“Marxism, Anarchism, and the Black Radical Tradition,” “Witchcraft and the Cultural Imagination,” “Trans-bodies in Horror Cinema,” “The Problem of Whiteness,” and “Transnational Queer Politics and Practices” are not course titles invented by “The Babylon Bee” to mock the state of America’s universities. Rather, they are real classes I came across this year while scrolling through the course listings for the University of Chicago’s winter quarter.
As a senior, I had flexibility in my schedule to take a class simply for the joy of learning, irrespective of whether it fulfilled a graduation requirement. This should have been an enjoyable experience. Instead, the process left me fearful of the close-minded young people being inculcated by my school and so many other academic institutions.
As a politically conservative student, I am accustomed to being in the classroom minority. To be clear, I was not looking for a course that would reinforce my conservative beliefs (even if I was, “conservative” classes simply do not exist). All I wanted was to take a class that was not explicitly partisan by its very title or course description.
I desired to be in a class where I would actually learn, with the help of a fair and open-minded professor who is intellectually confident enough to include multiple perspectives in his assigned readings. Unfortunately, it was incredibly easy to find swaths of leftist courses but quite difficult to come across classes aimed at genuine intellectual exploration.
There is a reason explicitly leftist courses like “The Problem of Whiteness” are prevalent, but it is impossible to take “conservative” classes and hard to even find open-minded ones. In recent years, conservative or middle-of-the-road professors have been weeded out or forced into self-censorship by a rigid, punitive academic culture. If a professor does not agree with the majority of his colleagues or dares to depart from left-wing orthodoxy, he is threatened and punished by fellow educators and students (even in the STEM fields).
While it is demoralizing for conservative students to never have our views and ideas discussed, much less validated, we at least have the advantage of constantly being intellectually challenged. Sadly, I cannot say the same for my leftist peers, who can fill their entire course schedule with classes that reaffirm their preconceived worldviews.
Graduating after being virtually unchallenged for four years is not only a disservice to students; it’s dangerous for our country. A 2017 study by P. J. Henry and Jaime Napier showed that “education is related to greater ideological prejudice,” finding that the higher one’s education level, the stronger his political intolerance. This is the obvious byproduct of leftist thought saturating the academy—more time spent there necessarily fosters a one-sided sense of intellectual superiority.
A more recent 2021 study done by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that 66 percent of students said they supported shouting down speakers. Shockingly, 23 percent of student respondents support using violence to stop a speaker. Both numbers have spiked since 2020.
By indoctrinating and coddling young people, American universities are breeding intolerance. We are already seeing the effects of this indoctrination. Young leftists have disavowed our founding documents and fathers, and they censor, fire, harass, and publicly slander anyone who dares think differently from them.
Consider that our federal bureaucracies, the chambers of Congress, and the boardrooms of America’s most powerful corporations have only received the first wave of woke young people. Subsequent waves will be even more intolerant. Thanks to their immersion in the left-wing academic monoculture, the next generation will undoubtedly cement the downfall of the American mind and limit frighteningly more liberty in their wake.
This story was originally published in the Chicago Thinker.