Thursday, April 23, 2015

The leaders of tomorrow are one tick short of a working cuckoo clock

Remind me not to cross Heather Wilhelm. From Attack of the Leftist Snowflakes by Heather Wilhelm.
On college campuses across America, an army of leftist snowflakes — a generation long told they’re special, fragile, and never, ever wrong — is on the march, aiming to squelch any threatening idea that “triggers” uncomfortable thoughts. On the downside, these marauding bands have sparked an epidemic of protests, hysteria, and Nathaniel Hawthorne-style banishings. On the upside, they’re doing a heck of a job alerting the nation that a significant portion of the “leaders of tomorrow” might be one tick short of a working cuckoo clock.

Witness Christina Hoff Sommers, a well-known author, former philosophy professor, and, most recently, a YouTube star. Sommers, who describes her approach as “equity feminism,” is a refreshing change from mainstream modern feminism, which long ago click-clacked aboard the crazy train, ripped up all return tickets, and then hit the bar in the club car hard — not in a fun way, alas, but rather to weep and mutter various bad words over low-grade apple martini knockoffs garnished with mascara smears. Partnering with the American Enterprise Institute, Sommers has made a splash with her “Factual Feminist” video series, in which she calmly challenges and debunks oft-accepted and frequently absurd feminist talking points.
While I prefer arguments to be more substantive, and Wilhelm does get to the meat of the issues later, it is amusing to see this author flex her mockery wings.

Wilhelm does prompt a question though. Just how big is this army of leftist snowflakes? They make headlines. They shout and scream. They banish speakers and suppress opinions they don't like. I acknowledge all that.

With my third child getting ready to head off to college, I have spent the past half dozen years making some dozens of college visits all across the nation, though mostly the Midwest, South and Northeast. Some things stand out. Parents want their kids to be educated but that goal barely gets a head nod. Most universities, particularly liberal arts universities, tend to focus on four selling points - 1) Good food, 2) Lots of student clubs, 3) Access to professors and 4) Service opportunities to "the community". International semesters abroad get mentioned fairly often. Nice residential rooms occasionally get a mention as does campus technology, but usually a distant mention at best.

Actual learning, academic achievement, job placement, etc. usually are not dealt with at all, or cursorily, or statistically deceptively.

So yes, I can see where there is an impression of an army of callow, low cognitive wattage, irony-immune, leftist snowflakes but what are the numbers? Most of the big public engineering or STEM type universities I have visited seem to carry a much lighter social justice nonsense burden. Are we talking about 10% of the university population that are devotees of these Gramscian memes? 5%? An extremely vocal 1%. It would be interesting to know.

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