A music critic once wrote about the Austro-American pianist Artur Schnabel that he was great because his motto seemed to be: “Safety last.” He was willing to take risks, particularly in live performances, that others did not, in pursuit of something transcendent.
That motto came back to me recently when yet another university figure announced that a conservative speaker had to be canceled because of threats of violence: “our first priority is to make sure that everyone on campus is safe.”
What that means, of course, is threats to physical safety, when by any sane reckoning, an American college campus is already one of the safest places in the world.
And anyway, when did “safety” become the “first priority” in public?
If we were still a civilized people, we would recognize that, of course, physical safety matters, but there are other threats of equal or greater importance – primarily to our real “first priority,” the obligation to live in the truth.
“Safety” has become an ideological construct now, and typically means that merely discussing illegal immigrants or some other subject might make certain people feel “unsafe.”