There is a curious wind blowing through college campuses around the country, bringing in an over-sensitivity that I discussed in my last column. But there is something even more disturbing than this political correctness (PC) policing. And that is the apparent need, even desire, to be a victim and wanting to feel oppressed, even when that oppression is nonexistent.
For instance, my previous column earned me the title of bigot from some readers, sexist with others, and a racist for those who wanted to add a little oomph to their argument. The fact that I didn’t mention race once in the column did not deter my critics in any way. This all came after I suggested that we just let people be who they want to be, and love who they want to love, in order to concentrate on issues that are of more importance to humanity as a whole.
I used the example of climate change repeatedly. Here I am, saying that it should be a non-issue to allow people to be whom they want to be, and I get branded as a bigot. Imagine my confusion, or I’ll just tell you: I was confused.
See, I want to stand up for others’ rights to do and be as they please, but apparently it isn’t as simple as that. I was instructed that, because I am a “straight white male,” my words are worth about as much as what comes out a bird’s butt.
“Another white man instructing the masses that trans people’s lives, black lives, and LGB lives don’t really matter. Why am I not surprised.”
That is a quote from someone speaking about my article on the The UNH Pulse’s Facebook page.
In my columns, I have stood for a woman to be able to get an abortion, for women to be able to have their consent be taken seriously whether drunk or sober, and if she wants to become a he, so be it. But, apparently, that isn’t good enough. I’m an oppressor.
“…like a typical racist and bigot toward trans people, he decided to use his privilege to mock, ridicule, vilify, and silence those individuals he doesn’t quite understand.”
Are you confused, too? Good, I could use some company.
But I am not special, despite what my mother may have told me. This is a phenomenon that is taking place at other universities as well.
Take Yale, where caught on video is a scene in which a professor is defending the right of free speech to students demanding he is in the wrong. It doesn’t matter that he says he agrees with the students, or that in the past he has stood up for their group’s right to free speech. What matters is he is standing for everyone having a voice in the conversation.
There are still racist people in the world, just as there is a lack of understanding of certain sexualities. Yet, the sad irony of the situation is the activists are shooting at their oppressors with such a wide machine gun spray that they are taking down their supporters as well. I’d like to be on your team, but if you’re heckling me when I’m up to bat, I’m not going to want to swing away. How can you hope to get people to care about your cause when you call them the harshest names you can think of at the drop of a hat?
A more recent example is at Dartmouth where Black Lives Matter protesters reportedly walked around the library cursing out their peers. According to an editorial in the Dartmouth Review they said “(Expletive) you, you filthy white (expletive)!” “(Expletive) you and your comfort!” “(Expletive) you, you racist (Expletive)!”
That doesn’t really strike me as the best way to have your cause seen with compassion. In fact, your college peers are probably the most likely to be understanding of your cause. But when you scream in their faces, it’s more likely than not that their desire to understand your position begins to waver slightly.
So why? Why all this anger towards people who could be seen as an ally to these causes? The problem is: People in our generation like playing the victim and enjoy being angry about it.
If I had to measure a guess, I would say there are at least two reasons for this. The first is the need to belong.
If you can find a group for your gender, sexuality or ethnicity, you should join that group. The problem arises when you only associate with that group and wallow in the oppression that your group faces. It is difficult to maintain any sense of reality when you’re in a bubble. And this heteronormative culture is as problematic as hate speech.
How could you possibly hear the other side of the discussion if you close yourself off with members who have the exact same mindset?
The other reason why we play the victim is the overall helplessness of our generation. I’ve touched on this before, but I’ll reiterate, because I’m about to graduate and I’m running out of fresh ideas.
We colleges students grew up in a world that watched as planes flew into massive towers in our largest city in the name of hate. We had our economy crumble in the name of greed. On a daily basis, we are fed a diet of stories of mass killings, in movie theaters and college campuses and elementary schools. And then there are the videos of police shooting unarmed young men and not being held accountable for it.
We are berated all day long by bad news that arrives in real time to devices that are housed in our pockets. It seems impossible to stop a needless war, and our votes don’t seem to affect the embarrassment that is our government. So the only thing left to do is try to control each other. To call the person, the classmate, right next to us racist, instead of trying to tackle the institution that promotes it.
So I won’t get mad at those of you who talk badly about my column and call me nasty names. It probably makes you feel better. And besides, you’re allowed to, that’s the beauty of free speech. But I also hope you take a close look at who you’re angry at. Because some of the people you’re yelling at are trying to help. In a world where lots of people couldn’t care less about your problems, it probably isn’t smart to be yelling at people who do.
Tim Drugan-Eppich is a senior majoring in English.