In the mid-90s, I dated a girl who went to Oberlin. During those years, I spent a non-trivial amount of time flying out to Cleveland, driving through Rt. 58′s cornfields and bungalow towns, and partying in that little cesspool oasis of kindbud and homosexuality.
Oberlin, at least in the 90s, was an academically excellent school—though while its Conservatory students were literally the best in the world, its college students, while overly smart and talented, were predominantly kids who could not get into Brown or Wesleyan but whose parents had the scratch and inclination to make sure their kids still attended a school with a solid brand.
If everything is pretend in college, (it’s really a safe simulation of adulthood after all) at Oberlin, things were extra make-believe: the place was politically correct to a cultlike extreme:
• It was there that I saw 19-year-old native New Yorkers too terrified of jihadi-feminists to use the word “bitch.”
• It was there that my vegetarian girlfriend was physically attacked by a vegan for eating Jarlsberg cheese.
• It was there that my girlfriend’s roommate was heckled while kissing her boyfriend in the sunshine for the crime of “flaunting her heterosexual privilege.”
• It was there that I heard that a black jazz musician had cursed out a white hippie for playing an African drum (fair enough).
• It was there that I read a student essay by a 19-yo black woman, bemoaning the acute trauma she suffered every time she heard a white person play the drums: each stroke of their appropriation, to her, was “like the master’s whip against my skin. ”
I met some fantastic people during my weekends at Oberlin, and I’m still close with many of them today.
Funny, articulate, intelligent, talented individuals of every description; it’s undeniable though, that the larger enterprise was a vast, counterfeit battleground, whose construction’s sole purpose was to train future activists and left-wing thinkers how to knee-jerk-react to the politics of the outside world.
Now, being short on actual on-campus racism or hatred to respond to, in our day, Oberlin’s PC mafia had to manufacture its own. Through micro-analyzing every action, word, and subtext of the student population, Oberlin’s activists were able to get the aggression training they needed while keeping the normal portion of the population in fear. That’s right: Instead of banding together to fight the injustices that existed in the real world, they turned inward and launched the witch hunt that would give them the sharpest fine-tuning of their face-to-face confrontation skills.
For what it’s worth, although my limited Oberlin experiences occurred over 15 years ago, they make me metaphysically certain that it is simply NOT POSSIBLE that an actual “Klansman” appeared on the Oberlin campus last week and caused this insane hubbub.
Instead, someone appearing in a KKK outfit is completely consistent with the manufacturing of racism to rebel against, and the school’s history of asinine and provocative performance art.
I’m not at all surprised that such a thing would take place, or even that it would get national media attention, but I am surprised that the administration would actually cancel classes over something that’s so obviously a hoax. But if it’s still the Oberlin I knew, the timid masses will keep filing into Finney Chapel for the rallies and Concerts of Hope that are yet to follow. They’ll relish the proximity to their ethnically popular classmates, safely tucked away as plaintiffs: foam-weapon guardians of the beleaguered and the just.