Millennials Are The Worst…For Speaking Their Minds?

Here’s how my “Pat Political Point” sounded yesterday during WSGW’s First Day with Pat Johnston & Hilary Farrell show.  Click the the “Millennials” link to hear my rant.  Below is a rough transcript of the the political point.  Remember, you can email me, pat@wsgw.com

“Pat Political Point” On Millennials

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MillennialsVotingOlivia Nuzza from The Daily Beast thinks Millennials are spoiled little brats for protesting graduation commencement speakers they don’t like:

The entire point of college is to be exposed to different things: Different types of people, different ideas—and maybe some of those people will hail from organizations that negatively impacted poor countries, or maybe they were partly responsible for a war that ate up the country’s resources and resulted in human rights abuses and lots of needless death. But if, at the end of your time as an undergrad, you haven’t learned that oftentimes you find great wisdom in shitty people, or just that there might be some value in hearing what someone you don’t like or respect might have to say, what on earth have you learned?

 

Ms. Nuzza is referring to how graduates objected and prevented having public figures they disagreed with from giving the commencement addresses at their graduation ceremonies.

On its face, Nuzza might have a point.

It’s true that universities are a place where ideas are shared, dissected and debated.  It’s also true that different cultures, people, values and thoughts are brought to light inside the walls of a university.  Students become well-rounded individuals when they are introduced to political, ethnic, religious, and racial viewpoints that they may consider anathema to their daily values.

But, such is life in a university.

She’s correct.

But she’s also wrong.

Here’s how.

These graduates have taken what they’ve learned and decided to speak-up and voice their values–or what they think should be their university’s values.

We teach–or we should teach–our youth to be free-thinkers.  If, after what they’ve learned in their past four or five years in college (not to mention racking-up thousands of dollars of loans), they choose to protest a person from speaking at their ceremony, then they have that right.

Ms. Nuzza, herself, even made a compelling argument as to why graduates from Rutgers objected to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from giving an address from their ceremony.  She said Rice was partly responsible for “for a war that ate up the country’s resources and resulted in human rights abuses and lots of needless death.”

So, while I’m not commending or condoning the students at Rutgers for preventing Condi Rice from speaking, it seems to me, on face value, that their concerns were certainly validated.

She is responsible for partaking in some of the greatest failures in America’s foreign policy history.  The 9/11 attacks, the Iraq Debacle, torture, warrantless wiretapping, and on and on and on, are the highlights on Rice’s resume.  She is a failure, and if the Millenial students from Rutgers don’t want her to speak, then we must recognize and congratulate them for speaking their minds.

What a relief it is to have a generation that not only cares about this country’s policies, but then decides to take action to voice their opposition to such policies.

Generation X–the previous generation, and one I’m a part of–had its positives that makes me proud to be part of that group.  We had no illusion how much reality could bite at times, and that made us ready to accept that cold reality when it slapped us in the face.  However, our cynicism led us to do nothing to change that reality.  We just accepted that reality went-on with our daily lives.

These Millennials are different: They not only think society should change, they are bent on changing it.  They have the gall to actually act on changing what used to be societal norms.

If that means using their collective voice to protest a failed national security adviser, or the former head of the International Monetary Fund, then so be it.  I personally believe that our Founding Fathers would find encouraging.

I mean, think about it.  We have a generation that actually cares about domestic and international affairs, and are choosing to say something.  My generation would gasp, and then go back to playing Mortal Kombat or listening to the Spice Girls.

Ms. Nuzza took the often-used shot against Millennials, that thanks to the thousands of TV stations, websites, and IPOD’s, they can shelter themselves from subjects they object.

I couldn’t disagree more.

It’s because of all of the technological advancements, including the millions upon millions of websites, that Milennials are subjected to different viewpoints.

Ms. Nuzza concluded her article by declaring, “Young people are the worst.”

No.  They are what we should celebrate as what will someday become the face of America.  They’re interconnected, communal, diverse, technologically advanced, cultured, and politically involved.

Compared to the Baby Boomers who believed in change until they got theirs, or my generation which said, “Yeah, things are bad, but, meh,” the Millenial generation is what we might someday call one of this country’s best.

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UPDATE: I ran across this article by Amani Al-Khatahbeh, one of the Rutgers University students who protested Rice’s appearance:

The thing is: These protests are not about the individual speakers themselves. And they’re most certainly not just about commencement speeches. This is our generation of young people sending a clear and strong message that racism, bigotry, civil and human rights violations receive no honor from us.

Huzzah!

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