by Joe Sarkisian
In what is only the newest attempt by millennials of the political left to radicalize themselves into irrelevance, a group of students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota have forced the cancellation of an end of year event that would have featured a live camel on campus. The event, “Hump Day,” as the Residence Hall Association dubbed it, was nixed because it could be seen as “racially insensitive” towards Middle Eastern students:
"It appears however, this program is dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment for everyone attending or providing the program. As a result, RHA has decided to cancel the event."
But why should they? What possible offense could be taken by Middle Eastern students? Is the camel being dressed up like Yasser Arafat? Is it wearing a keffiyeh? Is it being equipped with suicide vest on? No. The camel was being invited in its capacity as a camel because camels have humps, as this Geico commercial has made very, if not too clear:
Somewhere down the line, college campuses transformed from bastions of free speech and the open exchange of ideas into thousands of giant human resources offices. Nowadays, undergrads have more power than school administrators and get them to bow to every ill-advised, immature, and misinformed change that they perceive as necessary to combat the epidemic of insensitivity that is swallowing student communities everywhere.
Take the new trigger warnings that the student government of the University of California Santa Barbara has asked to be included on course syllabi if professors assign any material with instances of rape, violence, colonialism, racism, suicide, or other disturbing imagery. Or the “sleepwalking man in his undies” statue at Wellesley College that students signed a petition to try and have removed. Writing in the Huffington Post in defense of removal, Sarah Mahmood, College Editor at Large, stated,
“We'd rather avoid looking at a creepy, potentially triggering sculpture on our way to class. Would you want that sculpture in your backyard for the next five months?”
Well, the sculpture is not in her backyard. It is on a university campus, and fortunately Mahmood has not yet been crowned the final arbiter of what constitutes acceptable expression. A university is a place that thrives on the First Amendment, which liberals everywhere should to fight to uphold instead of carving out exceptions to it based on their personal preferences.
Radical liberalism that is allowing individual sensitivities to trump democratic ideals even has Harvard University -- historically the vanguard of free academic inquiry -- in its crosshairs. Administrators there have caved in to student requests for “mandatory power and privilege training” for students enrolling at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Continuing down this path will create generations of intellectually insulated Americans who believe that their opinions are beyond reproach.
It will be a sad state of affairs where those who hold opinions that differ from liberal multiculturalism will bow to every demand, sensitivity, and trauma out of fear of being called a racist or a sexist. After all, it's far easier to acquiesce to the bullying forces of political correctness than to fight off charges of bigotry, regardless of whether they are true.
Bringing a camel to campus is admittedly a silly exercise, but that's exactly the point. If a handful of students can succeed in thwarting a fundamentally benign event simply because of the geographic origins of some animal, imagine what they can do when it comes to a more serious one.
Joe Sarkisian is a foreign policy analyst under private contract and a columnist at PolicyMic. He was previously a teaching assistant at Umass Boston, taught a class on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and is an expert on U.S./Iranian relations.
You can follow him on Twitter @joesarkisian