Is There Hope For Conservatism In Generation Z?

Generation Z conservatism

Generation Z does not automatically share the same predilection for leftist identity politics as the Millennial generation which precedes them. But can conservatives do enough to appeal to this newest group of emerging voters?

Many conservatives, myself included, have been worrying a lot about how we can better resist the relentless encroachment of leftist identity politics and the regressive, illiberal social justice warriors at the movement’s vanguard. But what if we have now reached Peak SJW? What if the spell is wearing off and a new generation is emerging with less time for the pervasive victimhood culture spawned by the 1960s radicals and their fragile children? And if so, how can the Right appeal to this generation (or at least cease driving them toward the parties of the Left)?

These are the questions explored by Sam White over at Country Squire magazine, in a thought-provoking piece which explores how conservatives might find favour with (at least some) young people again.

Sam writes:

Corbynism has been painted as rebellious and anti-establishment, but underneath the endorsement from Stormzy and the party leader’s appearance at Glastonbury (not that Glastonbury is pushing any boundaries) it’s nothing of the sort. If the current Labour leadership’s schemes were ushered in, they’d lead to constraint and conformity. And the new establishment would be authoritarian to a degree that its youthful supporters had not felt before.

There wouldn’t be much of a celebratory mood in the air then, as it slowly became clear that all that rebelliousness was nothing more than a carefully-managed means to an end.

Conservatives should be highlighting all this, and at the same time pushing the message that a free market model provides the best possible mechanism by which for changes to occur organically. Crucially, that model is how we safeguard the capacity to change, but it isn’t a change in itself.

If the Conservative Party were to realign around its libertarian element, then it might achieve resonance among younger voters, particularly those who come after the Millennial Red Army. Generation Z are shaping up to be open to a conservative message, and will surely react against the postmodern nonsense bought into by Millennials. Conservatives must be ready to meet them.

And the message should be simple: that the right-wing will safeguard classical liberal values and ditch victimhood-fetishizing identity politics. And it ought also to be made clear that socialism represents the polar opposite of all this: it’s a half-fossilized ideology that would usher in micro-management, politically correct hectoring, and state imposition.

The idea of the Conservative Party realigning around its libertarian element seems ludicrous at first glance, considering how few genuinely small-government, pro-liberty MPs exist within the party (and the even smaller subset of those whose views are vaguely coherent and pragmatic rather than ideological fantasy).

But then one remembers how Jeremy Corbyn first captured his party and then vast swathes of the country with a hard left message that his opponents and nearly all the commentariat dismissed as being terminally unpopular, and suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so unrealistic. One also thinks of how devotees of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman were able to establish a beachhead within a Conservative Party which still fully bought into the statist post-war consensus. And suddenly the idea of a radical shift in the Conservative Party seems feasible, if still unlikely.

Of course, such a shift would require somebody with vision and political courage – a conservative version of Jeremy Corbyn. And necessarily somebody without very much to lose, given the high probability of failure. Like him or not, Jeremy Corbyn possesses this conviction in spades, and even many people who are none too keen on 1970s socialism respond warmly to his candidness and the fact that he is unwilling to apologise for his beliefs. It is hard to see anybody within the current Conservative Cabinet playing a similar role on the Right. Indeed, all of the candidates most hotly tipped to succeed Theresa May are either grasping opportunists (Boris Johnson) or bland nonentities with no clearly articulable political philosophy of their own (Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd).

But even if the Tories were to search deep within their party and find a leader with moral and ideological backbone, could they make political traction with any group of voters by standing up to the identity politics Left? Sam White argues yes:

Conservatives needn’t pay regard to the social justice diktats which have taken over left-liberal discourse and muffled people’s rational capabilities. Simply by speaking directly and honestly, the politically correct narrative can be disrupted. And if that ruffles some left-wing feathers then all the better, let’s refuse to apologise and then offend them some more.

[..] The Conservative Party ought to be rejecting SJW new-leftism unequivocally. Why not just state it clearly? If you value the sovereignty of the individual, if you want the freedom to say what you like, create what you want, and make of yourself what you will, then steer well clear of collectivist movements.

A serious party would throw out badly defined hate crime regulations, reject the CPS’s garbage about policing what people say online, and get a grip on the police force so they stop tweeting photos of their trans-friendly, rainbow coloured cars.

There’s a gap in the market right now as common sense, libertarian ideals go under-represented, and there’s a Conservative Party that needs revitalising.

I don’t disagree with Sam in principle, but I do believe that the approach he advocates would require a degree of political courage and holding one’s nerve that I have not yet seen in any potential future leader, with the partial exception of Jacob Rees-Mogg (who disqualifies himself from serious consideration in several other ways and is therefore irrelevant).

We have seen time and again the ability of the social justice, identity politics Left to summon national outrage, to raise a mob, to hound people from their jobs and careers and even to incite violence when they sense a threat to their illiberal worldview. Even when it transpires that the target of their fury is innocent of the charges levelled against them, the damage is often done and no retraction or apology is forthcoming – see the inquisition against decent people like scientists Dr. Matt Taylor and Sir Tim Hunt.

We have seen, too, the unwillingness of senior politicians to take even the mildest stand against a leftist orthodoxy which demands 100 percent compliance on pain of excommunication from polite society. Even on his way out as Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron equivocated and resigned rather than stick to his guns and defend what were presumably his true, religiously-motivated feelings about gay marriage. And regardless of one’s feelings about gay marriage (this blog is supportive), how many conservatives will have watched these various witch hunts play out in the news and concluded that to speak out on other issues like climate change, the gender pay gap, affirmative action or radical gender theory means career suicide and likely social ostracisation as a bonus?

In short, it would take almost superhuman bravery to stand in the face of this potential hurricane. Even Jeremy Corbyn didn’t have to fear such public opprobrium for stating his political beliefs. When running for the Labour leadership, despite being on record as supportive of dictatorial leftist regimes and terrorist groups from the IRA to Hamas, Corbyn was still very welcome in polite society, and regarded at worst by most his critics as a harmless curiosity from the past. By contrast, if a conservative politician were to publicly question or doubt the “institutional racism” of swathes of British society, denounce affirmative action or even state that there are just two sexes and genders, the dinner party invitations and television interview requests would dry up instantaneously. To even state political opinions held by a plurality of people effectively makes one persona non grata in Westminster and other elite circles.

Therefore, given the hostile environment and lack of courage seen in our politics, we will likely have to look for salvation from outside, in the form of Generation Z. As Sam White correctly points out, this emerging generation – unscarred by the great recession, less coddled (so far) by helicopter parenting, more individualistic and sceptical of identity politics narratives preaching collective racial guilt – may yet react against the politics of their older siblings and illiberal, leftist parents.

And this is why it is more vital than ever that the Conservative Party stop bickering over which of three or four identikit centrists replace Theresa May, and instead articulate a positive conservative vision with concrete policies that actually inspire young people rather than continue to screw them over. In short, they need to do precisely the opposite of what they accomplished during their car crash of a party conference in Manchester.

The newly-minted young adults of today are still politically up for grabs. There is nothing written in stone which decrees that they must become the perpetual property of a moralising left-wing movement which combines 1970s statism with 21st century, self-obsessed identity politics. Many of these new voters can still be called to a higher, better and more conservative purpose if only somebody was there to show them that there is more to conservatism than droning on about the deficit, apologising for their principles, chasing after Labour and messing up Brexit.

Tick tock, fellow conservatives.

 

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Does Brexit Mean That Baby Boomers Hate Their Own Children?

New Statesman hysteria - Brexit means baby boomers hate their own children

The idea that parents and grandparents would vote Leave out of hatred for their own children is as absurd as it is vile. But some Remainers will make any accusation in their rage against Brexit

The baby boomers of Britain are in the grip of a virulent, infanticidal mania. The EU referendum apparently caused highly contagious spores to be released into the air,  primarily affecting those aged 65 and over, causing them to forget any maternal, paternal or other protective familial instincts and instead seek to cause maximum financial and emotional suffering to their own children and grandchildren, for the pure pleasure of it.

Or at least so says Jonn Elledge, staff writer for the New Statesman, who brings every ounce of confirmation bias in his body to bear on a new YouGov poll in order to pronounce that by voting for Brexit, baby boomers and older people must actively “hate their own children”.

First of all, let’s be clear about what the YouGov poll actually says:

YouGov poll - Brexit extremism

That is, a significant majority of Brexit voters would be willing to tolerate significant damage to the British economy in order to see Brexit fulfilled, a tendency which the poll goes on to reveal becomes stronger among older age groups.

Is this necessarily evidence of “Brexit extremism”? Perhaps, but one can only say for sure if one takes it for granted that economic growth (or avoiding economic harm) is the sole valid consideration of a rational person, a premise which neither the poll nor Jonn Elledge even attempts to make.

And of course, the corollary to these figures is the fact that the same “extremism” is alive and well among Remain voters, many of whom would dearly love to see Britain heavily punished economically so long as it meant that Brexit was subverted and they could stay in their beloved European Union:

YouGov poll - Brexit extremism 2

Jonn Elledge takes no notice of this latter fact, though, and immediately launches into a hysterical tirade against the evil older generations who clearly could have had no other motive for voting Leave other than to watch as their children and grandchildren suffered and led diminished lives. No, seriously.

Elledge writes:

The older Leave voters are, the more likely they are to think crashing the economy because they don’t like Belgians is a pretty fine kind of idea.

That trend reaches its peak among the Leavers aged over 65, fully half of whom are happy to tell pollsters that they don’t give a shit if Brexit causes a relative to lose their job, they want it and they want it hard.

Ah yes, let’s begin with a glib assertion that Brexit is all about not liking Belgians or other funny foreigners. One might think that one year on after having his worldview so thoroughly and humiliatingly repudiated by the British people in the EU referendum, Jonn Elledge might have had the humility to go back to the drawing board and question some of his glib and not-very-witty assumptions about what motivates people to make political choices. But apparently not.

More:

The thing about the over 65s is that relatively few of them work: to be blunt about it, those most enthusiastic about people losing jobs are those who don’t have jobs to lose. The vast majority of this oldest cohort will be on pensions, whose value is far less likely to come under threat from a recession than almost any other form of income. Most will own their own houses, too. They’re the section of the population most likely to be left entirely unscathed by the Brexit-based recession. They are quite literally alright, Jack – and, it turns out, fully half of them don’t care if their kids aren’t.

Baby boomers, as a cohort, benefited from free education, generous welfare and cheap housing, then voted for parties which denied those things to their kids. Their contribution to intergenerational inequality led my colleague Stephen Bush, in one of his frequent bouts of being infuriatingly good at his job, to note that, “The baby boomer is one of the few mammals that eats its own young.” All this we already knew.

Nonetheless, it’s rare to see this selfishness communicated so baldly, so shamelessly. When asked directly whether they’d swap the wealth and security of their own children for a blue passport and the ability to deport Polish plumbers, they said yes in huge numbers.

“Would you like your children to have a better life than yourselves?” You Gov asked them. And the reply came back: “Fuck ’em.”

This YouGov poll could have touched off a genuinely interesting conversation about the balance between present wealth and future liberty, about other historical examples of populations allowing themselves to be bought off with bread and circuses in exchange for turning a blind eye to the way that their societies were (mis)governed. But that would have required a British political media class who did not think as a herd that the European Union is an unquestionably Good Thing, and that anybody who dissents from this groupthink is an irrational, evil hater.

Does Jonn Elledge seriously believe, in his heart of hearts, that those older people who voted for Brexit did so with the expressed intention of harming their children and grandchildren – or at least not caring that such harm might come to pass? Does he not realise that the counterfactual, unrecorded by YouGov (who did not bother to probe more deeply) is that perhaps these older people – rightly or wrongly – thought that by voting for Brexit they were preserving some other vital social good for their descendants, something potentially even more valuable than a couple of points of GDP growth?

I would posit that the supposedly hateful Daily Mail-reading generation of grey haired fascists scorned by Jonn Elledge actually do not have any particular desire to inflict economic harm on their children and grandchildren, but simply realise – through having lived full lives through periods of considerably less material abundance than those of us born since the 1980s – that other things matter too. Things like freedom and self-determination, precious gifts which were under threat during the Second World War and the Cold War, and which the older generations who remember these difficult times therefore do not casually take for granted.

They correctly perceive that sometimes there is a trade-off between short term economic security and long term freedom and prosperity. Can anyone who knows their history – or at least has watched the recent Dunkirk movie – doubt that the British population would have been immeasurably safer and better off in the short term had we made peace with Nazi Germany rather than fighting on alone after the fall of Europe? And looked at through a purely economic lens, how many years of subjugation beneath the jackboot of a fascist regime would have tipped the scale and suddenly made it worth fighting for freedom after all?

This time, the choice before us is nowhere near as difficult, and the trade-offs nowhere near as severe. Even if this incompetent government mishandles Brexit as badly as sometimes appears likely, bombs will not fall from the sky to level our cities and destroy our cathedrals. This is not to understate the effect that a mishandled Brexit negotiation could have – any uptick in unemployment or decrease in economic activity is highly suboptimal, with real human consequences.

But there are negative consequences associated with failing to safeguard our democratic institutions and fundamental liberties too, though they often seem remote or even irrelevant until suddenly they are both present and irreversible. Those who have been on this good Earth for a few more decades than Jonn Elledge perhaps appreciate this fact more readily.

Our politics has become increasingly consumerist in recent years – the politics of me me me. And unfortunately we now have a young and poorly educated millennial generation – my generation – who see politics only through the lens of what they can get for themselves in terms of perks and opportunities. This makes them particularly vulnerable to any old charlatan who comes along spewing EU propaganda suggesting that the European Union is the only reason that they are able to “live, love and work in other countries” (to use their nauseating phrase du jour).

Ultimately this is yet another total failure of the pro-EU Left to remotely empathise with those on the other side of the Brexit argument. It represents a colossal failure of imagination to sincerely believe – let alone publish in a major national political magazine! – that a generation of parents and grandparents who scrimped, saved and sacrificed to raise their families now want to cause them harm merely to warm themselves in the glow of imperial nostalgia as they enter their twilight years.

And yet this is what Elledge, the New Statesman and countless commentators on the Left would have us believe. Frankly, this haughty and arrogant attitude is more dehumanising of its victims than that of the xenophobe who may believe that foreigners are good people, but simply doesn’t want them in his country – at least there is still the outside possibility that they vaguely respect the other.

I’ll say that again, lest there be any doubt or confusion – by holding this vile opinion, Jonn Elledge, the New Statesman and anyone who concurs is worse than a garden variety xenophobe.

A society which does not respect its elders cannot long endure, and these puffed-up millennial moralisers seem determined to drive us into the ditch as fast as they possibly can.

 

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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

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 40 – The University Of Chicago Fights Back

University of Missouri - Mizzou Hunger Strike

Yes, some things – like academic freedom – are more important than the delicate feelings of new undergraduate students. Kudos to the University of Chicago for making their incoming freshman class aware of that hard fact up front.

In a refreshing contrast to the usual depressing tales of faculty capitulations to the whining, self-involved voices of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, the University of Chicago decided to make a bold stand for academic freedom.

From Heat Street:

The University of Chicago, one of America’s most prestigious and selective universities, is warning incoming students starting this fall not to expect safe spaces and a trigger-free existence during their four-year journey through academia.

In a letter sent to the class of 2020, university officials said one of the defining characteristics of the school was its unwavering commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. Civility and mutual respect are vital to the campus culture, the letter states, but not at the expense of shielding students from unpopular opinions or ideas.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” the letter states.

Expect the University of Chicago to be rewarded for their courage and integrity through greater application and enrolment numbers, as well as higher levels of achievement from the incoming undergraduate class as those delicate snowflakes too enraptured by their own vulnerability and completely unable to process dissenting opinions decide to study at other, more large-L liberal schools.

Already we have started to see a backlash against those institutions and university leaderships which are too quick to capitulate to petulant SJW demands to alter the curriculum, suppress free speech, disinvite conservative speakers and turn the campus from being a place of fearless debate to one of infantilising self-affirmation and victimhood.

The University of Missouri, roiled by campus protests last year in which marauding Social Justice Warriors forced the resignation of the university president for failing to treat black students like helpless victims, has seen its enrolment and profitability fall off a cliff. Good. If there is any justice, enrolment at Mizzou will dwindle until there is nothing left but tumbleweeds and the shrieking activists who drove out reason from a place of learning. And closer to home, the University of Oxford’s Oriel College had to frantically appease angry alumni donors who were ready to cancel their donations to the college in protest at Oriel’s limp capitulation to the Rhodes Must Fall movement.

In this very “Tales From The Safe Space” series, we have previously highlighted other examples of academic institutions standing up to their crybully students rather than rolling over and letting them seize control – the uncompromising example set by Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is particularly encouraging.

As Dr. Piper memorably warned his students:

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.

And flatly reminded them:

This is not a day care. This is a university.

A long-overdue reminder for some students.

And so the University of Chicago’s stand against the SJWs did not happen in isolation; nor was it possible without a rigorous examination of the negative trends in campus life and the various ways in which academic freedom is under attack. And that is precisely what they did – back in 2014 the university commissioned a report on the state of freedom of expression at universities nationwide and reaffirming their own commitment to the timeless value of free speech over and above any passing social fashion.

From the report (my emphasis in bold):

Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the University, the University of Chicago fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the University community “to discuss any problem that presents itself.”

Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.

[..] In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission.

And it is that last part which presents such a challenge to many of today’s students – young people today are not only arriving at university unable to tolerate let alone contest ideas which they oppose, they are outraged at the very suggestion that they should learn to cope in such a way.

And not entirely through their own fault, for mine is a snowflake generation raised to believe that we are special, unique, perfect and above any reproach which might damage our self-esteem. We are taught not that sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us, but rather that sticks and stones may break our bones but words can kills us stone dead.

From early childhood education on upward we are taught that hurting someone’s feelings is just as bad – if not worse – than physically assaulting them. And all the while we are told to present our tear-stained faces to the relevant authorities the moment that somebody upsets us, so that they can receive their just punishment. We are not taught self sufficiency, resilience and the power of reason, but rather are encouraged to exalt in our weaknesses and wear our fragility like a badge of honour.

Little wonder, then, that when my generation reach university and fall under the intoxicating presence of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics (student protests always appearing edgy and cool, but this incarnation representing a dangerous shift in attitude and tactics) so many of us immediately buy in to the idea that our personal worldview and beliefs are never to be questioned.

The University of Chicago alone cannot do anything about the way that people in the English-speaking Western world raise their children or educate them at a young age. They cannot challenge the toxic rise of baby-centred parenting, where parents and adults contort themselves to conform to the whims and sensitivities of their historically pampered children rather than promoting respect, deference and anti-fragility. The University of Chicago is but one academic institution facing a tidal wave of consequences from years of bad parenting, educational and child-rearing trends in society.

But what the University of Chicago can do – what they did do, admirably – is boldly restate who and what they are as an organisation, and what they stand for as an institute of higher education. They can boldly restate their commitment to the timeless values of academic freedom, and the fostering of personal and intellectual growth through robust debate and the free exchange of views. They can tell their incoming freshmen that no matter how accustomed they are to getting gold stars simply for participating, or demanding positive affirmation of even their most questionable decisions, the days of coddling will end the moment they set foot on campus.

This is what the University of Chicago did. This is what every university in America, Britain and the entire English-speaking world needs to do now if they are to avoid regressing into nothing more than adult daycare centres where the Play-Doh and puppy videos are piled high while challenging books burn in a pyre outside the library.

 

Safe Space Notice - 2

Top Image: Sports Illustrated, Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

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By Failing To Back Brexit, Millennial Voters Are Failing Their Generation’s First Great Test Of Character

Students for Europe

Millennial voters who lazily but instinctively support Britain remaining in the European Union are letting down their country and their entire generation

Lately, this blog has been focusing on the younger, millennial generation and our unfortunate propensity to think as scared consumers rather than engaged citizens, and so overwhelmingly support Britain remaining in the European Union (even if many of us are too lazy to carry our opinions as far as the ballot box).

In taking this stance, I have encountered some pushback from readers, who have (rightly) pointed to the fact that older generations can be equally greedy and self-interested, but (wrongly) drawn a false equivalence between the two.

While not all young Remainers hold their position because of perceived material self-interest, those who completely ignore the democratic question to focus exclusively on their own material (typically career and travel) prospects – which would almost certainly be completely unaffected in the event of Brexit – are fully deserving of the criticism levelled at them by this blog and others.

The Guardian breaks down the latest polling data:

Government strategists and pollsters privately admit that the central problem for the Remain side is that its support for staying in the EU is strongest among young people, the group least likely to vote. Opinium found that in the 18-34 age group, 53% said they backed staying in, against 29% who wanted to leave. But only just over half (52%) in this age group said they were certain to actually go out and vote.

Among voters in the 55-and-over category, support for leaving was far stronger, as was their certainty to vote, offering a huge advantage to the Leave side.

Some 54% of voters aged 55 and over said they wanted to leave against 30% who wanted the UK to remain in the EU. But in stark contrast to younger voters, 81% of this group were certain to vote.

Perhaps our generation is in need of a wake-up call. This particular tirade (quoted below) is addressed to American millennials flirting with the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, but parts of it apply equally to younger British voters indignant that the Leave campaign’s quest to restore democracy is interfering with their perceived career options springing from the munificent European Union.

Courtney Kirchoff writes over at Steve Crowder’s website:

Adulthood isn’t what we thought it would be. No, the economy these past several years hasn’t exactly been stellar, either. Okay? Okay.

My fellow millennials, for sure we have our challenges. Many of you were raised in broken homes. Many of you were exposed to divorce. It’s possible a lot of you didn’t live with your father or may not have known him at all. Combine home life with the rise of political correctness in school, taking its dangerous form of “self-esteem above all,” and no wonder you think life is unfair but you should have it all.

Look, I’m sorry life screwed you over in the early years. I’m sorry if you were shuffled to daycare day in and day out. I’m sorry if you don’t have memories of playing with your parents. But most of all, I’m sorry you were not instilled with the grand idea of personal responsibility. I’m sorry you were not empowered with the notion that YOU are the commander of your own life. If you take nothing else from this post, believe that no matter who you are, you can succeed. Without government.

Because guess what, my friends? You’re abject loyalty to socialism is going to tank our country. Your insistence on getting what you want and making other people pay for it, all under the guise of “fairness,” will lead to ruin. For everyone. Including you.

Switch out “socialism” and “government” and replace it with “the EU” and you have a perfect response to the EU’s millennial cheerleaders.

Yes, of course this is an age of anxiety. Just as the boomer generation seriously worried about imminent nuclear annihilation, so we worry about job security and career prospects. But we are hardly a uniquely benighted generation, though there are indeed many ways which our politics currently favours older voters – the government’s lack of a coherent housing policy being an obvious example.

But I’m sorry: growing up in economically uncertain times in an age where there is no guaranteed job for life does not absolve millennials – my generation – from thinking not only as self-interested consumers but also as engaged citizens who care about the country and democracy that they will bequeath to their own descendants.

The generation who spent their prime years fighting fascism – and who saw their contemporary Britain largely reduced to rubble and ruin in the process – could have abstained en masse from fighting the Nazi threat in order to buy a few more years of economic security and job stability through appeasement. But they were willing to go to war and risk what they had for principles which transcended material concerns.

By contrast, our generation is not called to risk or sacrifice nearly as much as our grandparents and great grandparents were to defend democracy and national self-determination – and in fact could have much to gain from British secession from the European Union, materially and otherwise. But by an overwhelming majority we are unwilling to take even that far smaller risk.

And history will long note this colossal failure of courage and character from Generation Me Me Me.

 

Hello I'm A Millennial

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