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How today’s college campuses are similar to Orwell’s “1984”

(Associated Press/Amy Anthony)

(Associated Press/Amy Anthony)

It is no secret that liberal activism has made substantial inroads at college campuses in the last few years. We are amidst its peak — and now begins the return to normalcy, as exemplified by the University of Chicago’s recent stance on safe spaces and trigger warnings. Such a move has been considered bold in the sense that it is one of the first major signs of resistance by a university to the politically correct, social justice agenda.

On the other hand, it should be neither bold nor groundbreaking since it is really just the reestablishment of reason and common sense which ought to be the norm in all places. Let’s examine why the progressive path should be reigned back in.

Seemingly well-intentioned at the very beginning, it quickly devolved into a self-absorbed, controlling and irrational movement that is slowly coming apart at the seams. It’s a shame that we can draw similarities between the state of things today to George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. But the resemblances are eye-opening.

In the novel, individual thinking is discouraged and policed, with deviations from what is acceptable deemed “thought-crimes.” In 2016 America, those on the left have launched bitter attacks against freedom of expression, in particular among university student bodies, where they support free speech—so long as they agree with what is being said.

To them, the sole criterion for hate speech is if they feel upset by it, like if “Trump 2016” is written in chalk on the ground. This is a ridiculously arbitrary form of language policing that attempts to instill the “correct” ideas and phrases onto others who they deem behind schedule on the social justice agenda. File “LGBTQ” under this domain; brace for the scrutiny you’ll endure if you omit a letter, as that qualifies as a micro-aggression! The same goes for the absurd gender-less pronoun guidelines. Once acronyms and pronouns are updated (by whom?), how long is the grace period before one becomes shamed into not being conscious of what is proper and good?

Orwell’s dystopia also depicts “Ministry of Truth” employees editing incongruities to fit the state’s notion of correctness, aka revisionist history. In 2016 America, examples abound of revising or simply erasing parts of history because some claim to be offended by a person, word, or image: Uproot Confederate flags from Civil War soldiers’ graves! Rename university halls after a “non-racist”! Incite campus discord over offensive Halloween costumes! (Don’t worry – round-the-clock counseling is available for those afflicted).

Moral crusading of this nature requires that we go down a rabbit-hole wherein one’s claims of emotional harm are inherently unmeasurable and wherein it is up to anyone’s interpretation what gets changed, to what extent, and for what purpose. One can claim offense by literally anything. Soon are the days when the term “cell phone” is deemed inappropriate because it triggers post-traumatic stress in ex-prisoners. Yes; we are on that ridiculous, never-ending path.

Life, inside and outside of classrooms, is not kind to those who feign outrage over the minuscule and ridicule those with whom they disagree—nor should it be. Those of us looking in from the outside have seen this movement degenerate to the point where the actions taken run contrary to its supposed mission—but those who orchestrate it don’t even realize this, having never taken a step back to really figure out what they want, how to achieve it, and when they will be satisfied.

Universities like Berkeley and UC Davis have created specialized housing for black students — de facto segregation that the social justice community has railed against for years. This represents one of the movement’s many hypocrisies: they desperately seek equality, but whenever they want special advantages they pursue things that are not equal. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot stress diversity and then selectively target your outrage towards people or ideas that are represented in a way that to you is offensive.

Lastly, the term “social justice” doomed the movement from the start. It is inherently suspect; qualifying “justice” creates an open door to pursue not justice pure and simple, but anyone’s interpretation of whatever specialized type of justice is named. Adding the “social” aspect of it enables those on the far left to distort its meaning for their own agenda. And that’s exactly what they have done.

Hopefully sooner rather than later, this movement will pass. However, rather than idly standing by and waiting for it to collapse into itself, we need to confront its doctrines, which, if allowed to advance unopposed, could cause irreparable harm. As Orwell said, “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” That, in a nutshell, is the social justice movement.


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