When Institutions Go Left - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
When Institutions Go Left


I have recently been reminded of one of my earliest conclusions about the American left. I arrived at that conclusion when what we now call the left was relatively civilized. We called it, in those days, American Liberalism, but even then it was fla fla.

My conclusion was that when any entity fell under the dominance of Liberalism it lost all sense of its fundamental purpose. A city lost all sense of its purpose, which is governance. A university lost all sense of its purpose, which is education. You name the entity, if it falls under the dominance of Liberalism it became utterly confused as to its goal. Now, under Liberalism’s more extreme evolutionary stage called progressivism or the left, progressivism or the left cannot even maintain a public toilet facility for men or for women. Going to the bathroom at a public comfort station today can be a source of embarrassment, even an actionable civil rights matter where the left is in charge.

Yet the excellent Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s wise choice for Secretary of Education, is weighing in on the Obama Administration’s torturing of Title IX. President Obama made sexual abuse on campus a federal offense. So Secretary DeVos is bringing aggrieved students together who say they have been raped and aggrieved students who say the sex was consensual or perhaps did not happen at all with university administrators and parents to sort the whole thing out. Good luck, Secretary DeVos.

Frankly I think when such charges begin to fly the university should call in the cops, and stick with what a university’s real purpose is, education. That is difficult enough. Law enforcement is fully equipped to deal with charges of sex crimes.

About the time that Secretary DeVos called her meeting last week a left-wing university was finishing its long and preposterous ordeal at proving my point. It has lost all sense of what its purpose is, to wit, education, not patrolling the campus for sex deviants or violent criminals. If serious infractions of the law are alleged, call in the cops.

In 2012 a Columbia University student, Emma Sulkowicz, accused a fellow student of sodomizing her without her permission. She filed a complaint with the university, and according to the New York Times, a university “panel found him not responsible.” Then a year and a half later she filed a police report, but apparently something intervened and she stopped talking with the police. Hence no charges were brought. Yet she continued to voice her complaints on campus, and they gained attention.

In the time between Ms. Sulkowicz’s unhappy encounter and her graduation, she was apparently quite active. Her complaints led to demonstrations against the alleged assailant. Two more girls came forward with similar complaints about him, and the imbroglio widened. The young man felt he had been defamed and filed a lawsuit against old Columbia, and Ms. Sulkowicz became not only an agitator but also an artist. She opted for “performance art’ and took to carrying a mattress with her every time she stepped foot on the campus. At least that is her claim. She called it “Mattress Performance (Carry that Weight).” She insisted that she would do so until her alleged assailant left the campus. Incidentally, he graduated with honors, becoming a John Jay Scholar despite the distractions. As for Ms. Sulkowicz, she received credit from Columbia for her “performance art,” and even carried her mattress during her 2015 graduation ceremony with the help of other students.

So here you have a left-wing institution living precisely up to my claims. It has lost all sight of what it is supposed to do. It attempts to handle a criminal case when it should have handed it over to the cops. Its campus is torn by demonstrations and students carrying around a mattress supposedly emblematic of an alleged crime that both the police and a university panel says was never committed. Ms. Sulkowicz is accorded university credit for carrying the mattress around campus. And oh yes, she claims this “performance art” is allowed as a matter of free speech. Has Columbia become a zoo? What are other aggrieved students doing on campus now?

As for the alleged assailant, he has returned to his home in Germany. He has his university honors, and last week the university settled with him and his lawyer. The details were not made public, but the university issued a statement that said in part: “Columbia recognizes that after the conclusion of the investigation, [the alleged assailant’s] remaining time at Columbia became very difficult for him and not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience.” However, there is no sign that Columbia will shed its left-wingery.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
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R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief ofThe American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: The Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn’t Work: Social Democracy’s Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery. He makes frequent appearances on national television and is a nationally syndicated columnist, whose articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, National Review, Harper’s, Commentary, The (London) Spectator, Le Figaro (Paris), and elsewhere. He is also a contributing editor to the New York Sun.
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