Jim Sleeper is a prominent former journalist and current professor at Yale. In today’s Yale Daily News Sleeper condemns “the belligerence of some students who think themselves entitled to subject their peers and even professors to baiting, ridicule, and ad hominem attack.” He calls for these students to exercise the kind of civility he recalls on campus in 1968.
Among those he finds in need of his instruction in civility is Little Trunk. In her column on an antiwar teach-in last Thursday evening at Yale, Little Trunk presumed to summarize and criticize the deep thougths of certain Yale professors who decried the war in Iraq. She thought that the professors’ remarks could not withstand reasoned scrutiny and said why. To Sleeper, this is simply below the belt.
According to Sleeper, “when freshmen arrive here primed to attack professors in public, as two did in a recent article in FrontPage, an online off-campus publication, I smell something worse than youthful exuberance, a neo-Stalinism wafting up not from SDS of the 1960s but from YCL of the 1930s — the Young Communist League and its right-wing counterparts.” Sleeper does not bother to provide any evidence that supports his characterization of Little Trunk and her coauthor as arriving at Yale primed to attack professors (the opposite is the truth), or provide any evidence of the “ad hominem” nature of the arguments made in the column, but I guess no evidence to support his judgments is needed if the imputation of “neo-Stalinism” represents his idea of civil discourse. And presuming to talk back to professors in an off-campus publication — what won’t these students think of next? Sleeper’s column is “Recalling Yale in ’68: Let’s have that civility again.”
Sleeper won’t like it, but Little Trunk strikes again today in FrontPage: “The degeneration of the anti-war movement at Yale.”
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