It takes a lot of energy to accuse people of racism all day long. But what if your cafeteria workers turn out to be part of the systemic injustice and are threatening to malnourish you with slow service and “prison food?” You demand the university fire them too.
We’ll get to all of that in a moment but episode nine of Benjamin Boyce’s ‘The Complete Evergreen Story’ opens with students reflecting on the allegations made by the protesters. One of Bret’s former student says he saw the campus falling under a kind of irrational fear from which there was no escape. “It was like a Lovecraftian moment of awareness of this existential, cosmic horror that I was just insignificant against,” he says.
Another student talks about the accusation of racism leveled at all white people and how it made him pause in self-doubt. What if the protesters had a point that he was missing? Would being wrong about that be worse than the mob action of the protesters?
After students left the “struggle session” featured in episodes 7 and 8, some of them retreated to the Greenery, Evergreen’s cafeteria. When the students arrived as a group, most of the staff apparently became rattled and left. Students were outraged there was no one available to serve them because they had already swiped their meal cards, which meant they were being charged ($11) yet receiving no food.
This is a legitimate, albeit very minor, grievance which should have been easy to resolve. Cooks eventually returned and made the students some pizza. An administrator offered to remove the charge for everyone present, ensuring that no one would be charged who didn’t eat. But as you’re about to see, in the already heated environment on campus this minor conflict became another reason for student protesters to demand a firing.
Two things I want to point out about this. First, the students are once again quick to personalize their complaints and begin mocking and harassing the head cook for not serving them quickly enough. This is the same sort of mob behavior we saw outside Professor Weinstein’s classroom, just on a smaller scale. In this case, the supposed threat is that the protesters will be “malnourished” in violation of state law. At least one of the students threatens a lawsuit over this very temporary delay in getting food.
Looking at these protesters, none of them look in danger of malnourishment. That word is just a way for them to catastrophize the situation and try to turn it to their benefit.
Second, even after the administrator agrees to fix the problem, the students feel it’s necessary to recount their entire list of grievances in a rant that last several minutes. The students can’t take yes for an answer because that might suggest their grievances can be resolved. Watching their reaction, you get the impression that the student’s grievances are endless and the solutions they have in mind are intentionally irrational, perhaps to ensure they can never reach the end of them.
For instance, the female student leading the rant is angry that the military wasn’t called to campus to provide security for black students. Keep in mind that these are the same students who requested that campus police be out of uniform and unarmed because they felt the police were a threat to “black bodies.” But somehow they think the military is going to make them feel safe?
None of this makes any sense but every demand that isn’t met quickly and obediently is another justification for the pervasive fear they claim to feel. And that fear leads to a constant stream of additional demands on those around them. It’s a vicious cycle with a very practical benefit: The students assume control of every interaction. In this case, they start out wanting food and wind up demanding free meals and that someone be summarily fired. They are literally making themselves the bosses of everyone at Evergreen, from President Bridges on down to the cafeteria cook. Sadly, no one except Bret Weinstein seems willing to stand up to them. It really is horrifying to watch how a handful of extremists wielding nothing but accusations can reduce an entire university to a standstill.