November 14, 2008
Evil on a Minneapolis Campus
Years ago youthful thugs murdered a young man for his high-priced sneakers. Decent, law-abiding folks wondered again What Is This Country Coming To? In another case, not long ago in Minneapolis, a youthful thug was murdered for his designer sports jersey. Evil happens, its very banality -- as political philosopher Hanna Arendt wrote in 1963, coining the phrase "the banality of evil" -- is taking on the mantle of practically normalizing once unthinkable events in a civilized American society.
On election night in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a blue state, comes a criminal horror story short of murder, but no less disturbing. It happened at Augsburg college, a private liberal arts school named after a place in Germany the reformer monk Martin Luther served in the 1500s.
After taunting 18-year old freshman Annie Grossmann for wearing her McCain-Palin campaign button at an election night get-together, and "getting in her face," four women beat her for political views which, obviously, they did not share. Grossmann took verbal abuse at the party, then left for her dorm after it was clear, about 10 p.m., that her candidates had lost. She was followed by the four women into the shadows of a nearby skyway.
There she was beaten. The four women, all black, called Grossmann a "racist." She knew none of them. Nor did they know her, to her knowledge. It was that damn campaign button that evidently caused their frenzy. Their earlier taunts proved that. They were, Grossmann said, "rubbing her face in Obama's win."
"Why do you call me a racist when you don't even know me?" she screamed. Made no difference. Grossmann was felled by the largest of the four. She hit her head on the brick wall, and staggered back to her dorm. The other three black women at the beating chucked at this dark manifestation of partisan evil. They walked away laughing, offering no help to their victim. The banality of evil had asserted itself. And at four-to-one, it was also a cowardly act of mindless violence which, presumably, the four thought "normal."
Right here, right here in these United States, it happened, in my home state. A cruel re-awakening to the excesses of partisanship, in this case mixed with racism. That it happened on a college campus is hardly surprising. Not today. Campuses ooze with crazed partisan intolerance, places mostly where left-wing academia hold forth, along with politically correct staff, inculcating students with staunch, impenetrable biases, often leading to violent confrontation.
(Not surprising at all, at another private "liberal arts" campus in Minnesota, a professor was recently dismissed for stealing McCain-Palin lawn signs and delighting in his crime online. Such is the hubris of the clueless left, maybe beyond redemption.)
Freshman Grossmann had been booed roundly at a freshman "mixer" when she identified herself (gasp!) as a Republican. She is from Delta Junction, Alaska, you see, where her mom is a Republican Party leader, a big fan of Gov. Palin. Annie considers her governor to be a role model, something the ardent left must deplore as part of their article-of-faith, damn-conservatives mind-set. Annie's mom, Dawn Grossmann, had sent her daughter a McCain-Palin sweatshirt. Just think: Imagine the consequences if she had worn that on campus, instead of just a McCain-Palin campaign pin.
Newspaper reports say the four attackers might not have been Augsburg students. Somehow that makes a difference. Well, to the college, perhaps, concerned with its image. But what were the four thugs doing hanging out at a campus election-night party taunting anyone disagreeing with their choice of Obama? Who stood up for Annie? For principle?
She is a member of the college's ladies' hockey team, a hockey player in her native Alaska. She was excused temporarily from practice after suffering a concussion and blurred vision from the attack. Thankfully her injuries are not thought permanent. Psychic scars will remain, though, along with a lesson in intolerance, at the clubbing hands of her hyena-like laughing attackers.
This is not the first time Grossman met political hostility in the land of Minnesota Nice. Even her bear-hunting in Alaska proved a sticking point. As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a story careful to label the attacks "according to the victim," we find these clarifying paragraphs:
Grossmann's parents, Bruce and Dawn, said that in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, Annie had trouble on campus because of her political leanings and for being a hunter.
Bruce Grossmann said a "PETA person" had to be removed from her dorm room because he was upset by a photo of her with a black bear she had shot. Also, he said, she attended an icebreaker on campus and was booed when she identified herself as a Republican."I don't think she was prepared for the close-mindedness," he said. "I told her she needs to take a lower profile [for the sake of] her academic and her sports careers."
Intolerance on modern college (and even high school and junior high) campuses is not new, it is plainly clear, in these supposed bastions of free inquiry. They've become politicized to the core. Free speech itself is imperiled by their codes. Professors rule. Conservatives are muzzled. It runs one-way on most campuses, fiercely anti-Republican and, in general if not more so, wildly against all conservatives. What happened to 18-year old Annie Grossmann was perhaps a double whammy, of racism and ideological hate. Either way, or both, it's reprehensible to its heart-of-darkness core, banality of evil to be deplored by all right-thinking Americans.
Gary Larson is a retired former newspaper editor in Minnesota now residing in Arkansas. He is not the cartoonist of the same name.