By Stuart Kaufman
Thank G-d. It is finally over. Our long national nightmare is ended. We are done with the 2016 round of elections and it has been a nauseating process from the very beginning to the very end.
Every election puts a mirror in our faces and forces us to face our particular national cultural characteristics at that moment in time. This election has been no different. Among many things, it has plainly revealed a particularly unpleasant fate of American society, circa 2016. We appear to have become a nation of juvenile thumb-suckers and those who either cater to them or are afraid of them. We have gaggles of celebrities, students, faculty and assorted others who threaten to hold their collective breath until they get what they want (although, in most cases, they haven’t really got a clue as to what it is that they want).
This has manifested itself in the “Occupy Wall Street,” “Black Lives Matter” and, most recently, the “Not My President” rioters who destroy everything around them in fits of childish temper tantrums. They remind me of nothing so much as the Gene Wilder character, Leo Bloom, in “The Producers,” rolling around on the floor making infantile sounds and looking for his “blue blankie.” These are not mature and concerned citizens with reasoned and legitimate grievances. These are uneducated hoodlums and/or spoiled brats who throw their teddy bears on the ground and then stomp on them because of some childish emotional response to reality.
And the rest of us are sick of it. The time has come for the adults to take over.
How many times have we seen instances when speakers on college campuses are shut down because one group or another doesn’t like their message? It was recently announced that a “cry-in” was being organized at Cornell University for all those who were devastated by the election results. Are they kidding? These are the future generation who will be expected to run this country and our economy? In reality, these children are nothing but a bunch of mediocrities who, unless we put a stop to this, will end up navel gazing the United States into oblivion.
Immediately following the election, I happened to see a lengthy Facebook entry that arrested my attention. It was posted by a professor of philosophy of language (what the Hell is philosophy of language?) who is also a dean. She begins the entry by stating that “I am only now beginning truly to start processing what happened this week” and then goes into a lengthy dissertation that is unreadable and incomprehensible. A summary cannot do it justice, so I will simply quote from her essay:
“More specifically, fellow philosophers of language: Our job is to mount a full-on campaign making clear at every possible turn that what words say is a function of what they do. In the current moment, speaking out in favor of trying to work together or focusing on the long (?!) triumph of democracy in the U.S., looking at the Trump ‘policies’ that might benefit progressive causes is primarily an ACT of ignoring the acute suffering of specific groups of vulnerable people. It is NOT the case that saying publicly, ‘We need to love each other and to remember that our democratic principles are stronger than any one man’ is primarily an expression of two uncontroversially important core principles of beliefs. In the present moment, it is an act of DENIAL of the perilous circumstances in which groups of vulnerable people have been living — some for centuries — and of the rapid worsening of these circumstances.”
I am a trained lawyer, whose career has been spent in trying to understand difficult concepts. It appears that this professor of philosophy of language has forgotten that the purpose of language is to c-o-m-m-u-n-i-c-a-t-e. She is not communicating. She is obfuscating, probably because she has nothing to say, but thinks that she has to say it. That is the very definition of juvenile behavior, yet this is someone who has been given the heady responsibility of molding young minds. Is it any wonder that those who have been exposed to this drivel and told that it is actually meaningful (and worth significant tuition), end up either in a fetal position in a “safe space” or chucking a brick into the front window of a CVS? Too many of our teachers don’t teach anything, valuable or otherwise. Too many of our institutions — whether they be educational, governmental or religious — do nothing but pander to the mush-filled minds of those who have been indulged for far too long.
I investigated a bit further and found that this same dean and professor of philosophy of language at one of our premier educational institutions (Tufts) had advertised for a “non-tenured teacher of feminist philosophy.” As a means of selling the position she brags that “[we] have a fabulous women’s, gender and sexuality studies program and a faculty-friendly administration.”
This is the America of today. Or, at least, it was what too many people thought was America until the early morning of November 9.
Can it be that the image of the America of rioting juveniles, insipid professors and crying snowflakes dissipated when Trump’s election held that mirror up to our faces? Can the rest of us reassert the value of acting like a grownup? As I write this, we have endured multiple successive nights of rioting, ostensibly to protest the election. The irony is that these juvenile rioters are destroying the cities that voted to reject Donald Trump! These cities are the homes of those with whom the ostensibly agree. But no, these man-bunned vandals are destroying their own teddy bears. Will America finally give them a time-out and throw them in the dunce’s corner? Will our police arrest them, our prosecutors charge them and our courts put them away for destroying property and committing violence?
To provide more evidence of the incivility of the millennial generation, recently the cast of the Broadway show, “Hamilton,” collectively chose to lecture the vice president-elect from the stage. It was the vice president-elect who showed these children how an adult behaves. The contrast was striking — a bunch of actors, singers and dancers chose to publicly castigate a man who has already had an extraordinary career and who is about to succeed to an office that will place him in the position of being one step away from the most powerful office on earth. That these entertainers could imagine that they had something worthwhile to impart was the very quintessence of the arrogance of this particular group of juveniles.
I recently heard Geraldo Rivera (not my favorite person) posit a moral equivalence between those leftists who are rioting in the streets and those on the right who are using “hate language.” As long as we tolerate this kind of garbage, America’s juvenilization will continue apace. I am waiting for one of Geraldo’s colleagues to stand up and say: “Hey, cut the garbage. There is no comparison between a rioter who picks up a rock and destroys a shop window and someone who says some terrible thing about that rioter. It isn’t the same thing.” When Geraldo starts acting like the child that he truly is and threatens a physical brawl, I am waiting for that colleague to tell him to sit down and shut up!
Yes, I know that I am engaging in wishful thinking. But is it wishful to expect that America will put its recalcitrant and immature children (and juvenile seniors) in their places? Is it wishful to expect universities to stop coddling their students and teach courses that impart value to the lives of students instead of courses taught by phonies who are expert in fake academic disciplines like philosophy of language or philosophy of feminism?
But perhaps there is a glimmer of hope: After anti-Trump student protesters shut down traffic on an Iowa highway, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (no relation — one too many “n”s) introduced legislation dubbed the “Suck it up, Buttercup” bill (not a shagging tune). It provides for fines to be levied against universities for wasting their budgets — and taxpayer money — on the “safe rooms,” puppy dogs, hot chocolate, play doh and coloring books that appear to be a la mode for comforting those who are suffering from the election results.
Perhaps the real meaning of Donald Trump’s election is that the juvenilization of America is, at long last, over. Perhaps this “reality” star will impart a dose of reality to us all. One can only wait and hope.
Stuart Kaufman is a retired lawyer, investment banker and businessman. He relocated from New York to Mount Pleasant in 2012. A friend recently told him that he has been a South Carolinian all of his life ... but he just didn’t know it.