The left often refer to their ideological opponents on the right as Nazis, Fascists and racist. For them, it seems the right is not about ideology at all. The right may propose smaller government, greater autonomy for individuals, reversing destructive trends in government and culture, but they're really all about keeping disenfranchised and marginalized groups in their place, and advancing the interests of the already powerful. The rest is just a smoke screen. For their part, the right replies with claims that the left misunderstands everything it sees, often projects its own pathologies on opponents, exalts feelings over facts and disregards reality wherever reality contradicts what they wish to see. When the left claim offense or feeling threatened by the actions or words of the right, they're dismissed as “pearl clutchers” and “snowflakes.” I sometimes wonder how much all this apparent offence-taking is sincere.
The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper at prestigious Northwestern University, published an editorial Nov. 10 signed by its editor-in-chief and seven other editors, including its chair of inclusion and diversity. I wonder how many newspapers have a chair of inclusion and diversity? I have a feeling that the diversity they are encouraging doesn't extend to diversity of ideas. Gender identity, racial identity and god knows what else have seized the day and cancelled out that quaint consideration. The world of identity politics has swept aside everything in its path. What makes this particular editorial interesting isn't the number of signers; its the apology it contains from the paper to the student body. The editors are sorry for their coverage of a recent speaking event on campus by former attorney general Jeff Sessions. They're sorry for posting photos of some of the protesters who showed up to shut down the event and prevent Sessions from speaking (an outcome they were largely successful in causing), and for their reporters gathering student comments .The editors were sorry that the paper did its job, because in doing what newspapers do and are supposed to do, some students felt threatened and that their privacy was compromised.
The editorial is available online. For me its entire contents are fascinating to read. I'd love to quote fully, but it’s longer than I have space to include. Here are excerpts from its last paragraph, at least, "Although the paper desires to document the gravity of the events that took place on the campus, the editors have decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students. ... We feel that covering traumatizing events require a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring our fellow students feel safe, and in situations like this, that they are benefiting from our coverage rather than actively being harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry. "
The word that stands out above others is “traumatizing.” Apparently the short visit by the former attorney general from the Trump administration to the campus was traumatizing, particularly to “those who identify with marginalized groups,” as earlier mentioned in the editorial. I get it that many Northwestern students might not agree with Sessions, or the president he represented, but how could his presence represent anything remotely traumatizing? And if by some flight of imagination it could be construed as traumatizing to anyone, weren't they free to stay away? What made some students feel compelled to shut down the event? If, instead, the traumatization refers to some student activists finding their faces connected with the protest then that “trauma” was easily avoided, as well by their being somewhere else on that day.
Why do many students across the country feel similar compulsion to shut down the speeches of conservative speakers? Why must the universities hosting these speeches spend thousands of dollars, millions all together, to secure the safety of conservative speakers and not for anyone else? When did these bastions of free speech become antagonistic to the whole notion? When did free inquiry go out of fashion there, and why? When did the dogmas of the left become unassailable? When did questioning the left's hegemony in these institutions become so sacred that it requires violence and heckling to defend?
Yeah, I've got lots of questions. I'd like to know when answering to the baying mobs became the chief duty of journalists, forcing basic reportage and truth telling to the back seat?
I was raised generations before child car seats and widespread helicopter parenting. College students today are from a more sheltered generation. I suppose their expectations of protection and coddling are considerably higher than what I'm familiar with. I guess providing safe spaces for their pampered students is increasingly considered the university's highest calling, and the press must play along. Good luck with that.