Woke colleges are literally driving students crazy

Those whom the gods would destroy, goes the old saying, they drive them mad first.

Meaning they must hate elite educational institutions plot.

Take what happened at Stanford Law School last week.

Judge Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was there at the invitation of his chapter of the Federalist Society. He was to talk about the Fifth Circuit, the Supreme Court, and constitutional law.

Duncan is a conservative, and the “progressive” students at Stanford Law wouldn’t hear what he had to say.

They could have avoided this by simply skipping the conversation, but they didn’t want to anybody to hear what he had to say.

When Duncan arrived, they literally shouted it.

A hundred demonstrators made enough noise, shouting insults: “We hate you! “Leave and never come back!” “We hate FedSoc students, fk them, they don’t belong here either!” And so on.

They also carried childishly insulting signs with slogans like “JUDGE DUNCAN CAN’T FIND THE CLIT” and “FEDSUCK!”

Duncan eventually got angry, calling the protesters “dumb juveniles” – which they were – and asked an administrator to restore order.

Stanford Law’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Tirien Steinbach, took to the podium – and sided with the protesters, speaking from remarks she had prepared to advance.

The scene seemed shocking, but that sort of thing is inevitable when students are told that being exposed to viewpoints they don’t agree with is “harmful” and an intolerable personal insult as well.

And that’s what they’re taught in America’s “elitist” institutions and in many non-elitist institutions: the words you don’t like are “violence” and “hurts”.

(A friend comments that anyone who thinks “words are violence” has never been punched in the mouth.)

The president and dean of Stanford quickly apologized. But I suspect the opinions of Steinbach – who, in a law school, where students must learn to manage encounters with opposing opinions and persuade people (like judges!) they can’t coerce are basically lunatics – are actually close to the true beliefs of the institution.

Stanford Law’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Tirien Steinbach, sided with protesters during Duncan’s speech.

So yes, Stanford is crazy.

And Stanford is not alone. Georgetown Law staged a similar descent into madness last year when Ilya Shapiro, who was just hired as director of the school’s constitution center, posted a tweet critical of President Joe Biden’s promise to appoint a black woman on the Supreme Court.

The students not only protested, but demanded “room to cry.” (Who wants a lawyer who needs “room to cry” when confronted with a nasty tweet? No one.)

Rather than tell them to grow up, the Dean paid for food for the protesters. So Georgetown Law is crazy too.

Georgetown Law School has sided with students who protested Ilya Shaprio for one of his tweets.
Georgetown Law School has sided with students who protested Ilya Shaprio for one of his tweets.
Courtier of Ilya Shapiro

It’s bad. But what’s worse is that the woke/DEI approach to education is also driving students crazy.

Jonathan Haidt recently wrote a fascinating essay on why student mental health has declined so much over the past decade.

He noted that cognitive behavioral therapy, used to treat depression, teaches patients to stop ruminating over perceived slights and setbacks and to engage in black-and-white thinking or emotional reasoning.

But DEI’s culture does the exact opposite: it encourages students to dwell on slights, engage in (literal) black-and-white thinking, and prioritize their emotions. It’s “reverse CBT”, as he puts it.

Instead of learning to overcome traumatic experiences, negative thoughts, and emotional instability, students are encouraged to dwell on them and even base their identity on them.

When victimization is a source of prestige, there is no incentive to get better.

And when students are told that their weaknesses provide an excuse to bully others, expect more bullying – and more weaknesses.

It’s not good for bullies or the bullied, and it’s not good for the institutions they inhabit.

The students’ worst and most juvenile behavior is lenient and rewarded, with the predictable result that students become increasingly juvenile and ill-mannered.

It comes from institutions that charge top dollar for, supposedly, educating future American leaders.

Over the past decade, universities have spent a fortune on DEI (although the “inclusion” part has certainly not been visible at Stanford) and there is no evidence that it has made things better on campus for anyone but DEI bureaucrats.

Insanity, we are told, is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Maybe it’s time to stop the madness.

Or maybe the right-wing critics of the institution of higher education should stop criticizing and encourage it.

After all, those whom the gods would destroy, they first drive them mad. And there is a lot of madness.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.


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