Tales From The Safe Space, Part 49 – Chicago Universities Are Raising A Generation Of Infantilised Young Adults

father-ted-my-lovely-horse-2

Students who are offered Play Doh and “therapy horses” to help them make it through university will be cannon fodder in an unforgiving, competitive global labour market

At this point we are used to seeing outrageous stories of overbearing, coddling universities going to extraordinary lengths to teach the young adults studying on their campuses like delicate, helpless infants.

But the Chicago Tribune has done quite a job in summarising all of the instances of infantilisation-posing-as-stress-management taking place at institutions in and around the city. And the extent of the trend is quite shocking to behold.

Some excerpts:

Sephanie Delgado can feel the stress of her to-do list as she works to finish the semester at Roosevelt University: three essays, a presentation and exams.

To escape the pressure, the 20-year-old college junior, who also works as a restaurant cashier to help pay for school, sculpted a chunk of blue Play-Doh into Popplio, a Pokemon character. She was at a table next to other students who colored and decorated cookies before two miniature therapy horses wearing sneakers trotted into the room Wednesday for the university’s De-Stress Fest.

“I know I still have to do all that work, but coming here I’m able to take some time off to hang out with friends, have fun and empty my mind for a little bit,” said Delgado, who lives on the Southwest Side. “It’s like a refresh. My mind is nice and clear so when I go to start my homework, I’m well focused.”

As the semester nears its end — and students pull all-nighters to cram for exams, type papers and finish projects that weigh heavily on final grades — colleges in the Chicago area are taking steps to help students manage stress. It’s part of a broader approach to focus on students’ mental health and expand proactive outreach efforts instead of waiting for students to seek help. Local schools this week are offering activities ranging from animal visits at Roosevelt to a bubble-wrapped room at the University of Illinois at Chicago to the long-standing tradition of a stress-busting primal scream at Northwestern University.

More:

At Northwestern, “because of the hectic academic pace that exists here, it is stressful and very pressure-packed,” university spokesman Alan Cubbage said.

Students can blow off steam with a visit from miniature horses Friday and release their frustration through a campuswide scream, in which students let out a collective yell at 9 p.m. Sunday before finals week. Next week, a number of activities such as Lego building, board games, midnight coffee breaks and late-night breakfast are planned for exam relief.

More:

The series of events UIC hosts during finals week helps junior Liz Huss manage stress in a healthful way.

Students got a visit from comfort dogs Wednesday and are invited next week to pop bubble wrap at the student center, get chair massages, do candlelight yoga and leave notes of encouragement for fellow students.

“I like to take 10, 15, 20 minutes to rejuvenate, reflect and relax, and these events really help with that,” said Huss, an accounting major.

I’m sure that the large professional services firm that she may one day seek to join will be more than happy to bend over backwards to accommodate Liz Huss’s artificially-instilled need to reach for the soothing presence of a “comfort dog” whenever the going gets tough.

More:

For Andersonville resident Rob Chesler, a junior at Roosevelt, stress can motivate him to get his work done. But he also welcomed the distraction of the De-Stress Fest, during which he took a selfie with Lunar, the oldest miniature horse from the Barrington-based nonprofit Mane in Heaven.

“If you’re living in this world of hard work every second of every hour of your life, then you’re not going to be happy and you’re just going to be all about work,” he said. “If you have little horses every now and then, you have moments where you can just breathe and enjoy life.”

Little horses for everyone!

Fortunately there are also voices of sanity:

Clay Routledge, psychology professor at North Dakota State University, believes universities should be promoting psychological strength and resilience, not coddling students.

“I’m not ignorant to the fact there are vulnerable students that need services,” he said. “I’m not against that at all. My criticism is: Are we promoting more broadly a culture of sensitivity and victimhood than we need to do?”

Many colleges and universities are becoming more than educational institutions and overreaching by not letting students figure things out on their own, he said.

“We need to promote toughness and strength, and we know from decades of research that humans are extremely resilient,” Routledge said. “You have to have real stressors in life. You have to fail. You have to be embarrassed and you have to face situations where you’re wrong and you’re challenged — and you’ll be strong as a result.”

A rare voice arguing for building resilience the way that university has done for decades, if not centuries – focusing on the academia, not seeking to micromanage every moment of each student’s pastoral experience on campus, and letting them grow through trial, error and experience. Expect Professor Clay Routledge to be blacklisted by the social justice / identity politics cultists at his university and drummed out of his job any day now.

I have always found American universities to be slightly odd places. Having spent a reasonable amount of time on various campuses in the Mid-West, I have always been struck by the way that universities do not treat their students like autonomous adults to the extent that one might expect in Britain.

Despite eye-wateringly high tuition and accommodation costs, undergraduates are usually expected to share a small room with a roommate, at least in their first year, an almost unheard-of indignity for British students (who would probably feel the same way about this as Americans would feel about staying in one of the NHS’s communal hospital wards rather than having a private room of their own). American universities often see fit to correspond with the parents of students as though they are still school children rather than adults over the age of eighteen, old enough to wear the uniform and fight for their country (though not old enough to drink). These, and many other odd customs, long predate the social justice and identity politics craze which has infected Western academia.

But while customs and practices such as these treat students as though they are not quite yet fully-grown adults, the new trend for safe spaces and infantilising activities masquerading as “stress relief” are of a different order because they effectively serve to stunt any further emotional growth, making it harder for students to ever become autonomous, successful adults.

Making an eighteen-year-old incurring $60,000 of annual student debt sleep three yards away from a roommate is one thing. Treating students as though they are fragile and unresilient children who need bubble wrap, puppy videos and therapy horses to make it through the academic year effectively becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, ensuring that they enter the world utterly unprepared to function in a society and labour market which does not put their feelings and emotional health on a pedestal.

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt joked about this when he compared two fictional universities – Strengthen University and Coddle University – in a lecture / college recruitment pitch given to high school seniors. But more and more, Haidt’s send-up of Coddle University is coming to pass and being made real on campuses across America, and in Britain too:

We are based on a very simple psychology which is that people are fragile. People are so easily hurt. Anything that upsets you could trigger trauma, repressed trauma, unrepressed trauma, trauma that you somehow put up there in the closet and forgot to take – there’s trauma all over your mind and your memory. And we don’t want to trigger your trauma. That could damage you.

And this is especially true for members of the six protected classes [women, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, differently abled, and Native Americans]. If you are a member of one of the six marginalised and oppressed groups you are especially vulnerable. You’ve been traumatised and oppressed your whole lives. Microaggression theory teaches us that when people repeatedly cut these little nicks, these little insults, these little exclusions, they don’t develop calluses, they bleed to death. And so we will not let you be cut while you are at Coddle. We will protect you. Now don’t try to do it yourself, that’s very dangerous. WE will protect YOU from aggression.

At Coddle University we offer access to therapists 24/7. Just dial 811 from any phone, or we have this new feature – just raise three fingers, go like this [he gestures] and we have sensors all around campus, go like this and a therapist will be airlifted right into you.

University is supposed to be stressful. Balancing the academic workload and social events and newfound freedom away from the family home is supposed to develop key skills required to navigate the world as an independent adult later in life. Shipping in a bunch of therapy horses onto campus is not “offer[ing] students opportunities to learn self-care”, as one University of Missouri jobsworth claims, because it simulates an environment which will not exist outside of the university campus.

There are no therapy horses laid on for employees in the average workplace. Teaching students to survive daily stress by reaching for Play Doh and therapy animals is like training an astronaut to undertake spacewalks while failing to simulate the essential conditions of weightlessness and limited oxygen supply, and every bit as likely to lead to disaster.

But still the universities teach this nonsense and lay on these extravagant, infantilising services, unaware or unconcerned that they are setting their students up for failure the moment they set foot off campus.

 

father-ted-my-lovely-horse

Safe Space Notice - 2

Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

Advertisements

Donald Trump Meets Social Justice Therapy Culture, And No One Comes Away Looking Good

donald-trump-anxiety-therapy

Now apparently Donald Trump has made it impossible for millennials to experience love. Hysterical accusations and overreactions like this from his opponents will do more than anything to sweep Trump to victory in November

Donald Trump would almost certainly make a terrible president – and yet one is half tempted to give him a shot when confronted with the hysterical reactions of America’s permanent victims, who have naturally found a way to make a debate about the future of the republic and the possibility of a Trump presidency all about them, their own anxieties and their pwecious feewings.

Michelle Goldberg has a particularly nauseating article in Slate, in which a succession of weepy Manhattan therapists drone on about the sleepless nights and anxiety attacks being suffered by their patients, and even by their fellow therapists, at the mere thought of Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office.

Some choice quotes:

“People are scared,” says Fiachra “Figs” O’Sullivan, a psychotherapist in San Francisco who specializes in relationships. “People are distressed, and it’s affecting their level of presence in their relationships with their significant others.” Dorie Chamberlain, a 54-year-old stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles who says she talks about Trump every time she goes to therapy, says watching the election “is like living in a house where everybody screams.”

There is, of course, no way to quantify the scope of mental anguish caused by Trump’s campaign; these stories are entirely anecdotal. There are, however, a lot of anecdotes, as I discovered when I started speaking to both therapists and panicking voters. I’ve covered four elections as a journalist, but this is the first one to regularly poison my dreams; at least once a week I wake up in the middle of the night in clammy, agitated horror.

Oh good grief. Mental anguish? At this point one should already have a good idea of the thrust of the piece – journalist and subjects alike are self-regarding, quivering mounds of useless emotion.

More:

Some of the therapists told me they are talking their patients through their Trump terror while trying not to succumb to it themselves. “The therapists that I know are pretty overwhelmed by managing their personal feelings, which we have to do and we’re doing, but it’s a lot,” says psychologist Heather Silvestri. She belongs to a meditation group for therapists and says the election comes up in every session.

I have also recently been through a high-stakes election – the EU referendum on 23 June, which was far more of an existential question for Britain than even this high-stakes election is for America. By some miracle, my side won and Britain voted to leave the European Union. But if we had lost (as I fully expected to happen) I would not have claimed to have suffered severe emotional harm and retreated to my safe space. I would have dusted myself off, licked my wounds and prepared to fight another day.

A Donald Trump presidency would be bad for any number of reasons, but to carry on as though it were automatically the end of the world – as though the American system of government had no checks and balances to limit the impact of a buffoon leading the executive branch (it wouldn’t be the first time) – is an overreaction in the extreme. Be upset about the rise of Donald Trump for political reasons; don’t make it about “personal feelings”.

More:

About two weeks ago, Liz, a 45-year-old photographer in suburban Minneapolis who asked to be identified only by her first name, started noticing alarming symptoms: headaches, jitteriness, tightness in her chest, sometimes even difficulty breathing. She went to her physician, who said it sounded like she was suffering from anxiety. “I thought, huh, I don’t even have a stressful job. I don’t know what that can be,” she says. Then she went home and turned on the news, “and all the sudden the symptoms came back with a fury.” She realized that thinking about Trump was affecting her health.

Liz hasn’t agreed with past Republican candidates, she says, but she didn’t think they would “ruin my country, or cause civil war, or cause World War III.” But her fear also stems from her incredulous realization that so many of her fellow citizens inhabit a reality that barely intersects with her own. “I can no longer see where they’re coming from,” she says of Trump supporters. “I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone.” Even if Clinton wins, she’s terrified of Trump’s followers responding with violence. “We’re getting closer and closer and closer to something that seems so insane,” she says, “The thought of him winning, or even the thought of her winning and parts of the country imploding in chaos as a result—it all just seems like a nightmare.”

The anxiety is encroaching on her relationships, Liz says. Sometimes she’ll delay putting her 9-year-old daughter to bed because she’s so caught up in the news.

I don’t contest for a moment the fact that Donald Trump is an extremely egotistical person – an “oleaginous clump of non sequiturs [who] sweat[s] his insecurities on national television”, in the immortal words of Jonah Goldberg. But this “Liz” character must really have personally wronged or provoked Trump very badly indeed if she is literally having sleepless nights and neglecting her daughter out of fear of what might happen to her if he gets the nuclear codes. This seems like a vast overreaction.

But in another sense, Liz’s case really cuts to the heart of the issue – particularly her “incredulous realisation” that so many Americans see the world so differently. This suggests a failure to empathise with other Americans prior to this point, particularly the economically struggling lower middle class who make up the backbone of Trump’s support.

We saw the same thing in Britain with the EU referendum. I am loathe to draw any parallels at all between Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, primarily because Brexit is pure and noble and about democracy, while Trump is mostly about authoritarianism and demagoguery. But suffice it to say that the Remain side lost partly because it was comprised of and led by urban-dwelling metro-leftists who had no conception of what life is like in hard-scrabble towns or the suburbs, and who had only contempt for the people who live in such places, including people who have tended to be on the losing side of globalisation.

There was an utter failure of empathy in Britain, with the pro-EU ruling class furiously unwilling to look at things from the perspective of anybody not like them. It was this failure of empathy which blindsided the British establishment to the extent of anti-EU sentiment, and it could likewise be this failure of the American creative and upper middle class to show any solidarity with those struggling beneath them that effectively pushes people into the arms of Donald Trump.

More:

Fear of a Trump presidency is a normal human reaction, of course, not a clinical condition. A vertiginous sense of unreality is a symptom of an anxiety attack, but it is also a symptom of being a thinking person in America in the fall of 2016. People with anxiety disorders tend to imagine that catastrophe is imminent, but in this case they may not be wrong. “You can’t pathologize this anxiety,” says Andrea Gitter, a New York psychotherapist and member of the faculty at the Women’s Therapy Centre Institute. “People who are marginalized to begin with know that they are targets because of the hatred that’s been unearthed.” Gitter says the election comes up daily in her practice.

Ah yes, the marginalised people, all of whom Trump intends to ship to concentration camps within the first hundred days of his presidency. We all remember that pledge from his campaign website.

This is a familiar trick from the EU referendum campaign, too. In Britain, desperate Remainers attempted to smear eurosceptics and Leave voters by suggesting that they were solely responsible for the toxic political climate in the country. This culminated in the shameful harnessing of the murder of MP Jo Cox by cynical Remain supporters who thought they could make political capital by effectively blaming innocent Leave campaigners for the death of a young woman.

Now, Donald Trump has admittedly gone further than the British anti-EU campaign in terms of his rhetoric, appalling statements about Muslims and seeming comfort in the presence of his fringe supporters. But he has not incited “hatred”, and the people that Michelle Goldberg patronisingly refers to as being “marginalised” are grown adults with voices of their own, and are certainly free to rebut anything and everything that the Trump campaign says.

But then the article gets really surreal:

Sometimes the election’s psychic fallout takes less obvious forms. [Psychologist Heather] Silvestri, for example, has noticed a curious phenomenon among some of the millennial women in her practice: The rise of Trump has made them wonder how much they can reasonably expect from romantic relationships. Trump embodies some of the worst aspects of their ex-boyfriends, men who were “self-aggrandizing, self-important, not amenable to collaboration, cooperation, etc.,” Silvestri says. “When you break up with someone you need space, and they’re feeling like they can’t get space because their ex is sort of incarnate all over the news.”

It’s not just that Trump reminds them of their exes. It’s that Trump’s success seems to validate the men’s behavior. “They had gotten themselves to a place of, This is not what I deserve, I deserve better, I can do better,” Silvestri says. But watching dutiful, responsible Clinton struggle to best Trump, “people are really backtracking and saying, ‘I made this move to be more empowered and be who I am based on my values, but now I see my ex writ large on the national stage, and everyone’s following him,’ ” Silvestri says. They start thinking that, for a woman, maybe being beautiful really is more important than being smart, assertive, and authentic. “What happens in microcosm on a Friday night,” she says, is now playing out on the national stage. “The men have the power, and [the women] are trying to be a better version of themselves, but it doesn’t play well.”

We are through the looking glass now, folks. Apparently the mere fact of Donald Trump’s existence is so triggering to American millennial women that his candidacy (I feel stupid even writing this) conjures up painful memories of their ex-boyfriends – all of whom were (naturally) swaggering, chauvinistic misogynists utterly lacking in the virtuous qualities of “collaboration” and “cooperation”. And this is so traumatic that it is preventing these poor triggered millennial women from successfully forming future romantic relationships. Yes – Donald Trump has ruined love itself.

What can one say in the face of such preening, baseless hyperbole? This is the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics writ large, throwing absolutely everything it can at Donald Trump in the hope of discrediting him, and not realising that it renders Trump’s accusers every bit as ridiculous as the man himself.

Are there some people with legitimate anxiety disorders whose conditions have been exacerbated through worry about the presidential election and the possibility of a Trump victory? I have no doubt. But by definition, these are people with a specific illness, and not representative of the general population. If Michelle Goldberg had wanted to write an article about the impact of the Donald Trump candidacy on people with diagnosed anxiety conditions then she could have done so. But she didn’t – Goldberg painted with a far broader brush, including the perspective of therapists as well as therapy patients, ordinary people not in therapy and even millennial women in general.

The result is an incoherent mess of an article which proves nothing at all and makes no clear argument of any kind, other than the fact that the Bad Man Donald Trump has evidently replaced the monster under the bed in the childlike imaginations of America’s infantilised millennials and assorted other permanent victims.

The trouble with pursuing a line of attack against a presidential candidate based not on facts or policy (where there is plenty of material to damn Trump) but rather on how that candidate makes certain other people feel is that Trump and his supporters can legitimately respond by saying “so what?”

Above all, it is a lazy line of attack. It reeks of a lazy refusal to take on Donald Trump on the issues, instead seeking to void and invalidate his candidacy because he generates overwhelmingly negative emotions in certain sensitive souls.

And while there are many reasons why Trump would make a terrible president, the fact that his name keeps coming up on the therapist’s couch is not one of them.

 

Donald Trump Hosts Nevada Caucus Night Watch Party In Las Vegas

Top Image: Washington Post, Dominick Reuter/Reuters

Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

This Nauseating Self-Pity From Disappointed Remainers Should Be Treated With The Scorn It Deserves

EU Referendum - Brexit - Despair

Disappointed Remainers may be anxious and upset at having their European identity “ripped away from them”, but Brexiteers have been voiceless and disenfranchised for their entire lives. The collective middle class hissy fit from sore loser Remain supporters is nothing more than their privileged reaction to not getting their own way for once

Melissa Kite tells an anecdote in The Spectator which will be immediately familiar to any Brexiteer stuck behind “enemy lines” with a social circle consisting primarily of disappointed Remain supporters:

‘Of course, there will be no air quality now,’ said a friend, shaking her head over my support for Brexit.

‘You what?’

‘Air quality,’ she said. ‘Or green belt. Or Sites of Special Scientific Interest, preserving the countryside and wildlife… All those really good EU regulations have all gone now.’

‘What on earth are you talking about?’ I started to feel exasperated, inwardly thinking, ‘Uh-oh, here goes another friendship…’

‘All those EU regulations safeguarding everything. All gone. No more air-quality rules. No more SSSIs.’

‘So you’re saying Brexiteers have ruined the air now, are you? That’s where we are up to with the scaremongering? No more air now we’re out of the EU.’

‘Well, I’m just saying…’

The air of surly resentment against Brexiteers – ranging from generalised “woe is me” laments to very specific lists of the many plagues of Egypt which will now befall them in an independent Britain – is getting tiresome in the extreme.

And it gets worse:

‘Oh my god! The scaremongering!’ I moaned. ‘I’ve had it up to here with it!’

‘Fine. We won’t talk about it,’ said my friend, who is a science teacher and ought to know her stuff when it comes to SSSIs and all that malarkey.‘I’m just saying, they’ll probably build all over the green belt now. And big business will take over the world…’

‘Stop it! I can’t take any more! There’s nothing you can say that will make me regret backing Brexit. Even if you tell me they’re going to build a million houses on every last inch of the green belt, and turn all the air into carbon monoxide, I still want to be able to elect the people who make the laws that govern me!’

‘Fine. We won’t talk about it. Although you could elect them if you bothered, but no one does…’

‘Not the MEPs! They don’t make the laws! The commissioners make the laws and they’re unelected… Oh my god, I’m turning back…’

‘Fine, let’s just not talk about it at all. My son just got a job and he’s bought two new suits…’

I assumed she was going to say, ‘…that were made out of toxic, poisonous wool because all the safety laws have been scrapped so he ended up in A&E…’ but she didn’t.

Of course Brexiteers would be equally grumpy if the result had gone the other way (as many of us expected it to), but it is hardly comparable. Remainers at least got to enjoy the European Union for all this time. Brexiteers had to suffer it.

But certainly, this blog would certainly have been apoplectic in the event of a Remain vote, and with good reason. Remainers love to whinge that the Leave campaign won based on lies and distortions, while conveniently overlooking the fact that the prime minister and chancellor debased their high offices by using the full machinery of government and Whitehall to work incessantly for a Remain vote.

Whether it’s the £9m government propaganda mailshot, the Obama intervention, Cameron’s violation of purdah rules or the way in which the Remain campaign shrank the debate to focus purely on the economy and then wheeled out expert after expert to suggest that the avoidance of short-term economic disruption should be our sole concern (while utterly ignoring the democratic question), the Remain campaign is just as guilty of lies and obfuscation as Vote Leave.

More to the point, Remain had a massive advantage in the status quo factor which makes it prohibitively difficult for the radical option to prevail in a referendum. Not only did they have the 24/7 support of the British government propelling them onward, they had a built-in advantage of thousands of wavering voters who would ultimately vote for continuity. And still they could not triumph. Without these aids, the margin of victory for Leave would likely have been even greater.

So while Remain supporters may be disappointed now, it is worth remembering that nothing will change for them until Britain actually leaves the EU (whenever that may be), and that many of the things which they treasure to the extent that they were willing to bargain away our democracy may still be available to them. Certainly if Britain pursues an interim EFTA/EEA access solution (as this blog advocates) then their economic nightmares will prove utterly unfounded while their precious freedom of movement is left largely untouched.

And while Remainers may be devastated at the prospect of soon no longer being EU citizens, Brexiteers have had to endure being in the EU against our will since 1973. And while I’m dreadfully sad that Remainers will not get precisely what they want handed to them on a silver plate for once in their lives, many Brexiteers have suffered what we see as an undemocratic, unjust status quo for our entire lives. Let’s not get so caught up in concern for the Brexit-inspired mental trauma of Phoebe and Rupert from Islington that we forget the fact that Jack and Gary from Sunderland have been losing out for decades, and only now are getting the opportunity to taste victory for the first time in their lives.

Of course, much of the commentariat struggles to wrap their heads around the fact that Brexit is not a calamity for everyone. They live among Phoebes and Ruperts, and rarely (if ever) meet Jacks or Garys, let alone identify with their lives, struggles and ambitions. That’s why the Guardian finds endless examples of delicate people whose anxiety has gone through the roof and have retreated to their safe spaces in terror, but then extends the same nauseating sympathy to celebrating Brexiteers, assuming that we uneducated rubes have been tricked to vote against our own interests and will soon regret our vote for democracy and self-governance.

What we are now witnessing, with these tearful examples of pampered middle class pseudo-trauma and calls to ignore the result of the EU referendum or to keep holding votes until the British public give the “right” answer, are nothing but a collective hissy fit from people who have had their way since 1973 and are furiously, childishly determined that nobody else should ever get to influence the future of their country and exercise control over their lives.

And while remaining magnanimous toward individuals and genuinely disappointed EU supporters in general, we should treat any further such selfish, self-pitying sentiments with the scorn they richly deserve.

 

Trigger Warning

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

This Reckless Talk Of Brexit Is Making Whiny Young People Anxious

Team of creative people taking a break and using computer.

Staying in the EU and surrendering our democracy is a small price to pay to keep self-entitled millennials happy, because nothing is more important than generation Me Me Me

We of the millennial generation are fast acquiring a reputation as lazy, self-entitled whiners, endlessly complaining about how hard we have it – as though we are the first generation in history to come of age during economically uncertain times.

One might have thought that living in an age when each of us has a mini computer in our pocket which can tap the accumulated knowledge of the entire world – and when we don’t have to worry about, say, dying from tuberculosis – might make us momentarily grateful. But of course we are not, and now apparently the latest “injustice” being inflicted on the millennial generation – my generation – is the terrifying idea that Britain might vote to leave the European Union and seek to govern ourselves as an independent democracy once again.

Channelling this fear, Abi Wilkinson has written a nauseating piece in the Telegraph, explaining why the existential question of Brexit and Britain’s place in the world should be based entirely on the selfish desires and career insecurity of our generation.

Her piece – hilariously titled “Stubborn old people who want to leave the EU are condemning the rest to a lifetime of uncertainty” – is so patronisingly, finger-waggingly sanctimonious (and so readily swallows every talking point from Britain Stronger in Europe) that it makes anyone under the age of 35 seem completely insufferable, not to mention utterly wrong on the fundamentals.

Wilkinson opens:

When you consider that the risks of leaving the EU fall disproportionately on young people, it’s unsurprising that 18-29s are the group least likely to support the move. Almost three quarters of us say we’ll vote to remain, compared with just 37 per cent of over 60s. For many under-30s, worrying about employment has been a defining feature of our adult lives. Having come of age at the height of the financial crisis I know I’m certainly not keen to endure another similar economic downturn.

Of course becoming an adult and entering the workforce during a major recession is tough. Back in 2008 I had friends at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers who came home from work one day with all of their possessions in a cardboard box, and I narrowly escaped a redundancy round at my own company. Nobody wants economic uncertainty if it can be avoided, but at what point do infringements on democracy and the fundamental right to self-determination outweigh the hope of greater short term stability?

Wilkinson sees no such tradeoff at all – she is ready to jettison democracy at the first sign of trouble, throwing away our freedom even if it buys a measly 0.1% additional GDP growth. But the truth is that Brexit is possible while keeping disruption to a minimum by exiting to EFTA and EEA membership (the “soft landing” approach which would almost certainly be adopted by civil servants even if it is currently being furiously ignored by the mainstream Leave campaigns).

Abi Wilkinson might have known that there exists a comprehensive plan to achieve Brexit, extricating us from political union while minimising economic and other disruption. But like too many others of my generation, Wilkinson can’t be bothered to do her research, and so instead she swallows and regurgitates propaganda from the Remain campaign.

A man walks past various currency signs outside a brokerage in Tokyo

Wilkinson continues:

Already, young people are particularly likely to be in low-paid, precarious employment. Many are stuck working jobs well below their qualification level and struggle to secure the full-time hours they need to pay their rent and basic living costs. For anyone in this situation, the TUC’s warning that workers’ rights enshrined in EU law could come under attack following a Brexit vote is another serious worry.

At this point, Wilkinson’s politics become clear. She is one of those cookie-cutter lefties who love the European Union because they believe it acts as a social democratic bulwark against the Evil Tory policies which would otherwise ravage the nation. Or to put it another way, Abi Wilkinson doesn’t give a damn about the right of the British people to vote for the policies that they want for themselves. The population is too conservative for Wilkinson’s taste, and so we must have values and policies imposed upon us which we are not currently enlightened enough to vote for ourselves.

Abi Wilkinson is a great champion of democracy, you see.

But now it starts getting really offensive:

Less negatively, many people in their teens and 20s also appreciate the broader benefits of belonging to the European community. We’re more likely to travel abroad to work or study. Many of us have friends who were born in other countries so we’re less inclined to be wary of other cultures. We’re also much more likely to date someone who was born outside the UK.

In contrast, supporters of Brexit often seem to be motivated by a fear of the unknown. Older people are more likely to distrust migrants and to feel nostalgic for the comparatively homogenous UK of days gone by. Though there’s a sizeable retiree expat community residing in countries such as as Spain, over 60s are statistically likely to see the free movement of people as a threat rather than an opportunity.

Of course, for those who’ve already exited the labour market – or are planning to retire within the next few years – it’s much easier to focus on your gut instinct. If you’ve not got to worry about your employment prospects, the economic facts of the matter can be treated as a secondary concern. Young people have a reputation for being reckless, but in the EU referendum it’s older folk who will be playing fast and loose with the livelihoods of younger generations.

And continues:

As more countries have joined the EU, migration to the UK has gradually increased.

As a 20-something living in London, this isn’t something that worries me. I’m used to hearing a whole range of different languages and accents as I go about my daily life. It’s a mundane fact that many of my neighbours are relatively recent immigrants, not a cause for concern.

For someone who has lived in the same area for decades, however, I can see that it might be harder to adjust to changes in the local community. Still, it’s worth noting that UK-born people who live in relatively diverse neighbourhoods tend to feel more positively about migrants than those who don’t — suggesting that fear of immigration might be disproportionate to the reality.

Young people, open and tolerant; old people, suspicious and racist. Got it?

Note too how Wilkinson has pivoted, portraying young Remainers as the fearless go-getters off to pursue international careers and date hot Italians, while old people are now “[afraid] of the unknown”. She switches perspectives at several points throughout the piece, as though she cannot make up her mind whether young people are brave pioneers or snivelling victims (probably because it suits her purposes to be both at different times).

But worst of all is the suggestion that older people supporting Brexit are doing so not out of considered deliberation, but through “gut instinct”; that they are somehow not taking this seriously, and playing “fast and loose” with the livelihoods of the young.

Here, Wilkinson is seriously suggesting that the generation who have abandoned watching a nightly news bulletin in favour of Buzzfeed listicles pushed to their smartphone screens are the wise and discerning citizens, while those who actually have living memory of the European Union’s incremental power grabs are the ones making light of a critical geopolitical issue. The sheer gall of it is quite unbelievable.

Read the whole thing, if you can get to the end of Wilkinson’s sanctimonious lecture without wanting to punch your computer screen.

EU Referendum - Brexit - Democracy

The problem with Abi Wilkinson – and too many other members of Generation Me Me Me – is that they believe their right to an easy path through life trumps everyone else’s right to live in a representative democracy. As far as they are concerned, the fact that our own elected Westminster and devolved parliaments are increasingly sidelined by a supranational European entity is just the price we will have to pay for their ongoing contentment, because heaven forfend that the fuzzy career aspirations of some first year Gender Studies student are thwarted by a badly-timed outbreak of democracy.

In other words, too many millennials don’t know how to think or act as engaged citizens. Rather, they are capable only of behaving like selfish consumers, jealously guarding what they see as their special pot of privileges without the slightest care for the wider impact on the customs and institutions which together make up the fabric of our country, and which have often existed for decades or centuries before they were even born.

To this arrogant mindset, the older generations (like those strange grey haired people who gather round the Cenotaph every November wearing their silly medals for doing something or other in the past) don’t have a clue about what is best for Britain.

Apparently the generation which fought and bled and died to secure our freedom – whose contemporary Britain was reduced to rubble and rationing and deprivation in the 1940s when they were in the prime of life – is the selfish one, while their descendants (and I include myself) who sacrificed nothing but have mastered the Art of the Selfie somehow have a lot to teach our elders about responsible citizenship.

I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it, and I will not have it proclaimed in my name. Abi Wilkinson can speak for her very selfish self, but she should not presume to speak for the rest of her generation, or to demean the older generations so haughtily and glibly.

Some of us actually respect our elders. Some of us appreciate that coming of age when the building on the corner was a smoking crater from a German V2 rocket – rather than an artisan coffee shop with free WiFi – might possibly have imparted some wisdom and experience that we have not yet managed to acquire for ourselves.

Some of us weren’t born expecting all of the good things in life to be handed to us on a golden plate, or raised to be so rude that we write articles in the Telegraph essentially declaring “to hell with your democracy, give me a job in Madrid and cheap mobile roaming charges!”

Some of us are not so arrogant to assume that because we are “the future”, we are free to completely reshape society as we please, with no regard for the traditions and proven solutions of the past – you know, things like representative democracy, that old-fashioned concept where you actually get to vote out the people who make the key decisions if you disagree with them (try doing that in Wilkinson’s beloved EU).

Abi Wilkinson’s narcissistic, self-centred embrace of the Remain campaign makes me sick. It represents everything bad about the millennial generation, confirming every worst stereotype and instantly negating all of the better angels of our generation’s nature.

To those older Britons who wore the uniform, who fought for this country, who grew up in real deprivation in the early post-war years, who actually remember a time when Britain was a sovereign democracy and who are rightly incensed at being addressed as though you are stupid and greedy by a vapid, know-nothing millennial: please know that Abi Wilkinson does not speak for us all.

 

Hello I'm A Millennial

European Union - United Kingdom - Britain - Flags

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

We Have Created A Generation Of British Students Scared Of Clapping

Trigger Warning
Trigger Warning

 

“They say cut back, we say fight back!” shouted the angry horde of LSE students, some wearing face masks as though expecting trouble, as they marched down London’s Kingsway earlier today in protest of tuition fees, austerity, UKIP and the usual shopping list of lefty student grievances. These young students – women and men – were loud and purposeful; they certainly didn’t seem like the kind of people who would wilt at the first sign of disagreement or confrontation.

110 miles northwest of this rabble, however, a very different group of students was gathering in Solihull for the National Union of Students Women’s Conference 2015. And at this gathering, the delegates were deemed so sensitive and vulnerable that the simple act of clapping was discouraged for fear that it would “trigger anxiety” among them:

 

This isn’t the first time that clapping has caused controversy on university campuses. In February, Spiked Online published a damning report detailing growing illiberalism at British universities:

Continue reading