Oberlin College, Barnard College, American University, New York University, and the University of Maine — these are just some of the alma maters of the surprisingly privileged rioters recently arrested in Atlanta. They’ve been charged with domestic terrorism, criminal trespass, aggravated assault, and other crimes under Georgia law.
The rioters — driven to defend a forest and prevent a police training center from opening — had allegedly been attacking police officers and EMTs, vandalizing public and private property, and preventing access to private land. During the arrests, law enforcement uncovered explosive devices, gasoline, road flares, mortar-style fireworks, edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks, and a blow torch.
This would be upsetting, but perhaps unsurprising, if these crimes were committed by affected locals — a displaced homeowner, an angry taxpayer, or families affected by police violence. But these young individuals are a traveling crew of suspected criminals from states like Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. They riot under the name Defend the Atlanta Forest today, but tomorrow it might be any one of the almost 600 groups that endorse Defend the Atlanta Forest’s cause.
If these rioters terrorized communities under an ISIS or Hamas banner, we would ask how well-off adherents in their 20s and 30s became so radicalized. These young adults have not suffered any oppression by the Atlanta loggers or ultra-trained police officers. And yet something has motivated them to travel thousands of miles (explosives in tow) to squat in a forest and “defend” half a mile of property they have never seen and oppose the training of police officers they will never encounter.
They are driven by the belief that “police disproportionately harm and imprison black people and people of color” and that the training center will “escalate this structural commitment to racist harm.” And they believe that “ecological destruction constitutes a grave threat to life on Earth,” particularly “Atlanta’s black communities,” and without these trees, Atlanta will face flooding and lose a breeding ground for “many amphibians.”
If this training center were actually going to lead to rampant racism against black people, cause Atlanta to flood, or “life on Earth” to deteriorate, maybe I would be forest squatting too.
But the evidence shows us that criminal behavior, not skin color, drives most police action. And despite our fixation on catastrophic weather events, the data shows that people are today much safer from weather — thanks to wealth, driven by energy and innovation. And we’ve got thousands more polar bears and humpback whales than we used to (at least until the windmills do their damage).
It’s not all positive, but the truth is complicated. Radicals don’t care about the truth; they care about a dogma. And, sadly, dogmas are perpetuated at American universities.
Let’s take a look at some of the course offerings at Oberlin College, an easy target. “Critical Race Theory in Education“ teaches students about “manifestations of racism in the American school system.” “History of Race in American Cities and Suburbs“ explores “interracial and interethnic contestation/struggle.” “Climate Change“ asks students to consider climate change through the lens of “apocalypse” and “dystopia.”
It’s a surprise more Oberlin graduates don’t find themselves arrested in Atlanta. The common theme seems to be that American civilization — schools, cities, productivity — is the enemy.
If institutions in Syria or Afghanistan existed to promote an anti-American narrative meandering toward violence, we’d certainly be watching. We would not reward these institutions with hoards of federal dollars, at the very least.
So too here. If Oberlin College wants to teach “Queer Trauma Narratives,” so be it. It’s a free country. But federal money should only be spent in the public interest. It’s past time we question whether our universities promote it.
May Mailman is a senior fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.