Martin Center column probes today’s campus activist

Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center examines the psychology of today’s typical campus activist.

A certain anger at society seems to pervade the academy today. Hardly a week goes by without hearing about outraged students either demanding recompense for some perceived injustice or attempting to shut down an invited speaker. Between professors who spread neo-Marxist ideologies, administrators who enforce an extreme political correctness on campus, and peer pressure to be politically “woke,” student radicalism is reinforced from all sides.

The fundamental cause of this anger is more likely psychological rather than political. In his new book Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, journalist Robby Soave highlights young activists’ destructive behaviors and provides an in-depth analysis of the activists’ motivations and the philosophical origins of their ideology. Soave explains the purpose of his book is to provide a comprehensive “psychological profile” of the young activist generations—millennials and generation Zers—whom he refers to collectively as “zillenials.”

Soave dedicates the majority of his book to analyzing left-wing activists, not because he considers them to be worse than their far-right counterparts—the alt-right—but because they dominate in numbers and wield more influence over the culture, particularly universities.

Panic Attack addresses topics such as violent attempts to shut down free speech on campus, Title IX and the abuse of students’ due process rights, and the proliferation of victimhood culture. Although these issues have been extensively reported on, Soave at times provides a fresh take on them with his face-to-face interactions with students.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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