At The Financial Times: ‘Campus Wars’, Rana Foroohar as failed dramaturge. American Writer comments

Ms. Rana Foroohar opens her essay with an attack on a well practiced American tradition of public protest. If you feel you have been wronged, especially when it is by an institutionalized power, you take  your case to the Court of Public Opinion! That is what Emma Sulkowicz did. If this was supposed to shock the Financial Times reader, the question arises where do these readers live? Ms. Foroohar isn’t the most practiced dramaturge on staff at this newspaper. The seeking of redress, when you feel that you have been wronged, is a valid tool to make your point to other members of the civic body, in this case the student body.

After some preliminarily self-serving potted history the reader arrives at her Bill of Attainder:

Meanwhile, the protests themselves have an anti-intellectual tenor that has begun to worry many observers. During the past few years, students and academics have demanded conservative speakers and even liberals who don’t spout the party line not be allowed to lecture on campus, in some cases citing psychological research to argue that their words could induce psychological stress that was tantamount to physical violence. Books and lectures that might offend various sensibilities now come with “trigger” warnings. Professors are being directed to ask students in the beginning of each new class which pronoun they prefer to be addressed by. In the summer of 2015, a wave of campus protests broke out at dozens of schools from the University of Missouri to Yale, with students pushing universities to implement even broader policies designed to keep them “safer” from offence (eg micro-aggression training seminars that teach how to discuss race and gender “properly”; additional college-funded research centres focused on issues of identity).

The regular reader of New York Magazine can ,every Friday, count on Andrew Sullivan to provide anti-student hysterics as part of his regular column, call it what it is screeching. The contemporary American anti-student hysteria was pioneered by Neo-Conservative scold Allen Bloom in his The Closing of the American Mind.  See Essays on the Closing of the American Mindby Robert L. Stone (Editor) for a set of devastating replies to Bloom’s near hysterical polemic. Attacking students radicalism used to be the exclusive domain of Conservatives. But even respectable bourgeois Liberals are finding hysteria mongering, against the menace of these radicals, student and antifas, as a tool to prop up their ebbing political relevance.  Peter Beinart, at The Atlantic, exploits another facet of  what Ms. Foroohar presents in terms of her comments on Charlottesville.

For an informative history of Neo-Conservatism and its roots in the conflicts between Alcove One and Two at New York’s City College see ‘The Conservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy’ by Murray Friedman. Read chapter two titled The Premature Jewish Neo-Conservatives, the list of student radicals is quite impressive: Irving Kristol, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell, Seymour Martin Lipset, Melvin Lasky, Sidney Hook. Why is this relevant to Ms. Foroohar’s essay? The above named ‘Leftists‘ all became respectable Public Intellectuals, not to speak of becoming zealous Neo-Conservatives.

Look to Mario Savio and the Free Speech movement of 1964 at Berkley, the rise of S.D.S.,  Tom Hayden as one of its leaders/founders and drafted S.D.S.’s manifesto, the Port Huron Statement. He became a California State assemblymen and senator.

For more of the same of Anti-Student/Anti-Intellectualism see Tenured Radicals by  Roger Kimball or Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus by the Dinesh D’Souza for more precursors to Ms. Foroohar’s jejune polemic. 

The remainder of the essay is devoted to the Sins of not ‘Liberals’ but of the arch-enemy of Conservative chatterers,the Student Left that in its argumentative desperation mentions Charlottesville as exemplary.

The University is a laboratory in which students attempt to find their life way and political path, as my earlier examples demonstrates.  Ms. Foroohar’s cast of characters exceeds her ability to grasp their meaning, except in terms of producing a Political Melodrama that serves the ends of propaganda.

American Writer



Eureka! I have found my Boswell! And the screen name Cheapside isn’t just a self-serving ruse to avoid the honesty of signing her/his name, but has a meaning:

Cheapside is one of the 24 who, at least, looked at my blog! I thank you all for clicking on the link. I feel like Sally Field accepting her Oscar, almost! And kudos to Cheapside for articulating your malice with such brio: invective like this appears in these pages only when Janan Ganesh channels Baudelaire.

Regards to all,


P.S. SD stands for San Diego, California, have fun with that!



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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