The cultural and societal chaos that has descended like a crazed raptor on America can be traced to, among other things, the deterioration and corruption of our elite educational institutions, which have abandoned their mission, education, for indoctrination, and their obligation, opening young minds, for the opposite: closing them. One of my alma maters, Harvard, has declared that it will punish male students for off-campus associations, and arrogantly insists that its policy of discriminating against Asian Americans for the benefit of African Americans is fair and necessary. Another, Georgetown, absurdly asserts that there is nothing inappropriate about employing a professor who proclaims her violent bigotry against men, whites, and those with whom she disagrees on political matters. At USC, a dean has announced that sanctions must be taken against a professor who remind students of basic principles of justice, such as the ensuring that those accused have due process and the presumption of innocence.
These are not cherry-picked anomalies. These are typical of what American higher education has become. I got another reminder while being stuck in an airport yesterday, which afforded me the opportunity to read the literary review “The New Criterion.” The October issue included an update on the ridiculous controversy at Yale, where a professor and his wife, a lecturer, were driven out of their jobs and the school because she opined that students needed to lighten up in their political correctness fanaticism regarding Halloween costumes:
Yale University quietly bestowed a Sterling Professorship, its highest academic position, on the sociologist and medical doctor Nicholas Christakis this summer. Many readers will remember the Christakis Affair. It unfolded early in November 2015 when Christakis, then the Master of Silliman, a residential college at that super-rich bastion of privilege and self-satisfaction, had the temerity to defend his wife Erika from an angry mob of students. Her tort? Suggesting in a public memo that college students be allowed to choose their own Halloween costumes…
An amateur video of the confrontation between Nicholas Christakis and that angry mob of students went viral. It is worth looking up. Christakis is a model of desperate restraint. In soft, reasonable tones, he explains that an academic community depends upon good will, and patience, and respect for alternative points of view. The trembling mob was having none of that. They shouted and swore and berated Christakis, exploding in a manufactured fury that was both alarming and contemptible. “I apologize, I’m sorry,” Christakis wailed at one point. Too late.
…The Christakises resigned from their position as heads of Silliman College. Erika left off teaching at Yale altogether. Nicholas, a highly decorated academic, took a sabbatical. Then Yale bestowed its “Nakanishi Prize” on two of the student ringleaders, Alexandra Zina Barlowe and Abdul-Razak Mohammed Zachariah—potential employers take note—for … “exemplary leadership in enhancing race and/or ethnic relations at Yale College.”
…Peter Salovey, the spineless president of Yale, responded to related student demands (made around midnight at his private residence) by shoveling $50 million to various “diversity” initiatives. Yale dropped the title “Master” because some illiterate students thought the word had racial rather than scholarly overtones. Salovey also convened (again, you cannot make this up) a Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming and a Committee on Art in Public Spaces to scrutinize the names of things at Yale and the university’s publicly displayed art for signs of political incorrectitude. Calhoun College, named for the U.S. Vice President and Yale alumnus John Calhoun, was changed because Calhoun not only owned slaves but thought slavery was a good thing. (So did Samuel F. B.Morse, for whom another Yale college is named, but Shh! don’t tell anyone.) Stained glass windows depicting slaves working in the fields were vandalized, others were hustled away for safekeeping, as were various sculptures: a bas-relief at the Yale Library, for example, which depicted a Pilgrim carrying a musket.
….Surmising, no doubt correctly, that the public appetite for outrage had moved on, Yale decided it was time to make amends to Nicholas Christakis and offer him the tasty sop of a coveted professorship. After all, deep down, Christakis was one of them, a paid-up member of the progressive brotherhood. He had been unexpectedly blindsided by an event that no one could have foreseen. Quietly, quietly, then, he has been rehabilitated and given an extra pat on the head. He is “deeply honored,” of course, and “eager to make [him]self useful to Yale’s mission.”
The worst and most frightening part of the tale is the ending. Christakis’s groveling capitulation, stating that he is deeply honored, and “eager to make [him]self useful to Yale’s mission” is the exact equivalent of the final line in “1984,” in which Winston accepts that he loves Big Brother.
Another article lists some of this academic season’s offerings at Williams College, and the interests of the professors who offer them For example, Roxana Blancas Curiel, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Mexican Literature and Cultural Production, teaches about “feminist and queer theory” and the “contributions of the performance of female masculinity in our understanding of femininity and masculinity outside the heteronormative spectrum in Mexican social imaginary towards the construction of national identity.” Then there is Julia Bryan-Wilson, a Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History, who “researches contemporary art in the Americas through the lenses of artistic labor, feminist and queer theory, and critical race studies.” Prisca Gayles, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Africana Studies, focuses on “the politicization of blackness in the context of collective action in African Diaspora with a focus on Afro-Latin America. Pallavi Sen, an Assistant Professor of Art, studies “the inner lives of birds and animals, South Asian costumes, domestic architecture, altars, deities, skate/bro culture, style, pattern history, toxic masculinity, friendship + love, lovers as collaborators, farming and the artist as farmer, work spaces, work tables, eco-feminism, love poems, the gates to Indian homes, walking, and cooking deliberately. Completely devoted to material and craft, she works with all sustainable surfaces and tools.” Ben Snyder, an Assistant Professor of Sociology, teaches “classes [that] focus on making the turn from social critique to social action, and often involve building bridges between the classroom, student activism, and publics outside the academy. He is especially excited to work with students who want to engage in unabashedly utopian thinking about the future.”
Parents spend $70,000 a year to “educate” their children with this junk, and one of the reasons the price is that high is because Williams employs so many professors who teach nothing but political agitprop, social justice gibberish and progressive cant. The author optimistically opines that this academic con will inevitably create sufficient backlash “to translate into the social disenfranchisement of this academic racket. ” We can hope. But will that happen before society is dominated by multiple generations of anti-democratic, anti-American leftist fascists?
What has to happen—quickly!— is for the romanticized image of a college education to be exposed as the antiquated fraud it has become. My wife’s sister berated her because we had “allowed” our son to postpone, and perhaps reject, a college “education,” despite having the funds available to pay for one. She said that in any group of people, those with a degree were instantly distinguished from those without. I knew this snobbery was nonsense when I was in college, but it is the kind of propaganda that makes the schools rich—Harvard’s endowment is just short of 40 billion dollars—and our education system a disgrace. My son looked at his interests, looked at the costs, looked at what his college friends were doing (and becoming), and said, “You know what? I think college would be a waste of time and money right now. ” This decision alone proved that he has superior critical thinking skills to those of most Harvard seniors.