He is outraged that students in US colleges have dared express their politics on campus and dared do it in a confrontational style. These actions offend his mildly liberal sensibilities – sensibilities that should obviously be the cornerstone of liberal arts colleges in the US. Like they were in the olden times when Macdonald went to school.
Macdonald demands that students be called-out if they make political points on campus and when they mobilize to reject speakers at their commencement ceremonies who head neoliberal institutions or are war mongers. What is particularly egregious is that these “students” making political points are not even ideologically pure nor do they align with the dominant ideological lines set by mainstream media punditry.
You may ask what is wrong with students making a political points. Well, for Macdonald that is the wrong question. As all academics know, you cannot make a distinction between the likes of Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton or Christine Lagarde and Ruth Simmons because (Neo)Conservative Republicans and Liberal(ish) Democrats are the same. Apparently, if you are not a pure Marxist academic and reject them both, you are academically stupid and should be forced to go back and retake first year political science.
I guess students cannot and should never hold people personally responsible for their actions. This is especially the case if they are smart women from centre-right parties who run multinational neoliberal banking institutions or those who have been involved in presenting manipulated evidence to start an imperialist war.
Left-of-centre students should clearly act more like conservatives and be outraged at free speech and political expression happening outside free speech zones. Perhaps the only people who should be banned from speaking at a commencement ceremonies should be those who offend the elite with their speech.
Either way, Macdonald reminds us that those self-aggrandizing commencement events where people where square hats and garbage bags are all about academic freedom and debate, not political protest. At least that was the case back in Macdonald’s day.
If only students were as pure in ideology and unwavering in academic integrity as journalists. If only.