Last year, in response to the usual social-justice-warrior hysteria about “offensive” Halloween costumes, a Yale administrator decided she’d seen enough. Erika Christakis took the enormous risk of standing up to the academic left’s “we’re right, you’re wrong, and that’s all there is to it” stance and said they were making a mountain out of a molehill.
“I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation,” she wrote in a campus-wide email. “I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.
“Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious?” she continued. “A little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”
This relatively-harmless sentiment led to widespread student protests on the Yale campus, which Cristakis described in a Washington Post op-ed after she and her husband left the university. She said she was stunned by the overblown reaction, which included this ludicrous interlude:
One professor I admire claimed my lone email was so threatening that it unraveled decades of her work supporting students of color. One email. In this unhealthy climate, of which I’ve detailed only a fraction of the episodes, it’s unsurprising that our own attempts at emotional repair fell flat.
Which brings us to this year, where Yale administrators finally admitted that they let things go too far and that it was time for the millennial cry-babies attending their school to grow up, wipe their tears, and get used to the face that sometimes, gosh-darnit, they’re going to be offended. And guess what? That’s okay. “Being offended” is not a life-threatening condition. You can get through it. And, since you have to live with people who won’t always agree with you, you pretty much have to deal with it. Might as well learn that now. If a “racist” Halloween costume is the worst of your problems, consider yourself damn lucky.
Oh wait, that’s not what happened at all.
From Heat Street:
Yale has awarded its Nakanishi Prize—given for academic achievement and racial activism—to Alexandra Zina Barlowe and Abdul-Razak Zachariah, graduating seniors who were “two of Yale’s most prominent Christakis critics,” the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman reports.
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Barlowe said Christakis’ email was “not just… discomforting and upsetting, but actually really deeply harmful and actually creating a space for violence to happen on campus.”
Honoring Barlowe, Yale quoted classmates who commended the student activist for a “moral imagination” that “operates with the knowledge that issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. are all interconnected.
Hey, you caused such a ruckus over this stupid non-issue that you threatened the careers of two professional academics! Here’s your prize!
Are you kidding right now?