The sad state of Learning in America’s Colleges
Pablum In, Pablum out.
Captive minds protected by an academic chastity belt. That is the impression that academics leave with the average American. While they perfunctorily promote the principles of freedom-of-speech and academic-freedom, they are often in contravention of those principles. Just publish your own beliefs about the state of higher learning, and you will be admonished for going off the reservation. Such was the case of Professors Amy Wax (U. of Philadelphia Law School) and Larry Alexander (U. of San Diego Law School) after their August 9, 2017 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. They had the audacity (or courage) to express their observations about the institution having long ago abandoned those principles in favor of one-opinion-fits-all. The resulting suppression or oppression of thought reminds us of the George Orwell novel “1984” where uniformity and conformity were sacrosanct.
The authors blame the “breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” for the chaos on campus and Main Street. Espousing “old” values such as gainful employment, hard work, patriotism, neighborliness, respect for authority, substance abuse avoidance etc. is not just frowned upon, but condemned. Instead of teaching responsibility, accountability and coping strategies, they teach victimhood for virtually all classes of people, except the white male. College administrators seem to go out of their way to guarantee the purity of their thinking with an academic chastity belt, removing any little adversity or challenge from their students ‘daily lives. They are protected in “safe” spaces away from “offending” thought and speech. This offensive speech is defined as hate speech and always linked to Conservative or Republican speech which is supposedly steeped in the evil known as capitalism. Capitalism is routinely vilified and blamed for all the ills in this world, though these ills are largely the result of socialist do-good policies (Disaster cities are all managed by Democrats). What is that pabulum? Capitalism exploits the poor.
With precious few exceptions, these professionals seem to put their personal beliefs ahead of truth and critical thinking. This one-dimensional thinking is enforced through the grading system but also enforced physically in rallies that forcibly remove divergent speech with “muscle”. Do not conservative speakers get pelted with objects on stage or never even make it to the stage to deliver their non-conforming message. Conservative articles seldom get published in newspapers for fear of upsetting their liberal readers. Furthermore, while promoting the holy grail of “diversity” in gender or ethnic identification, diversity of thought is strictly forbidden. To forestall any argument about the ideal of “diversity” which by definition divides people into classes, they devised an oxymoronic expression “unity in diversity”. Round peg into a square hole?
My own experience as an Adjunct Professor spans only 11 years, but provided ample proof of academic malfeasance to fill a book. Besides the distraction to learning caused by sports programs and “sports scholarships”, the injection of personal beliefs into the course material skews the students’ learning. I was astonished to learn, for instance, that my specialty of cross-cultural management can have a right or left wing twist to it. Then, I was shocked by the conduct of a faculty-level book discussion group where I expected a semblance of academic freedom and freedom of thought, but I was wrong. I was virtually accused of racism for my habitually-skeptical approach to any new book, including one written by Ta-Nehisi Coates which I found to be a litany of complaints with which we are all sufficiently familiar. I inquired as to the follow-up work, preferably a work on solutions to the race problem, not a dwelling on the past that cannot be changed. It was not to be. All participants seemed to compete about ingratiating themselves to the black members in the room. One made sure that her kids had black dolls to play with; another actually married a black individual. It was the usual Sharpton-J.Jackson lecture of victimhood for Blacks. This book “review” was one more notch in the chastity belt, assuring the purity of racial thought among mono-chrome instructors.
More recently I commented on a professor friend’s Facebook page which raved against the NRA for causing school shootings. I wondered why we don’t ban cars since they kill more people annually than guns. I was immediately admonished for being so “uninformed” and that I should “be ashamed of myself” as an academic, but no counter argument was made, only the personal attack on me. In other words we have progressed to the “1984” status where everyone forcibly thinks the same way, like a mass of robots marching headlong into the abyss of academic nihilism.
Here is another example of group think. An after-hours on-campus conference compared native-born Blacks to immigrant Blacks. Research has been published (WSJ and others) showing that immigrant Blacks do better economically than native Blacks. This contrasts with findings in the Hispanic community that show the reverse. The highlight came when a recent immigrant from Jamaica made her comment to the effect that American-born Blacks seem to have a “sense of entitlement”, that they are owed something because of the past. The panel of black professors and students immediately white-washed the comment without even trying to formulate a counter argument. Of course this commentary was not found in next day’s newspaper report.
I was flabbergasted that the newspaper which routinely published all the articles that I had submitted finally refused a particular one which questioned the assumption that the US is to practice multi-culturalism. I argued that indeed Americans come from many different cultures, but we all adopt the American culture and live accordingly, thereby providing cohesion as a nation.( The word “multi-culturalism”, like “democracy”, is not mentioned in the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.) The practice of allowing or even encouraging people to live according to the culture of their heritage is what creates division and strife. As we know from the studies conducted by Robert Putnam (Harvard), integration without assimilation lacks national cohesion. Liberalism has taken these key words to the absurd extreme by crafting the oxymoronic slogan “unity in diversity”. This is tantamount to promoting open-minded debates in an Orwellian closed-mind environment, or higher education for lower expectations, i.e. fitting a round peg into a square hole. The elaborate chastity-belt is assuring compliance.
March 1, 2018…. 1062 words