I’ve been watching events unfold at Yale and Missouri with no small amount of fascination. At Yale, students with foam-flecked mouths are screaming hysterically because an administrator suggested that they man up a little and face the fact that Halloween might result in their seeing costumes they don’t like. Rather than telling these mental marshmallows to grow a spine, Yale’s president made an abject, groveling apology.
Meanwhile, at the University of Missouri, the all-important football team went on strike because the President had failed to show insufficient anger in the face of racial slurs crudely daubed around the campus. The charge that the President showed insufficient emotion reminded me of nothing so much as the tears North Koreans shed when Kim Jong Il died — not necessarily because they were that sad to see a tyrant go, but because the failure to mourn with enthusiasm could result in a one-way trip to a concentration camp:
As it was, although they were spared internment, Missouri’s president and chancellor both got a one way trip off campus.
What struck me about events at both Yale and Missouri was that they sounded so familiar. Within the past few years, I’d read about university presidents collapsing in sodden heaps before black students when challenged on account of their unacceptable whiteness and white world view. I finally figured out where I’d seen this same story: In Shelby Steele’s White Guilt.
Steele was part of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, and was in the office of Iowa University’s president when the president’s “white guilt” kicked in. Once that happened, the president was helpless. All that he could do was hope that his abasement before the campus’s black students would provide some form of redemption:
I know two things about Dr. McCabe that help explain his transformation before our eyes into a modern college president: he was a man of considerable integrity, and he did not deny or minimize the injustice of racism. He had personally contributed money to Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference when this was not typical of college presidents. Thus, on some level—and in a way that may have caught him by surprise—he would have known that behind our outrageous behavior was a far greater American outrage.
And in this intransigent piece of knowledge was the very essence of what I have called white guilt. Dr. McCabe simply came to a place where his own knowledge of American racism—knowledge his personal integrity prevented him from denying—opened a vacuum of moral authority within him. He was not suddenly stricken with pangs of guilt over American racism. He simply found himself without the moral authority to reprimand us for our disruptive behavior. He knew that we had a point, that our behavior was in some way connected to centuries of indisputable injustice. So he was trumped by his knowledge of this, not by his remorse over it, though he may have felt such remorse. Our outrage at racism simply had far greater moral authority than his outrage over our breach of decorum. And had he actually risen to challenge us, I was prepared to say that we would worry about our behavior when he and the college started worrying about the racism we encountered everywhere, including on his campus.
And this is when I first really saw white guilt in action. Now I know it to be something very specific: the vacuum of moral authority that comes from simply knowing that one’s race is associated with racism. Whites (and American institutions) must acknowledge historical racism to show themselves redeemed of it, but once they acknowledge it, they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice, poverty, and so on. They step into a void of vulnerability. The authority they lose transfers to the “victims” of historical racism and becomes their great power in society. This is why white guilt is quite literally the same thing as black power. (Steele, Shelby, White Guilt [Kindle Locations 370-374]. HarperCollins; emphasis mine.)
Of course, as is invariably the case when 21st century Leftists act out mid-20th century grievances, the current version is a meaningless simulacrum of the original. Back in the 1960s, there really was pervasive racism across large parts of America. In varying degrees, whether in Mississippi or Massachusetts or California, blacks were barred from schools, neighborhoods, and jobs. Nowadays, we have blacks occupying the most prominent positions in the land, universities warping the admission process almost beyond recognition to ensure a black presence in their classrooms, and a legal system that will destroy anyone found guilty of actual or even implied discrimination.
What’s going on at Yale and the University of Missouri is Kabuki theater. Leftists are resurrecting that old white guilt to effect permanent changes in America’s institutions. They will destroy the police, who are often the only bulwark between blacks and their true enemy, namely, other blacks; take over, rather than merely share, America’s educational establishments; and ensure permanent Democrat dominance in America’s agencies and other administrative offices, which is where the real political power in our country now lies.
We are not reaping the bitter harvest of the first black slaves to arrive in America (replacing the Irish slaves who died to quickly). We are not seeing the result of the Constitution’s morally wrong decision to deny Southern blacks civil rights but, instead, to treat them as slaves so as to preserve the union. Nor is this the fallout from the Civil War in which America spilled so much blood to preserve the union without that fatal taint of slavery.
What we’re seeing instead is the bitter fruit of the seeds planted during the 1960s. That was when the Leftists took over the Civil Rights movement, perverting it from one aimed at giving all Americans equal rights under the law, and turning it instead into a cudgel by which to destroy America’s institutions and begin the Marxist revolution.
This is a bitter harvest indeed, and the fact that the administrators at America’s universities have no will to stand and fight doesn’t bode well for America.
I do have one idea, though. It has become obvious to me that, as long as they perceive a benefit to a college degree, America’s middle class parents will not stop sending their children to colleges that have abandoned teaching and are simply cesspools of classroom Leftism and dorm room debauchery. Even soaring tuition and staggering debts will not deter them.
What will deter parents is for them to realize that a college degree in the misnamed “liberal” arts, rather than giving their children greater opportunities for employment will limit them. It’s therefore time for America’s employers to look at these shrill, hyper-sensitive, trigger-warning happy, illogical, weak, pathetic, hate-filled graduates and say “No.”
“No, we will not hire you. You university grads are useless in the work place. You have no initiative, no moral decency, no backbone, and you’re really irritating with your trigger warnings, political correctness, and self involvement.”
If enough employers refuse to hire these mewling brats, the air should finally go out of the grossly inflated higher education balloon.