In 1966, at the beginning of Mao's murderous Cultural Revolution, a small group of students at Tsinghua University, upset with the "bourgeois tendencies" of their school's teachers and administrators, plastered some protest posters up around campus. Displeased school administrators denounced the group as counter-revolutionaries. Getting wind of things, Mao himself, concerned his nascent revolution wasn't moving with appropriate avidity, decided to embrace the group, ordering that their manifesto be broadcast on national radio.
Thus empowered, the group, now calling itself the Red Guard, spread their tentacles quickly, establishing themselves in every school in China within a few months. Their first major directive from the Communist Party was to attack the "Four Olds," namely old customs, culture, habits, and ideas.
Attack they did. Books contaminated with unacceptable thoughts or ideas were burned. Museums were destroyed, and the names of many things were changed away from the people they meant to honor to things more ideologically appropriate. No dissent was brooked, and only revolutionary ideas could be openly discussed.
Hmm, does any of this sound familiar?
While today's campus left isn't as violent, they are every bit the philosophical siblings of the Red Guard. There's the open contempt for free speech and the shouting down of those who offer a differing opinion. Tradition is vilified, complete with demands to rename things that honored founders our forefathers (oh, sorry, "forebearers") when it is decided that those forebearers didn't conduct themselves by standards acceptable to today's left.
And then there's just the smarmy, self-righteousness and frightening certitude of the mob. When possessed of so much conviction as to the righteousness of one's actions, it's suddenly easy to justify cutting off any corner one pleases. Like, say, the Constitution.
One senses the violence isn't far off. Just look at the hatred in the eyes of this Missouri professor as she called out for some "muscle over here" in order to chase off a student reporter...
This woman, Professor Melissa Click, still has a job at the University of Missouri.
The fervor of the Red Guard didn't begin and end with soft philosophical targets, of course; they quickly went after people. Red Guard mobs would parade offenders - often educators - through the streets, calling them "capitalist roaders" and the like, donning them with dunce caps or hanging confessional signs around their necks. How history rhymes today, with two college presidents forced to resign for imaginary offenses, and professors, liberal but not ideologically pure, are surrounded by mobs of finger-snapping zealots:
The professor in this video has taken a leave of absence from Yale, likely never to return. His wife, also a professor, has permanently resigned. The screaming student is enjoying the rest of her senior year.
Red Guard targets were sent off to re-education camps. Today's left demands the same, with re-education coming in the guise of "diversity" training, "sexual harassment" training, or some other form of ideological haranguing disguised as a social good. To wit, activists at Amherst demand that the author of a poster lamenting the death of free speech be required to go through "extensive training on racial and cultural competency." Yikes!
To be fair, re-education here does not yet involve hard labor or imprisonment, but the principle is much the same: only one viewpoint is acceptable, and there will be consequences for you if you don't accept this fact.
Yale's president Salovey, no doubt fearful for his job before the ululations of the student mob, confessed his sins almost immediately, even if he was unsure what they were. For good measure, he threw tens of millions into various programs, cultural centers, and other ideological effluvia. Having established himself as an easy mark, one wonders how soon the students will return to that well.
This cancer will spread because the radicals are getting what they want, almost without lifting a finger (although occasionally snapping them). Such is the moral cowardice of those in charge of our greatest universities. Where is the leader with the backbone to stand and say, enough!