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campus culture wars
POTUS v. PC, Part Three

In an interview with NPR yesterday, President Obama—for the third time this year—criticized the intolerance exhibited by some leftwing activists at college campuses across the country:

I think it’s a healthy thing for young people to be engaged and to question authority and to ask why this instead of that, to ask tough questions about social justice. So I don’t want to discourage kids from doing that.

As I’ve said before, I do think that there have been times on college campuses where I get concerned that the unwillingness to hear other points of view can be as unhealthy on the left as on the right. […]

There have been times where you start seeing on college campuses students protesting somebody like the director of the IMF or Condi Rice speaking on a campus because they don’t like what they stand for. Well, feel free to disagree with somebody, but don’t try to just shut them up.

We are always happy to see the President stand up for free inquiry and open debate. America’s strength doesn’t just flow from the power of its navy or the size of its economy. It also derives from our country’s ability to sustain liberal norms in our major institutions. As such, campus intolerance is rightly an area of concern for the President, and it’s heartening that he has devoted some attention to it (at least in his public remarks) in the last several months.

That said, it would be even better if the Administration would also follow up on this kind of rhetoric. It could, for example, direct its Office of Civil Rights in Education to stop pushing colleges to infringe on the civil liberties of their students in the name of combating harassment. (The OCR could even explicitly remind college administrations of the importance of free expression, as it did in 2003).

The Administration could also make an effort to be more open and charitable in its own political rhetoric. After the Paris attacks, for example, the President and his allies basically suggested that Americans who were worried about admitting Syrian refugees were bigots who weren’t worth engaging with. Displaying this kind of contempt for your own political opponents probably isn’t the best way to persuade your Millennial admirers to be more open-minded in campus debates.

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  • Anthony
    • qet

      “The grossest ignorance does not disgust like this impudent knowingness.” (Emerson)

      • Anthony

        And your point is what? “Intelligence is the most sensitive trigger point for envy.” (Anthony)

        However, people will never admit their envy to themselves; they will generally attribute such a trait to something more socially acceptable (like inference of Emerson’s quote). But if you really got a complaint, City Journal has comment section after essay because all I did was reference a related article.

        • qet

          Suggested to me by the use of the word “impudence” in the last sentence of the City Journal article: “Insolence and impudence rules when a 20-year-old’s feelings are considered superior to the wisdom of genuinely venerable sources.”

          • Anthony

            Fine article, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

        • Jim__L

          Really? I thought it was a personal attack against over-educated yet incomprehensible TAI comments.

          • Anthony

            See what happens when you’re out of your depth and perhaps too personally focused.

          • Jim__L

            You’re hilarious. =)

          • Anthony

            Overlook my hilarity and reread David Blankenhorn’s essay (Why Polarization Matters) in TAI and enjoy Holidays (also if possible give me a respite, thanks)

          • Andrew Allison

            We should be so lucky! He’s pretentious, pontificating, and largely impenetrable.

  • Beauceron

    Our president, and the movement that got him into the White House, is the greatest purveyor of the intolerance Obama is warning against.
    It is, to me, just a measure of the disdain he has for the American public that he doesn’t believe many people have noticed this.

    • Andrew Allison

      The “movement” which got him into the White House had nothing to do with his qualifications and everything to do with the fact that his father was black. Could this stupidity explain his disdain for the hoi polloi?

  • Andrew Allison

    The self-proclaimed smartest man in the room (any room) actually said: “I get concerned that the unwillingness to hear other points of view can be as unhealthy on the left as on the right.”?

  • Jim__L

    Doesn’t “potus” mean “drunk” in Latin?

    • Andrew Allison

      Drunk on self-esteem.

  • FriendlyGoat

    There couldn’t be a better metaphor for reminding liberals at colleges not to go “off the edge” than to warn them that their behavior might, at times, be getting too close to the normal closed-mindedness of modern American political conservatism.

    • M Snow

      What a surprise. Barack Obama (and FG) can’t comment on the widespread misbehavior by leftists on college campuses this year without cheap-shotting conservatism.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Well, maybe you’re surprised at president Obama. No need to be surprised about me. I think most of the talk from modern American political conservatism IS baloney. How else could anyone possibly understand a political party following Trump and Cruz?

        • M Snow

          Oh, did I forget to make the sarcasm clear? Sorry.

          • Anthony

            It’s neither identity politics nor denigrating humans by labeling them peasants that obscures substantive matters impacting our nation/world. The fact remains that if one looks beyond a narrow perspective, he sees it’s all related. http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/why-young-white-men-are-so-lost/77763#.VoVCA08eobA

          • M Snow

            I’ve read your post 3 times and still can’t figure out what you are talking about. Where did I mention identity politics or peasants? What’s “all related?”

          • Anthony

            I’m not sure what post you’re talking about; I write often and on various subjects. In this instance (since you infrequently post but …), I found your most recent input and responded to you regarding input on another thread in which I only listed links (I’m sure you remember where you registered…). If I unintentionally confused, my error.

  • bottomfish

    Obama’s statements really concede very little. He says “Young people should be engaged to question authority.” But really, when they boo off the speakers they don’t like, they are saying their OWN authority cannot be questioned. In the same way, penalties for supposedly racist, (sexist, etc.) statements come from people who claim for themselves the authority to decide what is and is not offensive. This has been the situation for some 20 years, ever since Eden Jacobowitz got in trouble for calling some persistently noisy girls “water buffaloes”. What is being fought over here is the right to control what social attitudes are considered normal. The biases of the media play a large role here.

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