Classroom whiners or Clashroom winners?

Posted: May 22, 2004 12:00 AM

Have you been hearing some of today?s conservative college crowd crying out about how thorny life is in the university classroom?  If they want to see what difficult is all about, maybe they should move to the Sudan, or maybe Tibet.  Or perhaps attend a Jewel concert.  There?s nothing new about college conservative-baiting ? it?s been going on for the last 50 years.

Hey, Polly-pusillanimous-Anna!  Life is supposed to be tricky ? it?s no PG-rated movie.  The sooner you realize this, the more comfortable you?ll be with your beliefs and useful to your community.  The quicker one takes off the rose-colored glasses, snaps them in two, drops them to the ground and grinds them into powder ? the better.

My last volley on the subject, Clashing in the Classroom, brought a flood of good, bad and ugly E-mail. Aside from the smattering of bad and ugly electronic mash notes, several dozen E-mails from students in high school and college impressed me:  these young warriors are not taking the Left?s propaganda lying down.  They are organized, intelligent, vocal and numerically growing as they effectively challenge boneheaded perspectives and are changing bogus policies. 

In addition, however, several messages from conservative students and one parent wailed like an out of control fax machine about ?how difficult? life is inside their Room 222.  Whining that if they speak out, they will be ?made fun of? ? or have their ?grades docked? ? or ?feel isolated and ostracized?.  Aw shucks.  Pauvre pelele.

One father from the state of Californication told me I was ?na? ? extraordinarily na?? and shouldn?t be advising conservative students to speak out on campus.  Check out dad?s advice to his Sonny Boy and to me:

?[You are] naive.  Extraordinarily naive.  My son is a traditional conservative in almost all ways....  He attends the University of California at Santa Barbara, which, like most major universities, has virtually 100% liberals in the Social Sciences and Humanities....  If he speaks out in class or even on campus, he is subject to having his grade lowered by intolerant liberal professors.  I have advised him again and again not to ventilate his real views on political subjects.  It is the wise course. Your call to arms is foolishly utopian ? it is idiotic for a conservative student to state his real views if there is even the faintest chance that his grade will be affected.  Your column ? is exactly the wrong advice for American students in most colleges and universities.?

Here?s another unfortunate ?go along to get along? point-of-phew message from a 21 year-old female student:

?In your recent article, you call for young, college-age conservatives to speak out....  While in school, I kept my mouth shut when liberal professors fed me drivel?.  You may think that this shows me to be spineless.  I, however, believe that it played a major part in my 4.00 GPA and my first 'real' job as an accountant for a Fortune 500 company.?

Basically, what I'm trying to convey is that young conservatives often do better to keep their leanings to themselves until graduation and a job are secured.

The above E-mails deserve some comment.?

1. How lame can you be to simply tell your Profs what they want to hear?  If their egos are really that ragged and fragile, why not tell them what they want to hear and then-- if you don?t buy their musings?let them know why and how they smell worse than a fish left in the sun?  Is that reasonable or is it too much work and too risky, Rad Magnum?

2. What is with the ?Get your grade and get out? mindset?  Look, I took my share of C?s from liberal professors who would dock my grade because I blasted their bovine scatology.  Such a C is an A to me, especially when it?s clearly because of my differing opinions, not sloppy work.  Y?see, if I?m going to get a C, I?m going to get a good one. 

3. When duty demands you say or do something--something that may just turn around an opinion or two--obsessive grade concern is pathetic.  Hey, if you?re Jones-ing for an A, I?ll give you three right now: one for apathy, another for appeasement and still another for abnegation.  There you go--now you have three more A?s.  Now you?re even more of a FOUR POINT ZERO! 

4. So what if you get criticized or ostracized for something that you believe is right?  Welcome to the jungle.  God never promised us carefree no-conflict living inside some idyllically cushioned wonderland.  Let the critics bash you; it?ll do you good.  It?ll make you or break you.  Criticism will force you out of your amniotic Kool-Aid filled sack and make you investigate what you believe, either strengthening your beliefs or causing you to adjust them dramatically.  On the other hand, if you really want to keep from being criticized, take these three strategic steps: do nothing; say nothing; be nothing. Then, at last, you?re safe!

My ClashPoint is this: Liberal Profs have to love the above narcissistic, self-preserving attitudes of two overly cautious conservatives.  Conservative co-ed do you know what?ll happen if you just sit back and keep your mouth shut up, and keep your worldview to yourself while they run the circus?  Guess where you?ll be if you keep dreamin? that one day you will rise up and change things after 10 years of silence, lulled to sleep by your cushy job, your Volvo SUV and your Kenny G collection? 

Don?t fool yourself, reticent Republican.  If you aren?t active now--and vocally so--you probably never will be.  Matter of fact, I bet you will forever stay silent and safe, positing your opinion only in a comfortable crowd.  You?ll remain a voiceless, passive facilitator of secularism who squats on the sidelines of life, sitting out the greatest ideological battle our nation has ever faced.

Thank God that Winston Churchill, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. weren?t simply concerned about grades, or whether or not they would be criticized or hired by a Fortune 500 Company.  Puh-lease!