Guest Commentary / July 5, 2022

Of Snowflakes, Sacrifice, and Tradition

It’s fashionable for universities in their worldly jaded wisdom to perpetuate grievances and antipathy toward American history.

By Mark W. Fowler

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines “snowflake” as a person who expects special treatment due to their unique circumstances or who is too sensitive to criticism and too easily upset. It is a disparaging term.

American universities, having lost sight of their main functions, which are to train young adults how to think and be proprietors of Western tradition, create snowflakes by the thousands. These snowflakes expect safe spaces and to be shielded from offensive content. Having been taught that American society is corrupt, capitalism is evil, and that their countrymen are racists, they have embraced a civil religion of wokeism that tolerates no heretics.

In 2018, a group of angry Yale undergraduates hectored Erika and Nicholas Christakis mercilessly over Erika’s email that Halloween costumes ought not generate either hostility or concern, but rather should be enjoyed for the spoof on society they were intended to be. Nicholas emailed that if anyone was offended by a Halloween costume, they should turn their head. For this anodyne comment, he was told by students that he was creating a space for violence and was “sick” and “disgusting.” The students were rude, confrontational, and refused to accept anything he had to say by way of smoothing things over or by way of apology. Over Halloween costumes. Firmly anchored in their self-righteousness, they belittled him, called for his job, and were obscene. So much for the leadership qualities of Yale students, a subset one of one of the most privileged groups of human beings in history.

Administrators at universities ought not kowtow to students if for no other reason than students lack the experience and knowledge of their professors. It is not students who lead the university but the professors and administrators. Nevertheless, the importation of politically correct philosophy, which is not more than a temporary fad, has led to the development and propagation of such notions as “micro-aggressions,” “white privilege,” the 1619 Project, and critical race theory, all of which might be best categorized as grievance-mongering. The problem with grievance-mongering is that it is an acid corroding the soul of its adherents. If a child is told to look for innocent conduct and treat it as an attack on race (such as asking, “Where are you from?”), then the child will forever have a chip on his shoulder. If you tell a minority child that the deck is perpetually and insidiously stacked against him by white society, he accepts that he cannot get ahead no matter how hard he tries. He learns to see evil in every comment, every lost promotion, and everything that could be interpreted as a slight no matter how anodyne. Consequently, he becomes angry and resentful.

If you search long enough for something to be aggrieved about, you will find it, even though in American society there is so much to be proud of and grateful for.

Nevertheless, it’s fashionable for universities in their worldly jaded wisdom to perpetuate grievances and antipathy toward American history.

The moral rot continues.

Since 2013, Cornell University Kroch Library has displayed a bust of Abraham Lincoln and a copy of the Gettysburg Address. Until recently.

It has been removed because someone complained.

The library has refused to disclose who complained or why, but there is no mystery there. It is widely known that Lincoln had some views about African Americans that were less than completely favorable to them, while at the same time being unalterably opposed to slavery as a moral wrong. He was not certain slaves could be integrated into American society — a view shared by many at that time. He proposed returning them to Africa. But ultimately, Lincoln took immediate, direct action to free the slaves without compensating slaveholders and without insisting on repatriation to Africa.

In 1863, the battle at Gettysburg produced over 23,000 Union casualties. There were 3,155 killed, 14,529 injured, and 5,365 missing. Edward Everett delivered a two-hour, 13,000-word speech as the main speaker. Lincoln spoke for two minutes with 271 words. Those words are in homage to the dead, wounded, and missing who fought to set aright the path of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave and to give a rebirth to freedom — including freedom for the slaves.

If the Civil War was Divine judgment on a nation for the sin of slavery, Lincoln’s short, modest, but powerful speech was a prophet’s clarion call to honor the sacrifice of those soldiers on that battlefield and to endeavor anew to live up the the promise of America as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

Moses, David, St. Paul, St. Peter, Washington, Jefferson — all had feet of clay. They had their faults, their miscues, their errors. We do not dishonor them for their mistakes. We honor them for how they lived in spite of their mistakes.

So should it be for Lincoln and his address, and the men buried on that hallowed ground.

The Gettysburg Address is one of the finest pieces of English literature every crafted. It is proper that school children learn it. If one finds it give offense, the fault is not with the speech or its author but with the beholder.

Mark Fowler is a former attorney and board-certified physician practicing in Tennessee. He can be reached at [email protected]

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