by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [I]n the course of an asinine argument about David Horowitz’s visit to the University of North Carolina, I witnessed a young undergraduate at the college do precisely this. “ur part of an oppressive group (white, male),” he told a critic who had suggested that his condemnation of Horowitz was intolerant. “Don’t tell me whats oppressive. I tell you, you shut up and listen #NotSafeUNC.”
Right there, for a brief, shining moment, all of the pseudo-academic tosh to which we have become accustomed was thrown unceremoniously out of the window; and, in its stead, was placed the good old-fashioned language of power and of dogmatism. It was not long before a Twitter account named @NotSafeUNC had picked up on the exchange and channeled a similar sentiment. “You’re part of a structurally privileged group and must engage with your privilege responsibly,” it contended. And what, pray, did this mean in practice? “You don’t question when someone you have privilege over speaks to you on oppression.”
In other words: Be quiet.
Typically, such bracing honesty is not so forthcoming. Indeed, for a dramatic contrast we might consider the manner in which the precious little darlings at Oberlin College have this week protested the visit of the “factual feminist,” Christina Hoff Sommers. First we saw the willful conflation of violence and language — a calling card of all would-be censors. Next came the pretense that to debate is in fact to “silence.” And, finally, we were subjected to the predictable insistence that there are some opinions that are just too egregious to be heard. This approach was ugly, yes. But one could not help but notice that it was infinitely more effective than was that of our friend at UNC. In the modern era, “shut up” is unlikely to win too many hearts and minds. Pseudo-intellectual nonsense, on the other hand, is golden.