Fighting Social Justice Warriors At Ohio University By Adopting Their Tactics

Ohio University College Republicans - Graffiti Wall - SJWs - Identity Politics

University Social Justice Warriors, with their victimhood culture and authoritarian tactics, are in danger of creating an equally illiberal conservative backlash

In a recent piece, Rod Dreher speculated as to what might happen if and when the usual targets of social justice warrior bullying come out of their defensive crouch and begin to fight back, playing the SJWs at their own game.

(The upshot: while an entirely understandable reaction, nothing good can from it; free speech will then be under assault from both ends of the political spectrum).

This comes in the context of Donald Trump-supporting students having their free speech right to advocate for Trump’s candidacy treated by snarling left-wing activists and cowed university administrations like some kind of grave assault on the safety of the campus community.

Dreher writes:

One likes to think that most students have enough residual dignity to restrain themselves from behaving like bully-babies.

What if that changes? What if students — whites, males, and other out-groups — decide that they’re going to fight fire with fire, and adopt Trumpian methods on campus, challenging the sacred victim status of the SJWs, and claim the mantle of victimhood for themselves, and intimidating university authorities until they get what they want? Trump has shown what you can do to acquire power if you just don’t give a rat’s rear end what people think of you. That is, if your own belief in yourself and your righteousness is so absolute that you are not susceptible to believing that it is undignified or dishonorable to present yourself in the public square as a victim. Trump’s genius is to present himself as both victim and victor, and that kind of thing is not going to work on campus. But sooner or later, the tactics of the SJWs are going to be taken up by their opponents, because that’s the only way they will save themselves from being entirely disempowered on campus, and in time, in the workplace. Trump has shown that establishments are weaker than people think, and can be pushed over. So have the SJWs. All that campuses need now are counterprotesters to the SJWs, making similar uncompromising demands from administrators, driven by nothing but their feelings of grievance. Then we can have a proper war of all against all.

Thanks, SJWs.

Unfortunately, this counterprotest is already coming to pass, with some American conservative students now adopting the same language of fragility and victimhood used by their leftist tormentors.

The College Fix reports:

The College Republicans at Ohio University say they are under siege by peers for painting a message on the campus free speech wall defending the First Amendment.

In a barrage of cyber harassment over the last day, they have been called racists, described as Klansmen, and accused of literally threatening the campus — all over a painted message that read “Trigger warning: there are no safe spaces in real life! You can’t wall off the 1st Amendment.”

“It got so much hate, I just don’t know if I have ever received so much hate in my life,” David Parkhill, 19, president of the Ohio University College Republicans, said Thursday in an interview with The College Fix.

“Granted, I knew what I was getting into, but I didn’t think it would be that much hate,” he said. “We are basically a minority on this campus. Our opinion is so put down and so crushed, it’s almost like we don’t have a say.”

While the Ohio University College Republicans doubtless have a point – one can imagine campus life not being much fun for anyone with openly conservative convictions in the current climate – what is depressing here is the way in which David Parkhill, president of the OU Republicans, uses the same whining language of victimhood and oppression to elicit sympathy for his own embattled minority.

Nobody likes a pity party, but that is exactly what will get if conservative and liberal students face off against each other not as they should, through lively debate, but rather through constant, tear-stained appeals for the university authorities to intercede on behalf of their respective sides.

And in a sense, one cannot blame the Ohio University College Republicans for behaving in this way. They have watched for months and years while identity politics-wielding left-wing students get every little thing that they demand from spineless university administrations, and shame into submission anybody who stands in their way.

It is not therefore an illogical leap when other students conclude that this is the best and most effective way of advancing one’s own agenda. If the Social Justice Warriors can mobilise support and win concessions by emphasising (and frankly, grossly exaggerating) their supposed victimhood and oppression, why should conservatives not do the same?

But this can lead nowhere good. For a start, the SJWs have much more practice at wielding identity politics as a weapon. It is their bread and butter, they do it every day. Every linguistic trick and campaigning tactic to elicit the last drop of sympathy and support from sympathetic university authorities is already known to them, while as the Ohio University example demonstrates, conservative students are still taking their first baby steps at playing the victim.

Therefore, in the short term, conservatives will not only continue to be outgunned by the SJWs, they will squander whatever sympathy and respect they otherwise deserve by lowering themselves to the same tactic of  appealing to their weakness and minority status as a valid reason to clamp down on the freedom of others (SJWs) to organise and protest.

And in the longer term, if through repeated practice young students become adept at flaunting their fragility and exalting in their helplessness, both sides will fight to a bloody draw, with nobody able to say or do anything on campus without immediately triggering a protest and counter-protest. University will truly no longer be a place for the discussion of ideas, but a sheltered place of “comfort and home” for weak-minded adult babies, an intellectual demilitarised zone protected by a field of verbal landmines laid by every competing minority group over the academic and political discourse.

In other words, this is not the anti-SJW backlash that we have been waiting for. While it is unsurprising to see Ohio University College Republicans seeking to fight back in the way they believe will make the most difference in the short term, while they still have to live on campus, their adoption of the SJW’s own weapons and tactics will do nothing to halt the longer-term slide into authoritarianism, infantilisation and ever-more restrictive behavioural codes.

All of which makes it even more vital that the adults in the room – professors and university administrators – stop being so darn terrified of their own student populations, and actually start push back against any student or advocacy group which attempts to use their supposed fragility as a reason to shut down free speech for others.

As this blog has argued, students alone cannot halt the growth of safe spaces and censorship on their college campuses. Though liberty-minded students will have to be the foot soldiers in any such fightback, they can only succeed if they are given sufficient air cover by those in positions of authority and moral leadership – and on too many campuses, this has been pointedly lacking.

Some universities – like Mizzou – are starting to pay a high price for attempting to appease the mob rule of the SJWs.

How long will it be until more universities realise that they need to fight back and stand up to the identity politics takeover, or else face a similar fate?


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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 27 – Ohio University, Tear Down This Wall

Ohio University - Trump 2016 - Chalk - Hispanic Latino Student Union - Cultural Sensitivity

At Ohio University, mortal offence is in the eye of the beholder

Another day, another American university cravenly submitting to the identity politics bullies and their weaponised mental weakness.

Now, the president of Ohio University has apologised to students in a letter because unknown other students dared to exercise their First Amendment rights by spraying a political sentiment (expressing support for Donald Trump – pass the smelling salts!) on the university’s famous Graffiti Wall.

The Athens Post reports:

The graffiti wall by Bentley Hall was found painted over with the words “Trump 2016” and “Build The Wall!!” on Thursday.

Some Ohio University students were upset by the display.

“I felt disgust, frustration and I expected more from this campus,” Joshelyn Smith, a senior studying communication and public advocacy, said.

The Hispanic and Latino Student Union at OU put together an emergency meeting that took place in OU’s Multicultural Center after finding out about the mural and ultimately painted over it at 3 p.m. Thursday.

“The goal of the meeting was to start a discussion,” Carla Triana, Hispanic and Latino Student Union president, said. “We heard about (the mural) at 9 this morning, and we had to do something instantaneously. We had to educate people on why this was offensive.”

Yes – clearly nothing was more important than holding an “emergency meeting” to explain why declaring support for a political candidate on a wall honouring free speech is so “offensive” as to warrant seeking out and punishing the perpetrators.

Sadly, much as we saw with the college Equal Opportunities administrators who gleefully shredded the US Constitution in an attempt to soothe the hurt feelings of a student (really an undercover reporter) who claimed to feel “triggered” by the document, Ohio University was lightning quick to apologise to the outraged students.

Even though these students are nothing but bullies, attempting to use their hurt feelings as a weapon to shut down the fundamental free speech rights of others, Ohio University leaders could not find it within themselves to stand up to the identity politics cultists and tell them to grow a thicker skin.

Campus Reform reports:

The president of Ohio University sent a campus-wide email expressing sympathy for those “hurt” by pro-Trump slogans written on a free speech wall last week.

[..] The Hispanic and Latino Student Union called an emergency meeting—attended by university president Roderick McDavis— to “start a discussion … on why this was offensive,” after which they decided to paint over the messages.

[..] McDavis assured attendees that he shared their concerns, and was working to accelerate the development of a cultural competency element for freshman orientation, following that up the next day with a message to the campus community discussing the “beauty and power” of words in the context of sympathizing with those offended by the Trump-inspired messages.

“Yesterday, I met with students and members of our Hispanic/Latino community who saw words that troubled them on the Graffiti Wall,” McDavis wrote. “Indeed, this wall is a place of free speech and expression; however, the words painted were troubling because they had a very different meaning to some than they may have to others viewing the message or even to those who painted the message.”

But this frantic attempt by McDavis to mollify the angry students by adopting their identity politics language and accepting the premise of their complaint is exactly the problem. When you move away from an objective standard of what constitutes unacceptable (or “problematic”) free speech toward a worldview where speech can be restricted or punished based on the subjective feelings and interpretation of certain third parties, then you no longer have anything like freedom of speech.

If the words “Trump 2016” or “Build the Wall” were troubling to some students because they chose to interpret them as “I hate Hispanic/Latino people” rather than “let’s adopt this policy in a (counter-productive) attempt to enforce our border”, does this mean that the political idea can no longer be expressed for fear of upsetting those who apply the worst possible interpretation of the words in their minds?

What about other political statements? If one follows this logic, do we not end up in a situation where any conservative sentiment is liable to be banned after being wilfully misinterpreted by angry students wielding their fragile “mental safety” as a weapon?

(And incidentally, although it does not excuse Trump’s worst rhetoric about immigration, the fact that the identity politics practising American Left immediately interpret any call for immigration control as smoking gun evidence of deep racism – meaning that the political opinions of countless people are effectively made taboo – is one of the reasons why Donald Trump is now serving as such a successful and dangerous pressure release valve for years of previously unchannelled anger).

This is a textbook case of how not to respond to an identity politics-based student power grab on campus. As soon as university administrators conceded the premise of the complaint – that words spoken, written or painted can cause “harm”, and that this is unacceptable even if the harm is only incurred by applying the worst possible interpretation of the speech in question – they lost the war. They frantically scrambled to mollify the students in an attempt to buy themselves peace, but they will only succeed in emboldening the student activists to take offence even more easily and demand even greater concessions in future.

One can predict with reasonable confidence that there will now be one or more forced resignations from the Ohio University faculty or administration in the coming year, either as a result of what has already happened or because of some future non-existent transgression against the student population. And it will be richly deserved, for those who fail to defend academic freedom and free speech have no place running our universities.


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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 20 – Segregated Accommodation For Ohio University LGBT Students

LGBT - Segregation - Ohio University - Identity Politics - Safe Space

Students seeking to cocoon themselves in safe spaces and segregated accommodation are being selfish – society can only grow in understanding and acceptance when people of different backgrounds and ideas are thrown together and forced to interact with one another

More depressing news of the return of segregation on American university campuses.

Latest to capitulate to the cult of Identity Politics is Ohio University, which is now introducing an LGBT-only housing community (or “living community”) for self-identifying gay, lesbian and transgender students, as well as their relatives and “allies”.

From the Athens Messenger:

Next year, Ohio University freshmen and sophomores who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans will have the option to reside in a new LGBT living community on the Athens campus. This new living community will be in addition to gender-neutral housing already offered by the university.

According to Delfin Bautista, director of the OU LGBT Center, next year will mark the fourth year for gender-neutral housing options for students. Bautista said the gender neutral housing was made available for not only transsexual students who wanted a safe space, but also siblings, other forms of relatives or even co-ed best friends.

In addition to the gender-neutral housing, Bautista said the university is rolling out a new living community catered to those who identify as LGBT. The living community will be located in Smith House on the South Green, which also is the location for the gender-neutral dorm options.

Bautista said the resident assistant overseeing the new living community will be “developing intentional experiences” for the LGBT members. Those who live in the community will have the opportunity to participate in LGBT-centered programming and will be connected to LGBT resources.

In other words, as soon as they set foot on campus at Ohio University, freshmen students will have the option to immediately find other people who look and think the same way as them, and then live and socialise exclusively with those like-minded people to the exclusion of all others.

This is utterly antithetical to what should be any university’s mission – to turn out resilient, well-rounded and intellectually capable students who are able to flourish in the world, overcoming adversity and achieving success on their own merits. This gender-neutral housing may do many things, but one thing it will absolutely not do is help those who choose to live in it to become more resilient people.

Rather, students living in Ohio University’s segregated LGBT accommodation will be overseen by an RA (resident assistant) who develops “intentional experiences” for the community. In other words, their time at college will be curated for them in such a way that makes this one aspect of their personhood – their sexuality or gender – seem like the overriding and defining feature of their lives. How could it not? Because of this one facet of their identity, these students will be told that they are so different from the wider university community (or so at risk from a malevolent, unsafe outside world) that they need to study, socialise and dwell in seclusion from other students.

But there is another side to this.

How do those from minority groups who choose to hide themselves away in micro-communities of similar people ever hope to bring about a more tolerant and understanding society, when at every turn they seek to shun debate, shut down free speech and even voluntarily segregate themselves away from the wider community?

Nearly all of the positive steps forward our societies have taken to overcome racism, xenophobia and every manner of intolerance were made possible by engagement – by people from minority groups standing up and being an unapologetic, highly visible presence in their communities. That’s why antipathy to immigration is often highest in areas with the lowest number of immigrants, for example. As soon as the immigrants appear in larger numbers (provided they come in good faith and attempt to assimilate) the fears of the original community tend to subside.

Do those early, conspicuous arrivals sometimes face hostility, and even violence? Regrettably, yes. But how much longer would the process of desegregation in America (for example) taken if black students in the 1960s had insisted on living in segregated accommodation?

Ohio University LGBT Center

Civil rights trailblazers like Vivian Malone Jones, one of the first black students to enrol at the University of Alabama back in 1963, faced unprecedented hostility from the governor of the state on downwards – yet Jones did not demand a safe space, despite her physical safety at times being under very real threat.

By contrast, today’s student activists seek refuge in designated Safe Spaces despite never having to experience anything like the genuine lack of safety faced by Jones, and with the benefit of overwhelmingly supportive university administrations falling over themselves to adopt every diversity policy asked of them. With ninety percent of the battle for equality already won, suddenly the social justice warriors are growing thin skins.

Worse still, those students today who want to tell the whole world about their pain and have endless discussions about their own emotions are shamefully neglecting their duty to the next generation of LGBT, queer and ethnic minority students. They are prioritising their own tremulous fear of encountering bigotry or disagreement over the duty which they should feel toward those who will follow in their footsteps.

If minority students cloister themselves away in segregated accommodation and socialise in ethnic-based safe spaces and societies, they fail to help the wider community grow in acceptance. Sure, they may counter that racist and bigoted students should simply mend their ways and change their retrograde opinions without needing to be shown that black, Hispanic, gay, lesbian or trans students are just like them. But human nature is often such that acceptance only comes when something is familiar.

Whether this is fair or not, at some point these students will leave university and enter the real world. Surely, then, living as part of the general community and slogging through any difficult or painful situations which may arise as a result is good for the minority students as well as for the wider community.

But sadly, the social justice warriors of Generation Me Me Me tend not to see things that way. The millennial generation – my generation – is far more interested in talking about what the world owes us (jobs, houses, material possessions) rather than what we owe our communities and our country. Many would rather talk endlessly about their pain and the wrongs which have been inflicted on them than comport themselves with dignity (like previous generations of civil rights heroes) and, through their stoic presence on campus, forge a smoother path for those who come after them.

Many of these student activists would be hugely offended by this accusation – they do not realise that their sit-ins and hunger strikes are inherently selfish acts designed to rectify perceived wrongs against themselves (at best) or to simply signal their own virtue (at worst). Their activism is inwardly focused either on winning perks and concessions for themselves, or seeking to punish those who have caused them offence – in other words, it is a plain old fashioned power play by student activists against the university administrators (who, ironically, were themselves once activist students fighting their own university hierarchies).

The trouble with Safe Space theory – and with Ohio University’s new segregated campus accommodation for LGBT students – is that it focused entirely on the now, with no thought to the future. There is no recognition of the fact that coddling students today both fails to prepare them for life after graduation, and also hinders society’s progress in becoming more accepting of different people. As our hedonistic, therapeutic culture dictates, it is all about feeling better in the here and now, with no thought given to tomorrow.

This is what happens when toxic Identity Politics culture meets a uniquely self-entitled generation concerned with their own personal self-realisation above all else. You can fully expect to see lots more segregated university accommodation springing up in America, with Britain following along in a couple of years.

Not because it will do anything to bring about a more just or equal society – it won’t – but because it makes people feel good in the here and now.


Postscript: It is worth pointing out that Ohio University actively encourages transgender students to live in this segregated accommodation.


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