How do student protestors today differ from their predecessors back in the 1960s? The latter were more well-read.
“This is a post-literacy generation,” Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) said recently at the Heritage Foundation. “They know how to read but don’t read.”
Charles Kesler, editor-in-chief of the Claremont Review of Books, notes that the so-called New Left of the 1960s actually would occasionally quote Abraham Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence, sources many current campus revolutionaries are unfamiliar with. “I don’t want to romanticize the old New Left even though it looks admirable compared to the new New Left,” Kesler said, while on the panel with Wood.
Kesler, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, has had plenty of experience with the New Left, past and present. Last Fall, in fact, there were protests at Claremont McKenna.
“One student said he didn’t like the protests but wouldn’t say anything about it,” Kesler remembered. “I asked him why, he said, ‘I’m a coward.’”
“I asked him what he was afraid of, he said, other students.” He did not want to get mobbed on Facebook.
The architects of such a climate on campus are sort of obvious, by definition, but those who don’t share their philosophy should not rest easy because they are not culpable. Indeed, Wood notes that all of the above occurred, in part, due to “preemptive surrender and negligence on the part of conservatives.”
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