With my two girls in their first year of college this past year, I’ve been highly attuned to all the craziness that’s been going on at Berkeley, Notre Dame, Middlebury, and other colleges, and now Evergreen State College. Whoever heard of Evergreen State before this past week? I think they’re having their fifteen minutes of fame, and I hope they’re enjoying it, because I suspect the enrollment’s going to drop, at least among students who actually want an education and hope to get a job someday. I feel like a broken record on this topic in my house, ranting and raving about the continuous assaults on free speech and critical thinking at these institutions of supposedly higher learning.
The latest such disaster is occurring at Evergreen, a tiny liberal arts college in Washington state. If you haven’t heard about this one, the short version is, a bunch of whiny babies, er, students from this college threw a collective fit because one of their professors exercised his right to free speech in a polite, thoughtfully written letter objecting to a planned activity that banned white people (including professors and staff) from being on campus for a couple of days. He failed to see how such a racist policy was helpful in improving race relations, or, ya know, teaching college students the information they were there to learn. These students literally cornered their professor in a hallway and hurled curse words at him and refused to let him speak in defense of his not-unreasonable point of view. In other words, they weren’t the least bit interested in any “conversation”.
Following that episode, they assailed the president of the university with a further barrage of screaming foul language and a written list of demands, including pizzas, no homework, and a forced apology for all of the president’s personal short-comings, like not using gender-neutral pronouns. If you watch any of the video of this, your first thought, like mine, will probably be “Dog Day Afternoon”, and the second will be, “What the heck are these kids gonna do when they get out in the Real World?”
My words to these coddled, self-important young folks would be this. You’re so concerned about privilege. Lots of people have privilege in this life—some are super smart, some are really attractive, some are quite athletic, some are musically talented or great actors. And some people (even the same people sometimes) have significant disadvantages—maybe they were born into abject poverty, maybe they grew up with two alcoholic parents, maybe they have physical or mental disabilities you can’t see, maybe they were beaten or raped or robbed at gunpoint in their lives, or something else way worse than belonging to a particular ethnic, racial, or cultural group that some people treat unfairly. News flash, kiddos: We’re not all equal, and we never will be. And there’s nothing right or just about trying to make us so. Should we have cut off Michael Jordan’s feet so he wouldn’t be so darn tall? Would the world be a better place if we had taken away J.K. Rowling’s typewriter after the first Harry Potter book? ALS wasn’t enough to slow Steven Hawking down; maybe we should’ve given him another handicap. You don’t rise out of oppression by pushing other people down. So stop whining about what you ain’t got and how someone else needs to give it to you. You just might get your wish.