The president took to the airwaves on a Monday night, addressing the nation from the capital city. The citizens of the country—both supporters and opponents of the country’s leader (newly elected to a third term, which had been rubber-stamped by the nation’s highest court despite the country’s constitutional prohibition on a third term in office)—gathered around TV sets in homes and bars, one side eager to hear what their leader had to say, while the opposition waited with a sinking feeling of dread.
The president spoke of the wave of violence that had swept the country in the past few months, though he didn’t mention the scores of killings of opposition members by pro-government forces. Instead, he placed the blame for the increasingly chaotic situation squarely on the opposition, and demanded that all civilians turn in their firearms by the following Saturday. “Those who will not do so,” he sternly intoned, “will be taken as criminals and will be prosecuted according to the anti-terrorism law and will be treated as enemies of the nation. This is the last call we make.”
This isn’t the start of some dystopian novel of a future United States of America gone south. In fact, it’s playing out right now, in the African nation of Burundi. President Pierre Nkurunziza gave the citizens of Burundi until Nov. 7 to hand over all their firearms or else be treated as terrorists. Scores of Burundians fled the capital city, Bujumbura, ahead of the deadline. And already, it seems, the governmental and extra-governmental killings of the opposition have begun.
The people of Burundi have known two genocides in the past 40 years, with a death toll estimated to be at least 500,000 in a population of only 10 million people. Not a generation can go by, it seems, without one group of Burundians trying to drive another into extinction. You’d think American anti-gun activists would be praising Pierre Nkurunziza for taking bold steps to rid the nation of its privately owned guns, but strangely enough, they don’t seem to want to highlight how the strongman is implementing his “common-sense gun safety laws.”
Burundi is far away, and it’s certainly not the only unsafe space in the world. Here in the United States, however, we’re paying a lot more attention to the claims of a band of student revolutionaries who say the campus of Yale University is also rotten with violence and oppression. The most recent example of the horrors inflicted on the students there include a professor expressing her opinion that the university shouldn’t be telling students how to dress appropriately for Halloween. Students surrounded the husband of the professor, who’s also on the faculty at Yale, and proceeded to engage in a full blown temper tantrum about his inability to create a place of “comfort and home” to the students in his House. The shrieking snowflakes then demanded in a profanity-laced tirade that the House Master (now there’s a problematic job title) step down from his position. Watch the video. It’s amazing.He’s encouraging them to be precious snowflakes, to be adults who demand to be treated like children, and he is failing them, because he knows better (or at least he should).
What’s even more amazing is that Yale’s president apologized to the snowflakes, telling them “We have failed you.” Well yes, he has, but not in the way that he or the snowflakes think. He’s failed them by apologizing. He’s failed them by not preparing them for the real world. He’s failed them by coddling and swaddling them. He’s failed them by letting them know that you actually can throw a temper tantrum and be rewarded for it. He’s encouraging them to be precious snowflakes, to be adults who demand to be treated like children, and he is failing them, because he knows better (or at least he should).
The real world is home to groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and others growing in both influence and ability. The real world is home to would-be despots willing to destroy their nation in an attempt to eradicate political opposition, and totalitarian regimes that exercise control over every aspect of their subjects’ lives (though to be fair, culturally offensive Halloween costumes aren’t really an issue in those regimes). The real world is home to violent criminals, and an awful lot of them commit their crimes in New Haven, Conn., where Yale is located. The real world has bigger issues than getting your feelings hurt over a Halloween costume.
Of course, not every college student is a snowflake, and not every professor or administrator wants to coddle the students in their care. There is still hope, in other words. And it is worth noting that our colleges and universities have often been places where students seek to avoid unpleasant realities. Decades before the campus radicalism of the 1960s, in the midst of the social and political upheaval of the 1930s, 500,000 college students (about one-third of all the college students in the country) vowed that they would never “support the government of the United States in any war it may conduct.” A few years later, after Japan and Germany declared war on the United States, few of those students honored their earlier pledge. Most of them rose to the occasion and served their nation honorably.
Today’s snowflakes may yet surprise us, but let’s hope and pray it doesn’t take a tragedy on the scale of Pearl Harbor to give them their wake-up call.