I've been hesitating to publish this particular train of thought for a while, but I think it really does need to be said: Allowing certain favored classes of people to stomp all over even minimal standards of civility - even if some of their grievances are legitimate - is profoundly damaging to our solidarity as a nation. Not only that, such double standards actually retard social progress.
What do groups like Black Lives Matter - or its on-campus equivalents - think they will actually accomplish by behaving like boors? Seriously: I really want to know how screaming slogans at students who are trying to study or demanding that innocent sorority sisters abandon their fundraiser for St. Jude will actually convince anyone that these protesters' motives are pure. What's the logic here? Does fostering a climate of fear actually change hearts and minds?
No. Instead, you are hardening racist sentiments. When you ludicrously insist that a man's last name is actually a racially-charged insult, you confirm every aspiring neo-Nazi eugenicist's belief that African Americans are dysgenic imbeciles. When you gin up fake hate crimes to back your ideology, you provide proof for every Grand Wizard's judgment that you are all habitual liars and criminals. Even worse, in filling the air with cries of phony outrage, you effectively muzzle anyone with a real complaint, as even the well-meaning are inadvertently being trained to approach claims of racism with skepticism. "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is not just a fable; it is an accurate reflection of human nature.
Speaking of human nature, here's another scientifically-backed truth: People are led by their guts. To borrow Jonathan Haidt's analogy, our rational mind is a tiny rider sitting on the back of a huge, lumbering elephant of instincts and prejudices -- and more often than not, the elephant decides and the rider rationalizes after the fact. Why? According to the evolutionist, it profited Paleolithic man to shoot first and ask questions later; people who didn't distrust outsiders or who weren't hypersensitive to threat didn't live long enough to procreate. According to the Catholic, meanwhile, the intended harmony between our biological and rational selves was broken by original sin; thus, as St. Paul writes in Romans, man often finds himself practicing the evil he does not wish to practice. For the purposes of our discussion here, it doesn't really matter who has it right; both explanatory frameworks are accounting for the same observable reality.
And how does this reality apply when it comes to our raging campus activists? Jeb Bush correctly observed in last night's debate that you can't bully yourself into the presidency; likewise, you can't bully yourself into a racially just utopia because bullying repels the elephant. Mobbing people and belligerently shouting at them puts their unconscious minds on high alert -- and a mind on high alert is a mind that cannot listen. When you are disgusting and offensive, it might make your fellow travelers feel better, but for everyone else, you're merely pushing the "circle the wagons!" button and, in some cases, driving people to hucksters like Donald Trump -- who, by the way, represents the flip side of the Black Lives Matter coin. Want to neutralize Trump's populist appeal? Try turning down the volume and being less hateful.
ETA: Welcome, Instapundit readers! To respond to some of the comments:
- Hardcore racists of the Nazi/KKK stripe do indeed have very little influence on our present day politics -- for now. I'm hesitant to discount the possibility of a resurgence, however, particularly given how often working class white people are being attacked by our self-appointed aristoi.
- The left doesn't lie about everything. I think that's an overstatement. There are injustices in our society that cut across race and class lines that do need to be addressed by public policy. As a conservative, however, I believe the left's prescriptions are wrong -- that, in fact, past left-wing approaches to poverty and racism have made things worse by discounting personal agency and destroying family stability. (I also believe the left is not necessarily wrong about the environment. But again, their proposed solutions are faulty -- even inhumane.) (Hmm. I should probably write up my own philosophy regarding the environment at some point. Self: Make a note.)
- Even if Black Lives Matter really is just about power and revenge, I still think I was right to address it in the way that I did in the post above. First of all, I don't want to declare these kids to be completely beyond redemption. Even I did stupid crap in my twenties. Secondly - and more importantly - I have to consider non-aligned observers who lean left and are consequently inclined to sympathize with these students' complaints. Said observers need to hear my softer message even more urgently -- particularly if they are college administrators who are currently under attack.
ETA 3: Saying Jeb was right is not a statement of support for his presidential campaign, by the way. Some comments on Glenn's site seem to be confused on that point.