Precious Snowflakes are Set to Melt: The Coddling of the American Mind By James Reed
Back in 1987 philosopher Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind, which was an early critique of the emerging culture of political correctness and all things mad from the Left. The main argument was against the emergence of moral and cognitive relativism, rejection of the objectivity of science and knowledge, and Bloom asserted the need to defend Western civilisation, including the canon of great and classic literature. But, in the years up to today, this return to the classics has not occurred, and Western civilisation faces a relentless attack in the universities. This comes from the ageing boomer academics, as well as the more recent clones from gen X and Y, who ape them. Added now to this lamentation about the state of the university, comes The Coddling of the American Mind (2018), by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, a lawyer and psychologist. The book deals with updated themes discussed by Bloom and other “cultural wars” authors, but the book is very toned down, in my opinion, due to the authors being liberals, which is their right, of course.
Thus, the dissent Right come out as Nazis and the like (p.12), and the election of Donald Trump is beyond the pale, (p.140), and they proclaim, after discussing numerous incidents of the suppression of mainstream views that: “the shock of Trump’s victory must have been particularly disillusioning for many black students and left-leaning women. Between the president’s repeated racial provocations and the increased visibility of neo-Nazis and their ilk, it became much more plausible than it had been in a long time that “white supremacy,” even using a narrow definition, was not just a relic of the distant past.” (p.140) never mind that although left women would have opposed Trump, millions of Blacks voted for him. Thus, Lukianoff/Haidt Trump directly equate Trump to extremism, but we do not see the liberal Left so equated with the actions of Antifa, also discussed in the book. The Charlottesville protests are equated to a bunch of “Nazis” bashing people (pp. 90-91), even though these people were in an absolute minority. Again vDare has dealt with all aspects of this, including the distortion of Trump’s claim, that there were “very fine people on both sides” (p.91), which they take as an endorsement of extremists from the Right, which hardly follows. Lukianoff and Haidt would then have to claim that everybody from the Dissent Right was a “Nazi,” which is just the sort of distortion that they argue against elsewhere in their book, like on page 89, where they talk of “labelling running wild – a list of serious accusations made without supporting evidence.” (p. 89) Did they examine everyone present at the protest? Of course they did not. Again the vDare site has numerous article refuting much of their claims, with Ann Coulter leading the charge. Hopefully she will debate these authors and put them in their place.
But, that is typical of a mainstream book now, and we would not expect something from the pages of vDare, to be put up in lights. But, disregarding these political differences, what about Lukianoff and Haidt’s diagnosis of the main problem with the universities, and indeed with the young? No, it is not being drenched in liberal Left ideology, but being coddled, threated like precious snowflakes, and this spoiling rotten by boomer parents has led to all the faults we see on the university, such as speech codes and the need for safe spaces. Now there is some merit in this, but I follow more the Bloom position, that all of this is more a product of the runaway of Leftist ideology, created by teachers, rather than students, and shoved down their throats, in turn producing all that they lament about. From the articles which I have done over the years, I feel this fits the facts better than the coddling thesis, although it is true that a coddling is one of the processes that has gone on. Indeed, in some respects, the softening of people by over-civilisation has been going on at least since the end of World War II, and probably earlier, perhaps at the beginning of the 20th century. This would basically undermine the Lukianoff/Haidt thesis before it got off the ground. In fact this idea is mentioned on pages 13-14, where they grant that compared to past generations, each generation seems to be coddled due to technological advances, which have benefits, and costs. If so, what we could be seeing now is not so much over-protection, but over-civilisation and urbanisation. So, they refute themselves early in the book, or at least set out an alternative hypothesis that probably explains more than their own. Overall, The Coddling of the American Mind is a useful book with material to think about and use, but it is an entirely different mode of thought to where I normally go. I do not think that the coddling thesis explains the more fundamental problem, namely that ideals once thought to be universal, such a patriotism, God and children, are not accepted by the majority of Gen z, the last generation, maybe because the end is nigh anyway.
“America’s values are shifting at a pace that is unlike anything that we have ever seen before. During the 2020 election season, we are going to hear a lot about “the generation gap”, and the numbers clearly tell us that this gap is very, very real. And as older generations of Americans slowly die off, it appears inevitable that the values that are dominant among younger generations of Americans are going to become the values of the country as a whole. Essentially, “American values” are going to mean something completely different from what they meant to previous generations, and that should absolutely terrify all of us. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey that was just released has some very revealing results. Among other things, those conducting the survey asked respondents about the importance of “patriotism” and “religion”, and the differences between the age groups were quite striking… Among people 55 and older, for example, nearly 80% said patriotism was very important, compared with 42% of those ages 18-38—the millennial generation and older members of Gen-Z. Two-thirds of the older group cited religion as very important, compared with fewer than one-third of the younger group. “There’s an emerging America where issues like children, religion and patriotism are far less important. And in America, it’s the emerging generation that calls the shots about where the country is headed,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt.
In addition, well over 50 percent of Baby Boomers rated “having children” as “very important”, while just over 30 percent of Americans under the age of 39 did. God, family and country are clearly not as important to Americans as they used to be, and that has enormous implications for our future. When all of the age groups in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey are combined and the results are compared to 21 years ago, we can clearly see the seismic shift that has taken place… Some 61% in the new survey cited patriotism as very important to them, down 9 percentage points from 1998, while 50% cited religion, down 12 points. Some 43% placed a high value on having children, down 16 points from 1998. America also used to be a “capitalist nation” that firmly rejected socialism, but now that is rapidly changing too. According to ABC News, a recent Gallup survey discovered that 58 percent of U.S. adults under the age of 35 believe that some version of socialism “would be good for the country”…. While more than half of Americans rejected socialism in a recent Gallup poll, 43% surveyed said some version of it would be good for the country. That sentiment was held by 58% of respondents ages 18 to 34, compared with just 36% of those 55 and older. Whether you and I like it or not, this is the direction that our nation is heading. Given enough time, those young people would eventually be running everything.
America is clearly shifting to the left, and another survey made this even clearer. When asked to choose the best president of their lifetimes, a whopping 62 percentof American Millennials picked Barack Obama as their first or second choice… Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) were the most likely to choose Obama, with 62 percent naming him as their first or second choice. Reagan was the top pick for Generation X (1965 to 1980), baby boomers (1946 to 1964) and the silent generation (1928 to 1945). Unsurprisingly, party identification was very closely tied to a person’s answer. Obama was the first or second pick of 71 percent of Democrats but only 13 percent of Republicans. Reagan was the clear favorite among Republicans with 57 percent (12 percent among Democrats). Trump was the second pick for Republicans at 40 percent. Only 3 percent of Democrats named Trump. Of course Barack Obama remains wildly popular among young people, and so if Michelle Obama decided to run in 2020 she would have an overwhelming amount of support among younger voters. This “generation gap” is also huge when it comes to social issues. Today, young adults are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage, and at this point we have almost even reached a “tipping point” with evangelical Christians. For example, just check out the results from this very shocking survey… Overall, white evangelical Protestants continue to stand out for their opposition to same-sex-marriage: 35% of white evangelical Protestants favor same-sex marriage, compared with a 59% majority who are opposed.
But younger white evangelicals have grown more supportive: 47% of white evangelical Millennials and Gen Xers – age cohorts born after 1964 – favor same-sex marriage, up from 29% in March 2016. Views among older white evangelicals (Boomers and Silents) have shown virtually no change over the past year (26% now, 25% then). If we are still having a “culture war”, one side is definitely winning by a landslide. The primary reason why all of this is happening is quite obvious. For most of our history, the United States has been an overwhelmingly Christian nation. But in recent decades that has begun to change dramatically, and the shift has been most pronounced among young adults. According to a survey that was conducted a while back by PRRI, 39 percent of all young adults in America are now “religiously unaffiliated”, but all the way back in 1986 that number was sitting at just 10 percent… Today, nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) are religiously unaffiliated—three times the unaffiliated rate (13%) among seniors (ages 65 and older). While previous generations were also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated in their twenties, young adults today are nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated. In 1986, for example, only 10% of young adults claimed no religious affiliation. And of course many of our “religious institutions” have also shifted dramatically to the left during that same time frame. Ultimately, it is quite easy to see what we need to do. If we ever want to turn America back in the right direction, we need to return to the values and principles that this nation was founded upon. But that is much easier said than done. The sad truth is that America’s young adults have firmly rejected the values that we once held so dear. They want to take this country down an entirely different path, and given enough time they would have the numbers to firmly be in control.”
What is not being said even here is that the cultural values of Gen Z and the supposed next generation after that one, if there is one, which I doubt, are values that will inevitably lead to social collapse such as open borders and socialism. This is something that older conservatives just don’t get, working away on problems that concerned them in their life time, with no young blood to carry the flame. Hence, Western civilisation’s values die, when we die, and of course, long before that. We are facing an apocalyptic cultural shift, and things have been left go so long now, that there is unlikely to be time to turn the ship around before it strikes the mother of all icebergs.