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Yesterday I was asked by a friend if I planned to write anything about the ongoing saga over Halloween costumes at Yale. I said probably not because what would be the point? The whole affair is so bizarre that parody is redundant. Besides, plenty of other people have ably commented on it, and if you really wanted to indulge in masochism you could always go straight to the source and watch a video of those hysterical freaks haranguing the hapless Master of Silliman College for having the gall and temerity to be “committed to an ideal of free speech.”
How dare he privilege the First Amendment over safe spaces? The irony of these students demanding that adults dictate their Halloween fashion choices – a blatant exercise of authority that would have enraged their activist forebears in the 1960s – was entirely lost on them, in the unlikely event that they even considered it in the first place.
Until the early 2010s, campus leftism seems to have mainly consisted of Obama enthusiasts and a radical fringe of Bob Avakian cultists. I didn’t move in those circles, which is why for a long time I perceived the SJW phenomenon to be a highly fringe phenomenon largely confined to the Internet: Completely insane, to be sure, but amusing, entertaining, and ultimately harmless. WaPo opinion columnist Catherine Rampell agrees:
What has happened to college campuses in the less than 10 years since I graduated? I don't remember this fixation on "safe spaces."
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) November 6, 2015
It just so happens that I left university just as the party was getting started.
Tellingly, my only significant encounter with SJW activism on campus occured during my last term at UCB, in which I was taking a class on hominin evolution to satisfy the biology part of the breadth requirements needed to graduate.
The professor showed the class the following clip from The Neanderthal Man, a bad 1953 scifi movie in which a mad scientist injects himself with a serum that regresses animals to their “primitive” states, which for humans is the Neanderthal. Or rather, the black, hirsute apeman that 1950s folks apparently imagined Neanderthals to be. This Neanderthal man proceeded to terrorize picnicking couples, bashing in the mens’ heads and taking away the women to the accompaniment of campy music.
Overall, this is pretty tame stuff – no blood, no nudity, and an overly slapstick tenor to it all – as was typical of Hollywood movies during the MPPC era. No normal person, I am sure, would take exception to showing this clip to a class of adult students for the purposes of illustrating the popular outlook on Neanderthals in the middle of the 20th century.
However, at least one member of the class did take very strong exception to it.
“Excuse me, professor,” piped up a dark-haired girl in Ben Folds glasses. “Showing rape scenes can be deeply traumatic to survivors of rape and sexual assault. This class is supposed to be a space safe, and you should have either refrained from showing this clip, or at least accompanied it with a trigger warning.”
Wow, just wow, I can’t even! I am not even exaggerating. While I hardly have perfect recollection, and her precise wording would have been different, this is in fact more or less the gist of what she said, down to the stilted speaking style as if she was reading from an SJW glossary.
After a long silence, the class burst out laughing, and the professor, maintaining decorum but obviously struggling to battle down his mirth, told her that her that while he appreciated her concerns, the content he presented was appropriate for mature adult viewers and justified in view of the learning goals of the class. He added that he was not a qualified psychologist, so he lacked the competence to conduct any further discussions on the topic. In the event that she had any lingering concerns, he offered to refer her to a professional psychologist, or to the university department responsible for dealing with student complains (safe in the knowledge that it would chucked out with a chuckle). Her classmates were rather less polite in their responses, telling her to Reddit and Tumblr all about it after class. Very soon she realized just how weird her outburst must have looked from the sidelines, and resolved to work on her social skills and stop being an attention whore.
Of course that last part is a total fiction.
As opposed to what would happen in any normal society, the professor, who didn’t have tenure, apologized to her profusely. He thanked her for pointing out that the clip was problematic and promised that he wouldn’t show it again in his class. He invited her to further discuss her concerns with him after class or during office hours. The other students sat quietly in what I assumed was dumbfounded silence, though I might well have been overly optimistic considering that the latest polls show that an absolute majority of American students are opposed to free speech on campus.
Either way, everyone remained silent as Ben Folds glasses girl denounced prof to his face, and that of course included myself.
The professor had to get his tenure, and I had to satisfy my breadth requirement and quietly get the fuck out of a university system fast becoming a nursery school for coddled and aggressive manchildren. In the meantime, the SJW ideology and its Red Guard methods wracked up yet another Gramscian victory.
Yesterday, the Wikileaks Twitter account posted the following graph showing the growth of SJW terms such as “trigger warnings,” “microaggressions,” and “safe spaces” on the Internet in the past few years. This pretty much confirms the impression that it was limited to a sort of “enclave of extremism” until 2014 or so, but – much like the metaphor traditionally used to explain the concept of exponential growth, that of pondweed spreading almost imperceptibly slowly at the start to filling in the rest of the pond extremely rapidly at the end – has recently come to play a very prominent role in the social discourse; and indeed, much in the manner of pondweed, in a way that stiffles better and more varied alternatives.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 8, 2015
Though Nationalist, Alt Right, and even mainstream conservative hostility to SJWism is entirely predictable, it is curious to see that cryptoanarchists and cypherpunks have adopted essentially the same negative stance towards it. Why? Because “generation trauma fad is pro-censorship which impedes our work,” according to a further comment by Wikileaks. The intense SJW hostility to cypherpunks and free information activists, probably on account of the fact that they are overwhelmingly composed of free-spirited intelligent white men – a hostility displayed throughout the Western state-sponsored campaign to persecute Julian Assange, not to mention the entirety of Gamergate – must have also played their roles in significantly “immunizing” this class of people from SJW ideology.
Since indigenous nationalism may well be the greatest challenge to the power of the Atlanticist elites, and cypherpunks provide some of the most potent tools to actualize it, it is surely rather telling that SJWs have so viciously focused on precisely these groups, as opposed to, say, actual American oligarchs and their shitlord tendencies like having sex segregated trophy wives. I wonder to what extent SJWism might even be a creation of the American deep state, to be used as an icebreaker against opponents of the creeping surveillance/security state at home and increasingly, abroad. If this sounds like that’s too much of a conspiracy theory – not that being such makes it necessarily wrong – consider that it’s now common knowledge that the CIA promoted modern art to undermine the Soviet Union. And, incidentally – and so conveniently – to provide a new and convenient method for Western oligarchs to store and increase their wealth.