Extreme Intolerance: An Immoderate Tirade (Part One)
Every so often, even a diehard moderate is driven beyond mere indignation, beyond a willingness to compromise and dutifully stitch up the holes in our social fabric. When the tail starts wagging the dog… when reason no longer suffices in the struggle against cultural lunacy… when we finally hear one insult too many after hearing those insults for half a century… some of us reach the dreaded “Popeye Point”: a visceral, irrepressible, over-the-top response that causes us to drop any pretense of mild-mannered moderation and exclaim, with the immortal sailor, THAT’S ALL I CAN STANDS, ‘CAUSE I CAN’T STANDS NO MORE!
I don’t pack a handy can of spinach inside my shirt, so you probably won’t see me revving up my fists and pummeling my oppressors while “Stars and Stripes Forever” blasts triumphantly in the background. But I feel like doing some verbal pummeling all the same. Feel free to join me, if only to release the pent-up steam from your cerebral hemispheres.
What roused The New Moderate’s ire this time? It started with the viral outbreak of surly student demands at American colleges from coast to coast. First at the University of Missouri, where the president was bullied into resigning after standing accused of “inadequate” responses to a few isolated racist incidents perpetrated by stupid local bubbas. (He wanted to help, really he did, but his good intentions fell short of student expectations.) The son of a black multimillionaire went on a hunger strike to force the resignation, and the football team threatened to boycott its own games.
Just how racist an atmosphere prevails at the University of Missouri? Well, the school boasts a black student government along with six other special diversity programs for African Americans on campus. What’s more, visibly half the students protesting along with the blacks were white — not to mention the iconically irate adjunct professor who shooed the media away. Enough said.
From Mizzou the mayhem spread to Claremont McKenna College (formerly Claremont Men’s College), where a well-intentioned dean wrote that she wanted to help those students “who don’t fit our CMC mold.” Her choice of words proved fatal to her employment status.
Meanwhile, nonwhite students at Ithaca College, which boasts a “chief diversity officer,” organized a movement to oust their president for sluggish responses to alleged racial incidents on campus. At the moment, he’s hanging onto his job by a thread.
Soon the contagion spread to the storied halls of Yale, where the spectre of culturally insensitive Halloween costumes (Indians! Mexican mariachi musicians! Cultural appropriation!) led students of color to assail the master of Silliman (a residential college) for failing to provide them with a “safe” space. He apologized abjectly. When the master’s wife had the audacity to write that “free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society,” the emotionally battered students went to the university president with a list of six demands, including the banishment of the offending couple. (Done!)
But here’s the topper: they called for the construction of a campus monument acknowledging that Yale was built on land stolen from indigenous peoples. (Fine, but why stop at Yale? Why not all of Connecticut? For that matter, how about the entire United States? Why don’t we all just rewind American history, return to the lands of our ancestors and leave the continent to its original inhabitants?)
At Dartmouth, some 150 “Black Lives Matter” protesters stormed the college library and verbally assaulted white students with profanities and accusations of white privilege. (You can bet that if 150 white protesters stormed a library and hurled insults at black students, we’d be seeing nonstop coverage of the incident on CNN and MSNBC for the next two weeks.)
Those who love the language of grievance will coo over the demands whipped up by angry marginalized Amherst students: that the elite college confess its “institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx (sic) racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/ indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.” Whew! Did they forget any victims? Witches, perhaps? (Excuse me… Wiccans.) And how about calling for a fatwa against heterosexual WASP males, those perennial evildoers?
By now we’re all familiar with the vocabulary of outrage. When we see 20-year-old protesters bandying terms like “patriarchy,” “cultural appropriation,” “white privilege,” “microagressions,” “rape culture,” “systemic racism,” “institutional racism” (is there a difference?), “colonialism” and “hegemony,” it’s reasonable to assume that their stealthy professors, viruslike, have inserted a lethal dose of ideological DNA into their half-formed minds.
The progressive takeover of academia by “Grievance Studies” scholars and their intellectual progeny seems to be nearly complete. Where once our liberal arts professors inflamed their students with a lifelong passion for knowledge and debate, today’s Orwellian propagandists seem hellbent on pure indoctrination. And of course, they find a receptive audience eager for an excuse to get angry.
Instead of educating bright minority students so they can prosper and take their rightful place in the middle class, the grievance specialists are churning out a generation of hostile, petulant intellectual robots whose icy adherence to the prescribed language of class war — along with their extreme intolerance of any ideas that depart from scripture — will only drive a further wedge between themselves and the American mainstream. Maybe that’s what they want, but it’s not what they need.
Roger Kimball, the crusty author of Tenured Radicals, calls these newly minted manipulators “crybullies.” They’re not violent, but when they whine loudly enough, heads roll. And of course, nearly all those heads are white — because, as we’ve been carefully taught, even well-intentioned white people are inherently racist.
Yes, racism exists and it always will; most of us are genetically programmed to favor our own tribe. And yes, racial minorities have often faced brutal discrimination and demeaning attitudes. Today’s college administrators can provide a nurturing environment for diverse groups of students, but they can’t guarantee an unblemished four-year passage… they can’t wave a wand to silence the occasional hatemongers.
Disadvantaged students admitted to a premier American college, many of them as the result of generous diversity initiatives and scholarships, should be thanking the gods (and the college) for the advantages they’ve gained — advantages that will serve them handsomely for the rest of their lives. The vast majority of us privileged white folks aren’t as lucky. And of course, nobody cares about working-class whites: let them live in their trailers while they grow fat on Cheetos and beer. There’s no affirmative action plan to send these unloved proletarians to Amherst and Yale; maybe that’s why they vote Republican.
Why the immoderate response to a series of peaceful protests? Because the ideologues have rigged the game. Because aggrieved students of color can derail careers and reputations simply by crying racism. (It doesn’t work in reverse; we’ve been instructed that people of color can never be racist.) Because those same students cause white flak-catchers to cringe, crumple and grovel for mercy before their heads fly. Because Americans need to identify as Americans, not representatives of special identity groups. Because ideological race politics can blind us to the genuine indignities that individuals of all races face from time to time. Because a generation of doctrinaire scholars has been poisoning young minds, defaming Western civilization as nothing more than an endless chronicle of oppression, racism, exploitation, rape, colonialism and genocide. It has to stop.
Shakespeare, anyone? Bach, Rembrandt, Isaac Newton, Emily Dickinson… the Parthenon? Will you toss them all into history’s dumpster along with Christopher Columbus and Simon Legree? You’d better not, because a polarized society needs reasonable moderates to listen to legitimate grievances from both sides and take them seriously.
Don’t make us shut our ears. Above all, don’t make us reach the Popeye Point.
Coming later this week… Part Two: The ISIS Massacres
Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.