The grievance generation
Whiny college students are protesting when their feelings are hurt
Remember the campus unrest in the 1960s? Whether you agreed with the students or not, they were protesting about things of great consequence — like civil rights, or the military draft, or the Vietnam War. They had chants like “hell no, we won’t go.” Those were the good old days.
Now we are witnessing whiney college kids marching in the streets screaming obscenities or taking over the university president’s office for what? Feeling slighted? Having their feelings hurt? Talk about rebels without a cause.
One of the trendy demand by the aggrieved students is free college tuition. And why not? Nearly everything else these millennials have ever had was handed to them for free.
I’ve traveled to many campuses in recent weeks and experienced the melodrama of student grievances firsthand. To be fair, I should note that many of the students are impressive with open and inquiring minds. It’s only a loud-mouthed minority whose mission is to shut out and shut down views they find a way to be offended by.
These leftist kids are agitated. Angry. This the hangover effect, I suspect, from the shattered utopian dreams of Hope and Change. I have noticed in recent months that these students attend my lectures not to learn anything — they know everything already — but hoping that I will slip up or say something they can label as offensive or that violates their eight-volume campus speech code.
When I ask them what they want, a typical response is a “radical transformation of the economy” to reduce income inequality, racism, sexism, and, of course, to end climate change. Government will command these changes to achieve this transformation. These are young Stalinists who are willing to suspend almost every basic freedom and civil liberty for “the greater good.”
They’re on a roll having already successfully removed university presidents and faculty for the sin of being insufficiently responsive to their latest grievance.
At one recent visit to University of Massachusetts I asked a few kids what their plans were for Thanksgiving. They practically spat at me for even mentioning this white supremacy holiday, that only trivializes and glorifies the genocide of the Native Americans by the pilgrims. Wow. Sorry, I brought it up, especially in your “safe space.” if they had their way, I would be sentenced to six months of sensitivity training.
I can’t help contrasting these campus attitudes with a recent meeting I had with a group of soldiers who had returned from Afghanistan. These brave men and women risked their lives everyday. They had real bullets shot at them, not the verbal ones that the campus leftists find so offensive. They have genuine and in some cases life-changing injuries — ringing in the ear, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and broken limbs.
They served so that the leftists on college campuses who day after day remain sheltered in their cocoons and protest the wounds to their fragile psyche of having to listen to a point of view they disagree with. The horror. How do they little darlings go on? Maybe they will do all us a favor and stay there and never graduate.
Can you imagine the tyrany you would bring upon yourself by actually hiring one of these self-righteous complainers. Within a month they’d be slapping you with a lawsuit for not having a transgender bathroom. And you’ll be thinking: Right, but did you actually finish that assignment I gave you? Employers tell me despondently that the millennials are by far the highest maintenance generation they’ve ever seen. One recruiter recently told me: “They need their hands held, they demand affirmation, they are forever whining about their feelings. We really don’t have time to deal with their petty grievances.” Ironically, when I graduated from college in the early 1980s they called us the “me generation.”
Who’s to blame for all of this? Alas, we are. The parents who caved in to every instant gratification demand they ever had, arranged “play dates,” for them, showered them with daily positive affirmation, and gave them time-outs rather than spankings. Our schools are to blame for labelling them “gifted and talented,” and awarding them towering trophies for finishing in 6th place so as not to damage their self-esteem. The college professors who corrupt their minds with hate-America ideology and now are the administrators who cave into their every petty demand.
Worst of all are the successful Americans who well-meaningly think they are being charitable by giving their money to the very universities that are indoctrinating these kids with nonsensical ideas. Why? Just stop. Society would be better off if you just burned your money.
Yes, I admit that these complaints are made of every generation. But this one seems seriously off and we made them this way. A generation that has grown up in more affluence and personal freedom than any other in history has been taught to hate the free enterprise wealth-creation process that gave them what they want in the first place. A generation that has been drilled since pre-kindergarten that the highest virtue in life is tolerance, has suddenly become the most intolerant in history.
What they lack most is gratitude. Something to think about this Thanksgiving. Stephen Moore is an economic consultant at Freedom Works and a Fox News contributor.