Guest Column: Captain Hook’s fear of the liberal indoctrination of America’s youth

Derek Pufahl, Guest Columnist

I hadn’t seen the wrinkly, white-haired man sink into the couch next to me, but there he was. He wore a navy blue suit, pink plaid shirt and light khaki pants. A small brass crucifix was buttoned to his collar. His greasy smile and twitching mustache made me picture Captain Hook in an old-folks home.

An unsettling, mucus-coated cough broke the silence, disrupting my reading of “Good Omens,” the entertaining brain-child of authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet—a couple of childish Pucks whom I enjoy stepping off the quasi-academic path with. (See what they’ve done to me already? Ending a sentence with a preposition?)

Because it had been preying on his mind and only because it had been preying on his mind, a discussion about crime and violence in large cities followed the cough.

He spewed this long string of facts about blacks being arrested more than whites, and making up a larger section of the prison population. He asked me why I thought this was.

I stated a couple of obvious answers: unequal economic opportunity and unjust policing.

He went on about government handouts, leeches, parasites and how he thought successful black people need to start helping out “their own people.”

Captain Hook was a racist. Head of an ass. A Bottom to my Pucks. And, as I learned with little surprise, a Trump supporter.

This coffee-drinking/reading sanctuary, which I had come to familiarize myself with, was now a surreal no-man’s-land. I wanted out.

By the end of our talk, he was explaining to me how black people simply weren’t trying hard enough and (this one takes the cake) are inherently more lazy than white people.

As I resisted the urge to throw my coffee directly into the face of this encarnalized Atticus Finch (the latest rendition from the late Harper Lee, because why not go ahead and add another nickname into the mix), he slowed in his lecture, realizing that I was one of “them,” a liberal.

He asked me an interesting question, presumably after years of constant grumbling at the youth and trying to figure out what went wrong, “Do you think that the college setting creates liberalism in young people?”

“Pish, posh!” said a voice. “Absolute bullocks!”

However, Captain Hook’s posit snowballed in the back of my mind. After all, my parents both identify as Republican, and look at me now, vying for the Bern, after years in a college institution.

“Google the bloody notion!” the voice demanded.

Although that initial reaction was soaked with juvenile stubbornness (British obscenity brought to you by Gaiman and Pratchett) it was validated by professor of sociology, Neil Gross.

Gross wrote an article for the New York Times about the creation of liberalism in college students back in March of 2012 called “The Indoctrination Myth.”

The article was written in response to Rick Santorum’s remarks about President Obama supporting higher education for all Americans.

Santorum attacked higher education, saying that colleges make people less religious and are liberal “indoctrination mills.”

Perhaps Captain Hook read a similar Bizarro article which he took to heart.

The research done by Gross and Solon Simmons has been referenced in a forlorn mountain of college papers, but is not exhausted yet—especially not by enough state-college opinion columnists.

A synopsis? Yes, professors tend to be a liberal lot, and there is a tendency for right-leaning students to leave college with a more liberal attitude. But further surveys which followed 1,000 students from high school into middle age, showed that high school students who consider themselves liberal are more inclined to go to college in the first place.

I’ll not turn this into a thesis paper (there’s enough of that going around), but I will close by saying that the next time I come across Captain Hook, I will inform him with my best British accent: “You bloody wanker! Pull your head out of your arse! Liberals may make up colleges, but colleges do not make liberals!”