Some years ago when I taught religion, I went into the office on a weekend to check my mail and ran into a colleague. She was senior to me and had trained at the University of Chicago. We came from opposite ends of the spectrum. She wanted to dissect religion and its “belief systems.” I had gone into teaching to help people deepen their faith through study and contemplation. Our interactions were often guarded.
“I like your blouse,” I said. Her blouse had a risqué design of a naked woman. It was the kind of thing that attracted more attention if you did not comment on it. I was trying to be friendly. “Yes, but you can’t wear it,” she said defiantly.
It was one of those moments that stays with you. I did not react at the time, because I was caught off guard. I wasn’t about to wear her blouse or anything like it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that she, by virtue of her status as a woman, had the moral authority to tell me what I could and could not wear. This was the same institution that banned Halloween costumes they deemed inappropriate.
The attempt to control behavior and thought is a hallmark of the radical Left, although it is no longer an attempt. They are achieving their goals through indoctrination and violence. The post-election beatings of Trump supporters have turned into a campaign to disrupt not just his administration but the entire government. “Russiagate” is the latest diversion. And their defiance has become ugly: the shooting of Congressman Scalise, hateful postings on social media, and calls for racial warfare from people in positions of authority who ought to know better but see their role as revolutionaries, not public servants or educators.
This week I received an email on my university account calling for “scholar activists…to be a catalyst for change and shape the public discourse beyond their discipline through debate and direct actions….” This was code for protest, including violent protest, which is justified in the struggle against people like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has advocated for school choice and parental control of their children’s education. I personally know some mothers in the Bronx who would love that kind of control.
It would be redundant to claim that radicals go to extremes In their effort to fashion society in their own image, but that is exactly what is happening. Exempli gratia: state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s ban on Californians traveling to states that have not passed progressive legislation; Evergreen State College’s “No White People” day (the police had to intervene); comedian Josie Long’s diatribe against “young white men”; the anthropologist who declared that Otto Warmbier “got exactly what he deserved” in North Korea, because he was spoiled; and the ongoing calls for Trump’s assassination, mainly from celebrities who are politically correct but grammatically incorrect.
And one must show no mercy in constructing a paradise on earth. As Johnny Eric Williams, professor at Trinity College, noted on social media, “If you see [white people] drowning. If you see them in a burning building. If they are bleeding out in an emergency room. If the ground is crumbling beneath them. If they are in a park and they turn their weapons on each other: do nothing….Let. Them. F-ing. Die. And smile a bit when you do.” That’s not exactly reflective of Trinity’s motto, Pro Ecclesia Et Patria, but then you’ve got to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet. Or, in this case, heads.
Even more disturbing than all of this, however, is that reason itself has been turned on its head and the values necessary for life in a democracy are being trashed. I’m talking about free speech. Apparently, it must not be allowed if it obstructs the struggle for an egalitarian society and the liberation of marginalized groups. This is pure Herbert Marcuse and repressive tolerance. Of course, some in the new egalitarian society will be more equal than others, but that’s the price one must pay. Besides, reason and free speech are forms of oppression, as is “truth.”
And so, unfortunately, the idiocy continues.
Haven’t had enough? Go to Robert Brancatelli. Note to self: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”