Daddy Says Everybody Is Now An Ethnic Studies Major

In this Fall of Capitulation, Yale University doesn’t want to be left behind.

Responding to student demonstrations and demands related to the racial climate at Yale University, its president, Peter Salovey, introduced a host of initiatives and promises in a letter to alumni on Tuesday.

“It is clear that we need to make significant changes so that all members of our community truly feel welcome and can participate equally in the activities of the university, and to reaffirm and reinforce our commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination have no place,” he wrote.

What? You’re paying tuition so junior can learn particle physics? Heh, you naïve fool. Did you not see the viral video of brave students protesting for #BlackLivesMatter in the library at Dartmouth? Because so many students are at risk from racist paper cuts, libraries being what they are. And if that was your daughter who was told, “fuck your white tears,” suck it up, as somebody has to take a bullet for the cause

After all, going out on the street, to protest against the cops who do the killing, and using such language to their cop faces, would require students to leave their “safe space,” like the college library. And that would make them sad. And very angry. It’s so much easier to yell at fellow students who won’t shoot.

Harvard Lawprof Jeannie Suk has connected the dots on much of this in a brilliant article at The New Yorker.

Particularly in the way things have unfolded at Yale, students’ social-justice activism has been expressed, in part, as the need for care from authority figures. When they experience the hurt that motivates them to political action, they’re deeply disappointed with parental surrogates for not responding adequately or quickly enough to support and nurture them. The world in which it’s not bizarre for a young person to rebuke someone for failing to “create a place of comfort and home,” or to yell, “Be quiet … You’re disgusting!,” and storm away, is the world of family, where a child in pain desperately desires empathy and understanding from a parent.

The online scorn heaped on the student who was filmed behaving this way represents an unproductive refusal to compassionately translate her behavior across the generational divide. In a piece called “Hurt at Home,” another Yale student wrote, “I feel my home is being threatened,” and contrasted her comforting relationship with her father to the care she felt students emphatically did not receive from the master of Silliman College. Yale tells its students that the residential college is their “home away from home,” but this generation might be the first to insist so literally on that idea.

From the language used to express their “pain,” to their cries for paternalistic support, Suk adds up the demands and comes up with the lowest common denominator. These children want a daddy. Or a mommy, not to be sexist. A parent. Someone to wipe their brow, rub their tummy, tell them they love them and everything will be alright.

While some apologists for the cause seek to compare today’s campus protests with those of prior generations, based upon shallow appearances rather than substance, Suk goes to the heart of the matter:

The list of concrete demands recently announced by student activists at Yale is decidedly not anti-establishment. They seek more connection with the Man, not less. Many of their calls are for more bureaucracy: the creation of an academic department, the hiring of more employees for cultural centers, and the development of training, surveys, and reporting requirements (borrowed from the now established Title IX school bureaucracy). But it is in the demands for more mental-health services, for stipends and food for students in need during breaks, for dental and optometry care, and for eight financial-aid consultants that we most clearly see their yearning not only for safety but for a safety net.

These students aren’t anti-establishment. They aren’t just pro-establishment. They are double-secret pro-establishment, demanding that institutions create bureaucracies dedicated to protecting them from, well, everything.

At Amherst College, the student emphasis is on apologies to current and former students from the president and chancellor for the institutional legacy of everything from white supremacy to cis-sexism to mental-health stigma. These demands for administrative affirmation of students’ needs are far from a rejection of the institution. Instead, they reach for a familial embrace.

The demand for apologies, like the demand to rename historic buildings because a guy back then was a wealthy slave owner of the sort who funded the existence of the school, is notable for its lack of substance.  College presidents, deans and chancellors are tripping over one another to get in their tummy rub.

But the empty demands are only one part of the changes that deans “clearly” need to make. Watch for the curriculum distribution changes, ranging from mandatory sex training (and not the good kind) to mandatory diversity and inclusiveness sensitivity labs.  Each will need properly colored and gendered professors, and a dean with two assistant deans to watch over them.

So what if you tightened your belt to send your child to college to become an engineer?  Who needs those classes in thermal fluids when there’s ethnic and gender studies to be learned? If some students demand that other students take courses that are all about feeling their pain, then something has to give. After all, who needs a college curriculum that focuses on, you know, the courses for which you went to college, when there is an identity group who demands that your kids study their feelings?

And if the schools won’t appease their students by unvaluing their cries of pain, then what?

We should remember that it wasn’t too long ago that campus buildings burned in student protests. But I hope I am right that this generation of students has too much family feeling to be so destructive to the institutions they call home.

Maybe the dean will put out a letter telling these suffering students that if they break anything, they’re going to get a spanking and sent to bed without dinner.  Or would that be a microaggression, and the better way of dealing with it is to promise them all a sundae with a cherry on top?  That always made my kids feel better. When they were ten.

24 thoughts on “Daddy Says Everybody Is Now An Ethnic Studies Major

  1. Joseph D

    Renaming historic buildings is the wrong approach entirely. If the namesake really was a terribly racist jerk loudly re-purpose the building as the new black student union. Maybe there’s a racist descendant you can make terribly uncomfortable at the grand opening. Anti-Semitic? That’s the new Hillel center, because screw that guy.

    1. SHG Post author

      An excellent idea. Most “founders” were slave owners, whether college or country, and their names should well be remembered as a reminder of the sordid aspects of our history, so as not to repeat it, as well as their contributions.

      But the eradication of history, because it includes horrible conduct when viewed through the present lens of societal norms, is the stuff of Huxley. Learn from history. Don’t rewrite it.

  2. paul

    Fuck your white well organized words making a salient point.

    If you would just have some feelz and cry it would really make yelling platitudes easier on me.

      1. Dan Hull

        Was Paul serious? On this subject, (a) satire of what people really say and (b) what people really say are hard if not impossible to separate. New experience for a country boy like me.

  3. mb

    Like the Atlantic article on “victimhood culture” I read the other day (no link as per the rules, but it is worth looking at) Suk’s analysis fails to acknowledge the fact that everyone who would like to present an alternative viewpoint has been either removed from college campuses or is too demoralized, too filled with self doubt, to directly address the issues at all. People are terrified to be the next target, and this is intentional on the part of the protesters. No matter what flowery language about family you slap on it, naked demands for power and resources backed up with appeals to phony outrage and threats of stigmatization is a culture of lawlessness. Those who participate in it may be motivated by perceived self interest, or by other completely understandable things, but they are making people stupider and less civilized. It absolutely is right to judge them based on their public temper tantrums. They offer no value to anyone, and they deserve to be ridiculed until they are the ones who question themselves.

    1. SHG Post author

      For years, I’ve been hearing from my pals in the Academy that opinions that don’t adhere to ideological orthodoxy are the kiss of death. To be called “sexist” or “racist” is their end on campus, no matter how much they’re otherwise loved. Suk is taking a chance, though Harvard is one of the few places where the profs seem to have broken from the herd and stood up for ideas rather than emotions. Go figure.

      As for your “culture of lawlessness” theme, I think these kids are very sincere in their conduct and demands. This isn’t a Machiavellian ploy, but the actions blind, clueless children. I credit their sincerity (with maybe just a big dab of self-interest), if not their thoughtfulness.

      1. mb

        It’s not their sincerity that I doubt. It’s their ability to negotiate conflicts within a culture that values the rule of law. For example:

        “Did you just blame us”, etc. is not a particularly charitable interpretation of any statement that starts by adopting the language of “systematic oppression”. But it never mattered what he was going to say. He was never going to get more than a sentence fragment before he got shouted down. They were always going to be outraged. To me it makes little difference whether they are sincere if this is the way they behave. Much as I would treat a real idiot the same way that I’d treat a troll, I’ll laugh at the most sincere SJW and condemn them as though they were each specifically aware of their power grabbing agenda and of all the ways it conflicts with liberal western values.

  4. John S.

    A quote from the president of Yale’s Black Student Union about a meeting with the Yale leadership:

    “People were having breakdowns in this room. People were out of control of their bodies,” says Barlowe. “There were accounts of really deep trauma and pain, everything from outright racism to micro-aggressions to discrimination and also feelings of invisibility. And the administrators were not emotional at all, which was part of what was strange and difficult for us. They were calling on people as if we were having a regular meeting.”

    When students demand to be patronized, we are beyond self parody. N.b. that elsewhere this same student said this meeting was 50 students crying for four hours.

  5. Bartleby the Scrivener

    If the people in the library that day swapped places, those engaging in the ‘protest’ would’ve been in serious trouble. I fail to see any rational reason for there to be a different standard because the people engaging in this behavior were doing so for a politically sensitive reason. I guess because bigotry isn’t really bigotry unless the person engaged therein is politically convenient.

    That Yale is supporting this idiocy makes me fear for our country.

    1. SHG Post author

      Of course. Can you even imagine. There was once a hope of equality, which has since been subverted to special identity treatment. And it’s hardly just race.

  6. kenm

    I just get sick at reading some of this…to think that people think this behaviour is acceptable, in any way, shape or form…

    Free Speech means you’re free to speak, but you should suffer consequences. People who act in this manner should be pointed out for what they are : idiots. They may be black racist idiots, but demanding everyone think the way you do is insane, and destructive.

    Now I don’t want to send my daughter to college. Luckily I have a decade or so to see what these institutions turn into.

  7. John Barleycorn

    I might have to make room for first generation immigrant on the check list of necessary requirmemts when out soliciting various services in the not too distant future.

    What the heck are parents of snotty and entitled eighteen year olds gonna do now? Wait for universities in Brazil to start including photo spreads of the off campus housing options in Sao Palo or what?

    I am thinking a year of mandatory international travel, paid for by the student doing under the table work, should become a prerequisite for graduation.

    Well, on the bright side the labor market for insensitive senior citizens ought to shore up some and if one could stomach it, being one of these new university parents might not pay to well but I bet the benifit package would be pretty good as long as one has a lifetime of cuddly sweaters they don’t mind burning through. Could always sew on those swede elbow patches to the shoulders I guess.

    I wonder how the draft for WWI is gonna go over? We might not really need a draft though. Hell, I bet a few companies of these kids could take that entire beheading thing off the table if only we set them free to show the world how this whole sensitivity training deal really works.

    In the meantime, I think I am gonna boycott girlscout cookies this year and start hanging out at the 7-11 soliciting blankets and teddy bears for the students at Yale. Poor bastards, I bet they have to eat fresh cookies from the cafeteria.

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