Rev. George W. Rutler, pastor of St. Michael’s Church in New York City, wrote in a commentary in Crisis Magazine on Thursday that college campuses have become places where students are coddled instead of being taught to face the unthinkable challenges of some of their peers like Joan of Arc, Alexander Hamilton and the heroes who fought in the Civil and World Wars.
Here is a portion of his comments:
“After the election, histrionics have abounded in academia. College campuses have long been breeding grounds for self-absorption and corruption of sense, or what John Henry Newman described in his “Tamworth Reading Room” letters as “a mawkish, frivolous and fastidious sentimentalism.” A new name for these callow narcissists is ‘Snowflakes.” This brings to mind the apologia of Mae West: “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” Professors who never attained moral maturity themselves, reacted by providing “safe spaces” for students traumatized by reality. In universities across the land, by a sodality of silliness in the academic establishment, these “safe spaces” were supplied with soft cushions, hot chocolate, coloring books, and attendant psychologists. More than one university in the Ivy League provided aromatherapy along with friendly kittens and puppies for weeping students to cuddle. A college chaplaincy invited students to pray some prescribed litanies that offered God advice in an advisory capacity.
The average age of a Continental soldier in the American Revolution was one year less than that of a college freshman today. Alexander Hamilton was a fighting lieutenant-colonel when 21, not to mention Joan of Arc who led an army into battle and saved France when she was about as old as an American college sophomore. In our Civil War, eight Union generals and seven Confederate generals were under the age of 25. The age of most U.S. and RAF fighter pilots in World War II was about that of those on college junior varsity teams. Catholics who hoped in this election for another Lepanto miracle will remember that back in 1571, Don Juan of Austria saved Western civilization as commanding admiral when he was 24. None of these figures, in the various struggles against the world and the flesh and devil, retreated to safe spaces weeping in the arms of grief therapists. Yet pollsters ritually cite the attitudes of “college educated voters” as though colleges still educate and those who have not spent time in college lack an equivalent or even superior kind of learning shaped by experience.
What will the frightened half-adults do when they leave their safe spaces and enter a society where there is no one to offer them hot chocolate during their tantrums? Christ formed his disciples in a more practical way: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matt.10:16). We are here today because those disciples did as they were told, and were not shrewd as doves and innocent as snakes. It is not racist, or any other unchristian form of phobia, to recall that the Apostles are Dead White Guys. If that was a liability, they managed well. Their Master, who wills that none be lost and that all be saved, was a Dead White Guy for just three days. That haunts those huddled in safe spaces and hallows all who court danger to follow him.”