Starbucks may no longer be a safe space to have a conversation with a friend, not unless you’re prepared to be called out by PC minders who might be eavesdropping nearby.
Ariel Cohen, a journalist with the Washington Examiner, was talking with a friend when another patron said, “Rethink it!” and handed her a handwritten note before scurrying out. The note was a critique of the conversation Cohen had been having about recent campus protests inspired by Black Lives Matter. Cohen posted a photo of the note she was handed:
Social justice warriors or secret police? Was handed this note at Starbucks after chat w/ friend abt campus protests pic.twitter.com/DS1ojvw24t
— Ariel Cohen (@ArielCohen37) November 23, 2015
Ironically, the note which is clearly sympathetic to student protesters encourages Cohen to “put politics aside.”
Sorry to have eaves-dropped on your conversation, but I overheard discussing recent movements on campus across the country. I understand the desire to write it all off as the result of oversensitive, “coddled” college kids reacting to imaginary discrimination and microaggressions, I do. But I encourage you to take a minute to step back and put politics aside. Whether or not you agree with students tactics, it is essential to view this movement as part of a much longer history of racism, discrimination and erasure–one that still persists to this day despite all the progress our country has made. The vestiges of institutional racism still affect the everyday lives of black and brown people in this nation. I dare you to take some time read up on the history of racism in our country and keep an open mind. Listen carefully to those around you and support your fellow human beings who, at the end of the day, are simply trying to be recognized and treated as equals. Progress has been made but we have a long way to go, don’t ever forget that.
This impulse to insert oneself into any conversation, invited or not, is something the left has been encouraging on campus and off in the past few years. Campus call-out culture treats disagreement as akin to violence and something students must seek protection from in “safe spaces.”
Anyone who diverges from progressive orthodoxies is in danger of being denounced or, in the case of faculty, losing their job. In May, a Northwestern professor was placed under a Title IX investigation after she wrote an article questioning the threat of rape culture on campus. In a follow up article, she wrote that academics she knows “now live in fear of some classroom incident spiraling into professional disaster.”
Call-out culture has also been tough on free speech. Last month, the Wesleyan Student Assembly cut funding for the publication of one of the oldest student papers in the country after the paper ran an op-ed mildly critical of Black Lives Matter. Also last month, a Williams College group disinvited a conservative feminist speaker after a backlash led to the organizers being harassed online and on campus. More recently, student government leaders at the University of Kansas were threatened with impeachment because they, allegedly, failed to stand up and show support when Black Lives Matter protesters took over a public forum and presented a list of demands.
President Obama has criticized call-out culture earlier this year as a form of coddling; however, he and his allies are longtime supporters of political confrontation in settings usually devoted to private life.
In 2013, the president’s former campaign arm, Organizing for Action, put out talking points for Thanksgiving aimed at propping up support for the president’s health plan. The Democratic National Committee did something similar with a website called yourrepublicanuncle.com which offered holiday talking points on a range of issues from pay equity to immigration.
During his first campaign, Obama called on his supporters to “talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors.” He added, “I want you to argue with them and get in their face.”
“And if they tell you that, ‘Well, we’re not sure where he stands on guns.’ I want you to say, ‘He believes in the Second Amendment.’ If they tell you, ‘Well, he’s going to raise your taxes,’ you say, ‘No, he’s not, he’s going lower them.’ You are my ambassadors. You guys are the ones who can make the case.”