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The Great College Coddling

It’s been twenty years since I started hearing alarming tales from a friend who supervised a day care for hospital employees’ children. She said that for the first time in her considerable experience, the pre-school children of medical professionals were pitching full-scale hissy fits — hitting, kicking and even biting their parents, without being effectively disciplined.

She said it was common to see grown men and women — doctors, nurses and technicians — on their knees reasoning with three and four year-olds going ape over stuff like juice boxes and peanut butter sandwiches. My friend said the same kids most often settled down and behaved as soon as their parents were out of sight. When it’s nap time, it’s nap time.

Now reasoning with a three year-old is pretty much like bargaining with a cat. If you’re lucky you might eventually bore the little scamp into submission. Thankfully, this particular folly has been largely confined to the educated classes. Truck drivers and short-order cooks know better.

More recently, however, police in posh communities have begun arresting parents for crimes like allowing their children to frequent playgrounds on their own. Apparently my entire childhood, and that of my forty-something sons, was one long serial crime. I used to cross them at the corner and let them walk several blocks to the Billy Mitchell Boys Club on their own. They learned a lot down there, not all of it on the day care curriculum.

Judging by the popular press, it appears that many of those toddlers, coddled and cosseted all their lives, have now enrolled in college, where confusion reigns. It appears that the faculty and administration of some of our most esteemed institutions of higher education have found themselves pleading with the little beggars on their knees.

Item: At Brown University last year, administrators fearful that student anxieties might be “triggered” by a debate about campus “rape culture” set up a “safe space” to recuperate from the stress of hearing heterodox opinions. According to Judith Shulevitz in the New York Times, “the room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.”

Evidently a couple of dozen students hid out there during the debate — the wonder, I suppose, being that the event took place at all.

Item: At Emory University, students pronounced themselves traumatized by “TRUMP 2016” chalked on campus sidewalks. Demonstrators chanted “Come speak to us, we are in pain!” until the university president agreed. Emory, incidentally, is located in Atlanta, GA, a state likely to be carried by Trump come November.

Item: English literature majors at Yale University objected that a required class in “Major English Poets…creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of color.” Reading Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, Wordsworth and T.S. Eliot was deemed oppressive.

“We have spoken,” they demanded. “We are speaking. Pay attention.”

My response would be simple: You don’t want to read Shakespeare, then find another major. What did you think English Literature was going to be?

No snarky newspaper column, however, could possibly prepare you for Oberlin College as depicted in a fascinating piece of long-form journalism by Nathan Heller of the New Yorker.  

Displaying more patience and curiosity than a person of my inclinations could muster, Heller depicts a campus with an admirable history of social activism in perpetual turmoil from ethnic and sexual controversies so arcane and self-referential as to defy parody.

A sophomore demands a trigger warning on Sophocles “Antigone.” (Suicide) Asian students object that the Chinese food is “inauthentic.” (Imagine that. Second rate Sichuan cuisine in small town Ohio!)

Among black students’ fifty “non-negotiable demands” is instant tenure for a writing instructor who says that Jews are responsible for 9/11; also that the college free itself of all remnants of “imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy.”

Ain’t that a mouthful?

I think what it means is that most of these kids would be better served at a school with cute cheerleaders and a decent basketball team.

Photo: A graduating student of the City College of New York takes a selfie of the message on her cap during the College’s commencement ceremony in the Harlem section of Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Shameless Trump Accuses Obama Of Knowing About Attack: ‘He Gets It Better Than Anybody Understands’

Donald Trump, the most famous figure in the “birther” movement — an attempt to delegitimize the president of the United States by saying that his father was an illegal immigrant and that he doesn’t love America — used the worst mass shooting in American history to accuse the president of knowing ahead of time that the attacks would happen.

All emphasis is added by the author:

“He doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands,” Trump told Fox & Friends this morning, the show where his birtherism was originally given a platform.

“It’s one or the other, and either one is unacceptable, number one, and number two,” Trump said.

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is saying that there are two possibilities: Either the president is too clueless to know about the possibility of an attack, or he did know that the attack was coming and let it happen.

Later in the interview, Trump emphasized the point again: “Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind… you know, people can’t believe it. They cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts.”

Trump is following a very familiar playbook, one that he used to delegitimize the president in a months-long racist attack on his background. Trump also distracted the media from the multiple class-action lawsuits facing Trump University, his allegedly fraudulent wealth seminar program, by calling into question Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s allegiance to America by calling him a “Mexican,” though Curiel was born in the United States to immigrant parents. Trump’s mother was an immigrant.

Later, in an appearance on the Today show, Trump again repeated the accusation:

Well there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it,” Trump said. “A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. He doesn’t want to see what’s really happening. And that could be.”

Shameless In, Shameless Out: Running For President In 2016

“We live at a time of great events and little men.” No, this was not said after the last Republican presidential debate.

It was said more than two centuries ago by Honore Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, a leader in the early days of the French Revolution. The quotation appears in Hilary Mantel’s historical novel, “A Place of Greater Safety,” which means we are not 100 percent sure it was said, but it certainly should have been.

It doesn’t take any great leap of imagination to look upon our current presidential campaign and say Mirabeau was correct. Great events swirl around us — we are mired in crises both foreign and domestic — and yet what little people we have to lead us.

People are being barrel-bombed and forced from their homes by the millions in Syria. North Korea, which is led by an absolute dictator of questionable sanity, brags it has just developed a hydrogen bomb. The United States faces an economic outlook this year that runs the gamut from bleak to catastrophic.

And what do I see at the very moment I type these words? I see Donald Trump standing in front of a mannequin of John Wayne in Winterset, Iowa, where Wayne was born and spent the first seven years of his life.

Tuesday, the Wayne family endorsed Trump for the presidency. This is live cable network news.

A reporter asks Trump the importance of this endorsement.

“I think endorsements are, depending who makes them, valuable,” Trump says. “Some don’t make a difference. But I think having a John Wayne and John Wayne family endorsement means a lot.”

But wait. There is a far more important endorsement at hand aside from that of an actor who has been dead for 36 years. Sarah Palin has endorsed Trump.

Palin was one of the least-qualified candidates in the history of the vice presidency, which is saying something considering the job has virtually no duties. Yet Republican nominee John McCain sacrificed what was left of his credibility by claiming that Palin was ready to become commander-in-chief should something incapacitate McCain.

This is what running for president does to you. If you were not shameless going in, you will almost certainly be shameless going out.

Before bidding farewell to The Duke, The Donald is asked by a reporter about the toxic tap water in Flint, Michigan.

The Michigan attorney general has said: “The situation in Flint is a human tragedy.”

Hillary Clinton has said: “I think every single American should be outraged.”

Bernie Sanders has demanded the resignation of Michigan’s governor for acting too slowly. “A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power,” Sanders says.

And Trump? “I shouldn’t be commenting on Flint,” Trump said.

OK, forget Trump for a second (which is not easy to do). After all, the Republicans have other candidates to handle the “great events” of today.

As Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News in July 2015: “This is the strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years. You could pick a dozen of them at random and have the strongest cabinet America has had in our lifetime.”

As Fred Barnes said in The Weekly Standard in April of last year: “Here are three propositions about the 2016 presidential race. … One, the Republican field of candidates (and potential candidates) is far superior to the field of Republican candidates four years ago.

“Two, the GOP candidates are fresher, livelier, and less touched by scandal than the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.

“And three, the Republicans have more credible rationales for seeking the presidency than does Clinton.”

The Republican candidates, themselves, put it a little more simplistically.

As Jeb Bush said at a forum in December 2015: “Who has the right stuff? We need a person with a brain, a person with a heart and a person with a backbone.”

How about a pair of ruby slippers, too? After listening to him, I really wonder whether Jeb realizes that “The Wizard of Oz” was a movie and not an instructional campaign video.

And if he is waiting for a house to land on Donald Trump’s head, Jeb may be disappointed.

But how about Mike Huckabee, who came in first in the Iowa caucus and second in the delegate count in 2008?

Last October, while watching a Democratic debate, Huckabee tweeted: “I trust (Bernie Sanders) with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my labrador!”

Some people objected to what they saw as the racism or at least the cultural insensitivity of this remark. The Huckabee campaign sneered.

“Poor liberals, no sense of humor and no sense of reality,” the campaign said in an email. “Facts: North Koreans eat dog and Bernie Sanders wants to spend 18 trillion dollars of your money. What’s so hard to understand?”

Ted Cruz is running because he wants Christians to take the nation back. (Back from whom, I do not know. According to an ABC poll taken last year, “Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians.”)

Yet, under the headline, “Ted Cruz Tells Brody File: Time For Christians To Rise Up And Take America Back,” Cruz says in an interview that “far too many Christians have ceded the public arena to people that aren’t believers.”

“Do you believe you were put in this position for such a time as this?” David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network asked him.

“I hope and pray that I was,” Cruz replied, oozing humility.

In times past, candidates said running for president was meaningful, win or lose. That’s because they got to meet real Americans up close and experience their lives and hear about their hopes and dreams.

Not anymore.

Last month, in a gymnasium at the Pennichuck Middle School in Nashua, New Hampshire, Trump said, “Honestly, unless I win, it doesn’t mean a damn thing to me.”

Big problems and little candidates. They seem to go hand in hand.

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes.

COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

Photo: Are Republicans willing to deal with everything the presidency entails? Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, businessman Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz and former Governor Jeb Bush hold their hands over their hearts for the singing of the U.S. national anthem before the start of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake

2015: The Year Of The Crybaby

With a presidential election year coming, it’s tempting to call 2015 the Year of the Crybaby. Everybody’s a victim. Judging by TV and social media, roughly half the nation believes it’s being oppressed by the other half. Everybody’s throwing themselves a pity party.

There’s an awful lot of self-dramatization going on.

Everywhere you look, somebody’s getting fitted for a hairshirt.

I was first moved to this thought by an extraordinary “Voices” letter to my local newspaper the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A fellow in Siloam Springs was offended by columnist John Brummett’s criticism of “extreme evangelical professed Christians in Iowa.”

Brummett thinks the Iowa GOP primary gives undue attention to people who think “that God forgives everything but liberalism.” This infuriated the reader, who proclaimed his constitutionally-guaranteed right to oppose “abortion, divorce, gay marriage, etc.” regardless of Supreme Court rulings. Should he lose it “these United States will cease being America.”

Sorry, friend, the First Amendment definitely guarantees you the right to obsess about other people’s intimate lives. But not to regulate them. Here in America, you can interpret God’s will any way you like. You just can’t make anybody obey.

That doesn’t make you a victim. It makes you a crybaby.

Ditto Donald Trump’s whining about “political correctness” while directing coarse insults toward his rivals. A woman using the bathroom is “disgusting,” but poor Donald’s the victim.

For most Republicans, it’s an imaginary threat. “In the telling of people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly,” notes Paul Waldman, “conservatives live their lives in fear of the vicious mobs of liberals wielding political correctness like a nail-studded club.”

Poor little things.

Also on the subject of faking, check out Paul Farhi’s Washington Post article “Six Ways Donald Trump’s wrestling career previewed his campaign,” particularly the embedded video showing the pompadoured billionaire in action.

If that doesn’t open your eyes, they must be sewn shut.

Elsewhere, upwards of half the people in America tell pollsters they’re afraid they’ll be killed by terrorists. This time last year it was Ebola.

Yo, America, quit lying to yourselves.

Alternatively, you could try emulating Grandpa, who went off to fight World War II with no good expectation he’d be coming back. And you’re scared witless by a ragtag band of religious fanatics in pickup trucks?

No you’re not. You’re just titillated by the melodrama. Which is why CNN and the rest keep feeding it to you.

Of course where I live, cows are a bigger threat than terrorists.

No joke. A friend almost got himself killed recently after thoughtlessly entering a stall with a newborn calf and its normally placid mama. He escaped with a broken and dislocated shoulder.

Storms blow trees across fences, black Angus cattle wander into dark highways, and bad things happen. Just not on CNN.

Of course the cultural and political left has its own share of melodramatists, whiners and scolds, many on college campuses. Rather like the fellow in Siloam Springs, student “activists” see themselves as morally incorruptible, and their opinions as graven in stone.

Have you seen anything about the great Oberlin College food fight? Students on the Ohio campus decided their cafeteria served “racist” food. Because the sushi was no good, protesters called it “culturally appropriative,” an insult to Japanese-Americans. Things got very heated. If Oberlin kids got their way, you’d have to hire a Neapolitan chef to order a pizza.

All we ever worried about was saltpeter in the mashed potatoes.

An insult to my Irish ancestors, come to think of it, for whom a boiled potato and a six pack constituted a seven course meal.

But there I go, making light of something grave. Normally, I take my cues from the critical race theorists at Salon.com, where they celebrated Christmas with an article entitled “The thought of a white man in my chimney does not delight me”: Let’s stop lying to our kids about Santa.

And no, I couldn’t possibly make that up. Along with meditations upon the orgasm, tirades against white folks are pretty much the formerly-serious website’s entire stock-in-trade.

But the real holiday bell-ringer was a Christmas Eve essay in the New York Times entitled “Dear White America” by Emory University philosopher George Yancy. The professor offers his own struggles to transcend sexism as a model for white men in their efforts to comprehend black lives.

“As a sexist, I have failed women,” he confesses. “…I have failed to engage critically and extensively their pain and suffering in my writing. I have failed to transcend the rigidity of gender roles in my own life.”

Yeah, well me too.

In theory, I’m totally against “objectifying women,” but Jennifer Lawrence still makes my ears buzz. Then too, my wife kind of likes me that way.

As for renouncing my putative “white innocence,” a modest demurral:

Give it a rest professor, I didn’t make this world any more than you.

Photo: Bethany Petrik via Flickr