Tired attack on student activists misplaces blame for our divide
It seems that every month, a young neo-Nazi man, radicalized on the Internet, commits another murder. The Republican Party seems to have united around a policy of turning America into a white-nationalist plutocracy and is content to ignore the blatant corruption at Mar-a-Lago. The president labels every news report he dislikes as “fake news” and wants to open up libel laws.
So of course it’s time for another screed attacking student protesters and blaming them for Trumpism (“How campus politics hijacked American politics,” Ideas, Jan. 28). Cathy Young focuses on the same half-dozen half-true incidents at elite universities that supposedly show that student activism has gone off the rails. Of course Young entirely ignores both the actions of students at non-elite universities and the wide range of student activism that does not fit into her narrative.
For her to make this case without mentioning the right-wing outrage sphere, from Fox News to Breitbart to The Daily Stormer, that focuses national attention on distorted narratives of campus politics is journalistic malpractice.
It’s well past time to retire these exaggerated arguments about student activists and place the blame for our political culture where it rightly belongs: on the party that controls our entire federal government.
‘Cultural appropriation’? Or honest attempt to promote diversity?
Last month I read how the Globe was adding “fresh voices” to its opinion pages, but when I saw the names, it seemed most of them were simply an addition to the Globe’s spectrum of left-leaning to far-left writers. While the Globe sometimes allows a token conservative columnist, there is not much for political moderates like me to appreciate.
For this reason, I was pleased to see Cathy Young’s “How campus politics hijacked American politics” (Ideas, Jan. 28), which reflects my views. One of the points she made concerned the protest in 2015 against the Museum of Fine Arts’ kimono program, which some labeled “cultural appropriation” because non-Asians were wearing Japanese kimonos.
I came upon an interesting twist to this story when I met a young Caucasian woman at the Boston Public Market a couple months ago. She was a student at a school in Japan at the time of the kimono controversy. She told me they heard about the MFA flap at her Japanese school and were puzzled for the following reason: People in Japan were putting on a cultural event that involved the wearing of kimonos, and in the interests of diversity, they were seeking foreign non-Asian students in Japan to wear kimonos so that not all of the kimono wearers would be Japanese.
So, what the Japanese in Japan considered an effort to promote diversity and inclusion the MFA protesters here considered “cultural appropriation.”
A dizzying dance of death between far left and far right
Cathy Young’s “How campus politics hijacked American politics” is a vitally important and insightful analysis of our current cultural malaise. Young gets right to the point, reasonably, that America has managed to turn progressive thought into something that insists upon fracturing society while also insisting on conformity within those fractured identity groups. She doesn’t hold back in pointing at the destructive dogmas of conservatives either.
It’s a great, timely article. Let’s hope more brave souls step up to try to expose the right-left death dance in America.
Editor’s note: Cathy Young’s Ideas piece generated much debate among online readers. The following is an edited sample of comments:
As long as there are tenure-protected professors and union-protected teachers who are the propagandists for the left, there is little hope for changing the trend. (carlida) . . .
Tenure is a system that protects people in these positions from being prevented from exercising their freedom of speech and thought. Freedom of speech protects people’s right to propose that we should limit freedom of speech. . . . [Carlida] wants to do away with tenure so professors can be prevented from speech and/or advocacy that she does not agree with? And she thinks that is going to “change the trend”? The trend toward what? Freedom? If everyone is forced to agree with her, does she think that she (or anyone) will be “free”? (RZwarich) . . .
There is a whole generation coming of age on the left that will have no ability to debate or make counter points to an opposing argument. Their quest to simply shut down any kind of speech they deem offensive may work on a college campus, but they will find the real world will not tolerate their nonsense. It is time for college administrators to enforce free speech on campus and stop coddling these intolerant brats. (shocker) . . .
Very good point. Developing critical thinking skills is the foundation of a college education. An essential tool for navigating the corners of the real world. Diluting it only leaves one prepared for a world they imagine should be. (dogboy55) . . .
Really? A whole generation on the left with no ability to debate. I have to say your critical thinking skills are apparently far below many of today’s college students. (Thaddeus50) . . .
Instead of protesting, college students from the left and right should want to hear the views of those they disagree with. Knowledge is power. (user_1700434) . . .
With social media making it easier for like-minded people to find each other and discuss issues, radicalization on both the left and right is likely to only get worse. Public discourse may eventually devolve into nothing more than extreme left and extreme right yelling at each other and calling each other names. (As already happens so often on these Boston Globe comment boards.) (user_4479432) . . .
Yup. (swami1) . . .