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Sunday, January 03, 2016


Ann Althouse thinks we're imagining what's happening on the campus

Ann Althouse is a college professor who runs an eponymous blog.  She recently blogged about a Chinese professor at Vassar, Hua Hsu, who believes: 
“there is a naïve idealism at the heart of student protest, which might be desperate or loud but never as cynical as the world that necessitated it."  

She goes on to say: 
“I — who went to college in 1969 — think they are a lot less weird than we were. But if you think they are weird — entitled, oversensitive, whatever — you should look to your own mind and ask why it has created the character you believe in:”
She's saying that we've created imaginary students based on an unrepresentative sample and amplified by the media.  Perhaps, but the things that have been reported are not isolated instances.  Mizzou's disruption ws based on lies but was followed by other campus disruptions across the country.  I believe in introspection, but I suggest that Ann is not introspective enough.  No, the students that have gotten our attention are not weird; they’re the product of a certain culture.  Ann’s culture perhaps.   I don’t really know her outside of her blog.  I don’t know what weird things she did and don’t particularly want to know.  For all I know she “entertained” the football team,  mainlined heroin and burned down the chemistry lab.    

But she’s asking the wrong question.  I’m surprised that the students are not more weird.  Some kids will always experiment and test their boundaries while others, like me, were grateful for the opportunity to get academic scholarships, attend college and have an opportunity to have a better life than their parents.  I recall that it was the kids whose parents were “comfortable” or well-to-do who came back to lecture us about protesting and “finding ourselves.”  “Finding themselves” was a luxury for the rich, the rest of us wanted to get a degree in science or engineering because that was the route to a job that did not involve assembly lines in a muffler factory.   So we listened to the rich bitches and mentally told them to fuck off because our daddy didn’t have the money to pave the path to the middle class like theirs did.    

The difference between then and now is that now the administration and faculty is weird.   Kids were rebelling when I went to school, but there was at least some push-back by the grownups.  You only have to see the mewling apologies and/or wholehearted agreement of modern academic leaders with the most outré demands of our yoots to wonder why they don’t take over the President’s residence and live for the next four or five years.   The President of Smith College apologized for saying that all lives matter.  The President of the University of Louisville apologized for wearing a sombrero at a costume party.  Dartmouth’s vice provost for student affairs, Inge-Lise Ameer, apologized to Black Lives Matter protesters who invaded the library  calling one student a “filthy white b - - - h” and chanted  “F - - k your white privilege!” and “F - - k you, you filthy white f - - ks!”   

Where do they get the idea that they are idealists possessed of moral superiority?  Here’s a little test.  Who said this?
“Yesterday, America was a land of slavery, segregation, lynching and the Ku Klux Klan, and tomorrow it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps.”
(see below for the answer)
The answer is that any one of the above could have given us that quote.  Based on reports in the press and on the internet, the sentence I quoted would not raise eyebrows in the faculty lounge and would form the basis for a full year of pedagogy in any number of “studies” courses at virtually any university in the country with the possible exception of Hillsdale and Liberty University.   

She quotes Hua Hsu: 
“The imaginary college student is a character born of someone else’s pessimism.”  
Perhaps.  But I think that the actual college student, like the one at Yale who began screaming at the professor “Why the fuck did you accept the position?” is born of a certain culture.  One that views America as a land of slavery, segregation, lynching and the Ku Klux Klan.  One that sympathizes with rowdies who chant “F - - k your white privilege!” and “F - - k you, you filthy white f - - ks!”  knowing that they will be praised for their courage and speaking truth to power.  They are confident that if they want to intimidate someone there will always be a professor who will come to their aid by calling for “some muscle here.” 

I am beginning to think that Hua Hsu may be on to something when he says
 “ … the reason that college stories have garnered so much attention this year is our general suspicion, within the real world, that the system no longer works.”  
If by “the system” he’s referring to Big Academia, I think he has a point.  Its utility is questionable, it’s sold by hucksters with out-of-date statistics about its value, promising results that can’t be delivered, its cost is outrageous and its product is defective. 


We should think about scrapping it and starting over.  After all, this is the 21st Century.

The answer is
  • h.      al-Shabaab


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