I thought of Churchill's line as I contemplated recent events at the University of Missouri, a fine public university with one of the best journalism programs in the United States. As everyone listening to the news now knows, Timothy Wolfe, Mizzou's president, stepped down after being accused of inadequate sensitivity to racism on the university campus.
This incident follows similar outbreaks of hysteria on other university campuses, including distinguished institutions like Yale and Dartmouth.
Apparently, there is a general perception among college students, the elite media, and even the Obama administration that America's college campuses are bastions of sexism and racism. It is said that one in five college women are victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault and that minority students are repeatedly victimized by racist slurs.
Personally, I don't believe it. America's colleges and universities have many sins to answer for, but racism and sexism are not among them. No senior university administrator would last a moment in the politically correct atmosphere of academia if he or she said or did anything that could even remotely be considered as being insensitive on matters of race or gender.
In fact, the nation's college communities are in a frenzied debate about bathroom etiquette. Back in the Neanderthal age (20 years ago), benighted Americans thought that men should go to the men's bathrooms and women should use the women's bathrooms. But now that simple rule has been undermined by people who are oh so much more sensitive than you or me.
And Christian student groups, once seen as inoffensive and perhaps even moral paragons, are now being kicked off campus by such prestigious institutions as Berkeley and Bowdoin. Mustn't allow Christians, with their benighted views on family life, to be recognized as a student group. They might pollute the rarefied atmosphere of our enlightened universities.
So if universities have turned their attention to toilet rules and to booting Christians off their campuses, I can't imagine that college administrators are insensitive to the very important issues of gender and race.
My guess is that President Wolfe did not resign out of shame about his insensitivity to racism. He just said to hell with it.
I will make one final point about the witch-trial atmosphere of American colleges and universities, and it is this: Apparently no one at our higher education institutions has a remote notion of what free speech and academic freedom mean.
Worse than that, we've allowed students to tell professors and administrators what these concepts mean. If indeed college students know more than their teachers about academic freedom and our precious right to freedom of speech than their instructors and deans, why in the hell are students paying $40 grand a year to get a college education?
The University of Missouri imbroglio is not a new phenomenon. Tom Wolf's essay "Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers" was written more than 40 years ago, and it describes exactly the kind of behavior that we see at the University of Missouri. Our college leaders either don't understand the principles of civil discourse and academic freedom or they are so cowardly that they will submit to being lectured on racial civility by their uncouth and ignorant students. Or perhaps both.
Personally, if I were mom or pop, I would consider telling my kids to skip college altogether. Certainly, no one should borrow money simply to buy a seat in a guerrilla theater. And any university alum who makes a monetary donation to an American college or university is a fool.
|Neville Chamberlain: Sensitive to Hitler's point of view|