Woke colleges are literally driving students mad
Whom the gods would destroy, the old saying goes, they first drive mad.
Which means they must hate elite educational institutions a lot.
Take what happened at Stanford Law School last week.
Judge Kyle Duncan of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit went to speak there at the invitation of its Federalist Society chapter. He was to talk about the Fifth Circuit, the Supreme Court and constitutional law.
Duncan is a conservative, and Stanford Law’s “progressive” students didn’t want to hear what he had to say.
They could have avoided that by simply skipping the talk, but they didn’t want anyone to hear what he had to say.
When Duncan showed up, they literally shouted him down.
About 100 protesters made sufficient noise, shouting insults: “We hate you!” “Leave and never come back!” “We hate FedSoc students, f—k them, they don’t belong here either!” and so on.
They also carried childishly insulting signs with slogans like “JUDGE DUNCAN CAN’T FIND THE CLIT” and “FEDSUCK!”
Duncan finally became angry, calling the protesters “juvenile idiots” — which they were — and asked an administrator to restore order.
Stanford Law’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tirien Steinbach came to the podium — and sided with the protesters, speaking from remarks she’d prepared in advance.
The scene seemed shocking, but this sort of thing is inevitable when students are told that being exposed to views they disagree with is “harmful” and an intolerable personal insult as well.
And that’s what they’re taught in America’s “elite” institutions and in many non-elite ones too: Words you don’t like are “violence” and do “harm.”
(A friend comments that anyone who thinks “Words are violence” has never been punched in the mouth.)
Stanford’s president and law dean quickly apologized. But I suspect Steinbach’s views — which at a law school, where students must learn to handle encounters with opposing views and persuade people (like judges!) they cannot compel, are basically lunacy — are in fact close to the institution’s true beliefs.
So yes, Stanford is crazy.
Nor is Stanford alone. Last year, Georgetown Law hosted a similar descent into madness when Ilya Shapiro, just hired as director of the school’s Constitution center, posted a critical tweet about President Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court.
The students not only protested but demanded “space to cry.” (Who wants a lawyer who needs “space to cry” when confronted with a disagreeable tweet? Nobody.)
Rather than telling them to grow up, the dean paid for catered food for the protesters. So Georgetown Law is crazy too.
That’s bad. But what’s worse is that the woke/DEI approach to education also makes students crazy.
Jonathan Haidt recently wrote a fascinating essay on why the mental health of college students has been in such steep decline for the past decade.
He noted cognitive behavioral therapy, used to treat depression, teaches patients to stop ruminating over perceived slights and setbacks and engaging in black and white thinking or emotional reasoning.
But the culture of DEI does exactly the opposite: It encourages students to dwell on slights, engage in (literal) black and white thinking and prioritize their emotions. It’s “reverse CBT,” in his phrase.
Instead of being taught to overcome traumatic experiences, negative thoughts and emotional instability, students are encouraged to dwell on them and even to base their identities on them.
When victimhood is a source of prestige, there’s no incentive to get better.
And when students are told their weaknesses provide an excuse to bully others, expect more bullying — and more weaknesses.
This isn’t good for the bullies or the bullied, and it isn’t good for the institutions they inhabit.
Students’ worst, and most juvenile, behavior is indulged and rewarded, with the predictable result that students grow increasingly juvenile and ill-behaved.
This from institutions that charge top dollar to, purportedly, educate America’s future leaders.
Over the past decade, universities have spent a fortune on DEI (though the “inclusion” part certainly wasn’t visible at Stanford) and there’s no evidence it has made things better on campus for anyone except the DEI bureaucrats.
Insanity, we’re told, consists of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Maybe it’s time to stop the craziness.
Or maybe right-wing critics of the higher-education establishment should stop criticizing and cheer this on.
After all, those whom the gods would destroy, they first make crazy. And there’s a lot of craziness going on.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.