Students are the new masters – and the result is campus tyranny

Students are the new masters – and the result is campus tyranny, by Brendan O’Neill.

The message from student officialdom is relentless: think like us, or else. The result is that university becomes less and less like university. They now resemble factories of conformism, training their student body not to think freely but to fear the eccentric, hide from the provocative, and prize their self-esteem more highly than their intellectual development. …

Identity politics:

Our own student leaders assume their peers are morally feeble and must be protected from sore words or controversy. But in the US, they’ve gone deeper. Campus authoritarianism is darker, more driven by race. It governs not only ideology and opinion, but everyday conversation, and even dress. …

The nasty, paternalistic American politics of racial thinking is imposed wholesale on British campus life — even though Britain’s social history is considerably less blighted by racism than America’s. …

If our censorious students are going to import America’s campus insanity, they need to know that means they will also import its consequences. And those consequences are dire. No one can imagine that it’s a good thing to create a generation unable to stomach things it dislikes or disagrees with. How are they to survive in a pluralistic democracy? It’s vital to be able to hear people out, to have civilised disagreement, to engage in debate, to change your mind. …

Trump and vice-signalling:

The other consequence of rampant PC in the US has been the rise of Trump. … Trump deliberately inflames his voters’ outrage; he champions a new identity politics for the right. Trumpists now exist in large part to annoy the radical left, and the radical left, for its part, lives to infuriate them. …

We have seen elements of what I call ‘vice-signalling’ Trumpist rhetoric from the contenders for Ukip’s leadership — but so far, mercifully, the British have remained immune. But we should beware: enforce PC and there will inevitably be a revolt against it. A Europe-wide poll this year found that only 46 per cent of Brits aged 18 to 21 think people should be free to ‘say what they want’.

And polls of millennials frequently show that they’re more down on democracy than older generations.

This is what happens when we socialise youths to think censorship is good and other people’s opinions are bad, to believe mental safety is better than zany liberty: they lose faith in freedom and democracy. They will leave uni and populate public life with these views. This is how liberty dies.

hat-tip Stephen Neil