It should not shock anyone, except for perhaps Rip Van Winkle, and even he should have long ago stopped his slumber, that our universities are now intellectual cesspools. Political correctness, wokeism, DIE, cultural and economic Marxism, Black History Month, affirmative action, anti-racism, allyship, non-colorblind, hetero-normativity, trigger warnings, cultural appropriation reign pretty much unopposed, at least on campus.
Thank God for Governors DeSantis of Florida and Abbott of Texas. They, along with the legislatures of a dozen or so additional states, have been trying to do something about this disgrace in academia.
But these folks are like the boy who put his finger in the hole in the dike — well intentioned, but all but powerless to keep the waters from rising and continuing to overwhelm higher education.
The first foray of the good guys was to enquire as to the amount of money spent on DIE for attacks on academic freedom. The bad guys responded, exultantly, “less than 1%.” They were saying, in effect, that this can hardly amount to any significant threat to the university mandate — namely, to be a bastion of open inquiry.
Nonsense on stilts. A virus can wreak havoc on the human person, even given that it weighs far less than 1% of total body weight. Ditto for a nail in the tire, which again accounts for an infinitesimal proportion of the car’s total weight. A few teeny, tiny cancer cells can spell the death knell for their relatively heavy host. In the magnificent movie The Mouse That Roared, Peter Sellers (who played pretty much all the roles) was the general of a country like Monaco or Liechtenstein, yet his army of about a dozen soldiers conquered the entire United States military (the bigger they are, the harder they fall).
The relatively few deans, provosts, and assistant and associate deans and provosts in charge of the DIE initiatives can totally undermine the academic freedom of literally thousands of professors with their threats to fire them for not toeing the leftist party line. Endangered, also, are even those who hold tenured faculty posts.
The next missile tossed at the forces of evil on campus by Governor DeSantis was to forbid the teaching of Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, Black Lives Matter, systemic racism and sexism, the abominations of cisgendered white males, and all the other Marxist-inspired accoutrements of modern college life taught by the usual suspects.
But this too will miss its mark.
First of all, there is nothing wrong with teaching — that is, giving both sides of all debatable issues. It is exceedingly difficult to refute these noxious doctrines if one cannot discuss them at all. The problem is that the professors on the distaff side of the political spectrum do not believe in teaching. Force-feeding is more their style. Secondly, these pinko professors need not mention any of these philosophies, explicitly, in order to cram them down the throats of their students and supposed colleagues. They just exude these views with every fiber of their beings and can easily articulate them without explicitly mentioning any of the proscribed viewpoints. They can still promulgate these socialist fallacies and compel students and fellow professors to parrot them, or at the very least engage in self-censorship. They can use as vehicles toward these malevolent ends the works of leftists such as Rawls, Krugman, Card, Krueger. Heck, they can use the Bible, or the U.S. Constitution, toward these ends; both were written by white males, no?
The point is, when there are 30 professors in the sociology department, 29 of them who support Bernie Sanders and Pocahontas, and only one who is, at best, a RINO, this weltanschauung remains supreme — no matter that a few viewpoints are verboten. Further, compelling these ideas will still be a threat to the proper academic mission.
No, the only policy likely to suffice is affirmative action. Please don’t stop reading at this point. Instead of selecting the next generation of professors on the basis of pigment and plumbing, do so on the basis of ideological diversity. Specifically, conservative and libertarian intellectuals should be hired until the professoriate doesn’t “look like America,” but instead thinks like America in terms of political and economic philosophy. If this plan is pursued, it will take not years, but decades, since that is how long retirements take. But if we start right now, eventually, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. And immediately, the forces of unreason and totalitarianism will be put on notice. That will take at least some of the wind out of their sails.
There is one policy that will speed this process along right away. Get rid of all grievance studies programs immediately: black studies, feminist studies, queer studies, and all the rest of this sorry ilk. These initiatives came into being in the first place only because affirmative action admittances could not survive if they had to major in math, the physical sciences, or economics. Grievance “studies” were intended to ensure that they “belonged” in college. Eliminating these programs would in one fell swoop rid the university of professors who really do not belong there in the first place.
What about tenure review? This is a tempting policy. Scrutinize professors every five years or so, and if there are too many lefties for ideological balance, fire some of them. This would have far more positive and immediate effects than forbidding the mention of Marxist fallacies or ideological affirmative action.
However, there are strong downsides to this policy. The entire ethos of the university, the reason it differs from virtually all other institutions in society (apart from judges, who also have lifetime tenure), is due to this longevity. Tenured professors can pursue research without fear or favor. They can go where “no man has gone before,” as the Star Trek folks used to say (before they succumbed to political correctness). To in effect cancel tenure with tenure review risks throwing out the baby with the bathwater. There is nothing wrong with the present tenure situation apart from the fact that the left has pretty much taken it over.
The slow but sure method to rectify this sad state of affairs is affirmative action, based on political economic philosophy. When the professoriate includes about 30% left liberal “progressives,” 30% right-wing conservatives, and 30% libertarians (I am one of the third category), reason will prevail on college campuses, and Governor DeSantis, bless him for trying to root out evil at university, will have won.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.