From the hysterical opposition to the Free Speech movement, that rebellion led by the heroic Mario Savio, washed up Movie Star and FBI snitch Ronald Reagan, parleyed this into the Governorship of California…the rest is ‘History’. To S.I. Hayakawa, and later by the redoubtable Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind : its Star, a generation of incurious Students addled by Rock-Music, and other False Prophets, perhaps with a liberal sprinkle of weed?
Or the latest iteration of anti-student hysteria The Coddling of the American Mind by Haidt and Lukianoff, a link to the Atlantic Magazine’s shortened version (Behind a Pay Wall), is helpful to those who don’t want to waste their time on a book, of hysterical political propaganda, featuring an utterly unfit, indeed spoiled, younger generation. The ‘as if ‘ here is that New Democrat propagandist Haidt and Lukianoff , whose FIRE is funded by a collection of notorious Conservatives, can offer a balanced critique of a generation of ‘the coddled’.
From one of the New York Times’ resident coterie of apologists for the political present, David Brooks, once the protege of the self-invented Brahman, and political poser Wm. F. Buckley Jr. (Imagine Buckley senior as a rough-hewn Texas wildcatter ? ) Brooks takes up the coddling metaphor, with the assistance of Haidt and Lukianoff as part of the tried and true public shaming of the Younger Generation, who must adapt to The Pandemic. The imperative that Brooks offers is as unimaginative as it is hackneyed: toughen up!
How many times, in my Middle School and High School years, did I and my class mates, hear this shit from our teachers? But mostly from the coaches, that ‘taught’ the mandatory Physical Education classes, in the Dark Age of the mid-fifties and early sixties!
The last two paragraphs of the Brooks exercise in public shaming of the ‘overprotected’ offers insights into the ineradicable nature of the Puritan Ethic, and its hero like Jonathan Edwards and one of its many villains, Cotton Mather!
I’m hoping this moment launches a change in the way we raise and train all our young, at all ages. I’m hoping it exorcises the tide of “safetyism,” which has gone overboard.
The virus is another reminder that hardship is woven into the warp and woof of existence. Training a young person is training her or him to master hardship, to endure suffering and, by building something new from the wreckage, redeem it.