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Pearl-clutching and hand-wringing on college campuses

There’s an age-old saying that “bad news doesn’t get better with time.”


So true. Things you don’t want to deal with often get worse simply by not dealing with them. We are watching that play out in real time on college campuses across the nation.

To be sure, there are times when a tactical pause is necessary on the battlefield. A moment to catch your breath and regroup. Patience and deliberate action behind the scenes may lay the conditions for success.


But when life, limb and property are threatened, delayed action is usually based on pearl clutching and hand wringing. Crisis is never avoided by dithering. Yet that’s exactly what is happening as student activists and outside agitators take over campus grounds and facilities.


Keep in mind that many of these protest sites are state-funded institutions paid for with taxpayer dollars. The amount of physical damage thus far at Portland StateUniversity, University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), Columbia University, and more, stretches into millions of dollars. Then there’s the lost time and productivity, the lost education paid for but not received, and the cost to local and state law enforcement who had to divert resources to respond. The cost of inactivity by campus administrators is staggering.

Why? Why take so long? I submit that people in charge of these institutions often have no real leadership experience. They have long careers in tenured academia, but they’ve never run a business, led troops, or scratched out a living in a competitive environment. We are seeing the consequences of their inexperience.


Again, bad news does not get better with time. When the enemy is allowed to dig in, fortify, organize, and regroup, the enemy gets entrenched and victory is more costly.

The U.S. Army Maneuver Center teaches Infantry and Armor students the art of war. Decision making and leadership in times of duress require knowledge of both the attack and the counterattack. U.S. Army soldiers learn the means and methods of the counterattack on an enemy who has just taken off their own ground since it’s a given that the enemy will have a say on the battlefield. The doctrinal statement for the timing of a counterattack says, “To be decisive, the counterattack occurs when the enemy is overextended, dispersed, and disorganized during his attack.”


Translation: When the enemy takes some of your ground, the best time to counterattack is before the enemy has time to settle. Take immediate and decisive action while they are still winded and before they build fortifications and bring reinforcements. Don’t dither, don’t clutch your pearls, don’t wring your hands. Assess your troops, make your plan, spot the enemy’s weak point, counter their efforts.


The campuses sustaining the most damage did not do that. Protestors took over whole buildings, brought in supplies, set up tents, and organized themselves. Outside agitators reinforced their ranks. The moods of the occupiers grew more rancorous. They began making demands, expecting them to be followed. They took what wasn’t theirs and no one stopped them. They dug in. The administrations dithered.


When decisions are delayed unnecessarily, more than just educational inconveniences and property damage occurs. People get hurt. At UCLA, the damage has been epic.


But less known is the fact that a large group of counter-protestors showed up. They were incensed that these anti-American, property-damaging punks were being allowed to continue their anti-American property-damaging actions unabated. The police were nowhere to be found. The administration was busy worrying. In the absence of battlefield leadership things got out of hand and escalated into a physical fight. Protestors met vigilantes in the vacuum of leadership. At UCLA, that vacuum was filled for a while with people who just had enough and took matters into their own hands.

Dithering begat lawlessness, which begat violence. It’s what happens when pearl clutching and hand wringing are the order of the day.


But not everywhere. Not in every state. The University of Florida (UF) made short work of protests on their campus. They took ground, and Florida counterattacked, saying that UF “is not a daycare.” Imagine that.


Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a no-nonsense statement that put the protest world on notice:

I am aware of today’s scheduled protest on the campus of Ole Miss.Mississippi law enforcement is also aware. And they are prepared. Campus police, City, County, and State assets are being deployed and coordinated. We will offer a unified response with one mission:Peaceful protests are allowed and protected - no matter how outrageous those protesters [sic] views may seem to some of us. But unlawful behavior will not be tolerated. It will be dealt with accordingly.Law and order will be maintained!

Leadership. A host of students showed up on the Ole Miss campus, and knowing they had the backing of their governor, sang the National Anthem so loud that the pro-Palestinian protestors couldn’t be heard.


Good people just want to know that law and order will rule the day. They want to know that their leadership will not abandon them to the thugs and punks and agitators who have no mission in life other than to claim victimhood while victimizing others.


Dithering leads to damage. Hand wringing leads to hard knocks. Pearl clutching leads to public humiliation.


The time for counterattack begins immediately. Bad news does not get better with time.

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