As Scruton notes: “Moral relativism clears the ground for a new kind of absolutism. The emerging curriculum in the humanities is in fact far more censorious, in crucial matters, than the one that it strives to replace.”
But this isn’t just about the handful of protests the student clubs get up to. The problem has leaked into all of the humanities – the once sacred home for all forms of inquiry.
It’s about dismantling anything connected to the past, anything that suggests we can learn from the people who came before us: “The Marxist theory of ideology, or some feminist, poststructuralist, or Foucauldian descendent of it, will be summoned in proof of the view that the precious achievements of our culture owe their status to the power that speaks through them, and that they are therefore of no intrinsic worth.”
In other words, too many of the departments are screwed. What do we do now?
The change George Will predicted coming almost 30 years ago never did because while he was right to note that the silent majority clearly agreed that education was going down the tubes, they weren’t the folks running the academy. All you need is enough relativists to become heads of departments and that sets the trend.
Instead, spoiled brats savvy enough to know how to use a bong pipe shut down Ayaan Hirsi Ali from speaking at their campus, and the administration supported them instead of telling them to grow up or get lost.
There are people not worthy of a genuine liberal arts education. Unfortunately, far too many of them infest our universities today. Prediction: It’ll get worse. The rot hits the elementary schools now, creating an expectation from early childhood that university is where we learn to think Correct Thoughts and then go on to a government job. (Or Starbucks, maybe.)
In 2010 University of Ottawa students forced the shutdown of an an Ann Coulter event because they couldn’t deal with the idea of someone who thinks differently from themselves speaking on the campus.
The irony for those of us educated before all this took hold is that, originally, universities were created precisely to be the place where views contended without violence. One might perhaps hear the scholar from China or Persia or the learned rabbi, and just listen. For once.
I found Anthony Furey’s example of Ann Coulter interesting because some years ago, a commenter was railing against her in the combox here. I wrote in to say something like this: Who gives her her power? Yooo dooo! [You and your fascist buddies.]
Don’t like her? Then don’t listen, don’t watch, don’t buy the books. No one is making you do any of that except you.
But now, it turns out, you want the whole world to turn on her when most of us aren’t paying much attention most of the time anyhow.
Talk about a recipe for an illiberal society… Prediction: As liberal arts programs increasingly become the enemies of a free society, we’ll see more of this before we see less.
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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose