We can still count on one another

It seems there’s no escape from a showdown between far-left and far-right activists.

They’ve made California, and UC Berkeley in particular, into a sort of ground zero for a battle of words — and sometimes more than just words.

Americans are anxious and uncertain about whether we still have what it takes to practice politics together in a face-to-face way, not just as members of contending teams or tribes, but as fellow citizens…

Several days of protests culminated not in hand-to-hand combat but in the sort of dialogue and conversation that national leaders have so often called for, but rarely been able to lead in an unscripted and spontaneous way…

“Correctness” today too often means far more than observing the right political pieties. It pushes deep into the intimate details of students’ and others’ lives, hearts and minds, taking on an authoritarian cast that isn’t diminished by administrators’ sense that justice or sensitivity might demand it.

Meanwhile, everyday Americans, often possessed of relatively extreme or unusual opinions, have found a way … to sidestep the toxic cloud of campus anxiety and take one another as they find them: as human beings who share deep concerns that America has wound up at a crossroads where politics as usual can’t continue without breaking down. Theirs is a spirit and a practice that ought to be second nature to administrators and students on any campus…

If colleges and universities can no longer provide students — and the rest of us — with a basic model of free citizenship, we’ve learned in the past week not to lose hope that we can still count on one another to deliver.

The Orange County Register