In what has to be the most surreal display of hysterical outrage in years, American students around the nation have been vigorously protesting perceived "micro-aggressions" on campus.
Our own Chez Pazienza covered much of this madness last week in response to truly nauseating footage of a Yale professor being screamed at by a student who believed he should quit his job because he happened to believe that not only should students be free to dress however they wanted for Halloween, but that his job wasn't to provide a "safe space" for students terrified of culturally appropriated costumes. Here was the exchange:
And here is how Chez summarized the escalating insanity spreading across the country:
We’re talking about stories that would be hilarious if they weren’t so depressing in what they reveal about our kids’ readiness to confront the real world. Back in March of this year, I wrote three pieces over the period of just one week describing three separate examples of hyper-sensitive collegiate snowflakes self-infantilizing in the name of protecting their delicate sensibilities. In the first, students at Brown University had set up a “safe space” on campus in response to a debate taking place at the college on the subject of “rape culture” that students felt might be “triggering” for some. The space included “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies,” making it the most expensive daycare center on earth. In the second example, the National Union of Students Women’s Conference in the UK warned attendees not to applaud during the event, claiming that it might, again, be “triggering.” “Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping,” the warning read. Finally, there was — and still is — the situation at Ithaca College, where the student government passed a bill setting up a system to anonymously report “microagressions” on campus, meaning that students could hand up each other for minor “offensive” comments and never have to face the accused. Orwell couldn’t have imagined a more dystopian environment.
The truth is, these hysterical outbursts over political correctness reveal something even more alarming than the breathless narcissism of modern American students. The inability to differentiate between real problems and perceived "micro-aggressions" reveals an emotional immaturity that may threaten the prospect of meaningful change in America for decades to come.
While students organize sit ins over people saying nasty things on social media, tuition fees in America are sky rocketing to the point where after college, students literally face a lifetime of debt to creditors. Americans currently owe $1.6 trillion in student debt and that figure is expected to rise t0 $2 trillion in 2022. This level of debt is completely unsustainable, and not only does it threaten to destroy the lives of students who won't be able to pay it off, it may well cause the next great financial disaster as credit markets collapse as they did during the housing crisis of 2008.
America's debt based approach to education works incredibly well in the interests of the enormously powerful who can not only easily afford to send their own children to school, but profit off of the system whether it is working or not. There's money to be made from student loans, money to be made from Americans desperate to work as long and hard as humanly possible to pay those loans off, and money to be made should the whole thing collapse. The powerful don't care one way or another if the economy crashes -- it's just another opportunity to buy assets on the cheap -- a trick the banks cashed in on after 2008 making them bigger and more powerful than ever.
So while you are well within your rights to get outraged over Pocahontas costumes, it might be a better idea to direct that rage at a system robbing you of your future and bringing civil society to the brink of collapse. But then that would require taking real risks and confronting those with real power instead of screaming at hapless professors, who themselves are facing increasingly dismal career prospects as their wages are slashed and benefits reduced.
In the past, students in America have protested racial segregation, their government's invasion of defenseless nations, fought for gender equality and demonstrated against horrific police brutality. In 2015, students are demanding safe places filled with fluffy pillows to protect them from words they might find "triggering".
The truth is, these brave social justice warriors are just as shit scared as the rest of us when it comes to challenging the powerful. Because debt is the greatest weapon created in the history of humanity, and to fight those responsible requires organization, real protest, and a willingness to sacrifice for your beliefs. But of course students know there are no fluffy pillows or coloring books in jail, so challenging real authority is completely out of the question.
(Image via Daily Bruin)