News & Politics

'Generation Tantrum' Goes Quiet When Actual Evil Strikes

I’m beginning to understand how my parents felt back in the ‘60’s. Except in the details, the news of today seems scarcely different from that of 50 years ago. Look abroad, and what does one see? Murderous Muhamedans in some corners of the world, truculent Reds in others. And here at home, rising crime in the cities, utter foolishness on the college campuses, and an overall sense that no one in charge has even the slightest idea of what to do about any of it.

If anguished discussions of culturally sensitive Halloween costumes and fecal swastikas didn’t seem silly enough when they were happening last week, how puerile they seem now with images of the Paris atrocities fresh in our minds. How infantile it is to whine and carry on about microaggressions while the most macro of aggressions are being carried out on the streets of one of the world’s great cities.

There is so much in today’s leftism deserving of mockery one scarcely knows where to begin. The capitulation at Mizzou reveals that the administrators there do not know what the parents of any two-year-old know (or used to): you don’t indulge a tantrum. But this is merely the latest demonstration of the left’s dearth of wisdom. They would have us believe that America’s university campuses are frothing maelstroms of racism and sexual aggression, this despite the fact that virtually every college in the country has for decades been run exclusively by their fellow travelers. They tell us that the greatest danger to young black men is that which is posed by racist, trigger-happy police officers. And they tell us that mankind — and indeed, the Earth’s very existence — is imperiled by climate change, and that if we do not at once replace fossil fuels with “sustainable” and “renewable” energy sources like wind and solar (and perhaps the gaseous excretions of unicorns), then Malibu and Miami will soon be underwater.

These are the things that arouse their ardor. But when it comes to genuine evil, when it comes to jihadist madmen rampaging through Paris or threatening to destroy Israel, when it comes to the thousands of young black men who die every year at the hands of other young black men, leftists stand mute, unable to see the evil for what it is.

We have to understand the rage of Muslim terrorists, we have to let those poor men languishing in Guantanamo go home and live in peace. But dispose of your plastic bottle in the wrong bin (and of course you shouldn’t have a plastic bottle in the first place), or fail to bring your reusable grocery bags to the local Whole Foods, and they’re ready to lock you up, if not string you up.

Now they want to conscript the police into the service of advancing their repressive speech codes and protecting their “safe spaces.” The campus police at the University of Missouri, scene of one of last week’s carnivals of foolishness, have been instructed to take reports of “hurtful/hateful speech or actions.” While acknowledging that such speech is not a crime, a spokesman for the campus police told Reason writer Robby Soave that the department’s officers “are also university officials,” and that they “take reports for violations of rules and regulations.”

So let’s say one day I visit the Mizzou campus (it’s not as unlikely as you might think — I have a niece who attends the school). And let’s say that while strolling the quad, I happen to encounter distinguished faculty member Melissa Click, she of the now famous “I need some muscle over here” video.

If I were to engage her in conversation and calmly express my opinion of her behavior displayed on that video, which is that she disgraced herself and the school and should no longer be entrusted to teach impressionable students? If she found my words “hurtful” or “hateful,” as she doubtless would, she could summon a police officer and report me. Now, as a visitor to the school I theoretically would not be subject to any official action from the administrators, but I can envision having my visit cut short and being escorted from the campus on pain of a trespassing arrest. And what if a student were to approach her and express that same opinion, which I suspect is widely shared at the school (and everywhere else the video has been seen)? Would that student suffer official consequences? Is Professor Click to be protected from having her feelings hurt by some student or fellow faculty member who finds her behavior thuggish, and has the crust to tell her so?

In an odd but instructive bit of timing, in the week in which so much that is corrupt in our country and the world was on display, we observed Veterans Day, on which we celebrated what is best in it. My daughter attends a private Christian school here in Southern California, and I was taken aback when I first learned she would be attending school that day. It struck me that not having a holiday was disrespectful to the occasion and to the men and women honored by it. How wrong I was.

I was fortunate to attend the Veterans Day observance at the school, which included patriotic songs and the introduction of some of the students’ fathers and grandfathers who had served in the military. But for me, the highlight of the event was hearing a group of fifth graders reciting from memory the Gettysburg Address, Ronald Reagan’s 1985 Veterans Day address, and Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty or give me death” speech from 1775.

I was proud and gratified to know that my daughter attends a school where America and its noble traditions are honored. But how strange it was to think that a group of grade schoolers can understand and appreciate our country more than that shrieking harridan at Yale, more than Melissa Click, PhD, more than all of the coddled and swaddled college students who made such spectacular fools of themselves last week.

Most of the men and women serving in our military today were in grade school on September 11, 2001. And, assuming the current generation of college nitwits hasn’t brought the country to ruin before then, some of those grade schoolers who so impressed me at my daughter’s school on Veterans Day will perhaps grow up to serve as well. They may find themselves fighting the same enemy we fight today. As the people of Paris have been cruelly instructed, and as we and others have been instructed before, from this enemy there is no safe space.