Andrew Klavan on the Newest Threat on College Campuses: Microaggression

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“In which our brave and compassionate host, Andrew Klavan, takes a look at some real-life examples of microaggression and the deep harm such assaults can really do.”


Watching the above video, I was reminded of two quotes, one from several decades ago, and one slightly more recent, which explores how entrenched and vexing the problem of campus microagressions truly are. Back in the mid-’70s, after they shared a symposium together, Tom Wolfe quoted German intellectual Günter Grass in his Purple Decades anthology:

“For the past hour I have my eyes fixed on the doors here,” he said. “You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, “You really don’t have so much to worry about.” He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: “You American intellectuals—you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!”

And as Christopher Caldwell wrote in the Weekly Standard a decade ago:

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.


Or to paraphrase, those who pound the table the loudest voicing complaints about micro-“aggressions” are fighting off the nagging thought: If the person who committed them isn’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

And for the majority of 21st century students, college is nothing if not a four-year all-out 24-7 all-encompassing effort to repress that thought.

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