Every year, high school and college graduating classes sit down and listen to a commencement speech. A top student, an influential figure, or a faculty member will deliver the typical tropes on conquering fears, realizing dreams, and never giving up. It might be full of clichés, but this encouragement has been the go-to oration for a reason. In recent years, these addresses have turned into soapboxes, as leftists spout political rhetoric and inform the students how the world is a terrible place. On topics from abortion to white supremacy, puritan progressives force graduates to listen to the ramblings of social justice warriors who use their Tumblr posts and tweets as their presentations.
‘Extreme Versions of Individualism’
Abrar Omeish, a school board member in Fairfax County, VA, delivered a commencement speech, warning the graduating class of Justice High School about the dangerous and divisive world they are about to enter. What started as an uplifting speech about human growth eventually turned political, lamenting the iniquitous characteristics of today’s society. Racism, white supremacy, and “extreme versions of individualism” are what they will inevitably face. She said:
“Our world is overwhelmed with need. We struggle with human greed, racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, white supremacy, growing wealth gaps, disease, climate crisis, extreme poverty amidst luxury and waste right next door. And the list goes on.”
Omeish urged the students to refrain from being impartial because “’neutral’ is another word for complicit,” and added that “your truth, your courage, and your path to uplift those who are not heard will leave you on the right side of history.”
The remarks are gaining attention in conservative media, and the secondary institution has yet to comment on the oration. But Justice High School was not the only place of learning to see a graduation ceremony transform into a political rally this year. A Lakeland Highlands High School valedictorian scrapped an approved speech and chose to go on a tirade against an anti-abortion bill in Texas.
While not all graduating classes are forced to endure Two Minutes of Hate sessions, a growing number of these conventions are metastasizing into affairs for speakers to exploit the opportunity as a platform for politics. What is worse, Omeish’s disquisition ostensibly placed a bullseye on one of the most prized traits of the human spirit and the broader Western civilization: individualism.
The War on Individualism
What is individualism? It is a philosophy focused on independence, responsibility, self-reliance, and freedom of thought and action. The opposite is, of course, collectivism, stressing the group and villainizing the individual. The former has always been a critical component in the Age of Enlightenment and the advancement of the West. The latter was the basis for socialism and today’s leftist orthodoxy.
The socialist left appears to be winning the war on individualism by depicting it as something it is not: racist.
Over the last 25 years, progressive grifters have portrayed the hallmarks of the United States, be it individualism or objectivity, as ideas that emanate from a white supremacist mindset. For a long time, this concept had been found in obscure papers in the basements of universities. Now, it has garnered momentum in a race-obsessed and self-loathing society, intent on conformity and identifying the “other” so everyone knows whom to detest.
Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility, contends that individualism and other Western ideologies have presented bogus narratives and facilitate white people to reject their intrinsic advantages as a group. It is official Canadian government policy to consider individualism as a component of a white supremacist culture. A laundry list of woke organizations are now decrying individualism and objectivity as facets of white supremacy.
Lost in this puerile noise is that individualism is the antidote to racism. Individualism is meant to emphasize the person, not an entire group of people with certain skin tones, backgrounds, or religious stances. The philosophy of accentuating the self is the antithesis to racism, which attempts to paint each person of a specific lineage with a single brush. Throughout history, the malevolent regimes and the malignant institutions have executed some of the most heinous acts based on the “we” and not the “I.”
Legendary economist Ludwig von Mises touched upon the subject in his book Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis: “All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.” The Irish philosopher Edmund Burke penned that individualism spawns “spontaneous collaboration of free men [that] often creates things which are greater than their individual minds can ever fully comprehend.” Indeed, it might be contrary to the proselytizing conducted on college campuses and city streets, but individualism is the cure for the ailments they assert are plaguing the planet.
The Anti-Intellectual Movement
The United States and other Western countries have ventured off the path paved by yesterday’s intellectual titans, such as Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and David Hume. Increasingly absorbed by the neoteric anti-intellectual movement ubiquitous in lecture halls and political arenas, society has abandoned the chief tenets of Enlightenment, from reason to liberty. This generation has been force-fed a diet of sloth, ignorance, and hate. If young Americans choose to go on a hunger strike from these iniquitous teachings, they will be labeled by the intolerant left as the Brownshirts embracing fascism and espousing Jim Crow, no matter how peaceful and polite. Studies suggest that these indoctrination blitzkriegs are succeeding, so why bother quitting when the leftists are ahead?
Goodbye, individualism. It was fun while it lasted.
Read more from Andrew Moran.