A college professor of mine repeatedly astounded our class by presenting equally compelling but contradictory interpretations of historical events we had never before considered. The class served to develop our nascent critical thinking skills as it forced us to determine the truth about events we thought we had previously understood.
This classroom experience, I believe, was what college was supposed to be about: Gifted scholars forcing young students to think for themselves as they come to the realization that we do not live in a black-and-white world. Moreover, in several of my classes we were encouraged and rewarded if we could debate our classmates and write a convincing essay taking a contrarian point of view to that of the mainstream, historic one-sided characterization and summary of the events we studied.
To say those days are long gone on most college campuses today would be an understatement. Ironically, the generation that prides itself in embracing diversity is abounding in an illogical, uniformly surreal ideological conformity as evidenced in their social, economic and political outlook. This substitution of indoctrination for education is clearly manifest in the recent election.
Taking the primary election at UCSB and Isla Vista as an example, the students voted overwhelmingly socialist/Democratic, voting for Bernie Sanders nine out of 10 times with Hillary Clinton garnering the remaining 10 percent. Whereas Bernie and Hillary garnered over 4,000 votes between them, Donald Trump earned slightly more than 100 votes total.
Say what you will about the comparative popularity of Mr. Sanders among young people and the vilification of Mr. Trump, the fact remains that near complete conformity is a sign of group think, speak and vote. This lopsided vote indicates these college students are completely bereft and devoid of the natural variance that signifies there are always two sides to any political matter.
H.L. Mencken observed that “for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” This observation explains this unparalleled and unprecedented student vote. The Sanders appeal to young people? All of America’s problems can be solved by taxing the rich and using the money to provide free stuff to the rest of America. Only a functional economic illiterate could believe such pablum, indicative of a generation of narcissists who believe they actually deserve free stuff in the first place.
Considering the violence breaking out against Mr. Trump throughout the nation, how many college students would actually feel safe supporting Mr. Trump, or any other conservative for that matter? Whereas UCSB has striven to create accommodations for people who want to safely and freely express themselves as it affects their gender and sexuality, the fact remains that the exchange of unpopular ideas is relegated to a particular zone on campus called the free speech zone. That space is just large enough to fit the 100 Trump supporters on campus. However, I am sure the Trump 100 wouldn’t feel any safer on campus than did the teenage pro-life advocate accosted in that safe place, by a diversity-hustling campus professor no less.
Originally published in the Santa Barbara News Press.