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The new Cultural Revolution on Campuses

The new Cultural Revolution on Campuses

1966 China or 2017 America? “Teachers were made to stand onstage, bow their heads and confess their crimes”

The events of the past year on campuses have been beyond disturbing.

We are witnessing nothing less than a cultural purge of dissenting views on a wide range of topics in the name of social justice. No disagreement is tolerated, not even the slightest deviation. That purge has been going on for many years, but seems to have intensified and is turning on speakers, professors and fellow students.

Yale is a particularly vivid example.

A faculty couple were harassed and confronted in threatening tones when one of them (the wife) dared raise the question of whether students were overreacting to Halloween costumes, Yale SJW Student to Professor: “I want your job to be taken from you.”

“Do not interrupt me. I was not angry and now I want your job to be taken from you. I don’t want you to have this job. I am disgusted knowing that you work at Yale University, where I will get my degree…

Sir, you do not want to play this game with me, OK? Understand that. Look me in my face first of all, and understand that you are such a disappointment to this university…

You want free speech? Here’s how it works. Someone speaks, you listen.”

The atmosphere is such that a distinguished federal judge warned about the decline of free speech at Yale. The result also is a campus deeply unwelcoming to conservatives.

The purge at Yale also includes smashing allegedly politically-incorrect historical stained-glass windows, a frenzy to rename buildings, and the demand to drop white poets from literature classes, in an attempt to erase rather than confront history. What is happening at Yale is happening at many campuses.

At Harvard Law School there was a successful removal of sheaths of wheat from the Harvard Law shield not because the symbol itself was racist, but because it reflected the crest of the slave-owning Royall family. My former classmate and now Harvard Law Professor Annette Gordon-Reed wrote in opposition:

I write to express a different view about whether the Law School should change its shield, mindful of the heartfelt sentiments expressed on the other side and cognizant that mine is the minority view…. Maintaining the current shield, and tying it to a historically sound interpretive narrative about it, would be the most honest and forthright way to insure that the true story of our origins, and connection to the people whom we should see as our progenitors (the enslaved people at Royall’s plantations, not Isaac Royall), is not lost.

The intellectually intolerant atmosphere on campuses is compounded by physical shout-downs and shut-downs of unpopular speakers. At Middlebury, a Student Mob Attacked a Speaker and Sent Professor Hospital. Listen to the robotic chanting of the students. They are beyond reason and beyond dialogue.

The synchronized chanting to shut down speech on campus is becoming all too common, such as happened to Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna College recently:

We’ve noted how even Cornell University, not known as a hotbed of radicalism compared to other universities, has become hostile to conservative speakers, as I wrote in For conservatives at Cornell University, high price for free speech.

The purge isn’t just shout-downs and shut-downs. It’s a demand that professors and other students not deviate one iota from the prevailing campus views, lest they be publicly shamed as racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and so on. Those labels can be devastating to careers, and fear of being labeled even when not warranted is enough to shut up most people on campus.

In a recent incident, a politically conservative distinguished Cornell faculty member and chemist, David Collum, received that form of this purge treatment when he opposed grad student unionization, and was on the receiving end of a smear campaign culminating in a vicious letter to the editor of the student newspaper. I wrote in opposition, Letter to the Editor: Prof. David Collum, Chemistry, is owed an apology and a retraction:

On April 20, 2017, The Cornell Daily Sun published a lengthy letter to the editor from seven graduate students: Kevin Hines, Robert Escriva, Ethan Susca, Mel White, Rose Agger, Kolbeinn Karlsson and Jane Glaubman.

The letter impugned the integrity of Cornell world-renowned Prof. David B. Collum, chemistry in the most serious ways, accusing him of being a rape apologist, misogynistic and unfit for the position of department chair. Several of the letter writers were graduate student union supporters active in the union vote drive. Prof. Collum has been widely criticized by union supporters for opposing the union drive. The letter appears to be payback.

In publishing that letter, The Sun gave a platform to a smear campaign against Prof. Collum in a manner that did not allow Prof. Collum to respond or provide for a verification of the context of the supposed evidence. I have researched several of the key tweets and quotes attributed to Prof. Collum in the letter, and it is clear that the way in which they are presented in the letter is misleading at best, and, in some cases, presents a false portrayal.

How many professors on campus would have dared defend a colleague falsely accused of being a “rape apologist” for fear that that or some other label would have been used against them?

I’ve thought about Yale, and Berkeley, and Middlebury, and Cornell, and Claremont McKenna, and other schools a lot recently because of the Collum attack and the ease with which some students were willing to try to destroy a man’s reputation to shut him up.

Historical analogies always are imperfect, particularly when comparing present events to bloody events of the past. We try not to go Godwin here.

But the analogy I’ve been thinking of and mentioning to people lately is the Maoist Cultural Revolution. When a commenter mentioned it in response to my post about the attack on David Collum, I decided to write about it:

The tactics on campus have not reached the violence of the Cultural Revolution, but the attacks on speakers, professors and students deemed ideologically unacceptable, and the destruction of politically incorrect history, are eerily similar.

NPR reports how the Cultural Revolution started in the schools, students were the most vicious enforcers, and professors were the targets, Chinese Red Guards Apologize, Reopening A Dark Chapter (emphasis added):

The early phases of the Cultural Revolution were centered on China’s schools. In the summer of 1966, the Communist Party leadership proclaimed that some of China’s educators were members of the exploiting classes, who were poisoning students with their capitalist ideology. Indeed, the educated classes in general were marked as targets of the revolution.

The leadership gave Communist youth known as Red Guards the green light to remove educators from their jobs and punish them….

One of the highest-profile apologies comes from Chen Xiaolu, a Red Guard leader at Beijing’s elite No. 8 high school. He is also the son of Chen Yi, a leading Communist revolutionary and former foreign minister, and that allows him some latitude to speak out.

“On August 19, I organized a meeting to criticize the leaders of the Beijing education system,” Chen, now 67, recalls. “A rather serious armed struggle broke out. At the end, some students rushed onstage and used leather belts to whip some of the education officials, including the party secretary of my school.”

Chen says he was against the violence, but the situation spiraled out of his control….

Students beating up their teachers was a shocking reversal in the Confucian society, where educators were once held in the highest esteem…. “Teachers were made to stand onstage, bow their heads and confess their crimes,” he says.

The Guardian reports how a critical part of the Cultural Revolution was the removal of names and signs of the past:

Chinese students sprung into action, setting up Red Guard divisions in classrooms and campuses across the country. By August 1966 – so-called Red August – the mayhem was in full swing as Mao’s allies urged Red Guards to destroy the “four olds” – old ideas, old customs, old habits and old culture.

Schools and universities were closed and churches, shrines, libraries, shops and private homes ransacked or destroyed as the assault on “feudal” traditions began.

Gangs of teenagers in red armbands and military fatigues roamed the streets of cities such as Beijing and Shanghai setting upon those with “bourgeois” clothes or reactionary haircuts. “Imperialist” street signs were torn down.

Party officials, teachers and intellectuals also found themselves in the cross-hairs: they were publicly humiliated, beaten and in some cases murdered or driven to suicide after vicious “struggle sessions”.

I don’t fear the cultural revolution on American campuses turning as bloody as in mid-1960s China, though I do think we have violence ahead. The new Cultural Revolution on campuses doesn’t have to turn violent in order to accomplish its goals.

Any professor or student who speaks against the crowd — be it about Halloween costumes or grad student unionization — is at risk. People get the message. They shut up.

Update: I had not seen this at the time I wrote the post, but it’s well worth the read, It’s not just controversial speakers who are silenced by threats. Students like me are, too. It reflects just about everything I wrote about above.

[Featured Image: VIDEO: Yale SJWs gone wild against free speech]


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Young people have a LOT of energy and passion.

They LACK any sort of wisdom and moderation. Kind of like some here.

This isn’t just an issue involving the young. The tendency is apparent in all age groups and demographics, though it does seem particularly bad in college-aged people.

Interestingly, we benefit from the same characteristics in our volunteer military, most of whom are out of this same cadre, age-wise.

“Look me in my face first of all, and understand that you are such a disappointment to this university.”

For the life of me I don’t understand why these children even bother going to college. They seem to know all about life even before getting there.

    alaskabob in reply to fscarn. | April 30, 2017 at 1:52 am

    The degree re-affirms that they know it all. B.S., M.S., PhD… “bullsh..”. “more Shi…”, Piled Higher and Deeper. I skipped the MS and PhD and went directly to “MD” which can mean “Mentally Deficit” in some cases. (hopefully not mine!)

I just wrote my alma mater Claremont-McKenna and told them the alumni have had just about enough of this. Stop letting in substandard students based on race, stop admitting social warriors based on absurd essays.

DDsModernLife | April 29, 2017 at 10:34 pm

I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s admonition to Timothy:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

I myself consider the historical parallel of the current situation to be the time between World War 1 and World War 2.

After World War 1 the League of Nations established hard limits on the weapons, ships, and troops that countries could have. Unfortunately, because it was never enforced, countries first either lied about what they were doing or used work-arounds like training troops and then officially ‘de-commissioning’ them – so they had trained soldiers that weren’t technically active soldiers – building large numbers of smaller ships that were not regulated by the treaty (battleships and carriers were limited – but anything under 10,000 tons was not affected, which is why Germans built so many submarines).

When the Nazis came to power they didn’t even bother pretending they were abiding by the agreement anymore. They spent years openly building weapons and training troops, and nobody did anything to stop them until they finally invaded and they were FORCED to fight back.

If Europe had actually had the balls to enforce the treaty Germany would never have been able to wage war against them. Instead they let them openly violate the agreement because it was easier than enforcing it. Rather than enforce it and stop Germany early, they just started violating the agreement themselves and building their own weapons and armies. And it ended in the bloodiest period in world history.

I consider this to be extremely relevant. Right now we are in the phase where liberals are pretending to follow the law and coming up with excuses or lies about why they are violating it. They’re not shutting down free speech, they’re stopping so-called ‘hate speech’. They’re not illegal immigrants, they’re ‘undocumented’.

Again, this is extremely relevant, because by all appearances, the fringe is getting more and more bold about blatantly ignoring and violating the law.

And they get away with it because the weak-kneed ‘conservatives’ don’t have the stomach to enforce the law. And so people on the right are starting to believe that following the law themselves is a sucker’s bet, and they’re going to start their own arms race of ignoring the laws.

And just like World War 2, this is going to end bloody.

    What you are referring to but not defining is WHY that happened. When Woodrow Wilson imposed his New World Order vision on the Versailles Peace Treaty negotiations, he was intentionally weakening the European “ancienne regimes”, a requirement for the advancement of communism.

    Keep in mind that Western civilization considers the American Revolution as the reintroduction of democracy as the basis for a free, prosperous and peaceful society. It was an American experience for others to emulate, not a global movement. Once that Revolution ended, the killing stopped.

    Communism, on the other hand, cites the French Revolution as the launching point of Karl Marx’s vision. Once that revolution succeeded in toppling the royal family, the killing became an institution. Regicide spread throughout Europe until first Napoleon and then others put out the fire. But the communists never give up. They just lie low plotting their next attack.

    Wilson saw the opportunity to finish the job and launched that era’s “European spring” which unleashed the continuation of the regicide that had played such a major role in the start of WWI. It also explains why Europeans were so quick to warm up to anti-communists like the Fascists. This is the part that Americans just don’t grasp.

    We don’t understand the dynamics of desperation undermining stability throughout Europe. It was orchestrated madness on a grand scale. We tend to see it in terms of actions rather than cause. Mussolini actually had a valid point. So did Hitler and everyone else. But due to the desperation of the people, problems were opportunities to those who promised “final solutions” that locals could understand.

    We aren’t immune to such “madness of the crowds”. We’ve just never had to confront it. Now it has arrived. When George H W Bush declared the return of the New World Order, the chaos in Europe restarted and the assault on the US Constitution and all of the institutions that promote freedom, such as the most vulnerable of all, our universities, began anew.

    That is what is happening. It’s not about the cartoonish struggle of Dems vs Reps or liberals vs conservatives or any of the rest of multitudes of echo chambers we’ve chased into. We are fighting an all out war right in our own neighborhoods and too many of us are worried about being polite or foolishly concerned about “leading by example”.

    Coulter’s latest Battle of Berkeley, for instance, was a major missed opportunity. She reluctantly had to cancel due to, as she said, “I was abandoned by my allies”. THAT is the point! Where was Mark Levin? Sean Hannity? Where was ANYONE!!! Everyone was talking a good game but action? Pfft.

    If we aren’t willing to just show up and fight when showing up IS the fight, who are we kidding? Lock and load? Really? Tough talk on blogs is not going to get it done and if Trump fails, our last hope of voting our way out of this mess was wasted.

    It’s time to take off the kid gloves and find our courage to ACT! No more “next times”! No more cautionary predictions about where this is going if we don’t do something about it. DO IT!!! NOW!!!

“I don’t fear the cultural revolution on American campuses turning as bloody as in mid-1960s China, though I do think we have violence ahead.”

If the outcome of a certain election in November 2016 had gone the other way, I think the Prog Left would have been emboldened … Lest we forget the many many groups funded by the Obama Administration to be the vanguard of community organizations … shall we call them “cells(?)” to foment “resistance” to the present political situation.

Not being in power presently, the full weight of support and protection by the government is not there for them. However, I see no reason to be relieved that the Democrat Party does not openly favor “direct action” at this time. That they are hyper-polarizing the party in a purge within itself… the purer the Dem Party .. the more likely “active” resistance will be encouraged.

We are only in 100+ days of an administration having to fight a two front war… Dems and GOPe. If the Administration becomes more successful, expect to see more physical clashes. There are potential events which could rip the fabric of the country … whether the Left chooses to go that route.. only time will tell.

We try not to go Godwin here.

That is an intellectual handicap. You should call a Brownshirt a Brownshirt.

Calling things what they aren’t, and refusing to call them what they are, are standard weapons of the Left.

    DINORightMarie in reply to tom swift. | April 30, 2017 at 12:43 am

    I personally believe that Godwin’s Law is a form of repression of free speech, simply because so many things that are fascist were demonstrated by the real events and real brainwashing – particularly of the children – by the Nazi Party in Germany.

    The Nazi Party was a cancer that led to the Holocaust, but that genocide (and all the others rounded up and murdered because of that twisted, evil eugenicist ideology) was not all those beasts did. Yet Godwin’s Law puts comparisons of any kind as a fallacy…..but there are many parallels to fascism we see today that are eerily similar to what happened in Germany. People who lived it, survived it, say so with fear. But because of Godwin’s Law, no one pays them any heed – it’s a fallacy, so it’s rubbish – even if it’s their life’s experience.

    If we aren’t allowed to ever speak of real, clear parallels to what the Nazis did – especially when they were intentionally, both openly and stealthily moving, plotting, purging, brainwashing – then speech is repressed – even if that speech is a clarion call to stop fascist ideology like Nazism from taking root again.

    Self-censorship of one’s language is what political-correctness intends as its key outcome, at its most foundational level. And Godwin’s Law is one tool they use to marginalize and thus silence people’s speech.

    Amen to that! If we aren’t willing to use the language that everyone understands (while we still can) and call things what they are, we don’t deserve to win. Let’s stop being so afraid to offend. Being weak and timid only signals that we aren’t in it to win.

    In one of the “Godfather” movies, there is an early scene where Michael (played by Al Pacino) is arriving at a government building in Havana Cuba and he witnesses a revolutionary storm up the steps of the capitol building only to get gunned down. Michael: “Did you see that?” to which his companion replies something like “So what? A another foolish rebel. So what?” Michael: “He never had a chance and yet he did it anyway?” Companion: “So what? Why does that interest you?” Michael: “It means they can win!!!”

    That is what we are up against and we are losing because we refuse to grasp that we are losing. If we can’t fight the fight when just showing up IS the fight, or because we are afraid of using the “wrong” words for fear of offending, we are not only losing but we DESERVE to lose. Our founding fathers deserved to win when they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing they were signing their death warrant should they fail. John Hancock signed it boldly so that even the almost-blind would have no difficulty reading it.

      rdmdawg in reply to Pasadena Phil. | May 2, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      I still say that the best way to fight this is to defund them. The Red Guard efforts were organized and funded. You’d better believe the current college mob is well funded and well organized, none of this is spontaneous.

      One of most effective ways to fight back is to defund these guys. Sad to say that we’re subsidizing this way of life, children getting degrees in grievance studies, the mob violence, the silencing of opposing points of view.

      There are three simple ways to bring some sanity back. First would be to remove all federal, state, and local support for higher education. Secondly is to entirely privatize student loans (which obama entirely nationalized). Let the banks take a gamble on which students will be able to complete degrees and make a living instead of forcing us tax payers to do so.

      Lastly, remove the ‘non-profit’ status from all of higher education. They are obviously for-profit. Make them compete in the business world like the rest of us have to.

      Sadly, I don’t hear my thoughts echoed anywhere else.

Despite the citation of Godwin’s Law, what we must acknowledge is the Duck Test – “When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

What I find so sad about this social conflict is the passivity of the ruling class against the dynamic robustness of the anti-whatever’s. Perhaps this is how change always comes, the wise elders and elites counseling quiet patience while the impatient youth press forwards, embracing their ego and mistakes.

Seriously,what did we expect after eight years of an “Alinsky-In-Chief” sitting in the Oval Office?

“Do not interrupt me. I was not angry and now I want your job to be taken from you. I don’t want you to have this job. I am disgusted knowing that you work at Yale University, where I will get my degree…”

A degree in what? Bachelor’s in Totalitarianism with a minor in Thuggery?

I will donate generously to a class action suit against these degenerates for their egregious violation of our natural and Constitutional rights.

It makes one wonder how the individual students think and function when away from the mob.
It’s chilling to think that any human being in this country can be so so detached from reason, civility and education.
As a mob they resemble a pack of hyenas brining a weak animal down and tearing it to bits.

The end will be real education conducted online.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | April 30, 2017 at 7:47 pm

And for Free….

Or almost free…..

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy: The Revolution in Higher Education

OH! And don’t forget “home-schooling” for college!

I would extend this analogy to include the removal and or destruction of Confederate monuments, as currently happening in New Orleans.