Cheap Seats Online 2015 Part B
Bones - 11/18/15
By Rich Trzupek
Before we get into the meat of this week’s column, allow me to add my meager voice to the chorus that have expressed sympathy with the people of France in the wake of last Friday’s horrific terror attacks. Americans tend to give the French a good deal of grief, myself included, but this is the nation that helped us win our independence and where the tradition of liberty and fraternity runs deep.
Will things change in the wake of the Paris attacks? Briefly. There will be outrage. There will be counter-strikes. But then, time will pass and the memories will fade. The apologists will find new ways to blame the attacks on those attacked and, if most don’t exactly accept that logic, enough doubt will be created to undermine our will to wipe out this particular evil.
The war against Islamic extremists pits one side – the civilized world – that wants to be scrupulously fair in the exercise to power, to avoid any possible collateral damage and to apply the legal niceties of the western world to the conflict. The other side, the extremists, could care less about playing fair, collateral damage or legal niceties. For them, it’s all about the terror baby. Unless and until we chose to take our gloves off and fight them in something at least approaching their own “standards”, the fanatics will continue to raise hell on earth whenever and wherever they can.
Moving on. Remember the beginning to the Stanley Kubrick classic: “2001, a Space Odyssey”? Kubrick takes us to pre-historic earth, where a tribe of proto-humans, granted enlightenment by a ginormous, eerily humming alien version of the I-pad discover that “stuff” can also be “tools”. Specifically, one of the proto-humans starts fiddling around with a rather large bone, figures out that swinging said bone can smash other bones, then comes up with bright idea that if swinging a bone can smash a bunch of dead bones, perhaps it can also smash the living skull of members of the neighboring proto-human tribe who have been pissing him off as of late.
The theory proves sound. Proto-human with bone kicks the snot of proto-human without bone, ushering in the era of might-makes-right and causing proto-human with bone to throw bone into the air where it magically transforms into a spaceship thousands of years in the future, where the lovely strains of Wagner apparently accompanies all outer-space docking maneuvers.
Remember that moment as we move on to consider recent events that occurred at the University of Missouri. Certain members of the student body, reacting to certain events that occurred on campus, most of which turned out to be outright fabrications and the rest of which did nothing to dispel the notion that advanced academia in America provides about the most expensive baby-sitting service the world has ever known, decided that the people running the University of Missouri were closet racists.
This, of course, follows the classic pattern of the Aggrieved Class of Americans, a segment of modern American society that continues to grow exponentially. If you are part of an Aggrieved Class, task 1 is to figure out how you are being discriminated against. Whether the answer involves reality to fantasy doesn’t really matter. You need a cause and whether that cause exists only in never-never land isn’t relevant. After all, it could happen! It probably did happen, somewhere, sometime!
Task 2 is to figure out who to blame for the results of task 1. This task is not as simple as it sounds. If you’re an aggrieved feminist, you don’t speak out against Muslim countries that force women to walk around in black bags, practice female genital mutilation and stop women from driving automobiles. Of course you don’t. The people running those nations are hard-core and libel to strike back. You go after the safe target – the target that you know will respond only with words, rather than swords. Thus, conservative opposition to abortion becomes a grave threat to women’s rights, while the treatment of women in nations like Saudi Arabia and Sudan hardly merit a yawn.
Same deal with gay rights. “Coming out” in much of the Muslim-ruled world will result in painful and/or deadly consequences. Putin does not take kindly to same-sex relationships in mother Russia. Yet, gay rights activists focus their energies on small-town clerks who do nothing more than refusing to sign a marriage license on religious grounds.
And so it was with U of M. Academics reinforced the idea, class after class, that students were being oppressed by authority. But, who is the authority on the campus? And, following the rule that you go after the safest target when you join the ranks of the aggrieved, who should you chose as a target? The answer to both questions was clear and identical: campus authority.
How to force campus authority to bend to the student will? The answer must have come in a flash of light as blinding as the humming from the monolith in 2001 was annoying: football! Universities today get millions of dollars of income from participating in college football. If the students refuse to play a game, that’s millions out of the university’s pocket, and in the money-hungry world of academia, that’s not going to happen.
Thus, U of M students found the tool to bend administrators to their will. Do what I want, or I’ll wield the big bone of NCAA Division I football contracts to beat your brains in. And it worked! And it’s not the last time that it will work! Our young, idealistic and so often misguided youth have discovered a powerful new weapon. Don’t be surprised when they wield it again, early and often, to great effect.