Saturday, December 12, 2015

Crybullies, Non-Negotiable Demands, Micro-Totalitarianisms, Academic Fascism . . . and Cabaret

“It is nothing! Children on their way to school. Mischievous children! Nothing more!”—from the Broadway musical Cabaret.

The words are spoken by Herr Schultz, the Jewish fruit shop owner whose window has been smashed by a brick. The setting of the story is the eve of Hitler’s rise, 1931 Weimar Germany.

Too strong a comparison to make to the “children” on today’s college campuses?

Is it?

Roger Kimball, author of the 1990 book Tenured Radicals (2nd ed. 2008) has called protesting students crybullies. Those are the ones making non-negotiable demands for trigger warnings lest certain words or ideas they disagree with hurt their feelings.

The mothers of present-day crybullies apparently did not teach their children the familiar rhyme about sticks and stones . . . versus words.

Thomas Sowell prefers to call the new “micro-aggression” buzzword micro-totalitarianism. “Macro-aggression” supposedly means blatant physical force, including the battery of unwanted touching. But hurtful, offensive words are said to be small coercions that, if allowed, can accumulate to become just as bad as the macro ones.

More correctly, Sowell argues, the micro-censorships that the Marxist left is pushing are moving us “even if by small steps” more and more toward the macro silencing of dissent. This is the last step to dictatorship and total control.

The list of the left’s no-no’s that must be censored has now climbed to at least 80 and were it not such a serious issue would qualify for theater of the absurd. For example, “American is the land of opportunity,” “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” and “Where are you from or where were you born?” are said to be racist micro-aggressions that should be banned from the home of academic freedom.

Violators of these prescriptions, the protesters demand, must be reprimanded, suspended, required to attend sensitivity training classes, or, preferably, forced to resign. Students at Emory University are demanding that course evaluations rate professorial micro-aggressions—the predictable ones that might offend (Marxist) class identities.

Walter Williams calls the current atmosphere on college campuses academic fascism.

From the Nazis to the Stalinists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, and why is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. Free speech is a basic tool for indoctrination, propagandizing, proselytization. Once the leftists gain control, as they have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses.
Williams cites one English professor who in the process of expressing his opposition to what the left calls Israeli Apartheid (compare 1, 2) said we must “not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.”

The phrase means what it sounds like. Says Williams: “That professor's vision differs little from Adolf Hitler's brown-shirted thugs of the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party in their effort to crush dissent.”

The resurrection of 1960s-style intolerance is not lost on older professors, including Sowell: “Storm trooper tactics by bands of college students making ideological demands across the country, and immediate preemptive surrender by college administrators — such as at the University of Missouri recently—bring back memories of the 1960s . . . .”

That is to say, non-negotiable demands followed by administrator capitulation are not new.

Not every university administration from the 1960s era, however, gave in. The University of Chicago (and my alma mater, the University of Denver) expelled and suspended numerous students who staged sit-ins at campus buildings.

Just mischievous children?

Some are ignorant, but the leaders are neither ignorant nor mischievous.

One classmate circa 1968-69 gave an impromptu speech at a protest crowd on the steps of my alma mater’s administration building. His voice boomed about struggle and revolution and his fist pumped.

The chilling thought that went through my mind was this: in 1917 St. Petersburg this classmate would have been on the front lines of Bolshevism.

Today, please, let us not stick our heads in the sand as did Weimar culture in interwar Germany.

Not seeing, or wanting to see, what was on the horizon of Germany’s future is the theme of Cabaret. Go see it, or if you have seen it, see it again.

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