By Alec Rooney
Never mind that people were killed and maimed by Islamist suicide bombers in a Brussels airport this week, and that Christians continue to be slaughtered in Syria and Iraq. There was also some real, brutal victimization going on, right here in the United States.
Students at Emory University awoke on Monday to a hideous spectacle: Someone had written the name of a popular presidential candidate on surfaces all over campus ... in chalk.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth is still going on, even though this was not spray paint. It wasn’t even Sharpie, or crayon. It was chalk.
And even though the candidate whose name was scrawled isn’t exactly a model of political correctness, it’s hard to imagine a milder political statement – writing in a medium that can’t survive a rain shower. Yet Emory students are crying, chanting, issuing ultimatums, sputtering with rage that someone who disagrees with them could enter their safe, sheltered world.
Armed with chalk.
They demanded answers from the university president, chanting, “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” The president of course rushed to comply.
Here’s what one young woman said, as reported by Emory’s student newspaper:
“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here]. But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school.”
A young man leading the protest proclaimed: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
What chains is he talking about? The ones on the bikes around campus? The ones that keep kids in line at the dining hall while they wait to fill their trays with paid-for food? The ones that keep people off Emory’s green lawns?
It’s probably safe to assume that this student has never had to deal with chains as tools of torture, bondage or execution. Christians and other religious minorities today in Iraq and Syria, however – they know about chains. They are the ones crying out in fear.
It’s not hard to see what turns college students into reason-challenged drama queens such as these. Look at the examples set by their heroes. This week in Argentina, first lady Michelle Obama told schoolgirls about how hurt and victimized she was by males who looked at her body:
As I got older, I found that men would whistle at me as I walked down the street, as if my body were their property, as if I were an object to be commented on instead of a full human being with thoughts and feelings of my own.
What a handicap, to be so mentally defenseless to other people’s words and whistles ... to be so sensitive that mere ideas, expressed by others, can destroy one’s happiness.
Yet there’s a method to this mush-headedness, and it's being practiced by these students' professors, by the pandering college president, by the media, by the first lady.
The offended young people at Emory are not being taught – in the setting of a costly college education, yet – that speech must be free. Free for everyone, not just them. They truly believe that their “feelings” are more important than the right of others to speak. Their first reaction to a differing opinion is not to examine or rebut it, but to find an authority that can punish or abolish it as if it were a crime.
Too many students today grow up with the whirling blades of their helicopter parents protecting them from any sense of harm – bullies, mean words, even from being "it" in a game of tag at their elementary school.
Now they expect their professors, university administrators and the media to swirl around them with the protective arms of liberalism and weapons pointed at anyone who would harm their sensibilities.
It’s tempting to think that a few years in the real world will straighten these kids out. Some it may. Others it won’t. They will carry this attitude into their adult working lives, into all of our lives through government and media and education jobs, spreading the shallow lie that chaining up the speech of others is necessary for the preservation of … feelings.
For now, they should at least be getting an A in Fascism 101, an A+ in whining for wussies ... and an F in freedom.
Alec Rooney serves as communications director for the Christian Action Network. He is a longtime journalist, with experience as a writer and editor at five daily newspapers over 25 years. An award-winning print copy editor and copy desk chief, he also works as a freelance academic book editor. He is a 1986 graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., and holds an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky.