A conservative professor is being bullied and censored at Sarah Lawrence College, a liberal elite institution, for committing “mental genocide” by arguing that universities need more conservative voices. A group of “black queer students” now want to take away his tenure for his views. This is just another example in the latest series of the ongoing cultural revolution.
In no sane, civilized society, should students have any right to decide who teaches them. Since the ancient Greeks and Romans, knowledge has always had a downward flow, and there’s a reason to it. Higher education is not supposed to be a business, and students are not supposed to be consumers to decide what soothes or hurts their prissy feelings.
But bureaucrats at universities, as the recent pay-for-admission scandal highlights even more, have turned education into just another commodity, where the “consumers” can arbitrarily decide whether reading Shakespeare or listening to Mozart equates to genocide. That, and activist professors and departments that have taken this opportunity to subvert higher ed, is why we are where we are today.
Is It Possible to Fight the Cultural Revolution?
Everyone knows that there is a cultural revolution going through Western university campuses. What is the next step? There is a certain strain of do-nothing centrism, a recent fashion of sorts among the chatterati class, which likes to vigorously debate and discuss issues, without ever having to formulate policy or take a decision.
These centrists mostly include upper middle-class libertarians, center-right conservatives, and a lot of the Intellectual Dark Web folks. The primary instinct is gnashing of teeth, and frustrated snarky tweets, without ever formulating any way forward from the crippling cultural revolution that has engulfed the United States, and the West, other than some vague platitudes about the “market forces” and the “resilience” of the civilization and ideas. Rinse and repeat.
Don’t get me wrong: Centrism is important. But what we see these days is not what centrism is (or has been) in society. Centrism is not finding a median between two extremes. If one side kills 10,000 people, and the other side kills zero, centrism doesn’t entail killing 5,000 people. Centrism is an epistemology, a way forward, where one measures a process through fact and evidence, then reaches a decision.
Decision, implementation, and enforcement if necessary, as any student of political science would tell you, are equally (if not more) important than a round-table discussion. But the current crop of “centrists,” utopian simpletons that they are, are historically ignorant of that. This type of vocal-but-inert, philosophically flexible centrism, gives vain moral glow, and a way out of taking a stand.
The Centrists’ Folly
There’s massive silence on this problem from centrists other than simplistic slogans like “the government shouldn’t be in education.” Well, yes, the government definitely should not dictate which ideas are worthy of teaching, but who else other than the government can enforce that all ideas are worth discussing, including the ones currently being censored by a bunch of cowardly bureaucrats, ideological professors, and their activist student army?
Governments are there to govern, to maintain a negative peace in society. It is, in fact, the primary––some might say the only––job of the government, so to speak. Government shouldn’t decide who drinks how much cola or consumes how many burgers. But if the government doesn’t aspire to maintain or enforce minimum due process on publicly funded campuses (and they are nearly all publicly funded now through government-backed student loans), or ensure the right to free speech, then who will?
How do you coexist in a society where your opponents do not want to coexist with you? Which authority will then enforces fairness and justice? The market definitely won’t fix this on its own, because the market essentially led to this and is culturally rigged. When the institutions and gatekeepers of society themselves are rigged to favor one ideology, what alternative is there than balancing the scale?
What the centrists don’t understand is that this cancer spreading through and rotting civic institutions are a far bigger threat than a single Leninist House representative who cannot string a full coherent sentence without embarrassing herself in public. These are not some fringe groups in dark corners of academia, they are metastasizing to other parts of society, and it all stems from the campuses churning out these activists.
The Mobs Are Everywhere
We have mobs trying to dictate what should be acceptable thoughts in drama, fiction, science-fiction and fantasy, and other forms of literature. We have social justice activists trying to change casting patterns in films and in art. We have journalism that is thoroughly compromised. We have flawed activism masquerading as science, which affects policy. We have extreme legislative efforts trying to rewrite not just laws, but the entire legal system, including the fundamentals of Western civilization, like the presumption of innocence and due process.
Basic freedom of speech is at stake across the United States and Europe, as people are being arrested for simply expressing offending opinions, like trolling on Twitter, or on subjective charges of vague sexism. Advertising, primary education, comedy, culture, sports, science, business — there’s not a single area where activists churned out from activist departments of this current university system are not trying to subvert the very society we live in. And these are just the top ones, from a random selection of incidents, of hundreds littered across the internet for anybody to cite.
In that light, the threat of stopping federal funding for universities that cannot rein in activist departments censoring conservatives is a step in the right direction, if not the only one to balance the rigged system, which includes campus kangaroo courts on sexual assault, rigged admissions procedures in favor of rich kids, and discrimination against meritorious kids in favor of dimwits on affirmative action.
There are valid reasons to be skeptical of federal interventionism in higher education. But we already have federal interventionism so long as we have federal backing for higher education. As long as that persists, it is not too much to demand that these trillions of dollars be accompanied by guarantees of constitutionally protected rights.
Traditionally western societies have considered places of higher education to be building blocks of society. That has been shattered in the past two decades. As the cases of Evergreen, Berkeley, Pomona, and Sarah Lawrence show, if universities cannot operate with due responsibility towards society, they don’t deserve privileged treatment and government funding either.