The ’60s Again? God Help Us
As a conservative, I have taught at three liberal colleges: New York University, Ithaca College and Temple University.
At each institution, students would ask me about “the revolution.” They were fascinated by the 1960s when it appeared students were so engaged in political affairs. Somehow, they thought, the 1960s were far more interesting than the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.
I told everyone who asked that the students of the 1960s—like me—engaged in ridiculous political antics that didn’t lead to much of anything of significance. We didn’t stop the war in Vietnam. The brave were those who went there, not us.
I remember attending an anti-Vietnam demonstration in San Francisco. My roommate took a lighter and burned his draft card. He was 4-F, which meant he would never have served in Vietnam.
Unfortunately, many of our academic, educational and media leaders from that time have imposed such a liberal agenda on the country that it will be with us for years. I will admit that I once was part of that idiocy.
The students at Ithaca College and the University of Missouri at Columbia don’t have many legitimate gripes. For example, black-on-black crimes in cities are far more frequent than anything that happens on a college campus.
As a professor of media law, I find it particularly galling that the demonstrators and their leaders know little about the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment—as evidenced by the bid to keep journalists away from the demonstrations.
As Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz put it: “If you’re going to be a college administrator or a professor, if you have tenure, you have to speak back to the students, you have to call these things what they are: double standards, hypocrisy, bigotry, McCarthyism, and the fog of fascism is descending quickly over many American universities.”
Students do have a grievance about tuition costs. I paid the current equivalent of about $2,000 a year for tuition in 1973—roughly 5 percent of the cost at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where I went as an undergraduate.
It should be understood, however, that the major cost of tuition has not meant more teachers in the classroom. Instead, the administration at colleges and universities has grown significantly in the more than 20 years I have been teaching—oftentimes because of dreadful government policies that create more top-heavy oversight.
Demonstrations are likely to spread throughout the country as students see what has happened in Missouri and New York. I dread the notion that the next generation of students will be asking about today’s revolution—something that may lead to more claptrap in the years ahead.
Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.