Attorney General Jeff Sessions, while speaking to Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership summit this week, stated that many schools in America are doing “everything they can to create a generation of sanctimonious, sensitive supercilious snowflakes.”
Since I am fascinated by alliteration and consider it a friend and since I agree with much of what the Attorney General said, I decided to examine his comments and share some observations about his address.
First of all, let us consider the meaning of the word “snowflake.” When Sessions mentioned “snowflakes” I do not think he was referring to the beautiful hexagonal ice crystal, intricate in appearance and nearly infinite in variation, that we see falling from heaven and transforming the earth from the dark death of winter into a fanciful, glistening wonderland.
Sessions was scorning American universities that are churning out a generation of “sanctimonious snowflakes” rather than “molding a generation of mature, well-informed, adults.”
The etymology of the word, “snowflake” is interesting. In Missouri in the early 1860s, a “snowflake” was an individual who was opposed to the elimination or abolition of slavery. The implication of the word suggested that such people valued white people over black people. The “snowflakes” hoped slavery would survive the country’s civil war.
However, I have been more familiar with the term being used in a positive way by Sunday School teachers, elementary school teachers and grandparents referring to young children as unique and beautiful “snowflakes” designed by our ingenious Creator.
The term emerged again in 1996 in Palahniuk’s Fight Club videos: “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same organic and decaying matter as everyone else.” I suppose Palahniuk was expressing the views, perhaps his views, as a fatalist or an annihilationist.
In the last couple of years the term “snowflake” has been used in the wake of Brexit and the election of President Donald Trump to infer that today’s youth and young adults are less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations.
Sessions stated in his address, “Whether you realize it or not, freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.”
We have also discovered that in recent months major social media outlets are finding ways to block the conservative, evangelical viewpoint.
Sessions also highlighted some of the therapy practices on college campuses across the country. He explained, “After the 2016 election, for example, they held a ‘cry-in’ at Cornell – I hope they had plenty of tissues for them to cry on. They had therapy dogs on campus at the University of Kansas, and Play-Doh and coloring books at the great University of Michigan, for heaven’s sake. Students at Tufts were encouraged to ‘draw about their feelings.’”
In some cases college students have shouted so loud invited guests speakers were not able to give their speeches. In other instances fire alarms were set off so that the lecture was disrupted; and in some cases violence prohibited speakers from delivering their address.
Sessions stated, “It should be clear that the First Amendment is not a partisan issue. It is a Constitutional right for all Americans. It is not just for those in one party or one faction. Indeed, the crackdown on speech crosses creed, races, issues and religion.”
Reports have been issued that certain college and university professors have exempted their students from having to take tests and assured them of getting college credit if they protest.
The “snowflakes” are so bent on objecting to something that at the University of Wisconsin in Madison leftist protestors used their banners and shouts to ironically object to a lecture on free speech.
While the “snowflakes” seem to be born in the negative mood, objective case and prepared to complain about anything and everything, many of them seem to focus on protesting against the things I wholeheartedly support. I love patriotism. They seem to be less patriotic. I love conservative values. They seem to be bent on a leftist philosophy. I believe in having a good work ethic. They seem to be more interested in welfare over work, desire over discipline and rights over responsibilities.
I love young people and young adults. Sometime I even wish I were young again. I have 13 grandchildren ranging in age from 15 to 23. I don’t mind them being exposed to differing ideologies, but I don’t want them to be deprived of conservative values when they go to college.
Columnist Cal Thomas recently wrote, “Every parent must beware of sending their children to schools that undermine their faith and values, distort history and promote causes that will not help them get a job once they graduate.”
Georgia Baptists have three great institutions of higher learning that are solid, Bible centered, Christ exalting schools that we can rightly recommend to our students with the full confidence that they will find that God will be honored in every facet of campus life.
At the Georgia Baptist Mission Board we have placed an emphasis on reaching the next generation (#reachingnextgen). We may have an uphill battle reaching the next generation once they go to college, because so many of them have been or will be indoctrinated and propagandized by institutions of higher learning that have no regard for the God of our salvation and also denigrate the values we hold dear.
However, regardless of how challenging it may be to reach the next generation, we absolutely must give it our best effort. Not only do their souls hang in the balance, but so does our society.