Others apparently think that what will be our downfall is young people being like "um, hey, could you just... not be an asshole?"
Does Our Cultural Obsession With Safety Spell the Downfall of Democracy?
This headline. Look. There are some things to be said about our weird, selective cultural "obsession" with safety. It may be true that over-protective parenting by people who became parents in the 80s might have promoted anxiety disorders in kids who were accidentally taught that the world isn't safe. My anxiety disorder came from my dad having anger issues and screaming at his kids any time they dropped a glass or spilled something, or sometimes for things he just made up. But whatever.
But that's a small part of the article above.
“The Coddling of the American Mind,” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, proceeds from many of the same premises and touchstones as “Splintering,” but makes a much more disturbing and comprehensive analysis of recent campus trends. The book, which expands on a widely circulated 2015 article in The Atlantic, identifies what the authors refer to as “the three Great Untruths” of the current moment: “what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker”; “always trust your feelings”; “life is a battle between good people and evil people.” It’s a moment profoundly reshaped in the sanitized image of the hyper-connected and -protected “iGen” generation (short for “internet generation”), which directly succeeds the millennials. Members of iGen, according to the psychologist Jean Twenge, who coined the term, are “obsessed with safety,” which they define to include expansive notions of “emotional safety.” They began arriving on college campuses in 2013. Rates of anxiety and depression soon skyrocketed, along with demands for trigger warnings, safe spaces and disinvitations to controversial speakers, as well as sometimes violent confrontations with such speakers when they did appear on campus.
Here's the thing. There are so many reasons why these kids might be anxious and depressed. An increasingly demanding education system paired with an uncertain-at-best future, for example. There are so many things wrong with the world right now and so many things in the U.S. that could be spelling the "downfall of democracy" here. And I just really think that young adults who are going into college and being like "can you just warn me if you're going to talk about rape and also maybe not invite neo nazis to speak here because that attracts more neo nazis and I'm Jewish/black/queer/disabled?" is pretty far down on the list of possibilities.
Things on my list of why our democracy is fucked that come before young adults asking for trigger warnings:
- Our president acting like every dictator has ever acted before they seized total power.
- The rising numbers of people in this country who think that fascism/dictatorship would be acceptable, desirable, or fucking awesome.
- Increasing hate crimes coupled with segregation.
- The rising costs of education coupled with decreased funding to public schools.
- Every sign of the rapidly approaching genocide of Latinx people and other immigrants.
- Chipping away of human rights.
- Attacks on the free press.
- Militarization of the police.
- Foreign powers fucking with our elections and causing the people to lose faith in the legitimacy of our elections.
- The collapse of the American economy due to Trump being a complete walnut.
- Climate change coming in and just wiping human society off the map.
There's more but that's a good basic list of the top things that come to mind when I think about why our democracy might fall down.
It just blows my mind that all the above is going on and a couple of highly educated dudes decided to write an entire book on why the downfall of Ameican democracy will be due to young people asking for trigger warnings and protesting neo nazis on their campuses.
Yes. Sure. There are some examples of """SJWs""" or whatever you want to call them "going too far," maybe because they're going through some shit, maybe because that particular individual is just an asshole. I'm 100% certain that there are manipulative, abusive people out there who will jump on the most convenient movement in order to try and manipulate and abuse people. I've seen it. I've seen people obsessively dig through an individual's past, find one racist thing they said when they were 12, and demand that entire communities ostracize that person for that one thing they said where their brain was only half developed. There are always assholes within any movement.
But if you pick through all the good a movement has done, find these odd couple of examples of people being assholes within the movement, and use that to declare that the movement will DESTROY DEMOCRACY while there are actual fascists in our federal government right now working specifically and intentionally to do that - you might be the real asshole.
And also, those kids putting their lives on the line to protest against nazis coming to their colleges to preach hate and promote genocide are the ones who just might save our democracy. You, meanwhile, will probably be crying for a safe space when the poor masses drag you out of your ugly giant house with its three car garage and judge you for having a million-dollar home while babies were starving in the streets.