confined simply to race. Or college campuses. False activism these days knows no bounds.
Nevermind that the quest for gay rights was never about ignoring basic biology, or that a Washington Post analysis found that 95 percent of police shootings are clearly justified—we want to be hippies!
But let’s face it, today’s social justice warriors are no closer to being legitimate activists than I am to becoming the imaginary gladiator I pretended to be as a bored child in my bedroom.
They can march and shout and make egregiously hyperbolic declarations all they want to, but none of it will turn back the clock. That’s like impossible, and stuff.