Memo to campus radicals: Lighten up on race

March 25, 1994|By Michelle Malkin

HOW many times have you heard the ardent plea, from liberal opinion-makers, the civil rights establishment, campus activists and young members of the MTV Generation alike, that what this country really needs is an "honest dialogue about race"? If only we'd get more serious about It, the lamentation goes, the country's social ills would be greatly alleviated.

Nonsense. In my direct experience as a "person of color" with such tolerance peddlers and diversity disciples (who much prefer monologue to true dialogue), I've come to the conclusion that what the country really needs is to lighten up and get over its obsession with race.

This became no more clear to me than during my formative and disillusioning years as a student at Oberlin College in Ohio -- ironically, the first private college to admit women and minorities, and an institutional godfather of integration. It has only been a few years since I bid a regretless goodbye to my alma mater, but recent campus news has brought back a flood of suppressed, bitter memories about the self-segregation and political correctness that has taken hold there -- and at colleges across the country.

Late last year, for example, a white male student was hauled up before the college Judicial Board on charges (subsequently dismissed) that he committed "hate crimes" against minority students. His accusers complained that he had "violated the rights of students of color" and "infringed on their existence."

How? Satire. The student had the audacity to mock a minority students-only campus publication that regularly prints raging diatribes against whites. The accused had responded to a racist screed penned by a disgruntled Asian student by --ing off his own satirical column for an underground humor magazine that raged against cooking Chinese food badly.

Maybe it wasn't funny, but since when is awful humor a crime -- let alone a hate crime? Apparently it is, since hypersensitive campus radicals have secured the inviolate right not to be made fun of, plus a litany of other campus entitlements: separate dorms, separate student newspapers, separate academic departments and separate graduation ceremonies.

The heritage of civil rights and integration has become so perverted in the minds of today's college radicals that when no evidence of racial injustice can be found on campus, they feel compelled to fake it themselves to keep the fires burning. Such a fiasco at Oberlin occurred last fall when a confused Asian student, naively trying to "raise awareness," 'fessed up to spray-painting "Kill all Chinks" on a campus memorial. The admission came only after she had whipped up her peers of color into emotional protests against white racism. Ivy League schools have weathered countless hoaxes like this one, too.

So much for an honest dialogue.

The ugly truth is that colleges and universities today are turning out more narrow-minded, humorless, race-obsessed bigots of all colors than the Ku Klux Klan could ever have hoped to convert. Yet only recently have the aging pioneers of racial harmony in the '60s, the forty- and fiftysomething types who spent their student days in the 1960s fighting for civil rights, taken a hard look at their horribly mutated legacy. Their stomping grounds, once paragons of integration, have become hotbeds of racial separatism.

As John Ford, dean of students at Cornell University, said recently in a Knight-Ridder newspaper profile of campus segregation: "What's happening is inconsistent with what a majority of administrators would like to see. It's not so much the '60s melting pot kind of idea where everybody is bound together and it's all love and peace. But at least college should be a place where there is mutual respect, friendships, a chance to learn from one another, studying in teams, harmony in the classroom and residence halls. How to get the two sides together is the challenge."

For starters, those young intellectuals in the ivory tower should stop taking themselves so seriously. The world has so much more to fuss over than their trivial battles to protect impenetrable ethnic enclaves on campus from hostile white forces.

Next, it's time to shed the pretenses of victimology. Yes, racial epithets hurt. Bigotry's no fun. But should colleges allow minority students to stew in that misery, and white students to wallow in racial guilt, throughout their campus tenure? What kind of preparation for the real world is that?

Michelle Malkin is a columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News.

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