Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Bret Stephens Thinks of 2014 College Grads

Modern education has done its work well: In you, Class of 2014, the coward soul has filled the void left by the blank mind.

...[in] 2012, I complained about the dismaying inverse relationship between that class’s self-regard and its command of basic facts...I did you a (small) injustice. At least the pretense of knowledgeability was important to you. For the Class of 2014, it seems that inviolable ignorance is the only true bliss.

It’s not just the burgeoning list of rescinded invitations to potentially offensive commencement speakers...students at Dartmouth issued a list of 72 demands for “transformative justice.” Among them: “mandate sensitivity training”; “organize continuous external reviews of the College’s structural racism, classism, ableism, sexism and heterosexism”; and “create a policy banning the Indian mascot.”...

...students and like-minded faculty are demanding warnings on study material that trigger “symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”...Any student who demands—and gets—emotional pampering from his university needs to pay a commensurate price in intellectual derision. College was once about preparing boys and girls to become men and women, not least through a process of desensitization to discomfiting ideas. Now it’s just a $240,000 extension of least one basic teaching of true liberalism is that the essential right of free people is the right to offend, and an essential responsibility of free people is to learn how to cope with being offended.

I’ll grant you this: It’s not all your fault. The semi- and post-literates who overran the humanities departments at most universities long before I ever set foot in college are the main culprits here. 

...You can still take charge of your education, and of your lives. The cocoon years are over; the micro-aggressions are about to pour down.

Deal with it. Revel in it. No consequential idea ever failed to offend someone; no consequential person was ever spared great offense. Those of you who want to lead meaningful lives need to begin unlearning most of what you’ve been taught, starting right now.


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