At a certain point, you waive the right to complain about a problem.
If you’ve been content to let it fester when it’s not affecting you, don’t expect sympathy when it finally turns and bites you.
Frank Bruni writes at the New York Times:
The Dangerous Safety of College
The moral of the recent melee at Middlebury College, where students shouted down and chased away a controversial social scientist, isn’t just about free speech, though that’s the rubric under which the ugly incident has been tucked. It’s about emotional coddling. It’s about intellectual impoverishment.
Somewhere along the way, those young men and women — our future leaders, perhaps — got the idea that they should be able to purge their world of perspectives offensive to them. They came to believe that it’s morally dignified and politically constructive to scream rather than to reason, to hurl slurs in place of arguments.
They have been done a terrible disservice. All of us have, and we need to reacquaint ourselves with what education really means and what colleges do and don’t owe their charges.
Dennis Prager made the same point in a recent column:
Some on the Left Now Criticize the Students They Created
In the last few weeks, there has been a spate of columns by writers on the left condemning the left-wing college students who riot, take over university buildings and shout down speakers with whom they differ.
These condemnations, coming about 50 years too late, should not be taken seriously.
Take New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. His latest column is filled with dismay over the way Middlebury College students attacked Charles Murray and a liberal woman professor who interviewed him (she was injured by the rioters).
Mark A. Signorelli of The Federalist gets to the heart of the problem:
Liberals Cannot Condemn Campus Rioters Because They Created Them
Dostoyevsky’s “The Demons,” one of the finest political novels ever written, tells the story of Stepan Verkhovensky: an amiable, if faintly ridiculous, scholar idling in the provinces of Russia. As a young man, Stepan flirted with the liberal ideas of his day, publishing an article in a “progressive journal” and aiding in a translation of the socialist Charles Fourier. He even grew convinced for a time that the government was watching him closely (and grows very annoyed to find out that they do not care the least bit about him). Evidently allured by the chicness of radical ideas, Stepan is nonetheless too frivolous and gentle a man to try to implement those ideas in the real world.
His son, Peter, is a different case altogether. Immediately upon returning to his hometown, he begins organizing some wannabe revolutionaries into a cell to carry out their seditious designs…
I thought of this novel over the weekend when I read Frank Bruni’s op-ed piece decrying the recent violent protest at Middlebury College. It is an article that sounds many of the same notes that conservatives have been sounding since this incident. He laments the “emotional coddling” and “intellectual impoverishment” on display at Middlebury. He warns that the fracas was “the fruit of a dangerous ideological conformity in too much of higher education.” He condemns the “policing of imperfect language, silencing of dissent and shaming of dissenters” all too prevalent on the university campus now.
Falling under the spell of this article, one could almost forget that the writers for the op-ed pages of the New York Times—where Mr. Bruni plies his trade—routinely employ the very same political rhetoric used by Middlebury’s protestors.
If Frank Bruni and others on the left are serious in their concern, maybe they could build a human wall in front of the outrage brigade the next time a conservative is prevented from speaking on campus.