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F R O M   T H E   E D I T O R
The Twilight Zone
Joseph A. P. De Feo • Searching for Hate
May 2001

“It happened that morning at the Ministry, if anything so nebulous could be said to happen.”  So writes George Orwell in 1984, describing a “Two Minutes Hate,” a venting session during which loyal citizens of Oceania scream at an image of their insidious enemy, Emmanuel Goldstein.  Less spirited versions of the same could be experienced during a recent three-week-long “Hate Crime Awareness Series.”  Acts of bigotry, deviation, and other crimes were decried, although one thing was missing—the perpetrators.  Like Emmanuel Goldstein, these conspirators were unseen and unknown to most Yalies.

The truth is that Yale is the most comfortable place imaginable not only for liberals, but for almost any breed of radical or revolutionary.  Nowhere else, outside of small pockets in Greenwich Village, Vermont, and the Pacific Northwest, will one find the tolerance of this ivory bubble. 

Yet recent events of the activist Left would lead an outside observer to believe that the Yale community needs to hear about hate crimes, or does not care.  This is false.  No Yalie, or no one that has not been living in Lost in Space reruns for thirty years, is unaware of the existence of hate crimes; one can hardly further “raise awareness” of hate crime here.  There are some that oppose hate crimes legislation, and for principled reasons; but this does not constitute countenancing hate crimes.  One would be hard pressed to find a Yale student who defends hate crimes.  There are those that occasionally commit them—for instance, the frat sots last year who hurled slurs and punches at an Asian-American.  Not only are these people the smallest of minorities, but their actions could just as easily be chalked up more to inebriated unruliness and rebellion against commonly held sensitivity than hatred.  They have heard the anti-hate line before, but they have ignored it.  The type of events making up the anti-hate series does little to reach these people, if that is even possible. 

It seems as well that the Left is not terribly interested in discourse, often precluded by the format of many events: one can hardly hold an intelligent discussion at a rally or raise serious questions about issues during a vigil.  And at forums organized “to promote dialogue,” too often the discussions become exchanges of feeling, the subjective nature of which does not allow for much intellectual dispute.  This is not to say that constructive debates do not occur; it is just that they are more rare than one would hope.

Add to the mix that Yale is a liberal’s Disneyworld—“The most permissive place on earth”—and one wonders why so many activists and detectives of unorthodoxy would stage a not-quite-a-fortnight Hate Crime Awareness Series. Jonah Goldberg, the editor of National Review Online, offers an intriguing explanation.  He posits, “Nothing disappoints a revolutionary more than the persistent lack of injustice.”

One wonders what Leftists who are fighting real problems, like sweatshop conditions in poor countries, think of the amount of time and energy Yale activists spend on rallies against YDN parodies and only-$11.50-an-hour contracts. Although sweatshop activists generally have the wrong ideas about how to solve the problems they decry (see here), they have at least turned their attention to other people's misery rather than their own hurt feelings. 

One wonders whether the exaggerated amount of attention people here pay to minor instances of victimization is a guilty attempt to compensate for a privileged background.  Many here search for solidarity with the oppressed, an opportunity to feel their pain. An example of this would be the YHAAP fast, which allows one to empathize with the homeless, except for the fact that the homeless do not have the option of meals at Yorkside, guaranteed healthcare, and the consolation of friends and lectures by Vincent Scully.  One can take the example of Dorothy Day and actually live with the poor, but most Yalies prefer to be tourists in Victimland. The “I’m oppressed too!” mentality blinds one to the fact that the poor and oppressed are not merely victims but are actors in their own lives; that the piddling insults of a day among imperfect and often ill-mannered fellow students do not constitute oppression; and that events like the YDN parody protest serve only to reinforce Yalies’ self-absorbed belief that everything is about them.

It is only in this light that one can begin to understand the recent brouhaha over a YDN April Fools’ Day column by Michael Horn which, in parodying a Harvard Crimson parody, employed stereotypes about Asian-Americans.  Though relatively harmless and obviously a parody, activists and members of the thought police rushed to excoriate Mr. Horn, lest he rob Asian-Americans of their individuality or dignity. The Yale Free Press had hoped to provide an example of the humor employed by Mr. Horn; however, evidence of it was not to be found. In a craven response to exaggerated public indignation, the Yale Daily News removed the offending article from its online archives.  That bit of history was deleted, as though it never existed.

The overblown response to the column, besides revealing just how starved Yalies are for injustice, shows how seriously Yalies take their comfort. While Mr. Horn’s column probably did little to sustain stereotypes, it did cause some discomfort. Those who felt seriously harmed by the column’s supposed insensitivity should get used to it; the world outside Yale is not in step with her all-pervading leftism.  Yale is a marshmallow fortress that embraces and encourages oversensitivity.  It is a safe space in which corners are rounded and conflict can be avoided if desired. If he wanted to, a student could complete his Yale career having only heard the story of man from Marcuse, Rawls, and Rorty.  That many do this is undeniable; either that or they have never absorbed any of the Plato, Dante, or Arendt they may have been forced to read along the way. For the sake of comfort one can choose to leave Yale with the same ideas and beliefs with which one entered, seeking confirmation of previous beliefs and shunning actual education—which might entail encounters with surprising or even frightening ideas that challenge one to change.  The comfortable route is an exceedingly unexciting one.

The choice of Senator Clinton for Class Day speaker should then come as no surprise (see here). It is consistent with an aversion to intellectual confrontation; since she shares many beliefs with the student body, it is unlikely that she will tell the graduating class anything that they do not already know. That she will gorge the seniors with flummeries is undoubted—even her allies at The New Republic call her terribly insipid—and this is a perfect cap to the average Yale education. 

All of this brings us to the Yale Free Press.  All along, the YFP has sought to be the (mostly) loyal opposition.  And we do represent the opposition for most Yalies.  In other words, this is a real challenge.  And that is much more than any seniors will get from Senator Clinton’s Class Day address. 

Joseph A. P. De Feo, Editor-in-Chief
 

   
The Yale Free Press is published by students ofYale University. 
Yale University is not responsible for its 
contents. By the same
token, The Yale Free Press is not responsible for the contents of Yale
University.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Designed by
Joseph A. P. De Feo

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