We've seen fires and riots in recent years, but it's unlikely that tensions on America's college campuses have yet reached their peak. As students return to campus for the 2017-2018 academic year, be prepared for more chaos that will crowd out learning.
There will be more canceled lectures, more censorship, more protests, more vandalism, and more violence.
For conservatives disillusioned by the increasingly incomprehensible and toxic brand of leftism rising in academia, it's dangerous to simply dismiss this behavior as the sad inchoate spasms of immature youth. This is a serious movement grounded in a clear and dangerous philosophy.
The anti-liberal mindset of today's campus liberals has precipitated the rewriting of our political vernacular, the effects of which have already rippled into newsrooms, corporations, and political offices.
Why are conservative student organizations routinely referred to as "hate groups" and bastions of "white supremacy?" Why, on campuses, is it "racist" to wear sombreros on Cinco de Mayo or host Egypt-themed fraternity parties?
Why, for that matter, did fired Google engineer James Damore's anodyne memorandum on ideological diversity constitute an act of "violence" against women? Furthermore, why is Google sending weekly emails to employees raising awareness of "microaggressions"?
These are the effects of rampant political correctness, yes. But political correctness is a symptom of the campus Left's deliberate effort to broaden the definitions of the terms "violence," "bigotry," "hate," "racism," and "white supremacy," so as to impugn everyone's conduct and narrow the bounds of permissible dissent to include only their own way of thinking about anything.
White supremacy, for most Americans, likely conjures images of the Ku Klux Klan marching with torches or skinheads tattooed with swastikas spewing bigotry. When most of us think racism, we think of separate drinking fountains or those harrowing pictures of police dogs attacking our fellow Americans in the streets. We may even think of Philando Castile's shooting, or of birtherism, or of people who remind us of Archie Bunker.
It's certainly true that racism and white supremacy rear their ugly heads outside these confines. Well-intentioned people can make hurtful mistakes, sometimes subtly, in their interactions with those who experience discrimination. But lumping in proponents of stricter immigration laws or conservative writers such as Heather Mac Donald with proponents of genocide is objectively ridiculous. And, of course, it also fans the flames of conflict on campuses. Conservative students told that standard center-right views are not only wrong but actually justify violence against them, are even more prone to challenge their censorious peers by embracing any forbidden idea they stumble across, including the ones that are actually bad.
As the last school year drew to a close, the self-proclaimed "deeply progressive" professor Bret Weinstein at Evergreen State College was called a white supremacist by progressive students who ran him off campus for challenging their plans to host a day without white people. On its surface, that charge seems like hyperbole. But if you accept their new definition of "white supremacy," it's just par for the course.
Broadening the boundaries of unacceptable speech leaves students with a greatly narrowed array of acceptable ideas from which to learn. If it's violence to suggest, for instance, that a border wall be built, students deprive themselves of the opportunity to actually walk through the advantages and disadvantages of that proposal. It's wrong, of that much they're sure, but they cannot explain why it's wrong because that would involve entertaining the other side's arguments.
Many progressives returning to college this month truly believe they are returning to a campus fraught with racism, white supremacy, and violence; the worst places in America, apparently. When the slightest hint of mainstream thought is equated with dangerous ideas like white supremacy and racism, the world becomes a very scary place.
Campus conservatives can do their part to fix this mess by bringing speakers who will articulate conservative thought rather than simply smash liberal pieties. Of course, this is no sure safeguard against the violence, but it's more likely to work than contrarianism.
The real work of steering academia away from its intolerant leftward drift will have to be done by liberal college professors and administrators who value free and open debate. They still exist, and they need to put their necks on the line and explain that ideas aren't violence, and conservatism isn't bigotry.
If they don't, their students will graduate with an education in hypersensitivity, groupthink, and an inability to cope with the real world. After all, not everyone can work at Google.