Monday

November 20th, 2017

Insight

When Institutions Go Left

Bob Tyrrell

By Bob Tyrrell

Published July 20, 2017

When Institutions Go Left
I have recently been reminded of one of my earliest conclusions about the American left. I arrived at that conclusion when it was relatively civilized. In those days, we called it American liberalism, but even then it was fla fla.

My conclusion was that when any entity falls under the dominance of liberalism, it loses all sense of its fundamental purpose. A city loses all sense of its purpose, which is governance. A university loses all sense of its purpose, which is education. You name the entity — if it falls under the dominance of liberalism, it becomes utterly confused as to its goal.

Now, under liberalism's more extreme evolutionary stage, called progressivism or leftism, progressives and the left cannot even maintain a public toilet facility for men or women. Going to the bathroom at a public comfort station today can be a source of embarrassment, or even an actionable civil rights matter where the left is in charge.

Yet the excellent Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump's wise choice for secretary of education, is weighing in on the Obama administration's torturing of Title IX. Then-President Obama made sexual abuse on federally funded campuses a federal offense in 2011. Last week, Secretary DeVos brought together aggrieved students who say they have been raped, aggrieved students who say the sex was consensual or, perhaps, did not happen at all, and university administrators and parents to sort the whole thing out.

Frankly, I think when such charges begin to fly, the university should call in the cops and stick with what a university's real purpose is: education. That is difficult enough. Law enforcement is fully equipped to deal with charges of sex crimes.

About the time Secretary DeVos called her meeting last week, a left-wing university was finishing its long and preposterous ordeal that proves my point. It has lost all sense of what its purpose is, to wit, education, not patrolling the campus for sex deviants or violent criminals. If serious infractions of the law are alleged, call in the cops.

In 2012, a Columbia University student, Emma Sulkowicz, accused a fellow student of sodomizing her without her permission. She filed a complaint with the university and, according to The New York Times, a university panel "found him not responsible." Then, more than a year and a half later, she filed a police report. But, apparently, something intervened and she stopped talking with the police. Hence, no charges were brought. Yet she continued to voice here complaints on campus, and they gained attention.

In the time between Sulkowicz's unhappy encounter and her graduation, she was apparently quite active. Her complaints led to a demonstration against the alleged assailant. Two more girls came forward with similar complaints about him, and the imbroglio widened.

The young man felt he had been defamed and filed a lawsuit against old Columbia, and Sulkowicz became not only an agitator but also an artist. She opted for "performance art' and took to carrying a mattress with her every time she stepped foot on the campus. At least that is her claim. She called it "Mattress Performance (Carry that Weight)." She insisted that she would do so until her alleged assailant left the campus. Incidentally, he graduated with the honor of being a John Jay scholar, despite the distractions. As for Sulkowicz, she received academic credit from Columbia for her "performance art" and even carried her mattress during her 2015 graduation ceremony, with the help of other students.

So here you have a left-wing institution living precisely up to my claims. It has lost all sight of what it is supposed to do. It attempts to handle a criminal case when it should have handed it over to the cops. Its campus is torn by demonstrations and students carrying around a mattress that's supposedly emblematic of an alleged crime that both the police and a university panel say was never committed. Sulkowicz is accorded university credit for carrying the mattress around campus. And, oh, yes, she claims this "performance art" is allowed as a matter of free speech. Has Columbia become a zoo? What are other aggrieved students doing on campus now?

As for the alleged assailant, he has returned to his home in Germany. He has his university honors, and last week, the university settled with him and his lawyer. The details were not made public, but the university issued a statement that said, "Columbia recognizes that after the conclusion of the investigation, Paul's remaining time at Columbia became very difficult for him and not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience." However, there is no sign that Columbia will shed its left-wingery.

Comment by clicking here.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. He's also the author of several books.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles