College, where 2+2=5

College is a place where I am fortunate to receive a great education. For this I am very grateful.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when freedom of speech and freedom of association are stamped out by pseudo-intellectual bullying, stemming from generations of hypersensitivity grounded in hypocrisy. The American college campus has become a place where dissent is taboo and labeled backwards and “Republican.”

I’m still shocked as I try to explain the current situation in American universities to family members and colleagues. Here’s the latest in academically-sanctioned doublethink.

Let’s start with the term, “check your privilege.” On a college campus, this means, “I can summarily ignore your point of view because of what I assume to be your background due to the color of your skin.” It means people assume my great-grandfathers didn’t work as a letter carrier or sew buttons onto dolls in a factory simply because I look White. In short, it’s a convenient, cheap weapon keeping dissent out and mob mentality in. And it is all too effective.

The next go-to weapon is the concept of “cultural appropriation.” Wearing, doing or using something that is not indigenous to my own cultural background is forbidden.

Yet while protests pop up on American campuses over a range of issues, not a single would be-activist cues up, megaphone in hand, to protest when the non-Kosher dining hall serves latkes. I can’t speak for the next Jewish person, but I’m not offended by soggy latkes. I just don’t like them. I’m also not sorry for enjoying Ave Maria and other Christmas music, even though I’m a committed Jew.

Oh well. Maybe I just need to check my privilege and college liberal hypocrisy will make more sense.

Now that I think about it, this movement of intimidation has racked up quite the scorecard. Repression of free speech and open debate: check. Repression of free expression: check. College Liberalism – 1. Free Thought – 0.

Clearly, university administrations must re-examine the foundations of the liberalism they so proudly claim to champion: truly free expression, open, civil dialogue, and the importance of dissent. I wonder what it will take to wake America up to this alarming trend. Will the buck stop at the return of blacklisting, protesting, and publicly shaming speakers simply for their beliefs? Uh oh. Better not hold my breath. Somewhere in the deep recesses of hell, Joseph McCarthy is smiling.

College is a place where minds are expanded, molded, and in 2014, distorted beyond logic and reason. It just goes to show that a dollar doesn’t get you what it used to.

About the Author
Zach Shapiro studies International Relations and Arabic at Tufts University. He is Chair of the Tufts Chapter of the American Enterprise Institute Campus Executive Council. He speaks Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.
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