Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Look at Campus Manners

“In his ‘Bad Child’s Book of Beasts’ Hilaire Belloc has a glove-fitting description of that child, now grown to semi-man’s estate and enrolled in college. Belloc wrote: ‘Who take their manners from the Ape, Their habits from the Bear. lndulge the loud unseemly jape. And never brush their hair.’ (A more recent British wit said that such youths no longer go to the barber's to have their hair cut; just to have the oil changed.) The above is a perfect description of the new breed of college students with the manners of the ape and the habits of the bear who shout down, jeer, heckle and physically threaten any campus speaker who fails to meet their menacing approval.” – Inez Robb, 1966



The Book of Beasts?  
The Manners of a New Breed of College Students
By Inez Robb 

In his “Bad Child’s Book of Beasts” Hilaire Belloc has a glove-fitting description of that child, now grown to semi-man’s estate and enrolled in college. Belloc wrote: “Who take their manners from the Ape, Their habits from the Bear. Indulge the loud unseemly jape. And never brush their hair.” (A more recent British wit said that such youths no longer go to the barber's to have their hair cut; just to have the oil changed.) The above is a perfect description of the new breed of college students with the manners of the ape and the habits of the bear who shout down, jeer, heckle and physically threaten any campus speaker who fails to meet their menacing approval. 


The latest such ape and bear demonstration, at Harvard where Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara was noisily heckled, is only another incident in a long, and extremely tiresome series of such campus capers. In the manner of the ape and the bear, student demonstrators shouted down the Secretary so that he was unable to answer their complaints. Furthermore, his car was blocked by screaming students. One expects a little more of the privileged students of the oldest university in the Unitted States a little more responsibility. a little better concept of democracy, a little better concept of democracy, a surer grasp of sportsmanship and tolerance and a far better indoctrination in good manners. 

From Berkeley on the West Coast to Harvard on the East, past five years a new breed of college bum, who enrolls only to demonstrate for a variety of magnificent causes, such as legalization of LSD and pot, free love, fence-type language and freedom from the draft. It is just possible that I may be ignorant of the fact that universities and colleges are now offering a four-year course and a degree in Public Demonstrations, emphasizing social disorders and general incivility. Certainly, East to West, the faculty reaction to such inexcusably vulgar displays as occurred at Harvard has been Milquetoast-ish. Dean John U. Monro’s apology to Secretary McNamara was so wishy-washy as to be better left unwitten. And he has announced that no discipline is planned “because I hate to make a matter of disciplinary action of any kind of political activity or demonstration.” The dean’s statement is an open invitation for Harvard students, in the future, to hoot any other speaker off campus. 

It is intolerable to most American citizens that young hoodlums can picket the President of the United States no matter who he may be or what party he represents with such a shocking sign as: “Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?” Tolerance and good sportamanship used to be American ideals, even in politics. This nation once held that it was the essence of democracy to listen to men with whom we disagreed that democracy could only flourish where men not only had the right of free speech but the right to be heard. And dear to Americans as good sportsmanship and democracy once were, so were good manners. We still buy more books on proper manners and polite behavior than any other nation in the world. But it is becoming obvious that no one reads them. 

By no means do students bear all the brunt. Anyone who attended the Republican National Convention in 1964 saw sportsmanship and the practice of democracy and good manners go by the board as adult partisans of the far right tried to shout Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and other moderate and liberal Republicans off the rostrum and out of the Cow Palace. The degeneration of good manners in this country is at least as shocking as that of tolerance, democracy and good sportsmanship. Money may make the world go round, but good manners are the axle grease that make it possible for us to live with one another. At this point we could stand a massive infusion of axle grease, lest the ape and the bear take over. (Copyright, 1966, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Inez Robb was a nationally syndicated columnist and prolific writer. After starting her career as a teen‐age reporter in Boise, Idaho, she eventually went on to become a war correspondent during WWII. In 1953 she joined the Scripps‐Howard Newspapers and the United Features Syndicate, and her column was carried in 140 newspapers. Robb also contributed to magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post, Vogue and Saturday Review. Her book, “Don't Just Stand There,” was published in 1962. Mrs. Robb retired in 1969 and died ten years later, at the age of 78.

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