A successful con always involves a mark not knowing he is being conned. My favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson, explains why campus crybullies of the Left are the very quiddity of such oblivious marks:
Yet visit campuses and there is almost no awareness on the part of students of why their education has proven both expensive and inadequate, much less any self-realization that their own leisured lifestyles are incompatible with the liability that they are incurring. The annual cost of education has usually risen beyond the rate of inflation in part because there are record numbers of administrators and non-teaching personnel on campuses, from diversity czars and gender counselors to exercise trainers and psychological service facilitators. Teaching loads for tenured faculty have been reduced. Non-instructional costs, from paying a speaker like Hillary Clinton $300,000 for a 30 minute chat at UCLA to setting aside “prevention centers” and “research support” for particular aggrieved groups, are not cheap.
Yet supposedly politically aware students are not protesting over the crony-capitalist cycle of the federal government guaranteeing their shaky student loans, which further inflates the cost of education. That web of deceit is not much different from the disastrous 2008 Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae empowerment of Wall Street sub-prime loan profiteering. Then the con was airbrushed by Wall Street’s supposed eagerness to help the poor subprime mortgage holder; now, the mutual back scratching and price gouging are exempt from audit through progressive campus mission statements about fairness, equality, and diversity.
To make matters worse, college students are not even receiving a high quality education. Courses that enrich liberal education and lead to mastery of written and spoken English are often squeezed out by therapeutic “studies” courses—Gender Studies, Asian Studies, Africana Studies, Chicano-Latino Studies, Environmental Studies, Community Studies, Cultural Studies, Leisure Studies, Media Studies, and on and on. The latter courses often require less work, result in easier grades, grant psychological rewards for ideological uniformity, and provide little in terms of a classical education. For such a revolutionary cadre of students, eager to battle America’s inequities, students have almost no interest in demanding a quality education at a reasonable price.
One of the most exploitive hierarchies in the modern American workplace is the juxtaposition between tenured full professors and the legion of part-time lecturers with PhDs. Often, the two groups teach the same classes but at widely different compensation levels—regardless of seniority, the quantity and quality of publication, or peer and teaching evaluations. For a galvanized student body that is quick to damn Walmart or McDonald’s for labor disparities, the silence of students about the inequality in their midst is deafening. Nor is there student appreciation of why tenured faculty are so often the catalysts for student activism and protests, rather than hoi polloi of part-time lecturers, campus maintenance workers, or office staffers.
Are today’s students, then, aware adults or coddled adolescents? The ubiquity of drugs, alcohol, casual sex, profanity, and coarse invective might suggest that most are seasoned bohemians. Unfortunately, often such physical worldliness is a thin veneer for students who prefer it both ways: to indulge the appetites of their free-spirits and also be sheltered from ideas, people, conversations, or imagery that they find offensive. Hence, we have the rise of adolescent concepts like trigger-warnings, safe-spaces, and micro-aggressions—and the frequent suspension of due process during investigations of sexual assault and the curtailment of First Amendment rights in public colloquia. All of this is predicated on the notion of the provocative protestor as crushed victim.
Sixties campus radicalism was once manifested by connived slumming. Anti-capitalist diatribes often were matched—at least for a few years of youthful experimentation—by fashionable and loud expressions of pseudo-poverty: raunchy commune living, rejection of cosmetics and expensive beauty aids, pride of ownership in decrepit VW vans, ragged jeans, taped together sneakers and scandals, and home-made tie-dye T-shirts. As a first-year student at the University of California at Santa Cruz, I arrived from a farm bewildered that quite affluent and debt-free students—the University of California system charged no tuition in 1971—nonetheless parroted the impoverished classes. Many roughed about barefooted, hitch-hiked to town, and looked like back-to-nature beggars. Poverty-chic matched their shrill Marxism.
Today the opposite is true. Most students suffer not just zero-net worth, but minus net worth. The majority will likely be underwater until their late thirties. If in the 1960s and 1970s, relative student affluence was camouflaged by constructed poverty, today’s real student impoverishment is disguised by superficial affluence, as evidenced by late-model cars, smart phones, designer sunglasses, $400 X-box videogame consoles, and $100 jeans. At both high-end Stanford and workmanlike San Jose State, there are plenty of BMWs, Audis, and Lexuses sprinkled among new Accords and pricey Priuses in the student parking lots.
Both studied constructions were, of course, hypocritical. But the old leftist redistributionist, who sought to look like the imagined poor, somehow seemed more consistent than the current iPhone-carrying class-warrior picking up a mocha on the way to the boathouse.
The same self-absorption often characterizes student calls for society’s help. Should we really ask blue-collar taxpayers, who either could not or did not wish to attend college, to help forgive collective student debt through tax-supported federal bailouts? Are bachelor degrees certifications of intellectual accomplishment any longer? If they are, why not require exit tests upon graduation: if colleges can demand standardized ACT and SAT tests for admission, why not equally require proof that their product resulted in something similarly quantifiable?
Ultimately, the cry-bully will grow up only when faculty and administers do as well. And that remediation will not happen until state legislators, alumni, and philanthropists conduct an intervention to demand of universities and colleges the same maturity, accountability, and manners that they do from everybody else.
Go here to read the rest. Modern higher education often seems to be focused on producing ignorant ideological drones, not much good for anything other than to live on the net and call down the wrath of the gods of political correctness on those who disagree with them. Kipling would not have been surprised:
- As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
- There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
- That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
- And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
- And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
- When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
- As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
- The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
I doubt if almost any of campus crybullies have read the Kipling poem The Gods of the Copybook Headings. They shall merely live it instead.