Much was said about the events at Evergreen State, but what I can’t help but notice, and what could bear repeating, was the irony of the whole situation, which I see as being threefold.
The impetus for this backlash, if you’ll recall, was an email from a liberal professor, Bret Weinstein, stating that he was not comfortable with the idea of having his absence from campus forced upon him by a group of people. His email, in fact, had nothing to do with race, except for the fact that the group trying to prevent him from teaching on campus for the day was a racially oriented organization. It is a virtual certainty that Bret Weinstein would have done the same thing for any other organization trying to force such a thing upon him. He was motivated by his principles, and those principles were in no way associated with any racial ideologies. The students, rather, were the ones who chose to see that email as racist and demonize a person who is on their side in almost every way.
Secondly, the whole affair is dishonest and politically motivated. The students leading this movement are clearly not unintelligent people, and the idea that not one of them chose to perceive Bret Weinstein’s email as well-intentioned and thoughtful, seems unbelievable; instead you see crowds of students cheering for Weinstein to be fired. And thus, we have the second fold of irony: the students who claim to be the victims of an organized system of oppression against black people, are themselves an organized system purposefully oppressing others. Without having been directly involved, it seems as though this was an entirely symbolic political move, organized by a group of students seeking political and societal gains through unsavory tactics. Calling for the termination of an innocent man’s employment, shouting down and silencing any voice of dissent, and intimidating others to push your agenda are all forms of oppression. And they must have known that the person they were targeting was not the real enemy.
Finally, it wouldn’t take more than twenty seconds to find a video online of groups of Evergreen students screaming at faculty members, calling them names, and admonishing them to abdicate their positions at the school, all because they feel unsafe in their presence. A desperately hysterical young student, backed by dozens of their peers surrounding a professor and shouting over them at every word, screaming that the school is no longer a safe space can hardly be believed. The irony here is that the students claiming to feel in danger became the most dangerous people on campus.
We need to have a sense of proportion; being upset, offended, or outraged should have practically no political or social currency in and of itself, and those who seek to use that as a strategy for achieving some end are merely pushing others away from their cause.