There’s a story in John Toland’s magisterial The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire (volume two) which depicts a Japanese ship transporting Western prisoners in conditions worse than on any (other) slave ship. It was dark, confined, covered in human filth, and unbearably hot. Unbearably is a strong and apt word. The men went mad and what they did to each other is difficult to relate. I won’t try. Few survived.
Ivo Andrić’s must-read The Bridge on the Drina describes the construction of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge bridge in the sixteenth century by Christians under (at times tyrannical) Muslim rule. In one vivid scene, one of a succession of Muslim rulers decide to punish a man by impaling, directing the executioner to insure the man would survive at least for a day. Would-be “enhanced interrogator operatives” would do well to read this horrifying how-to and sequel.
Incidentally, as often happens with certain places, the bridge was to retain its infamy and was the site of the Višegrad massacre in 1992, in which Serbians slaughtered some 3,000 Bosnians, many of whom where women and children.
There was a certain Roman emperor (which? my memory flags) who used to wine and dine, especially wine, enemies. As the fattened guest excused himself to attend to nature, the emperor had his guest seized and a cord was tied securely around the guest’s penis. This resulted in a prolonged, painful, and, to the demented emperor, hilarious death.
Do we need to discuss the Amalekites? The retreat from Moscow in 1812 (and again in the twentieth century)? The guillotine? Should we recall certain religious practices of the Aztecs? The scene in The Brothers Karamazov in which we learn that babies were tossed in the air to be bayoneted for amusement? The Goths? Cannibalism? The practice of sati (also spelled suttee)? Utopian scheme A, B, …?
Enough. It is impossible to be familiar with any serious literature and not realize the human race is fallen, that man is broken, that bad things have always happened and, at least in this form of our existence, always will. A vale of tears isn’t in it. Evil.
So what kind of childish naive sheltered coddled whimpering intellect would allow itself to be “traumatized” over reading about a minor criminal beating up a shopkeeper and then attempting to do the same to a policeman and getting himself killed in the attempt? Traumatized?
I’ll tell you: Columbia law students.
According to today’s New York Post, “A group of Columbia University law students demanded the school postpone their finals because of their ‘trauma’ over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand-jury decisions.”
This demand traumatized the Dean, poor Robert Scott, whose immediate thought was to placate his little dears. He said the decisions “have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand-jury system and in the law more generally.”
Scott said “students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events” could apply to have their tests rescheduled.
And not only that: “the school planned to have a trauma expert on hand this week, and several faculty members scheduled special office hours next week ‘to talk about the implications of the Brown and Garner non-indictments.'”
Only two things are possible. Either some or all of the students really are “traumatized”, or some or all of them, like Dean Scott, are lying.
For those who really are traumatized, it confirms critics’ charges that professors and students at “elite” universities are disconnected from all reality, that the true state of the world is a mystery to these ivory tower denizens, that these folks prefer fantasy and their own sad company to mixing with normal human beings. It proves that none of these kiddies has ever read a book and that they are therefore monumentally ignorant.
For those who are lying, it confirms what everybody thinks about lawyers. That they will say anything to get what the want, the truth be damned, that they are out only for themselves and that they are willing to ride over any (like their brother and sister students who actually studied) that get in their way. It proves that modern politicians (like Scott) are gutless and unmanly.
No matter which, it proves what we already knew to be true. That people like “trauma experts” are willing to inflate the importance of events just so they can cash in. And that self-satisfied idiocy can be found anywhere, but especially at Western universities.
Update Not to be under done, Harvard weepies want in on the posturing.