I tell my college students to feel free to hate.
I try to explain to them that in the context of all the other freedoms of choice they have, like their “spiritual path,” their gender identification, term papers from 253,428 sites, and whether their next triple-sized mocha latte will be with or without whipped cream, low or high fat milk or soy milk, with chocolate, almond, or hazelnut biscotti at Starbucks or Namaste Coffee and Tofu Emporium, this is one precious freedom they have lost.
This little pep talk is usually inspired by a sign in front of a school building that announces it is “NO PLACE FOR HATE.”
My students look at me like people who have been in reeducation camps for twelve years.
In effect, they have.
Today’s students are enjoined from hating from the time they enter school by such organizations as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Gay and Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), as well as by books, films, and talks by teachers, principals, and high-priced consultants. They are stared down by ADL’s posters as they turn each corner of the school corridor.
Their teachers act as “guides on the side” for their little groups in which they are forced to expose their feelings and discuss historical examples of “hate.” Creepy “emotional intelligence” consultants make them show all the other kids how they react when they get angry or sad. They are made sissies in front of everyone when a big bearded guy asks them “What was it doing to your heart?”
Some of them are even graded in a new subject called “Social and Emotional Learning.”
But I declare to my students, “Now that you are legal adults you may hate whomever you please!”
They look at me like prisoners who have forgotten what freedom is like.
Then some of them begin texting furtively, I’m afraid, to the assistant dean of sensitivity at the Department of Campus Emotional Security, Division of the Vice President’s Office of Peace Education and Multicultual, Ethnic and LGBT Affairs.
They may be wondering if one of their classmates might report them to the dorm attendant, if their passivity might become the topic of the mandatory once-a-week “truth session.”
But my anger at this infringement on the freedom to hate is no joke. This goes beyond indoctrination in political correctness. It tells kids what to feel and how to feel. Even an inmate on death row has not had that freedom taken from him.