While on a recent trip to Moscow, I had the opportunity to gauge the opinion of ordinary Muscovites on the video of the Yale student screaming at the head of Silliman college. The absolute across-the-board reaction was a look of abject horror on their faces as they watched this young, privileged woman screaming an obscenity at the college professor. “That’s at Yale?” was the overwhelming response. “She’s lucky just to be there! She’s going to be forced to leave the university, right?” I had to explain that no, she would not be forced to leave the university. She probably would become a leftist, media darling.
As you might expect, Russians have a real respect for authority. Yes, some of it is forced and comes from living in an authoritarian country. However, there is a real fabric in Russian society that instills respect for elders and those placed in positions over others. You just don’t do in Russia what this young girl did. Muscovites especially, have standards when it comes to behavior, dress, manners, keeping fit, etc.
“Isn’t it really hard to get into Yale?” they asked. “Isn’t it really expensive?”
“Yes, to both questions,” I answered.
“Why did she say such things?” I responded that it was over what type of Halloween costumes people could wear on campus. “That’s insanity,” they responded. “Why doesn’t she just not go to the parties if she’s offended? Why does she get to control what other people do?”
“Where is the outrage?” they continued to ask. “Why does your society allow this to happen? Wouldn’t the other teachers insist this student leave?” I didn’t have a good answer to those questions, except to say, well, we have a problem in our schools and in society in general. Everyone wants to be a victim.
The saddest thing I heard was, “I was considering sending my daughter to the United States to study, but after watching that video, I’m not going to let her anywhere near your country. London seems much more attractive.”
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