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. Continue reading