It doesn’t seem that long ago that concerns about issues like cultural appropriation—wearing the wrong Halloween costume, dining halls preparing ethnic foods improperly, and certain groups singing the wrong music—and speech policing were confined to the realm of the college campus. Those who complained that students were being hyper-sensitive faced pushback: They’re just undergraduates, this is silly. They’ll change when they get into the real world.
But what happens on our college and university campuses is anything but confined to the ivory tower or irrelevant. The omnipresent ideas that have seeded and informed the problematic anti-racist rhetoric and the tactics of bullying, canceling, and silencing others come directly from our campuses and now dangerously pervade into the zeitgeist to such a degree that Andrew Sullivan famously wrote in 2018 that, “We All Live on Campus Now.”
From private companies like Coca-Cola asking employees to be “less white” or Ogilvy’s diversity and inclusion team pushing books by Angela Davis or Howard Zinn as part of its initiative to promote a “more equal and just world,” it is obvious that the “woke mob” has escaped the confines of our nation’s campuses and the narratives of harm and victimization have spread into the real world.
A day hardly goes by without an example of rampant cancel culture making the news. An elite school in New York asked parents to rank themselves on a scale of “whiteness.” The San Francisco school board voted to remove the names of historical figures ranging from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln from schools. Even Dianne Feinstein couldn’t make the cut.