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The liberal university now stands for avoiding pain much more than for freedom of speech.
I have a sad confession to make. Whenever I hear or sing the national anthem, I no longer fully believe its ending — “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We have many freedom-loving and brave Americans — just think of those in the armed forces. But overall, risk has been banned as Americans seek to be immunized against pain.
Needless to say, the liberal Philadelphia Inquirer supported the decision to cancel the football game. And so did some of my callers who think of themselves as conservative. But all those self-identified conservative callers who supported the decision were, I noted on air, under the age of 40.
I explained to them that they have grown up in a different America than I did. The idea of telling an American that a pro football game is canceled because he might drive in bad weather strikes a conservative over 40 as demeaning. But the young have been raised without monkey bars, dodge ball or seesaws, lest they fall and hurt themselves; without “Merry Christmas,” lest it offend; protected by parents and schools from experiencing the pain of a loss in sports; being told they are wonderful when they are not; and otherwise weakening them to the point where it seems perfectly natural to cancel a football game because fans may drive in bad weather.
A listener who disagreed with me sent me an e-mail asking me how I would feel if my father drove to that game and died in an accident because emergency vehicles could not reach him in time. I responded by giving my correspondent my father’s e-mail address. I told him that I suspected that my father, who is a healthy 92 and fought for three years in World War II, would probably respond that he doesn’t recognize the America of today as the one he fought for 65 years ago.
That’s why the cancellations by the NFL and Yale University are important. Once the home of the brave, America is becoming the home of the risk-averse and the pain-avoiders. And when you are risk-averse, you are not only less brave, you are less free. With freedom comes pain, a price more and more Americans don’t want to pay.
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