Far-Right Humor and Irony on Campus

With all of the attention being paid to “Leftist” professors using class time, university e-mail, or even social media to “force their ideology” on their students, it is hard (for me, at least) to pass up the opportunity to cite Far-Right abuses of political expression on campus.

The Young Conservatives of Texas, a student group at the University of Texas at Austin and, I assume, elsewhere, has recently courted controversy by sponsoring a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Contest” on the campus. Students from the group will be wearing labels on their clothing that identify them as illegal immigrants. Other students who pull off those labels and bring them to a designated location on campus will receive $25 gift cards.

The Young Conservatives of Texas have explained the purpose of this contest in this way: “The purpose of this event is to spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.”

Well, it has certainly sparked a campus-wide discussion, though not exactly the kind of discussion that the sponsors, at least ostensibly, had in mind. (I suspect that Ted Cruz is their role model, and this courting of controversy is all very deliberately provocative. Cruz’s guiding principle seems to be that he can be as obnoxious and confrontational as he wishes as long as it’s all in the service of the “right cause,” or, more precisely, the causes of the Right.)

By the way, this is not just some singularly bone-headed initiative by this group—not something that can be excused as a youthful lapse in judgment. In September, the group held a bake sale to protest affirmative action. To highlight the element of protest, they charged those interested in buying the baked goods race-adjusted prices.

About a year ago, I re-posted to this blog a parody, published in McSweeney’s, of Tom Joad’s speech at the end of The Grapes of Wrath. Titled “The Grapes of Mitt,” the piece answered with mockery the attempts by the Romney campaign to assert that, despite his notorious remarks about the 47% of Americans who would never vote for him because of their dependency on government handouts, he was nonetheless committed to representing the interests of all Americans. A Right-Wing blog re-posted an excerpt, with the comment, “This is what passes for humor among Liberal academics.”

Well, perhaps a lot of us are just missing the humor in what the Young Conservatives of Texas have been doing. Perhaps it is not that their actions are patently offensive demonstrations of smug, self-entitled bias but, instead, that the rest of us lack the senses of humor and irony to appreciate what are simply expressions of good-natured fun.

Perhaps, but only if Missisippi Burning is a comedy.

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