The Times is trying, bless them, to help readers grasp what motivates these curious creatures called ‘conservatives.’
This one is an earnest stab at explaining the Trumpists without explicitly declaring them unworthy. But, as always in the New York Times, the writer can’t let loose of the exotic-goldfish perspective. And she can’t resist making it clear — like a kid dancing with sparklers — that no matter how hard she works to make it appear she’s being fair to these sods, they’re still sods. And she wants you to know she knows it.
I believe the term is “othering.”
The piece is by Times contributor Marin Cogin, who writes an “On Campus” column that on Sunday examined some of Donald Trump’s odd-duck collection in the White House from the perspective of their days on college campuses.
“How Liberal Colleges Breed Conservative Firebrands” is one of those patronizing head-patters that seeks to illustrate the exotics while making it clear that there’s none of that empathy-stuff going on here.
We are in an age of pay-back time on college campuses. A generation of history-civics-economics education avoidance is returning the inevitable dividend. Today, it’s pampered Middlebury that’s in the news as a First Amendment wasteland, where braying about “flawed notions of ‘free speech'” being afforded to ‘racists’ marks you as a righteous rebel. Meanwhile, the contempt for anything conservatives hold dear is widespread. And few budding socialists on campus are shy about expressing it.
Cogin is writing to and for them.
Aren’t campus political contrarians all underdogs? Aren’t they idealistic and committed? Isn’t the very idea of being “anti-establishment” a good thing? I think you know the exception to these rules.
Conservative students on campus don’t raise consciousness. They “provoke.” Indeed, as Cogin identifies the initial subject of her story — Trump senior policy adviser Stephen “young Gargamel” Miller, a product of progressive Santa Monica, Calif., and Duke University — conservatives on campus are not just provocateurs. They are “contrarian-provocateurs.” They provoke by not agreeing with you, the devils.
All traits that are admirable in the comfortable mobs of young leftists are hostile and needling in not-liberal students (those Libertarians, notes another Times writer, are just as tedious).
Miller, as the writer observes, is “an aggressive self-promoter.” And a “bomb thrower.” (Which makes one wonder: Has any NYT piece ever identified a real bomb-thrower as a “bomb-thrower?”)
It’s not a bad feature on fly-over people and their ways. But, oh, the insufferable virtue-signaling. If you wish to honestly profile someone who you know most of your readers already hate, do you really have to quote what David Letterman (“creepy”) and Stephen Colbert (that “young Gargamel” zinger) think of the guy?
We do already know that, you know.