New York Times Guest Post: Dear Millennials: The Feeling Is Mutual

Dear Millennials: The Feeling Is Mutual

Joe Biden dares to take offense at those who specialize in being offended.

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist
May 17, 2019

Earlier this month, a video of Joe Biden saying he had “no empathy” for “the younger generation” that “tells me how tough things are” resurfaced on social media. The video was over a year old, but it elicited predictable howls from members of the dissed demographic. “Nothing says ‘perfect candidate to lead the most powerful nation in the world’ like ‘I have no empathy,’” wrote someone with the Twitter handle @anarchopriapism.

My own reactionary reaction was different. O.K., I thought, I could definitely vote for Joe — provided he has the mettle to stand his ground.

I’ve been saying for a while now that both parties could use a Sister Souljah moment, in which a candidate shows the intestinal fortitude to rebuke some obnoxious person or faction within his political base. Bill Clinton did it in 1992 after the recording artist Lisa Williamson asked, “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Clinton called it out as an example of reverse racism and still went on to win 83 percent of the African-American vote.

In this election cycle, no faction on the Democratic side more richly deserves rebuking than the one Biden singled out — which is not, of course, anywhere close to the entire millennial generation (roughly 80 million strong), or their younger siblings in Gen Z. But it is that part of these younger generations that specializes in histrionic self-pity and moral self-righteousness, usually communicated via social media with maximum snark.

Gawker spawn and HuffPo twerps: This especially means you.

It also means all those who recklessly participate in the search-and-destroy missions of the call-out culture. These are the Harvard students who demanded, and last week obtained, the dismissal of law professor Ronald Sullivan and his wife Stephanie Robinson as faculty deans at an undergrad dorm because Sullivan had the temerity to join Harvey Weinstein’s defense team. They are the Middlebury students who in 2017 violently assaulted professor Allison Stanger for the crime of moderating a talk with Charles Murray. They are the Yale students who in 2015 surrounded and hounded professor Nicholas Christakis because he would not agree to their demands that he denounce his wife for believing in free speech.

The signature move in each of these instances (and there are so many more) is to allege an invisible harm in order to inflict an actual one. In place of an eye for an eye, we have professional destruction for emotional upset. Careers and reputations built over decades come to ruin, or nearly so, on account of a personal mistake or a disfavored opinion.

All of these struggle sessions play to the sound of chortling twenty-somethings, who have figured out that, in today’s culture, the quickest way to acquire and exercise power is to take offense. This is easy to do, because the list of sins to which one may take offense grows with each passing year, from the culturally appropriated sombrero to the traditionally gendered pronoun.

It’s also easy because the grown-ups rarely push back and, in fact, are often happy to go along. Not one of the students who joined the mob at Middlebury was expelled. And say what you will of the students who demanded the ouster of Sullivan and Robinson, they would have gotten nowhere without the weaselly connivance of Harvard Dean Rakesh Khurana, who discovered unspecified problems with the “climate” of the dorm in order to justify his verdict.

Which brings me back to Biden. The rap against the former veep is that he’s old, frequently puts his foot in his mouth, and occasionally says nice things about Republicans. Another way of putting all that is that he’s mature, unstudied, and not just another partisan hater.

Also, he refused to beg forgiveness last month for being a tad too touchy-kissy. Maybe he should keep his hands in his pockets, but at least it means he isn’t prepared to capitulate to the icy codes of personal decorum written by people who don’t know the difference between exuberant human warmth and unwarranted sexual advances.

To which one can only say: Keep it up, Joe! He’s already leading all of his Democratic primary rivals in every demographic group save millennials (obviously), where Bernie Sanders has a narrow lead. He could make a virtue of the defect by emphasizing his distance from everything that defines the worst aspects of millennial culture — the coddled minds and censorious manner and inability to understand the way the world works. Does it ever occur to some of our more militant millennials that the pitiless standards they apply to others will someday be applied pitilessly to them?

The sensible center of America — that is, the people who choose presidents in this country — wants to see Donald Trump lose next year, but not if it means empowering the junior totalitarians of the left. Now is Biden’s chance to make it clear he’s just the man to fulfill that hope.

Views: 67

Comment by Ron Powell on May 24, 2019 at 7:16am

Joe Biden is NOT my first choice among the Democrats running to be the Democratic nominee for the presidency....

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 24, 2019 at 10:13am

"Which brings me back to Biden. The rap against the former veep is that he’s old, frequently puts his foot in his mouth, and occasionally says nice things about Republicans. Another way of putting all that is that he’s mature, unstudied, and not just another partisan hater."

This is one of the best examples of "DNC-ish 'STFU and do as we tell you' lesser evilism spin" that I have ever seen.  The arrogance and sense of entitlement of this guy (and the leaders of the Democratic Party) is truly mind boggling.

It also exemplifies exactly why millions upon millions of Millennials are fleeing this kind of Centrist crap to join the true left and/or become independents.

P.S.  It's not a "rap" we have against Biden...  it is a reaction to his stealth-Republican voting record, his misogynistic & racist comments and his clear disdain for anyone who is not part of perceived "Elite".   Nice of "ol' Brett" to insult our intelligence that way (while ignoring all of those pesky facts) 

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 24, 2019 at 10:26am

BTW, "Brett"...  I can see why you "dislike" Millennials...

"Biden trails Sanders by 11 percent among millennial voters."

"Boomers and millennials each comprise about 23% of the US population, but only 17% of ethnoracial minorities are boomers, compared to 27% who are millennials. The gap is largest among people who identify as Hispanic or multiracial.

Hillary Clinton’s success among black voters in the 2016 primary is one of the strongest examples of how generational identity can overcome other political splits. She won an estimated 76% of the black vote, even as Sanders won the majority of votes among black voters under 30."

** AHEM **

Comment by Ron Powell on May 24, 2019 at 10:55am

Amy, you get no argument from me...

The current claim is that, among Republicans,  Biden is most feared among Democratic hopefuls...

I honestly believe that among the 1% crowd, Warren is the most feared....

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 24, 2019 at 12:15pm

Unless you are high school teachers I doubt very much you spend more time with Millennials than I, in the water with them nearly every day, campfires on the beach talking story, going to lunch apres surf, ad nauseum. I KNOW them. The Hawaiian batch are some of the most adept and sophisticated group I have ever encountered, completely international. But, lets focus on the BULLSHIT that those lucky enough to attend Berkeley or Harvard are somehow censors. Fucking Bullshit, what they are is SMART. There is NO WAY they are going to allow some skeletor like Ann Coulter of some self gay hater like whats his name or any of these other so called intellectuals, actually those who COULDN'T CUT REAL HIGH EDUCATION AND ACADEMIA and so had to be propped of by John Birch and Koch funded "Think" Tanks, what a misnomer- hahahahahahahahahahahaha, thinking about white privilege is about it, or to be fair also class-ism and keeping all poor down.

Now, the US MAINLAND version, stung by Helicopter parents and other arrows through their bleeding hearts, just don't know shit except they have HUGE college loans to pay off and if they didn't study Math or Science they are FUCKED for being ignoramus imbeciles.

Time out, more bullshit about the supposed untruth of the "lesser of two evils?" Really? Today in the age of Barr. Jesus Fucking Christ a skull thicker than brain tissue itself, and a fucking hypocrite who not a couple weeks ago came right out and admitted it WAS TRUE, then jumped back on the backwards back-wagon. Pure Stupidity in the name of idealism is just another way of putting Dean Wormer's comment to "Flounder" ... 

So, fuck DEBATE, they didn't let us debate People's Park, and it is the same fascists now who want Coulter to be able to avoid pies while she spews total lies to the smartest kids in the world who lecture her on any subject, probably even law. We WILL NOT LET FASCISTS ON OUR CAMPUSES, UH fought the war, I was right there. Antifa Antifa Antifa, BLM BLM BLM ... these are not terrorists groups, what fucking bunch of racist propaganda, they are COURAGE in the face of hate, ass kickers who take names, and folks who will never let Nazi Slogans pass for free speech. I could go on but the "lesser of two evils" hypocrisy, having been turned in around in just a matter of weeks which proves it is lip service, makes me WANT TO PUKE.

Beto, Mayor Pete, Kamala (don't even give me the DA crap) and the rest, one of them is Biden's running mate, lets see which is still standing.

Comment by koshersalaami on May 24, 2019 at 1:11pm

Aside from everything else, Biden’s lack of empathy is misplaced. He grew up in a world where the economy of America was improving, where “working poor” was an oxymoron, where the threats to Earth were risks rather than trends the government isn’t willing to acknowledge, where jobs paid a living wage, where college was affordable, where America was the world leader in manufacturing and damned near everything else. The Millenials have grown up in a very different America, an America with a lot of trends going the wrong way, an America where a lot of the jobs that are out there don’t provide livings. He knows how things could be. They don’t.

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 24, 2019 at 6:22pm

Maui Surf's Up~
You should run for office. I'd send you a small donation. I admire how you defend the young landed geniuses in particular as last week's expose' of diplomas to highest bidder will sublimily stick in the craw of Joe Suzy Q S&P if and when they vote. Likewise, the latest viral alt vid tampering of Nancy Pelosi with the immediate specious administration showtime illustrates a sense of PTB panic. President Tea is not looking well. He thinks he knows what he does not know. Nightly news featured Digit 1. A thoroughly agile door to door delivery bot (labor insecurity). Some scrap the cap fellas I know here in the land of milk and a little bit funny have asked that I focus-crocu on essay drawn from two word G 00 G searches: Clinton Surplus, CDC Fentanyl, Khrushchev's Heel, April 17th....If you run and lose, you could feel good mit well buying a beautiful commercial soundtracked by Simon and Garfunkel.(thumb little finger emoji implied)


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