One of the most revealing statements of 2014 was made by comedian Chris Rock, who told interviewer Frank Rich that he no longer appears on college campuses because “everything offends students these days.” (Read about that here.)
In case you think Rock was exaggerating, a recent incident at the University of Michigan shows how correct he is.
Omar Mahmood is a junior, majoring in literature and anthropology. His religion is Muslim. He also happens to dislike the pervasive “Help, I’m an oppressed victim” mindset he finds on campus and had the unmitigated gall to write a satirical piece about it that was published in the conservative student paper, Michigan Review.
Mahmood’s column, entitled Do the Left Thing, hit all the absurd manias on Michigan’s (or almost any other) campus: trigger warnings, obsession over “microaggressions,” politically correct re-spellings, white privilege and patriarchy, bogus statistics, hypersensitivity, and more. My hunch is that if he had toned it down only a little, campus leftists would have believed it just as much as they believed the Rolling Stone piece about the University of Virginia’s “rape culture.”
But the piece was correctly understood by the left as a satire on their deepest beliefs. It was said to belittle their dedication social justice. Intolerable! Offensive!
As Chris Rock knows, you can’t make fun of many things on campus. Mahmood had committed the unpardonable sin of making fun of a sacred icon of leftism – victimology.
One hurt student complained anonymously to the other student paper, The Michigan Daily, where Mahmood was a columnist. As we know all too well, many young Americans believe that the remedy for speech they don’t like is to silence the speaker and that’s exactly what was done with Mahmood. The editor of Michigan Daily informed him that his satire had created a “hostile environment” at the paper and that one staff writer now felt “threatened.”
Mahmood was given a choice by the editor: either stop writing for The Review or stop writing for the Daily. You see, writing for a publication with a different point of view presented a “conflict of interest.” Moreover, if he wanted to continue writing for the Daily, he would have to write a letter of apology for his insensitive satire.
Not willing to wait for Mahmood to abase himself, Michigan students began to harass him. At night, a group of four threw eggs at his door and left copies of his satire with nasty little notes of the sort you’d expect from vicious grade-schoolers. (Details, if you want them, are available here.)
Two observations about this.
First, as a “minority” Mahmood was expected to follow politically correct thinking about social ills, not make fun of it. Bad enough that whites do, but for a “representative” of a minority group to satirize leftist platitudes was cause for outrage.
Second, it is always the leftist (not “liberal” as this shows) students (and faculty) who become angry when speakers or writers disagree with them. It’s the leftists who shout down speakers like Peter Thiel, demand that people they don’t like, such as Charles Murray, be disinvited and go on a rampage when a faculty member dares to criticize their writing because that’s “microaggression.”
These people are intelligent, and yet have been taught to think that they are special; that when offended, they are entitled to disrupt, harass, silence. As Professor Paul Gottfried explained in this Pope Center piece, leftist professors used to be interested in real argumentation, but now they’re mostly obsessed with making students agree with them.
A nation with a large cadre of intelligent but intolerant citizens – something to worry about.