I am fascinated with the events going on at Yale and University of Missouri and the questions that arise from them: what does this mean for proper ways of engaging with humanity, how do we properly show the Christian concept of love of one’s neighbor, and what ails our institutes of higher learning that these clashes are occurring? I will admit here as a preface that one of my life’s guiding principles and beliefs has always been that America is the place where one can work hard and get ahead and that regardless of one’s birth circumstances the opportunities to improve one’s lot is easily within reach for those that want to grab hold and take them. Thus, I have long believed that grit and gumption are critical factors that determine happiness and success, much more so than any other measure of intelligence or inheritance, although I will admit that to some degree those things certainly help. My biases in life revealed, I also find myself working to achieve balance and understanding of issues in brotherly love before landing and espousing forceful opinions. A true form of courage is standing up for right in the face of evil regardless of where it comes from. People and their lives are inherently valuable, and standing up in the face of oppression is certainly a mark of bravery and virtue. Where there are grievances aired, it is best to explore those grievances and address them where they are well founded while separating real grievance from opportunist grandstanding that trends towards intolerance in the name of tolerance which feeds into mob and headhunting mentality, which ultimately upends and is counterproductive to the ultimate goals.
That preface concluded, it is with this video that I am increasingly convinced that evidence is mounting that the protest movement, specifically at Yale, has now entered the zone of a privileged class so out of touch with reality and so unused to confrontation with opposing views that it has no idea of what respect and tolerance actually means and is thus descending into that mob mentality more than high-minded debate and reform.
A warning that the video is full of foul language as the student at Yale pours vitriolic bile on an Administrator over an email that was sent from a Yale Master (someone that resides on campus to foster student community). I believe a reasonable interpretation of the email would conclude its contents included a mature encouragement that the students act as adults and handle amongst themselves the proper custom conduct and norms for Halloween. The linked Atlantic Article does a great job of expressing the heart of the matter at Yale. What these students seem to want is a complete closing off of any dissenting views or any responsibility to handle things that they disagree with in adult ways, which would mean conversations and development of social mores amongst a community without the forceful hand of an administrator. Notice the language of the student leading the rant against the Yale Master – “it is your job to create a place of comfort and home…you should resign…you are disgusting,” among other accusations laced with ad hominem attacks full of foul language that I won’t write here. Another student chimes in, “you are supposed to be our advocate.” Hardly the voices of reason and tolerance here.
Have our American campuses become so intolerant of dissenting views and free speech that we can’t bear to hear other viewpoints or tolerate that there are others among us with different viewpoints that don’t fit into the narrative of incessant grievances that require a unified view? I would argue that yes, for the most part the lack of any dissenting views and the overwhelming majority of college faculty members adhering to the leftist bent have denuded our colleges of what they should actually exist for – creating citizens capable of the highest order of intellectual thinking and leadership with the ability to logically reason through issues and discuss them from their own viewpoints, without resorting to hateful attack speeches and muzzling of opposing views (recall the strange episode of the University of Missouri professor calling for muscle to remove a reporter from the protest events.) The linked research confirms this reality. The article indicates that for every conservative faculty member, there are 14 liberal faculty members. 73% of them admit that they de facto give hiring preference for those that agree with them politically. The great irony here is that students demanding resignations and muzzling of school administrators is an example of getting eaten by one’s own ideological children. When there exist no alternative views on a campus, all one gets is a heavy dose of confirmation bias that goes unchallenged.
The result is intellectual atrophy and the closing of the mind. Yale and University of Missouri just happen to be in the spotlight at the current moment. Such intolerance could have happened at hundreds of campuses across the nation.
Meanwhile, in the real world, we all have to deal with unsavory people, ideas, and things that we vehemently disagree with in mature and adult ways. Sometimes that means speaking up and saying no. Sometimes that means building a coalition of people around you and leading them to change things. And yes, sometimes that means ostracizing or just plain ignoring and excising from your life people that are just not changeable. In the real world, what does not work is demanding someone listen to you, agree with you, or kowtow to your demands. Should not our colleges be laboratories in creating leaders for the leadership challenges they will face in the real world? Is providing, a “safe” and dissent free environment preparing them for that leadership? I would tend to think not.