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Bret Stephens: ‘Radical Parents, Despotic Children’

Students at Boston College during a Nov. 12 solidarity demonstration on the school’s campus in Newton, Mass. Photo: Associated Press

Bret Stephens writes: “Liberal Parents, Radical Children,” was the title of a 1975 book by Midge Decter, which tried to make sense of how a generation of munificent parents raised that self-obsessed, politically spastic generation known as the Baby Boomers. The book was a case study in the tragedy of good intentions.

“We proclaimed you sound when you were foolish in order to avoid taking part in the long, slow, slogging effort Liberal parents, radical childrenthat is the only route to genuine maturity of mind and feeling,” Miss Decter told the Boomers. “While you were the most indulged generation, you were also in many ways the most abandoned to your own meager devices.”

[Check out Midge Decter’s 1975 book “Liberal parents, radical children” at Amazon.com]

Meager devices came to mind last week while reading the “Statement of Solidarity” from Nancy Cantor, chancellor of the Newark, N.J., campus of Rutgers University. Solidarity with whom, or what? Well, Paris, but that was just for starters. Ms. Cantor also made a point of mentioning lives lost to terrorist attacks this year in Beirut and Kenya, and children “lost at sea seeking freedom,” and “lives lost that so mattered in Ferguson and Baltimore and on,” and “students facing racial harassment on campuses from Missouri to Ithaca and on.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

And this: “We see also around us the scarring consequences of decade after decade, group after group, strangers to each other, enemies even within the same land, separated by an architecture of segregation, an economy of inequality, a politics of polarization, a dogma of intolerance.”

It is an astonishing statement. Ms. Cantor, 63, is a well-known figure in academia, a former president of Syracuse University who won liberal acclaim by easing admissions standards in the name of diversity and inclusiveness. At publicly funded Rutgers she earns a base salary of $385,000, a point worth mentioning given her stated concern for inequality. The Newark Star-Ledger praised her as a “perfect fit” for the school on account of her “exceptional involvement in minority recruitment and town-gown relations.”

Yet this Stanford Ph.D. (in psychology) appears to be incapable of constructing a grammatical sentence or writing intelligible prose. All the rhetorical goo about the “architecture of segregation” and “dogma of intolerance” rests on deep layers of mental flab. She is a perfect representative of American academia. And American academia is, by and large, idiotic.

That’s why I’m not altogether sorry to see the wave of protests, demands, sit-ins and cave-ins sweeping university campuses from Dartmouth to Princeton to Brandeis to Yale. What destroys also exposes…(read more)

Source: WSJ

Write bstephens@wsj.com.

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