The Strange Case Of The Campus Cry-Bully


By Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institute

The oxymoron “Cry-bully” has become a popular way to describe the schizophrenic contemporary college student.

Today’s students, especially on elite campuses, pride themselves for being cultural warriors. They are determined to make their college experiences referenda on the alleged race, class, and gender inequities of American society more broadly. In pursuit of that noble end, they feel they are entitled to use almost any means necessary to raise social awareness about perceived injustice.

At Rutgers, activist faculty and students succeeded in having Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdraw from her invitation to give the commencement address on grounds that she—like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden—supported the Iraq War.  At Yale, students cursed out a professor and demanded he apologize for being unsympathetic to campus hypersensitivity over child-like Halloween costumes. At Missouri students and faculty use strong-arm tactics to muscle out any bystander deemed counter-progressive. In 2010, student journalists at the Sanford Daily, in an unsigned editorial, called for the Hoover Institution to “repudiate” me because I had written a column noting that the criteria for, and protocols of, affirmative action had become so arcane, cynical, and Byzantine at most campuses that it was almost impossible to identify who—or why one—qualified for special ethnic, racial or gender consideration.

Deliver a college lecture that includes the Israeli perspective on Middle-East tensions, question the Ferguson “hands up, don’t shoot” mythic narrative, or entertain views contrary to the idea of apocalyptic man-made global warming, and one is likely to be labeled by campus activists as a colonialist, racist, or enemy of the environment deserving to be silenced for the greater good. The end of civil liberties on campus is coming about not suddenly with an authoritarian bang, but insidiously with an egalitarian whimper.

Though campus warriors appear to be hardened would-be revolutionaries, they are more accurately defined by their faint hearts. At Brown University, students claimed that they were traumatized by the inability to square the circle of being full-time social activists and full-time students, and therefore became depressed and stressed out—driving them to counseling and anti-depressants. According to one student, “There are people breaking down, dropping out of classes and failing classes because of the activism work they are taking on.” Throughout the year, this student has worked to confront issues of racism and diversity on campus. His role as a student activist has taken a toll on his mental, physical and emotional health: “My grades dropped dramatically. My health completely changed. I lost weight. I’m on antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills right now. Counseling and Psychological Services counselors called me. I had deans calling me to make sure I was okay.”

Read the entire article at the Hoover Institute



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