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Jewish World ReviewOct. 14, 1999 /4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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The trouble with kids today -- WHAT IS WRONG with kids these days?

College students seem more hostile, more humorless, and much blinder to their own ideological hypocrisy than I remember from my campus years.

With age comes wisdom or at least a swelling intolerance for the self-indulgent. I turn 29 next week, just discovered my first gray hair, and have now accepted an embarrassing truth: My generation is hopelessly plagued with mewling young people who treat all personal slights, off-color remarks, and ethnic jokes as signs of societal oppression. It's getting worse with time, not better.

When will this multicultural megalomania end? Where have all the adults gone? Would that there were just one university official in America with the guts to utter three simple words: Oh, grow up.

Alas, grownups at Rutgers University in New Jersey squandered an opportunity to tell off the terminally offended. A mob of minority students demonstrated against a comic strip published last week in The Daily Targum, Rutgers' student newspaper. The cartoon depicted a white character observing that blacks get a "free ride." Another character countered soberly that the only free ride given to blacks was "on a slave ship."

It was obviously an ironic attempt to combat negative stereotypes. Gary Gretsky, the freelance cartoonist who drew the strip, explained: "The strip's message was one of anti-racism." Yet, Gretsky was attacked by minority students as a hate-mongerer.

Administration officials cowered. Emmet Dennis, a Rutgers dean, said the cartoon was "extremely offensive." University president Francis Lawrence said it was "troubling on many levels." Faculty members reiterated their commitment to "diversity." The newspaper's editorial board apologized twice for running the comic strip.

Hassan Hodges, the managing editor, distanced himself from Gretsky -- even though he had just recently bragged to a local reporter about the cartoonist's unique point of view. Rather than champion free speech and tolerance for truly diverse views, Hodges said he was not in the office the night the comic strip was published.

Sounds like this blame-dodger has a bright future in mainstream journalism. Or politics. Or both.

Campus extortionists seized the day. They demanded free advertising in the student newspaper, more minority hires, and sensitivity training to compensate for their collective hurt. Most absurd of all, the protesters condemned the use of humor for political purposes.

Winton Wedderburn, president of a black student organization at Rutgers, told a local newspaper: "Racism should not be addressed in a comic strip. A comic strip should be funny, and there's no humor in racism." One wonders why school officials didn't tell Wedderburn to lighten up. (Perhaps because doing so might invite even more ridiculous accusations of racism.)

Not every thoughtful comment about race must be a witless dissertation or whiny diatribe. Witness the nation's most successful and influential black comedians, from Richard Pryor and the Wayans family to Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, who fight racism with ridicule. Their sharp-edged performances combine desperately needed laughs with trenchant social criticism of prejudices held by Americans of all colors.

Would the Rutgers rabble-rousers censor Aaron McGruder, too? His new comic strip, "The Boondocks," recently had one of the most successful launches in newspaper history. Carried in the funny pages and editorial pages of 200 papers, "The Boondocks" has one overriding, and often obnoxious, theme: racism.

McGruder joked in an interview with the online publication, The Onion: "Well, you know me, I racialize lawn-mowing." His main character, Huey Freeman, is a "passionate black revolutionary" and Afrocentrist. He employs what one fawning critic called "raised-fist rhetoric." Others might call it childish vitriol.

In one recent "Boondocks" cartoon, distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, the Huey character proposed writing a book about black conservatives called "Ward Connerly Should Be Beaten by Reakwon the Chef with a Spiked Bat." (Connerly is the California civil rights activist who opposes racially-discriminatory affirmative action programs; Reakwon the Chef is a member of the violent hip-hop band, Wu-Tang Clan.)

There was no public uproar and no organized demand that McGruder apologize for his insensitive and unfunny drawing. Why? McGruder, the young cartoonist whose central theme is racism and whose primary weapon is irony, is black. Gretsky, the young cartoonist who devoted one comic strip to making an ironic statement against racism, is white.

Such double standards are lost, of course, on today's self-absorbed campus crusaders. Their elders have forsaken higher education for ethnic pandering to the lowest common denominator. The result: A morose generation of multicultural hypocrites who believe they have a constitutional right not to be offended - except by members of their own racial groups.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate