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Cultural Attacks on College Campuses with Robby Soave

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Robby Soave, associate editor at www.Reason.com and author of the new book Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump

In this episode, Jason Hartman interviews the associate editor at www.Reason.com and author of the new book Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, Robby Soave. They talk about the college campus activists and their protests, whose goal is to shut out the speakers that students disagree with. They discuss why this is self-defeating and talk about what may be done to correct it.

Announcer 0:01
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Announcer 0:11
Welcome to the holistic survival show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary to survive and prosper? The holistic survival show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. sudden change or worst case scenario. You’ll be ready. Welcome to ballistic survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host, Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman 0:59
It’s my pleasure to welcome Robbie suave a He is the author of panic attack. Robbie, welcome. How are you?

Robby Soave 1:05
I’m great. Thanks for having me.

Jason Hartman 1:06
Good to have you on I I’ve seen you on TV making the rounds quite a bit on some of the talk shows out there. What is panic attack.

Robby Soave 1:17
panic attack is my forthcoming book available in June available for pre order now, about the situation on college campuses. If you’ve been watching the news over the last couple years, you’ve probably seen the high profile, shut down dis invitation censorship of controversial speakers, some professors being investigated, because they’ve said something that offended their students. It kind of very militant anti speech radical contingent on many campuses, particularly elite campuses, that is making it more difficult for everyone else to practice their freedom of expression. So I have a number of campuses I interviewed I engaged with tons of these students to try to understand what motivates them toward these tactics that I think look to a lot of observers, even some observers on the left as kind of self defeating, and tried to trace kind of where their ideology comes from. Yeah, you know,

Jason Hartman 2:15
I had john stossel on the show talking about this. I’ve had many guests on. It is absolutely nuts. What is going on on college campuses, especially my mother’s alma mater, Berkeley, which has sort of has this moniker as the bastion of free speech. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s like, we must live in an upside down Bizarro world. You’ve been like alluded to yourself. I don’t know. Maybe you even misspoke. But you said censoring controversial speakers? I mean, why would they be controversial? That’s a good thing. I would even argue, right? But fair enough. I mean, what’s happened to our colleges, it’s, it’s like they’ve gone absolutely nuts.

Robby Soave 2:57
And it used to be that very leftist students, you know, believe this free speech was one of their guiding principles of when Berkeley was the home of the Free Speech Movement, because activists, you know, wanted this right, to bring speakers they disagreed with, in my research, in this book, I found out that in 1963, the far left students at Berkeley, they invited a Nazi, a member of a Nazi group to speak on campus. They all dressed in Nazi costume, but leftist students did to promote this event. It was purely a free speech stunt. They didn’t tackle the guy, they didn’t shout him down. They let him give his ridiculous remarks. And then everybody went, you know, on their way. Can you imagine anyone trying to do this now? I mean, I visited Berkeley for my research for the book. And when there was a speaker, who the students wouldn’t like speaking there, they had to rope off the whole area where he was going to talk, you had to go through a metal detector, because they were afraid that people are going to attack this speaker. I mean, it’s completely changed the activists that has decided that free speech is actually a bad thing, or is a threat, and they think they’re wrong about this, but they decided that that a free speech, sort of set of norms is not conducive to their goals.

Jason Hartman 4:13
Okay. So if you’re looking at it from, you know, a radical left wing, anti freedom, anti dissent can’t have a rational argument perspective, not that I have an opinion about this. But, you know, if you’re looking at it from their perspective, right, why is it self defeating for them?

Robby Soave 4:34
Well, I think it is because, you know, their ideas are a lot of people right. The things that the furthest left people believe, are out of step with the vast majority of Americans and out of step with many authority figures. I mean, our country is currently majority governed by people on the right people, the left would say on the extreme right. So if you’re going to set eliminating speech, you know, your kinds of sort of pro Palestinian activism, anti cop activism, Black Lives Matter, all those people are going to be the first people whose speech is stripped away from them. That’s why it’s self defeating. But when I argue this with them, they don’t even necessarily disagree. That’s what I found so interesting. They are purely making the anti speech argument on the basis of the idea that if you bring someone to campus, who has views that are offensive to our marginalized allies, then you are introducing violence. And our first goal is to keep the marginalized the people in our left contingent, safe from physical violence, and also from emotional and mental violence, they take their mental health very seriously. So it’s first a self defense matter. And when you understand that, that’s what the issue is, that’s a different kind of strategy you have to argue against because that’s what’s animating them.

Jason Hartman 6:00
Interesting. So how did we get to this point?

Robby Soave 6:03
I mean, it’s a very complicated question without clear answers. My sense is that, I mean, this generation, the young people that we have, that are causing these issues on campuses, who, by the way, are by no means a majority, they are a small kind of activist contingent, but young people have been socialized under different norms in education. I mean, you know, this doesn’t start when you get to campus, the K through 12 system is more geared toward I think discouragement of discomfort than ever before. I think some of the people who are causing these issues have come to view the education system as its purpose is to provide you comfort not to challenge you or to provoke you. And so they demand the same kind of, you know, some people like Greg lukianoff, and Jonathan Hyde had described this as a sort of coddling mindset that they have grown accustomed to, and that’s what they want when they get to campus as well. It’s also just true that these students are learning from each other. I mean, the social media age, right, you can learn much more easily what the students at Berkeley did to disrupt a controversial speaker, even if you’re, you know, across the country, it’s a conservative myth, in my opinion, that they’re being sort of radicalized or indoctrinated by their professors, actually, their professors are terrified of them, even their far left professors, because they believe slightly different things, maybe about race or gender. And if they say the wrong thing, they’ll be investigated, but the students are less interesting.

Jason Hartman 7:36
So. So it’s not the system. I mean, professors are very out of touch with the real world most of the time. And of course, I’m making a generalization. Obviously, there are some professors that are active in business, and they’re brilliant, and so on. But most of them, I’d say, a good decent majority are pretty out of touch with the real world. You know, I think that’s a fair statement. So you don’t think that that’s coming down from the top at

Robby Soave 8:04
all? Hmm, no, I mean, there is a little typically in disciplines that are very activist inclined, that are not particularly academically rigorous, you know, there’s the various studies of certain marginalized groups, and many of these classes are essentially just activism, there’s not a lot of philosophy to be taught there. And I think the professors in those disciplines are more likely to be maybe they’re changing minds, or they’re, I think it’s more likely they’re providing a sort of language and framework for young student activists who are already inclined to want to think and do these things. But yeah, the bigger issue certainly is just the students, you know, learning from each other. And also, I mean, they’re trying to in their residence halls, I mean, there’s this sort of Kwazii bureaucracy. It’s like an academic, but also bureaucratic, sort of the VP for sustainable diversity, that kind of person who’s running things in the residence halls, who might be a graduate student might be someone else. And they’re coming up with programming for how these students have to think and how they can they have to behave. And they’re discouraging, you know, anything that is an extreme woke far left sort of progressivism. I mean, I think that’s probably doing way more damage. If you think this is a bad thing damage than kind of because at least in a in ideally, in a classroom, even if you have a very far left professor who you disagree with, I tend to think most of these kinds of professors who’ve been at this a while, even if their views are way different. They enjoy a good spirited debate. I don’t think they punish conservative students. And I don’t think they’re recruiting so overtly as conservatives seem to think and again, when I talk to them privately, they are terrified of these students. They they know they think and they know that they will be not, you know, a wonder.

Jason Hartman 9:57
I mean, there’s that old quote we’ve all heard, it’s probably winter. Churchill, I believe if you’re under 30, and you’re not a liberal, you don’t have a heart. If you’re over 30, and you’re not a conservative, you don’t have a brain, people tend to be liberal at younger ages, when they haven’t really discovered how the world works and sort of overcome the entitlement mentality. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s true of almost everyone. Is this something we’ll we’ll grow out of? Well, here’s

Robby Soave 10:23
my concern. So again, I’m not making a across the board sweeping like generalization about all young people or even all students. I think most of the people on these campuses are normal and would like to hear dissenting ideas. It’s just a small number who have like controlled the conversation that everyone’s running scared up. So even if most of the members of the campus of the generation, you know, they go on to work in normal jobs, and maybe their views even drift a little right over time, as tends to happen. Yeah, there’s nothing scary or weird or atypical there. But if you have a couple people still cling to this sort of shut down mindset. And they go to work in influential companies, they’re going to be reshaping America, even though they’re they’re very small, they have such power. And they’re already doing this. I mean, so they’ve done this at the university, you know, they’ve weaponized things like Title Nine, which is sort of harassment policies in the campus that, you know, they’ve had people they’ve had professors investigated for saying something related to sex that they disagree with. And they’ve said, Well, this is the federal policy that says, If you offend me, on this basis, I have a federal right not to be offended on this basis. So they could turn harassment law on the workplace, there’ll be so many things they can do. I mean, media companies right now are having trouble if they run a piece by an older staff member who’s on the left, but there’s something in it that the younger staff members don’t like, you know, they leak it to their friends and other media organization, then that person gets piled on social media, you know, Silicon Valley is sort of has the influence of it’s kind of woke a staff member. So there’s a lot of disruption and damage that they can do, even if they’re a tiny minority. That’s my concern.

Jason Hartman 12:06
You said the phrase a couple of times, please define Wolk for our audience. You know, we have the Urban Dictionary handy. But, you know, that’s something you hear it’s a millennial expression.

Robby Soave 12:20
What does it really mean? It comes from being a loke being awoken. So it means to be essentially to be aware of and sensitive to all the kinds of evils and inequities in society that a arch far less progressive would be aware of, to understand that our society is pervasively racist, and sexist, and transphobic, and so on, and so forth. And to be at all times really sensitive to those problems. And to have that clearly come across when you’re talking or when you’re writing and and how you behave. So not not just to think these things, but to actively behave in a manner that demonstrates that you care passionately about these things, right? urban dictionary’s definition is kind of funny, a person who pretends to be of greater intelligence than he or she, in fact, is. His work. Yeah, that sort of subtext explanation, right.

Jason Hartman 13:16
Very interesting. What else do you want our listeners to know?

Robby Soave 13:20
You know, I would just emphasize that I’m not saying that there’s a crisis on campuses, necessarily. A lot of schools do just fine. And you know, a lot of speakers come in, nobody gets shut down. But it worries me that the most elite institutions, the Berkeley’s but the Harvard’s, the Yale, the read the overland, the middle berries are just sort of be set by this issue. And I don’t see why it would just go away on its own. It may be that we’re in this super politicized moment, because of Trump and because of tribalism, and that’s contributing to it. But also that part of what’s animating it is this idea that college campuses have become much more uncomfortable for marginalized students, because there’s been this string of hate crime incidents, which is a subject I’ve been talking a lot about on the radio and on television, this idea that hate crimes are just getting worse and worse and worse, and it has something to do with Trump. And there’s all these incidents on campus of, you know, graffiti on someone’s door, offensive things having to do with race, obviously, sometimes gender, and that’s propelled a lot of the activism on these campuses, you know, the saying, well, look how we’re being treated, you know, the racism is rising, it’s because of Trump. So of course, we’re angry, of course, we don’t want to hear from Charles Murray or, or whoever it is, but actually, the essence that this stuff is getting a lot worse is very thin. Usually these are not solved. But you know, I’ve chronicled a lot of these cases. And the number of sort of outright hoaxes is astounding, or even just accidents where it was interpreted as a racial slight, but actually was had nothing to do with that or what was not intended either one way or the other and in certainly the most famous cases Right now is the Jesse Smollett case, which is mind boggling. I mean, that is just a mind boggling case. And the fact that he got away with it, I guess that’s all I knew. And I think, you know, most people who have surveyed these things, you know, knew pretty much right off the bat, there was at least a high likelihood that it was faked. And you know, it, that’s beyond any sort of reasonable doubt, the only conclusion you can make is that he was involved, the prosecutor just sort of declining to force him to plead guilty is really baffling and harsh to understand. It seems to me, it’s almost laziness, or she, she, I mean, he was a first time offender, and he was going to get a light sentence anyway. So she decided why bother going through with it, I have to imagine she was kind of just sympathetic to him. She has a lot of celebrity and politician friends. It’s pretty blood boiling. But anyway, whether you know whether one incident or not is true, doesn’t say anything about the trend. But I’ve learned even the, you know, the data reported to the FBI about hate crimes, does not really show an increase, you hear that it shows an increase. But actually, they’re measuring different things every year, because this is all voluntary data submitted by different police municipalities. We had like 1000 more municipalities submit data than the year previously. So of course, it’s going to look like there’s more hate crimes, you just have more data to deal with. If you go all the way back to 1994. The number 1994. Despite it being fewer municipalities, it’s more hate crimes than there is today. So they fluctuate, and it’s not it’s not even clear to me we’re measuring these things very well. But the idea that, like, hate crimes are off the charts. And this is somehow connected to President Trump’s rhetoric. There’s just no evidence basis for this whatsoever that would seem just on its face

Jason Hartman 16:49
to be true. I mean, it’s interesting that Obama that he came into office, and and so many people applauded him as this great uniter, but it sure doesn’t feel like that happened. I mean, just anecdotally, it feels like the country was more divided than ever, when he left, I don’t know, more divided than ever, maybe that’s too big a statement. But in modern times, I mean, all you have to do is look at your social media feeds. And it seemed to be that every attempt he made, and these rush to judgments about that police thing, right at the beginning of his presidency, and so forth. I mean, it’s almost like is everything about race anymore? Is that like all that’s going on in the world? I don’t know. It’s, yeah, it’s crazy. You know,

Robby Soave 17:32
you’re so unbelievably polarized. Right now, I don’t know how much of it Obama is responsible for, or how much it is, because Trump is so intensely anti media, and the media is so intensely anti Trump. You know, the media is not like, the neutral arbiters in some kind of battle. I mean, they never really were right. But it’s more clear now than it ever has been that the sides are not like, Republicans and Democrats. And then there’s media, but the media is sort of kind of on Democrat, liberal side or whatever. The sides are actually Trump and media. So you have to be on one side, and you must be on one side or the other. So every story, everything that happens, has to be put into one box, or one lens or the other. They’re gonna make it very difficult. Honestly, sometimes for people like me, who sometimes agrees with Trump and other times doesn’t. But you know, if you want well are you are so you’re a defender or you’re you’re you hate Trump with every fiber of your being, which are you?

Jason Hartman 18:30
Yeah, I know. It’s like, you can’t even have a middle ground or an opinion about an issue. I certainly, you know, really despise Trump in many ways. I mean, he strikes me as immature, although kind of entertaining, admittedly.

Robby Soave 18:43
But, you know,

Jason Hartman 18:45
I don’t know. But you you say anything on a social media platform? And people just jump all over you? It’s mind boggling.

Robby Soave 18:57
Because on the right, you have to not only do you have to concede that Trump has done some good things you have to like definitely done

Jason Hartman 19:03
some good,

Robby Soave 19:04
moral, wonderful human being who has ever existed, which is just obviously not true, but so many in the pro Trump side, like force you to pretend this and then on the other side, you have to just concede that he’s Hitler, or they don’t want anything to do with you.

Jason Hartman 19:16
Yeah. It’s absolutely crazy. give out your website and tell people where they can find out more.

Robby Soave 19:22
I met reason calm. You can also follow me on twitter at Robbie suave ARO bB YSOAV. And please preorder my book panic attack young radicals in the age of Trump, Amazon Barnes and Nobles wherever books are sold.

Jason Hartman 19:35
Robby, thanks for joining us.

Robby Soave 19:37
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Jason Hartman 19:40
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