Oh, no! Once again, our local "woketariat" is in an uproar! This time, the irritated and indignant insurgents have fixed their sights on Cuesta College Trustee Pete Sysak, and on Paso Robles school district Clerk Chris Arends and demand their banishment for the usual liberal litany of "-isms."
What has our youthful cadre of activists in such dudgeon? Well, for one, Sysak had the temerity to call last summer's BLM rioters "thugs." However, most people who watched the riots on TV already came to the same conclusion—those cities didn't loot and burn themselves. Most of us have difficulty seeing a kid hauling a big screen TV out of a broken window as merely an "engaged social activist participating in nontraditional shopping," no matter how their apologists would prefer that they be characterized.
Sysak compounded his crimes by insisting that "all lives matter," again drawing the condemnation of the woke warriors. Perhaps they should focus their wrath on left wing icon Bernie Sanders, who in 2016 also insisted that "all lives matter," before ever-tolerant BLM activists drove him from the stage and shut down his rally. Perhaps the biggest offense in the eyes of the social justice warrior is the refusal to obey the semantic diktats of their continually evolving nomenclature.
Arend's "crime" was arguing that no such thing as "systemic racism" actually exists, an unforgivable transgression against the liberal worldview. Still, an objective observer might also wonder why, despite all the chatter about systemic racism here in SLO, nobody has actually cited any specific practices that they feel are systemically racist. I suppose that if a particular narrative is adopted as part of the liberal dogma, we must accept on faith that it in fact actually exists, lest we be deemed loathsome nonbelievers deserving of, at the least, public censure.
Since none of the examples of impermissible statements cited are actually extreme, or vary enough from the realm of mainstream conservative thought as to raise any eyebrows among objective observers, the kids are playing their trump card: The presence of such wrongheaded people in education makes them "feel unsafe."
Really? Since no allegations have been raised that Sysak and Arends are prowling their campuses with assault rifles, or are leading blood-lusting lynch mobs, perhaps the kids mean "unsafe" figuratively. These students have somehow gotten the idea from their ever-indulgent teachers and parents that they can veto anything that makes them feel subjectively "unsafe" by annoying them, giving them the right to drive anyone who disagrees with them off campus.
If anyone truly feels physically threatened by the usual boisterous dialogue in our political discourse, they really should be under therapy in a Home for the Pathologically Fragile. I wonder how they could even survive participation in the tumult of usual political demonstration?
This is a surprising stance to take on a college campus. Traditionally, college is intended to expose students to various points of view, not serve as a finishing school for grievance mongering. When you combine the intolerance of opposing views with the carefully inculcated mantle of victimhood, then you can understand why these demandingly delicate kids need "trigger warnings" and "safe places."
Sadly, it is not just kids playing the "safety" card anymore. A chronologically adult city commissioner for Portland, a lefty advocate of defunding the police, was recently in the news after a dispute with a Lyft driver over the driver's refusal to roll up his window, which he kept open in compliance with COVID-19 rules. After the driver terminated the ride and stopped at a gas station to let her out, she refused to leave his car, later citing her fear of rampaging "white supremacists." In Portland?!?! Perhaps she would have felt safer guarded by a crack squad of tactical social workers who could deftly "de-escalate" any menacing bigots.
Where is all of this headed? It often seems that the progressives are trying to replicate Stalin's purges in the Soviet Union, and Mao Zedong's 1966 Cultural Revolution. They seek to "cancel" and "cleanse" those with insufficient ardor for their revolution. Perhaps most frightening, such revolutionary fervor tends to feed on itself, and to generate even more extreme stances as the participants continually seek to outdo each other in commitment to The Cause. None dare argue for moderation or restraint, lest they be deemed insufficiently committed to The Cause and thus counter-revolutionary. And, of course, at some point the revolutionary feeding frenzy ends up like the violence of the French Revolution, in which the guillotine was eventually used whimsically, and often just as a device by individuals settling scores with personal enemies.
Our local leftists should note that the recent election showed a resounding rejection of their agenda. Moderate Democrats are desperately seeking to distance themselves from the agenda of defund the police, the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, free college, etc. Other than the narrow rejection of a historically unpopular president, no "blue wave" materialized. Even in very blue California, the liberal stances on affirmative action, property taxes, gig jobs, and rent control were defeated, and Republicans gained Congressional seats.
Sorry, kids, but you're just gonna have to learn to put up with us. Δ
John Donegan is a retired attorney in Pismo Beach who has enough sense to avoid social media, and instead does his venting right here. Send thoughts through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.