When I was an undergraduate, I took a course on criminal investigations. In that class, one of the readings included a very brief description of a 14 year old boy who had endured horrific abuse. I was deeply offended, but it was more than that. I was consumed with a murderous rage. If I had the opportunity to do so, I would have murdered this young man’s abuser without mercy or remorse. That was just one of many offensive things in that class – things that should be offensive because they are evil.
What did I do? Did I complain to the administration that students should not be subjected to such triggering things? Did I drop the class? Did I demand to be allowed to study alternative material instead of the graphically violent things in the textbook? No. I went to class, did the readings and completed the course work. That is what an adult does when confronted with material he finds offensive: He goes forward instead of melting into a quivering mess. Indiana University would not have done me any favors had they exempted me from being exposed to the offensive material.
Snowflake students need to learn this: The reality of life is that you cannot avoid things that are offensive. Once you get out into the real world, there will be no university administration to protect your fragile feeeeeeeeeeelings and there will be no Diversity Police to sanction those who dare say something that is not politically correct. This is something I have been saying for a quarter century, but the snowflake culture is worse now than it has ever been.
Last month, Indiana University chose to censor the anti-KKK mural in Woodburn Hall. Yes, the decision to not hold classes is absolutely censorship. Hundreds upon hundreds of students that would have been exposed to the anti-KKK mural and Thomas Hart Benton’s message of racial unity will not see the mural. They will not be confronted with a shameful chapter in Indiana history and they will not be educated on the history of the mural. This is an insult to Benton, an insult to the free exchange of ideas and an insult to the victims of the KKK.
When I was in Washington DC, I visited the Holocaust museum. Holocaust survivors and others (especially those of Jewish ancestry) have done a lot of work so that we never forget the genocide committed by Nazi Germany. The message is simple: Never again. If we are allowed to forget about the horror of the Holocaust, society’s determination to hold to “never again” will be weakened. The same is true with the KKK. The snowflakes who are “offended” by an image of the KKK that is a small part of an anti-KKK mural are doing the work of the KKK.
The university’s response should not be to stop using Woodburn 100 as classroom space. The university’s response should be this: “Grow up. You are here to learn, and education often involves uncomfortable and offensive things. If you cannot handle being exposed to ideas and historical facts that offend you, then you are clearly not mature enough to be a student at a university. Learn to deal with or or pack your things and go home.”