Thursday, January 28, 2016

Eating Their Own

It is hard to avoid a bit of schadenfreude over the latest exercises in campus-wide petulant left-wing temper tantrums.  Take the University of Missouri, for example, where the President was recently relieved of his duties.  That someone so committed to the silliness of much of academia – a commitment that is a must in order to rise to be President of a major university - can be ousted so quickly over being insufficiently sensitive to the tender sensibilities of a small, thoroughly left-wing faction of a student body, is sad in many ways, but its overall effect is humorous.  It’s reminiscent of those committed Communists, who happily sent other insufficiently pure Communists to Siberian work camps, suddenly finding themselves on trial for their sins against Communism.  You can only feel so sorry when a zealous prosecutor of imaginary crimes finds himself accused.

I know nothing of the former President of the University of Missouri, but if he has anything in common with most other University presidents, he has let an ever more demanding leftwing constituency become increasingly more powerful over time.   With that power has come an ever-decreasing sphere for free speech on campus, with speech codes that essentially make any conservative-leaning utterance a hate crime.  The unfortunate reality is that the college and university system is of value to us today only for its STEM and business education, where the objective is for the student to learn something useful.  The humanities, on the other hand, have been hijacked by people who care nothing for imparting wisdom, but deeply for inculcating their strange narrative of the rampant injustices of American society on a student-body that lacks the discernment to reject it.

Ponder the irony of one of the demands of the beleaguered college students – that they should be able to attend college for free.  The central complaint of the Occupy Wall Street crowd was similar – damn those banks for expecting to be paid back for student loans.  Those demanding free tuition or forgiven debt find themselves in the unenviable position of obtaining no marketable or useful knowledge from their degree.  What they have learned is that life is, like, unfair and stuff, and dammit if they are not the ones to right the wrongs of so many years.  And so college-educated people who have benefitted from taxpayer subsidized below-interest loans, and (often) taxpayer subsidized tuition, strike the pose of the victim – the Victim! of …. Something …   Anything will do really.  Racism, sexism, rape culture, the NRA, religion, rape culture (you can blame that twice!), cloudy weather, parents who didn’t care, parents who cared too much, etc.  Doesn’t really matter – in fact, you get points, and possibly tenure someday, for recognizing some hitherto undiscovered font of injustice.  For example, if you were clever enough, you could have been the inventor of the microaggression, which is all the rage on campuses where the old fashioned macro-aggressions have long ago largely disappeared.

Lest you think the heavily government subsidized college student (with parents often subsidizing the rest of it) is in fact a person of privilege (and not just white male privilege), consider that all of those kids who went to work straight out of high school to support themselves have been spared the daily possibility of microaggressions!  When was the last time a mechanic suffered a microaggression at work?  Has Pat Buchanan ever been invited by the campus fascists to speak at the auto body shop and violate their safe space?  I think not.  (In point of fact, your average mechanic probably suffers microaggressions daily, but fortunately lacks the university training to know it, otherwise most trips to the car shop would be met with self-indulgent protests and refusals to work on the part of the mechanics). 

Now if I were a former American Studies major finding myself peddling fair trade coffee for $10 an hour while dodging calls from the bank for overdue loan payments, I might ponder to think how did it come to this?  Odds are none of them got that initial student loan package with a rock-bottom interest rate and muttered to themselves, I’ll get those fascist bankers if it’s the last thing I do.  No, they were probably happy to be joining the parade of friends off to college, more than happy to have someone else foot a portion of the bill.  And now when it should be clear to them that the sum total of the useful learning culminating from four years of grievance studies is knowing the difference between a cappuccino and a latte, who do they blame?  Not the beloved professors!  The banks and the taxpayers who refused to foot the entire bill! 

So let’s say we did let them off the hook – forgive their student loans and refund whatever portion of their tuition they otherwise paid for.  Where does that leave their career prospects?  Right where their revered professors knew it would – nowhere, but for coming back to school and beginning the cycle again.   It’s a clever con when you think about it – for four years we take your money in exchange for planting a bug in your ear that you are a victim of everyone but for your well-meaning professors, and when you find yourself penniless and going nowhere, your education has equipped you only with a ready set of all the groups at fault for your dire straits excluding only yourself and your alma mater.

I like to think that there are parents of these college protestors who eagerly await their return over Thanksgiving, so they can smack them upside their heads.  (I think of the teenager in Baltimore who was getting smacked up the side of his head by his Mom for trying to participate in the Freddie Gray protests last summer.)  Cause I can guarantee you not one of those so engaged in the protest would be a “non-traditional” student paying their own way.  Such students actually demand an education, and are not seeking to have their delusional megalomania about their vaunted self-importance validated through the threat of violence or force by the feckless adults that comprise University administrations.  No, this is a dance between students and administrators where regardless of the outcome the money keeps flowing in from the parental coffers, the students learn nothing, and the only cost to the university is the occasional ritual sacrifice of one of its own.  These students need an adult to smack them (metaphorically or otherwise), and there aren’t any on campus.


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