Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi thinks "the oh-so-fragile class of 2014 needs to STFU":
... Today marks the second time in a month that a powerful female figure has pulled out of delivering a commencement speech because of opposition from a seriously uptight and holier-than-thou student body.

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, has decided not to serve as commencement speaker for Smith College's May 18, 2014 graduation, after students started a petition protesting her selection.

... God forbid these delicate students should be exposed to an idea or an organization with which they disagree -- at college.

... Earlier this month, former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, pulled out of delivering a commencement speech for Rutgers University in New Jersey (for which she would have received $35,000 and an honorary degree), following protests from students and faculty....

Rice occupied one of the most important offices in the whole country. But you’re right, kids, she probably has nothing interesting to say or any good advice because she was involved in a senseless war....

Millennials have grown up in a world where you are never forced to see, hear or read anything that you haven’t personally selected. 7,000 TV channels, a DVR to skip commercials, millions of websites -- we have been able to curate our own little worlds using technology, wherein nothing unpleasant or offensive can creep in. So when we're forced to sit through a commercial or, heaven forbid, listen to someone talk who isn't Mary-freakin'-Poppins, we can't handle it....
Yeah, maybe that's the problem -- although my generation, which programmed in FORTRAN, was similarly intolerant of ex-government officials we regarded as war criminals.

And so what? Nuzzi thinks millennials are spoiled by their ability to shut out certain messages -- but the fact is that millennials can't silence people with whom they disagree. You may choose not to listen to warmongers in the federal government or policymakers at the IMF, but, even if you're a millennial, you'll have to live in the world they make. If you disapprove of them from the left, it's overwhelmingly likely that you'll never be able to influence what they do. You may become a Pulitzer-winning journalist or a prominent left-leaning policy wonk or even a high official in a nominally liberal presidential administration, but chances are you'll never be able to exert leftward influence on the institutions of which you disapprove, because of the entrenched power of conservatism, and because of how much selling out and compromising you and your superiors will already have done just to get into a position of apparent influence.

So if you're still in school and one of these people wants to speak on your campus, you have what's probably the last opportunity you'll ever have to rebuff someone with this much power and actually make it stick. So what the hell -- be intolerant. These people run everything off campus -- when they decide to set foot on campus, you may as well tell them to bugger off.


aimai said...

This whole "young people are so spoiled" trope really pisses me off. You see it and hear it everywhere. People are graduating (and have graduated) into massive debt, into a rigged system, into a falling standard of living, into complete desperation. They can't afford to buy their first homes, start their families, or do anything but hunker down and desperately look for minimum wage work while carrying a load of debt comperable to home ownership for previous generations.

You see people asserting, contra the evidence, that people are spoiled because, presumably, they have an ipod or they didn't have to deliver papers or couldn't get starter jobs while they were in highschool. But one of the reasons that "kids these days" don't always have great work histories isn't that they didn't want to work but because a lot of those jobs are monopolized by older workers who can't move up. Or as the middle class has been unable to employ people for some jobs (dog walking, lawn cutting, babysitting) those jobs have dried up.

Steve M. said...

Also, kids today are supposed to spend all their waking high school hours doing resume-building extracurricular activities, right? There was some pressure in that direction when I was young, but not like now.

Kordo said...

Nuzzi has it exactly backwards. Millenials have been saturated from birth with competing veiwpoints from all sides. They grew up in a world where the means to access and sift information, in real time from thousands of sources, is greater than it's ever been.
Sorry, Ms Nuzzi, but it's not that The Kidz live in a self-selected bubble; it's that they've seen the same age-old bullshit propaganda from so many angles they no longer buy it. It's disgusted them so much that they've begun to refuse to listen to any more.
You want fair treatment for horseshit? Hire a stablehand.
The Kidz are alright.

Julia said...

The ladies at Smith are delicate blossoms, but not the potential speaker who backed out when some students started circulating a petition. Yep. That makes sense.

I tell you one thing - If people in the throes of finals and/or on the cusp of graduation care enough to protest a speaker, they really, really, really don't want that speaker on campus.

And on any campus larger than Bard-sized, if you're gross enough that anywhere near a majority of otherwise occupied students stop what they're doing to tell you to piss off, you must be a truly horrible human being.

Maybe if the easily upset rightamendatlists think of it as the Free Market at work they'd feel better? Students are the customer and speakers are a product the college offers them. If the students say no, that's life.

Carol Ann said...

This has been mentioned elsewhere, but students do have a right to decide who they will pay to speak to them. No one shut those speakers up, they simply chose another speaker. No one forces you to pay for a movie you don't want to watch at the theater, why should anyone force the student body to pay for a speaker they don't want to watch? You think maybe the real beef is that the speakers won't get their $30000 for a 30 minute blabfest?

Ed Crotty said...

Hell yes! if they don't like the speaker, they have every right and reason to protest.

Lawrence said...

So, how many mushy tomatoes and cartons of eggs is each student allowed to carry in?

Kevin Hayden said...

I guess it's okay to act up if you find your married boss sexting other women, but to act up to prevent a lying war criminal from receiving an honorarium? Well, that's just reprehensible.

And every person a certain age must be condemned because a few hundred acted up here and there, out of conscience.

Gross generalization on top of a self-defined morality system that considers sexual peccadilloes worse than a massive trail of corpses. Yes, that's what passes for journalism from the Daily Beast.

Regular GeoX said...

Rice occupied one of the most important offices in the whole country. But you’re right, kids, she probably has nothing interesting to say or any good advice because she was involved in a senseless war....

Wait, is that meant to be sarcasm? Because it looks to me like a simple statement of fact.

Victor said...

You only graduate from college once - usually.

Who wants, on that day of accomplishment - shared with family and friends - to listen to what a War Criminal has to say, or an international Bankster?

What uplifting thing could Condi Rice tell kids - keep your noses to the grindstone, and kissing the right asses, and you too can become a sycophant for psychopaths and sociopaths who wage illegal wars, kill, maim, and torture?
And all for fun and profit!

You go, kids!!!!!!!!!!!

The New York Crank said...

I think the movement to prevent Condi Rice to speak was not a movement to avoid hearing any thing unpleasant. Instead it was a direct and intentional insult to Condi.

And I think that she, like any willing participant in the transgressions of the Bush years, deserves it roundly. Go to bed with dogs, weak up with fleas.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank