Fueled by a recent spate of unnerving headlines and discomfiting polling data, the nation has been collectively sounding alarms over the next generation of Americans just coming of age.
The millennial generation has given their elders plenty of cause for concern. In colleges across the United States, young people seem much more energized by scholarship related to their identity than they are excited by more traditional academic achievement. They are apt to view the world through the prism of their skin color or gender, which often leads them to adopt a distorted worldview premised on victimization and characterized by cynicism. The most conspicuous of these perpetual adolescents have taken to screaming at their administrators for failing to create a “home” for them and instead turning college into an “intellectual space.” Imagine that? On campuses, some students are engaged in an ongoing and almost violent protest against the notion that their assumptions should be challenged and that their peers may be allowed to encounter ideas that run contrary to the preferred dogma of their like-minded friends and professors. Make no mistake; this is all quite dangerous. But are members of the next generation really deserving of the near universal scorn of their elders? Perhaps not.
First, a concession: There is reason for fear. A Pew Research Center survey of millennial generation respondents age 18 to 34 (born between 1980 and 1997) recently became indicative of the rot eating away at the nation’s intellectual foundations. In that survey, young voters were asked if they supported allowing the government to “prevent people from saying” things that could be interpreted as offensive to minority groups. Only 28 percent of all Americans backed this blatantly unconstitutional initiative, but that number was buoyed by a staggering 40 percent of millennial voters who said that the government should censor speech. This finding prompted older Americans to declare their generation the last generation; a predictable exercise in which virtually every age group indulges in their twilight years. While this finding is disturbing, it is hardly a prelude to the death of the Republic.