Christine Flowers, 11/20/2016 [Archive]

Privileged College Kids Don't Understand

Privileged College Kids Don't Understand Real Social Injustice

By Christine Flowers


When, chest puffed out with pride, my father told a law partner his first-born was accepted to Bryn Mawr College, this was the immediate response: "Isn't that the place where they don't shave their underarms and dance naked around the Maypole?"

Daddy's friend had it partly right: We danced around that blessed Maypole fully clothed.

So when I saw this week that a bunch of Bryn Mawr students were joining forces with their Haverford counterparts and marching down Lancaster Avenue to protest the "white supremacist cops" in the Lower Merion Police Department, I shook my head and thought: They must really be lowering the SAT requirements for admission.

I am not particularly impressed with the social justice engagement of the precious little pop tarts who decided to skip class to march - 40 people strong! - down a Main Line thoroughfare to let the suburban police department that keeps them safe know it is nothing but a ritzy extension of the KKK. Amid chants of "No justice, no peace, no racist police" and "We are protesting the fascist movement that is coalescing around Donald Trump," one protestor then made sure to announce that "This is a ... respectful protest."

Tell that to the fascist police.

I'm getting a little tired of the totalitarian metaphors and comparisons that have cropped up in the wake of the election. It's really the sign of a lazy mind and makes you question the analytical abilities of the speaker.

Recently, some have compared the admittedly gross and bigoted Steve Bannon to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's chief of propaganda. That's silly and disrespectful to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. I've read Bannon's stuff from Breitbart, and while I find him to be repellent, nothing he's written comes close to calling for the extermination of entire races of people. Frankly, I'd like it if he weren't in Trump's inner circle. But again, the comparison to Goebbels is as shallow as they come.

Which brings me back to the little intercollegiate tots at Bryn Mawr, Haverford and the third prong of the Tri-College community, Swarthmore. I read that those from Swarthmore boycotted classes to express their sympathy with the immigrants Trump will round up on Jan. 21 and deport en masse back to Mexico. And I laughed, rather bitterly.

I might be generalizing here, but I doubt anyone who can afford hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend these institutions knows anything about the plight of immigrants, particularly those who have been persecuted.

I certainly don't think kids currently spending time taking a "radical women's theory" class have ever faced the barrel of a gun held by a gang member, been subject to female genital mutilation and haven't been forced to disguise themselves as a Muslim to escape a West African country where Christians are killed.

I know you're probably thinking this is exactly why those privileged Main Line kids were marching - because they hate Trump, his harsh immigration rhetoric and probable future policies. As someone who deals with it in the trenches, who has spent the week fielding calls from terrified people and who will spend more time in churches trying to calm some of those fears, I respect that desire to reach out.

But excuse me if I have a hard time believing these millennials have any real idea about what "white supremacy," "persecution" and "social injustice" is and who Goebbels even was.

To me, it looks like a group of rabble-rousers looking for a cause, a protest in search of itself, a bunch of L.L. Bean boots on pathetic parade.

Yeah, Bannon is not a nice guy. Yeah, Trump is making a bit of a mishmash of his transition (please God, please, not Sarah Palin for Interior Secretary). Yeah, college is a time to spread your wings and develop a social conscience.

But looking for white supremacists at Starbucks and thinking that missing a few classes will make the world safe for immigrants is laughable and only slightly more annoying than having to explain that whole Maypole thing 30 years later. It gets cold out there; we wore dresses. Subject closed.

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© 2016 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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