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The Cheese Stands Alone

Lefty college professors are dismayed to find that their students are pro-war. Wait 'til they get a load of the numbers for the rest of the boomers.

7:00 AM, Apr 9, 2003 • By LEE BOCKHORN
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ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, I read something in the New York Times that actually brings a smile to my face. Take this story from last Saturday's edition, which chronicled the split on college campuses between students and professors over the war in Iraq. It sounds almost too good to be true: Leftist professors who came of age protesting the Vietnam War are disgusted and shocked--shocked!--by the pro-war views of many of their students. One Yale professor tells the Times that "these are the kids of Reagan. When I lecture on Reagan, the kids love him. Their parents are horrified and appalled." At the University of Wisconsin, a student newspaper columnist chastises a U-W professor for canceling classes to hold an antiwar protest. A professor at Princeton asks if there are any ROTC students in his class; two students raise their hands, and their classmates applaud.

As Times reporter Kate Zernike notes, in a deadpan tone that can't help but elicit a chuckle, "All this dismays many professors."

This article should reassure conservatives who fret constantly over how radical faculties at leading universities are corrupting our youth. (I'll confess to occasional membership in this club.) Most students today--whether pro- or antiwar--can see these tenured radicals as the pompous, self-absorbed windbags they are. A women's studies professor at Amherst tells Zernike that "We used to like to offend people . . . we loved being bad, in the sense that we were making a statement. Why is there no joy now?" Another professor says that when he was a grad-student protester in Madison, "there was a certain nobility in being gassed."

Today's students, chastened by the reality of September 11, hardly see "nobility in being gassed," or find any "joy" in "being bad" to "make a statement" and "offend people." And most of them probably also find it difficult to believe that Flower Power will get us very far with the likes of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein; it seems they would rather opt for Special Forces and stealth bombers. (As the Times article notes, in the annual nationwide survey of college freshman conducted by UCLA, this year 45 percent of freshman supported an increase in military spending--more than double the 1993 percentage.)

What's truly pathetic about these nostalgic lefty profs is that they're out of sync not only with their students' views, but also with their own generation. The most shocking thing about this week's Washington Post/ABC poll is that the age group with the highest level of support for the war in Iraq (87 percent! ) is the 45 to 54-year-old set. That's the same baby boomer group most of the professors in the New York Times story no doubt belong to. Even the baby boomers are pro-war!

As those Vietnam-era protesters might have said: The times, they are a-changin'.

Lee Bockhorn is associate editor at The Weekly Standard.