I admit it. I can’t keep my eyes off the spectacle playing out at Yale and UMissouri, with side shows now taking place at campuses across America. I’ve been saying since my Berkeley days that American higher education is sick, sick, sick and, in a sad way, I feel vindicated. The rot that I sensed there in the early 1980s is finally working its way out from the center of the fruit, with the whole thing rupturing and spilling out its disgusting toxin. There are innumerable superb articles on the subject, and I’ll link to them below. I just wanted to point to one thing that I haven’t noticed anyone else mention.
When you read the articles about what happened at Yale, you’ll read that the Yale kerfuffle started when the “Department of Intercultural Affairs” (and God alone knows how much that department contributes to Yale’s hefty tuition) got the ball rolling shortly before Thanksgiving when it sent an email to all Yale students warning about the hidden dangers of Halloween costumes. And no, we’re not talking about costumes that (per elementary school lore) come from the undertakers and are soaked in deadly embalming fluid or costumes that make one blend into the darkness so perfectly that they raise exponentially the risk that a car will unknowingly crash into the wearer. Instead, the email warns about the horrors of costumes that — yikes! — might offend someone.
I believe this administrative email deserves to be quoted at some length, not just because it’s painfully, horribly, victim-centrically stupid, but also because of the Miss Nancy tone that I associate with the old Romper Room show from my childhood: