January 2015 Brief: Volume 22, Number 1
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A Book for a Lazy Winter Sunday
by Deborah D. Thornton
My list of books to be read is always long, and never seems to get shorter. Probably because I add two for every one I finish. Those currently being read include Did You Ever See a Dream Walking? American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century, edited by William F. Buckley, Jr., way back in 1970. This is to be followed by the 2014 Big Tent: The Story of the Conservative Revolution – As Told by the Thinkers and Doers Who Made It Happen, edited by Mallory Factor. The first I should have read in college, but didn’t – the other should be required reading for all college students and conservative citizens today.
Fortunately, I have been able to fit in a first “novella” by a friend from North Carolina – Mascots, by Francis Owen Drewrey. Mascots is set in an ultra-liberal college town, much like Ames, Iowa City, or any one of a thousand other places. The residents are happy and self-satisfied. They are the right thinkers and doers, with the educations and salaries to prove it, and more than a bit pretentious about driving their Priuses, drinking Starbucks, and eating organic food.
Then Occupy Morgan Springs comes to town. Not as an organic uprising against the “1 percent.” Occupy is a planned and coordinated illegal encampment. They have a structure and a goal. Most of the fictional Morgan Springs elite, as in Ames and Iowa City, are much closer to the 1 percent than the 99 percent. But they happily jump on the “occupy” bandwagon. Predictably, there is a disaster. Yet, it doesn’t cause people to question the popular narrative or to understand what really happened.
Most interesting in Mascots is the treatment of those who dare to question the occupy effort, who dare to counter the popular narrative. They are immediately and harshly squelched. Unfortunately most decide that in order to keep their happy homes and lives in this community, they must change their views and opinions, or at least keep their mouth shut. At every step of the way, this story should hit home for both conservatives and liberals in our college towns.
The analysis holds for not only the occupy movement, but the global warming alarmists, the rape culture advocates, the “hook up” any way you want to proponents, the “hands up” no matter who you’re beating and robbing supporters, and other current, politically correct issues of the day.
Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars captures this attitude in a recent article, “Libertarians vs. Progressives, The New Campus Divide.” Wood writes, “On one hand, a large number of students prize the freedom to do and say what they want and deeply dislike the constraints of external authority. On the other hand, a large number of students prize social control as an instrument of justice and are deeply committed to a regime of close regulation of their fellow students’ behavior.”
He elaborates, “…the new generation of campus progressives are more radically anti-freedom than their predecessors and a lot more willing to forego the search for knowledge for the excitements of immediate power.”
Wood recounts that a student at Williams College told him, “Everything is open for debate except legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage. Those subjects aren’t debatable because ‘those matters are settled.’” “Settled” matters require no further discussion and are not allowed to be questioned. If you’re of the opposite view of the “settled” issue – you’re….stupid? ignorant? racist? bigoted?...or any other number of disparaging terms.
The progressives are doing an excellent job, according to Wood, of excluding dissent and stigmatizing dissenters – all in the name of social justice.
Is this really what we want our children to learn on college campuses? Is this what Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and The Greatest Generation really wanted for our country?
Wood laments that the conservative and libertarian students on campuses are not standing up and speaking up for what is actually right, not advocating for the right of individual opinion and thinking, the right of private property ownership (which the occupy movement enthusiastically trampled, not understanding that private property is the foundation of economic growth), the right of free speech and personal responsibility, the right of due process and a presumption of innocence, the right to legal representation and to see evidence against you, the right to not be censored, the right to freedom of religion, and the right to a civil discussion of real ideas and reasoning?
Do we understand that we are being herded by political correctness into giving up our individual rights for some nebulous “social justice?”
Conservatives and Libertarians on college campuses, and in the cities and towns of Iowa – and North Carolina – not only have a right, but an obligation to read, learn, understand, and defend their positions and ideas. They must not, as the townspeople do in Drewery’s not-so-fictional Morgan Springs, just roll over and follow the crowd. Mascots is a book for a lazy winter Sunday afternoon – but also one which should motivate you to get up off that sofa and get involved. If you don’t, who will?
Deborah D. Thornton is a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute, Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Contact her at Public.Interest.Institute@LimitedGovernment.org.
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