Snowflake Summer

Why has academia descended into neo-fascist regimentation?

We didn’t give serious thought to snowflakes until a friend, James Howard Kunstler, got crossways with them at a university speaking gig. Kunstler has written a lot about it since then. He says we’re now living under a condition of “intellectual martial law.”

Snowflakes are the pampered generation of millennials who cannot tolerate ideas that challenge their perceptions of appropriate speech. Howard Schwartz, professor emeritus of Oakland University, has written a new book, Political Correctness and the Destruction of Social Order: Chronicling the Rise of the Pristine Self. Schwartz offers some clarity on why the term “snowflakes” is now synonymous with college students. Schwartz writes that:

[T]his is a self that is touched by nothing but love. The problem is that nobody is touched by nothing but love, and so if a person has this as an expectation, if they have built their sense of themselves around this premise, the inevitable appearance of the something other than love blows this structure apart.

Interviewed by Kate Hardiman for The College Fix, he added:

[T]he oversensitivity of individuals today, including political correctness and microaggressions, all stem from this idea that people operating under the notion of the pristine self view you as evil because you are showing them something other than love.
People now experience the entire world as a form of bullying. The helicopter parent protects the children from real dangers but also fantasy dangers. These precious snowflakes are the children of political correctness, their parents and schools lead them to believe that the world is perfectly moralistic — they don’t live in the real world, it is a fantasy.

On the July 6 Keiser Report, Stacey Herbert pointed to a study in The American Conservative, Will American Childhood Create An Authoritarian Society?

Overprotective parenting is a threat to democracy. American childhood has taken an authoritarian turn. An array of trends in American society are conspiring to produce unprecedented levels of supervision and control over children’s lives. Tracing the effects of childrearing on broad social outcomes is an exercise in speculation. But if social scientists are correct to posit a connection between childrearing and long-term political outcomes, today’s restrictive childhood norms may portend a broader regression in our country’s democratic consensus.
This shouldn’t be surprising considering that few institutions in American society have embraced authoritarianism as decisively in recent years as academia — the arena where helicoptered millennials increasingly get their first taste of independence. Since 2000, at least 240 campaigns have been launched at universities to prevent appearances by public figures, most of which have occurred since 2009. Behind these authoritarian efforts are an army of “chief diversity officers” — 75 of whom have been hired between 2015 and 2016 at colleges and universities. Their mandate: train students against “subtle insults,” “environmental microaggressions,” and “microinvalidations.” In this resurgence of political correctness, New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait sees not simply a “rigorous commitment to social equality” but rather an “undemocratic creed” and a “system of left-wing ideological repression.”

Herbert and her partner Max Keiser were in Mexico City and couldn’t help but notice all the children playing outdoors. She recalled how much of her childhood had been spent that way. “Bored?” her mother would ask, “Go out and play.” Like every other child, she had to use her imagination.

Keiser says Charles Shultz captured the snowflake in the character of Lucy, who would march in and take the rubber band away from Linus or the football from Charlie Brown. “Lucy was the Pol Pot of children’s cartoons.”

Today most USAnian parents are afraid to let children outdoors alone. One of the staple products of the overdeveloped world is fear. We noticed this last week when we got a haptic from our Apple Watch about an Amber alert 300 miles away in another state.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

We endure shoe and belt removal, pat down, sniffing dogs and obnoxious questioning because we need to travel. We are not frightened — although being that close to loaded guns warrants caution — but we are also not amused. We know that it chills speech, chills expression and chills freedom. It chills the society — cold enough to make snowflakes. The American Conservative writes:

[S]trong social pressures have so hardened against parents who believe in the value of a free, unsupervised childhood that psychologist Peter Gray likens them to past Chinese norms on foot binding.
Hard numbers illustrate these trends:
· The amount of free time school-aged children enjoyed plummeted from 40 percent in the early 1980s to 25 percent by the mid 1990s.
· The time young children spend in school jumped from 5–6 hours in the early 1980s to almost 7 hours beginning in the early 2000s.
· By 2006, some 40 percent of schools had either eliminated recess or were considering doing so.

Snowflakes, the study offers, crave authoritarian restrictions. They grew up on video games that had hard and fast rules. They were conducted within the confines of a screen, and perhaps, in their virtual realities, within the confines of a pre-scripted maze.

When American students are moving for only 18 minutes per day at school, it’s hardly a surprise that we’ve seen since the 1970s a more than threefold increase in the number of overweight 6 to 11 year olds.

Experts meanwhile are linking increasing rates of anger, aggression, and severe behavior problems to a lack of free play. These outcomes are consistent with evolutionary psychology theories that consider play to be a critical part of child development, teaching children to cope with, and ultimately master, fears and phobias.

Kunstler writes:

Why does the thinking class in America embrace ideas that are not necessarily, and surely not self-evidently, truthful, and even self-destructive? Because this class is dangerously insecure and perversely needs to insist on being right about its guiding dogmas and shibboleths at all costs. That is why so much of the behavior emanating from the thinking class amounts to virtue signaling — we are the good people on the side of what’s right, really we are! Of course, virtue signaling is just the new term for self-righteousness.

Snowflakes do not like the unknown. If someone breaks the rules by espousing a contrary belief to theirs, they want the state to come down hard on them. Invited speakers on campus offend these sensibilities at their peril. Even professors who dare to float an alternative narrative can be fired.

Recent studies supported by the Alliance for Childhood found that kindergartens have “changed radically in the last two decades.” Exploration, exercise, and imagination are being deemphasized and play has “dwindled to the vanishing point.” Instead, kindergartens are introducing “lengthy lessons” and “highly prescriptive curricula geared to new state standards and linked to standardized tests” — curricula often taught by teachers who “must follow scripts from which they may not deviate.”

Translate that beyond the ivy walls and you get neo-fascist political regimentation, in businesses and the public sphere. Target stores have a “Director of Empathy.”

Following the 2016 election pollsters learned that those who believe that is more important for children to be respectful rather than independent; obedient over self-reliant; well-behaved more than considerate; and well-mannered versus curious, were more than two and a half times as likely to support Trump than those with the opposite preferences.

Indeed, social scientists have long argued that the origins of authoritarian societies can be discerned in childhood pathologies.
Among the most far-reaching adherents of this view was the late psychologist Alice Miller, a student of authoritarian regimes. Through her study of Nazism and Soviet communism, Miller concluded that dictatorships emerge when an entire generation of children is raised under authoritarian conditions replete with excessive forms of control and discipline. In the case of Nazi Germany, Miller is convinced that Hitler would not have come to power but for turn-of-the-century German childrearing practices that emphasized “unthinking obedience” and discouraged creativity. The millions of Germans who ultimately supported Nazism, in Miller’s views, were coping with the legacy of a “hidden concentration camp of childhood” — one enforced by the “clean, orderly citizens, God-fearing, respectable churchgoers” who comprised the ranks of Germany’s authority figures.

So what happens to the Snowflake when the world melts? Sheltered and protected since birth they have little capacity to improvise, sacrifice, and make strategic decisions upon which may hang their own survival. Sure, they may have the experience of outrunning a virtual zombie hoard, but if they stumbled it was never really game over, just time for a re-set. In life there are no re-sets.

As an added bonus for our faithful followers we have extracted a short snippet from the late Bill Mollison (1928–2016) during one of his last permaculture lectures. Bill was in rare form, and we offer this as an example of outlandishly outside-the-bounds-speech that enriches and enlivens learning.