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We are witnessing the rise of a new phenomenon: the “campus crybully”.
Campus crybullies are crybabies that have learned to weaponize their status as victim, a coveted label by the Left. They have two calling cards, race and gender.
Race came first. In 2001 Harvard president Larry Summers suggested that Cornel West— an African American Studies professor — get serious after West produced a rap CD called “Sketches of My Culture.” Summers also asked West fight a then-growing grade inflation scandal at Harvard, where one of every two grades was an A or A-.
Chaos erupted. Black professors at Harvard threatened to leave— Mr. West moved to Princeton. The leftwing editorial board of the New York Times criticized Mr. Summers, who quickly recanted, calling it all “a terrible misunderstanding.”
Then came gender. In 2005 Mr. Summers spoke at MIT about diversity. He speculated on why there aren’t more women scientists at elite universities. He touched on several possibilities: Maybe there were “patterns of discrimination” at work.. Maybe women preferred family over career. Or maybe, just possibly, it had something to do with “different availability of aptitude.”
Women professors blew a fuse. “I felt I was going to be sick,” wailed Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at MIT, who left. “My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow, low,” Ms. Hopkins said. “I was extremely upset.”
Once again, Summers recanted. He published an open letter. “I deeply regret the impact of my comments,” he wrote, “and apologize for not having weighed them more carefully.” It was too late. By May 2005 his faculty had returned a vote of no confidence 218 to 185, with 18 abstentions. By February 2006 he was forced to resign.
These two incidents,having happened at Harvard, marked a turning point. The pleasures of aggression now were added to the comforts of feeling aggrieved, or victimized.
The toxic fruits of this development are on view not only at Yale and Mizzou, but throughout the higher-educational establishment, where spurious charges of “systemic racism,” “a culture of rape” and sundry other imaginary torts compete for the budget of pity and special treatment.
Amherst College is currently exploding with nonnegotiable demands from a student group that the president apologize for white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latin racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/ indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.” Really, you can’t make it up.
Weak, liberal university presidents are capitulating. Yale’s president told “student crybullies” who complained that they did not feel “safe” at Yale that “we failed you.” Yale College dean found himself “surrounded by a sea of upturned faces and fighting back tears” so he apologized for the administration’s silence on allegations of racial discrimination.
When the brilliant conservative lawyer Amy Wax spoke at the Yale Political Union last week, a group of students stood up, turned their backs on her, and raised their fists in the air in protest. “Several students,” the Yale Daily News reported, “cried during her speech.”
A few days later, Dean Holloway and other university administrators met with about 100 students at his home and sacrificed his self-respect to serve the progressive “crybully” culture. “I have disappointed you and I’m really sorry,” he said.
The confrontation “just broke my heart,” Mr. Christakis added. “I care so much about the same issues you care about. I’ve spent my life taking care of these issues of injustice, of poverty, of racism. I have the same beliefs that you do . . . I’m genuinely sorry, and to have disappointed you. I’ve disappointed myself.”
Groveling by progressive administrators to crybullies with far-fetched social justice claims is the “cool” response.
These episodes—embarrassing to any person of self-respect and many of which might be inspired by Maoist public-shaming events—underscores the surreal and silly quality of life at some American colleges now.
For the “campus crybully”, reality takes second place to progressive ideology.
The truth is that American universities are the safest and most coddled environments ever created by man. But “campus crybullies” have given up any hope of acquiring an education — they are often liberal arts majors who see no hiring once they graduate — so they focus on staying at college to push grievance and hoax racism, even manufacturing and growing slights into major race bigotry.
“Campus crybullies” are about timid moral self-indulgence.
There are encouraging signs. When a dean at Claremont College resigned on Thursday after “camopus crybukllies” accused the dean of racism because of a carelessly worded email, some brave students at the Claremont Independent published a dissenting editorial in which they berated hypersensitive students for bringing spurious charges of racism and the dean and the president for cowardice in not standing up to the barrage.
“Lastly,” they wrote, “we are disappointed in students like ourselves, who were scared into silence. We are not racist for having different opinions. We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement.”
Courage is nearly non-existent on campuses today. Operating under the rubric of progressive saviors, these social justice warriors lack such courage. Open-minded students at Claremont provided a breath of fresh air. It will be interesting to see if it penetrates the fetid atmosphere that has settled over so much of American academic life.