FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Generation Safe Space

by

Does Generation Safe Space need the military to protect them from hurt feelings? Recent polls indicate increasing support among young people for military rule. Given the constant assault on their fragile identities posed by such atrocities as ethnic Halloween costumes, culturally insensitive Banh Mi sandwiches and the like, who can blame them for craving a new authoritarianism?

Critics on the right have increasingly bemoaned the oversensitivity of the not-so-greatest generation but this critique is starting to show up all over the place. Liberal professors are, somewhat hyperbolically, terrified. Eminent sociologists are deeply concerned. Radical environmentalists allege a new liberal McCarthyism. When some of the saner voices on both the right and left start to agree so broadly, it’s past time to pay attention.

Who is to blame? Helicopter parents? Nanny-state bureaucrats? Rule-obsessed educrats? A rhetorical coup in academic discourse in which disagreement becomes disrespect or insult? Widespread mental illness with a lack of corresponding cognitive therapy? Economic insecurity and the increasing impoverishment of the middle class? Increasing job instability for the young? Accusations fly all over the place as we try to understand why the insufficiently trigger-warned would throw out free speech because of the existence of hate speech, or move to reject democracy itself in favor of authoritarian rule. Few though examine the broader political atmosphere of fear and intolerance since 9-11 that our young people have grown up in, and the role of mass surveillance and the militarization and securitization of political discourse. Could broader notions of vulnerability be leading to an increased sense of personal vulnerability? Or perhaps, a little bit of all of the above?

Whatever the cause, there is no doubt a backlash is brewing, and trending in an unfortunate direction. While the Ivy Leaguers purge a few token administrators (while simultaneously creating new administrative positions that students demand), hate crimes outside of universities are on the rise. While in the classroom each utterance is more and more carefully subjected to scrutiny for microaggressions, populist pundits and politicians are increasingly open about their racism and xenophobia. What do the students expect? With some campus activism devolving into 50% group therapy and 50% primal screaming at hapless administrators, does anyone think this is actually helping create safe spaces for the sort of nuanced, open-minded public debate necessary for real learning and growth? Why create a movement that allows yourself to be viewed as a mass of coddled, over-sensitive elitists, unless of course the problem is that this is what you are?

Watching authoritarianism on the right grow simultaneously with authoritarianism from the campus liberal-left produces anxiety, but anxiety itself fuels these attacks on free speech. Is it time for another Free Speech movement ala Berkeley 1964-6? Or would that potentially hurt somebody’s feelings?

Jonathan Taylor is a Professor in the Geography Department at California State University, Fullerton.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail