In 1967 George Kennan, elder statesmen and man-of-letters, wondered about the members of the increasingly boisterous, radical Left found on American campuses. A contemplative man like Kennan naturally clashed with such youth and faced their dismissive ire, but his criticism is as apropos as ever. Simply put, student activists need to stop screaming and start reading.
Yes he is. Before I go any further I want to explain exactly what I mean. Trump is a rock star in his persona and his approach to the political machine. He relies heavily on cult of personality: people may not like his positions but they still choose to support him. He is bold and boisterous and he knows how to give the people what they want. Like many rock stars, Trump wears his vices on his sleeve. He makes no apologies for his wealth or past transgressions. He shows no respect for hallowed institutions: see American media, the pope, the sitting president, the former president, general decorum, and pretty much anything else. This is why people love him. This is why people love rock stars.
An Urgent Revolution
I cannot tell if this revolution sweeping through our country’s colleges is a legitimate revolution or merely a strange version of a limbo contest. The limbo contest was my first and immediate choice, but all things deserve more than a cursory glance. What I mean by ‘limbo contest’ is the definition of racism seems to be changing even more rapidly with cultural shifts in our country. Racism used to be a withholding of rights under the constitution, but then laws changed and the bar was lowered to the more nebulous but legitimate “denial of access”, and now we have lowered the bar to awkward social situations in which nobody has been directly verbally attacked. If you want to take a step up from that, then we can include poop swastikas that had no accompanying letter to explain who exactly the fecal feature was attacking. My first guess would have been that the Jews should be the most offended people at Mizzou, but hey what do I know?
Season of the Wolf
When you see the wolf in the periphery there arrives an overwhelming surge of panic, a sudden re-framing of reality in which one does not have control. This is often accompanied by heart palpitations, trembling, dry mouth, deep-seated dread to the point of nausea, and even sweating and sudden sensations of stifling heat or numbing cold. Fawn response steeps the brain in norepinephrine, leaves the neural pathways soaking in it as an amalgam formation of pinpoint lightning bolts coalesce into a final reaction. Sometimes this reaction manifests in fight and sometimes it is flight. This is how the brain reacts when there is a wolf in the room. This is acute anxiety, the overbearing sense that one is in danger.
There is a bad moon rising. According to a Nuffield Foundation study of young people, anxiety symptoms have doubled in the last 30 years. One in fifteen for young men and one in five for young women are the new statistics. A number of data points have been used to explain this rise into our present panicked fever dream. The youth labor market has collapsed: youth full time employment has dropped by half down to 20%. The study also points to the increase of vocational and non-structured education and makes the startling claim that 25-35% of young people are engaged in educational courses which provide little to no perceptible value to their station in life. [Why am I doing this? Where will this lead? Are they wasting my time? Why don’t I care about this? Should I care about this? What is wrong with me?] The wolf looms large.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm
As a huge fan of irony, the shutdown of Bernie Sanders attempt to speak at a Seattle event last month was simply delicious. The fact that he started off by saying “Thank you, Seattle, for being one of the most progressive cities in the United States of America,” only to have the microphone commandeered seconds later, was simply too perfect. I highly doubt Bernie recognized the connection between his statement and the following events which left him standing impotent, lost, and confused in the background as his ridiculous fedora-wearing goon engaged in a shouting match. This the kind of interaction which likely happens most often in the playgrounds of America’s schools. Replace the microphone with a shiny red bouncy ball and the picture becomes clearer. I’m sure this is old news for many people but I don’t really prescribe to the media news cycle. I laughed repeatedly while rolling the video back and re-watching the mayhem unfold. Sanders, the champion of every little guy and gal was finding himself on the receiving end of “sticking it to the man”, and it simply could not compute. How could the most progressive candidate for president be the enemy of minorities and the downtrodden? The answer is simple: if people choose to identify as victims, then there is no limit to whom they will ascribe to title of victimizer. There is no clear line in the sand, and that’s the mistake that many progressives make: assuming they are off limits.