Mary Eberstadt is an essayist, author, and even teaches college classes. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal and Time, The Washington Post, National Review and many other publications. She holds the Panula Chair for Christian Culture at Washington’s Catholic Information Center and is a Senior Research Fellow at Faith & Reason Institute. She was a member of the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Staff under Reagan. This is only a small part of the story.
Eberstadt has published several books, including Adam and Eve After the Pill and Adam and Eve After the Pill Revisited; How the West Really Lose God; and most recently Primal Screams – How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. Eberstadt was scheduled to speak today at Furman University about Primal Screams, but she decided to cancel. Eberstadt says:
The book argues that social upheavals in the 1960s have caused generations to fracture more and that many people feel less secure with their identity due to the collapse of family, community and religion. The book also argues that mental and emotional problems are on the rise, which is becoming more visible on campus and on the streets.
Eberstadt is not a stranger to public speaking. Eberstadt is no stranger to public speaking. She has taught at the college level and has been a speechwriter. Eberstadt, a professor at Boise State University of Political Science, talks about how she reached out to Scott Yenor in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal. “Dostoevsky & Conscience” was Yenor’s topic Furman. I admit to being a book hound, and like to believe I know my classics. But, to be truthful, this topic would have soared over my head like a 747. Crime and Punishment is the only Dostoevsky book I own. I have yet to get the nerve to open the spine.
The topic was not the issue. It seemed that no one had an issue whatsoever with Dostoevsky. There is a good chance that none of the students have ever read Dostoevsky. The problem the faculty and students had with Yenor was that he was a critic and advocate for feminism. This led to silent protests inside and outside the venue. Yenor was forced to cross the auditorium surrounded by people glaring at his posters, which contained hateful slogans and quotes that were not in context. Three police officers were required to protect him. Eberstadt was told by Yenor that he had never seen a crowd so disinterested in learning and so unwilling to listen. They were filled with malice.”
The usual preemptive strikes started well before Eberstadt appeared. The Furman campus was notified by posters. Online student newspaper published a piece applauding Yenor’s treatment and decrying the idea that Catholics were invited to speak in the Tocqueville Program. Eberstadt was accused of propagating “dangerous myths.” The article also called for an “interrogation” of the Tocqueville Program.
Eberstadt’s speech was not eligible for course credit by the campus Cultural Life Program, unless an interlocutor replaces her. The Cultural Life Program received letters naming Eberstadt and demanding that she be denied credit for her speech. Eberstadt was forced to cancel her speech due to these factors and the violence that activists had caused on college campuses. Eberstadt was also affected by the Stanford circus surrounding Judge Kyle Duncan’s appearance.
Eberstadt stated in her Journal article that although the chances of physical violence are low, they are not non-existent.
Bullies are entitled to protest but not to dragoon others into telling untruths. This includes the untruth about whether members of a hateful mob actually have the intention to listen to speakers. They don’t and we are not obliged to support them in their lies by following along.
Eberstadt seems to believe that simply showing up at a venue will not make a difference, but it can help those who voice their opinion. The roles of victimizer and victim are predetermined before any speaker even arrives on campus or at a venue. Victimhood is currency. Those who aren’t victims can still withdraw cash by declaring themselves to be allies and using figurative, and sometimes literal, weapons against others with a different point of view.
Students are shown as helpless maidens tied to railroad tracks. The speakers play the role of the villains, laughing insidiously while twirling their mustaches at a approaching cis-gendered train. All other people are expected to cheer at the right moments. It seems that college students wouldn’t have it any other. Ironically, the train is actually built by students and driven by them. They have been gleefully attached to the tracks because of their ability to reason and think, and by extension, their own abilities to think and reason.
What does this leave us with? Eberstadt is not a child-like person, but it’s hard to fault her for refusing to participate in the juvenile show that would accompany her visit. She also doesn’t want to interact with people who don’t have a sense of their own or the world around. I would have deeper conversations with my dogs than any college student. One who is so eager to be part of something bigger than themselves, to be accepted and relevant that they will eat anything given to them. They are unaware they have set off a fire alarm that could result in the destruction of not only their enemies but also themselves.