"From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of
The winning streak enjoyed by campus activists this fall was violently interrupted by the recent terrorist attacks in
The most obvious irony stemmed from the fact that some of the same protestors who griped about media coverage of their antics -- even declaring First Amendment-free zones -- suddenly whined when the cameras turned to bloodshed in the heart of
But there's a deeper irony. In the aftermath of the
For instance, on
Ellison was hardly alone. Everyone seems to be talking about those American "values" of tolerance, diversity and pluralism. Obama has been on a tear about how rejecting refugees is "not American" and how those refugees are akin to the pilgrims who arrived on our shores. He pays rote lip service to denouncing murderers in
Meanwhile, back on our campuses, those very values are routinely denounced as little more than "white privilege." Needless to say, the people who want to see
As for our values, student protestors and their enablers on and off campus offer a full-throated rejection of America's (classical) liberal principles and, at times, America itself. By now you've heard it said that "free speech" is just code for "white privilege" or even "hate speech." Tolerance itself has become a dirty word for many.
Many campuses have announced a zero-tolerance policy for "hate speech" and "racial insensitivity," and countless more campuses have students demanding that such policies be implemented at their schools.
In principle, that doesn't sound so bad. The problem is that the definitions of hate speech and insensitivity have become entirely elastic and subjective. Disagreement with the mob of right-thinkers is now deemed unacceptable. There's a vaguely Maoist flavor to demands that liberal white professors and administrators confess and atone for their "white privilege."
It's gotten to the point where even admiration for non-European culture is denounced as bigoted if that admiration blossoms into so-called "cultural appropriation." Ethnic food fads are denounced for their insensitivity; the website Everydayfeminism.com recently offered "The Feminist Guide to Being a Foodie Without Being Culturally Appropriative."
For generations, we've heard that "diversity makes us stronger." I'll leave it to another day to question whether this premise can withstand the test of reality. The relevant point is that many of the chief beneficiaries -- or at least their self-proclaimed leaders -- of what was once called "Diversity Inc." now reject the logic of diversity at the most fundamental level. The famous "melting pot" is now derided as a kind of cultural genocide.
Nothing is more comfortable for the Sunday-morning talk show elites than taking on the alleged forces of intolerance to their right.
Meanwhile, the campus left is openly rejecting those core American values, and the response from media elites has run the gamut from condescending tolerance to abject encouragement.
By all means, we need more civilizational confidence. But demonstrating it only to denounce partisan opponents isn't confidence at all. It's a recipe for suicide.