In an October 26, 2016, letter to the Wall Street Journal, Professor David M. Post, chair of Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, defended the Ivy League institution’s “procedures for addressing sexual misconduct.” But his formulation betrayed him.
On college campuses, outrage over provocative speakers sometimes turns violent. It's becoming a pattern on campuses around the country. A speaker is invited, often by a conservative student group. Other students oppose the speaker, and maybe they protest. If the speech happens, the speaker is heckled. Sometimes there's violence.
The threat to free speech in the United States is by no means restricted to colleges and universities, but they have become breeding grounds, training camps, and launching pads in the campaign to curtail liberty of thought and discussion. It is on our campuses where the battle for free speech will be won or lost.
At a National Archives ceremony last Friday in Washington, D.C., 30 immigrants became naturalized U.S. citizens. In a video, President Trump encouraged them to embrace the “full rights, and the sacred duties, that come with American citizenship.”
In the name of social justice and diversity, students at elite colleges are casting aside the very works that probe those topics so deeply. The central authors of the Western tradition—from Plato and Aristotle to Mill and Orwell—are no longer part of the required curriculum in the social sciences and the humanities. Their absence carries a high price.
When one-fifth of college students believe it's fine to use violence to silence speech, we have a huge problem.
Only apologists determined to avert their eyes and cover their ears could deny with a straight face that higher education in America today nurses hostility to free speech.
It's college commencement time, and the question is the future of the graduates, whether we will have “capable and cultivated human beings” making this a better America, or something else. The quoted words are from the 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill in a graduation address he made, and my worry has to do with postmodernist campus leftism.
John Stuart Mill, a liberal in the old and better sense of the word, once tried to explain the difference between what too many of today's upwardly mobile confuse with an education and the real thing. An educated man or woman is someone who does more than climb on the career treadmill and follow it to the heights of power, influence and wealth.
Donald Trump’s presidency has provoked an outpouring of anguished commentary about the norms — that is, customary behavior and moral standards — that underlie liberal democracy in America. The president has certainly disrupted settled patterns of campaigning, politics, and governance. The reasons for his success, the limitations of his style, and the consequences for the nation deserve careful examination.
The crisis of higher education imposes severe, if indirect and long-term, costs on the country. The harms it inflicts on conservatives in particular are direct and immediate. All students and the nation at large pay the price when universities replace transmission of knowledge and cultivation of inquiring minds as their primary purpose with reproduction of ideology and the formation of like-minded political activists.
There’s no doubt that the current aim of higher education – “reproduction of ideology and the formation of like-minded political activists” – is harming America and the students and taxpayers who pay vast sums to these indoctrination factories.
The well-documented inability of American colleges and universities to reverse the several-decades-long curtailment of free speech on campus is a matter of considerable public interest. Whether the federal government is capable of producing effective reform is another question. President Trump seems to believe Washington is up to the task.
Harvard University’s maladroit defenestration of Ronald Sullivan and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, struck a blow against liberal education. Many of Harvard’s own left-liberal luminaries are up in arms. But the university’s disgraceful act can come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention for the last few decades to higher education in general and to Harvard in particular.
As America's oldest and wealthiest university, Harvard University has been a source of national pride, indeed a national treasure, always very high on the list of the world's top schools. Yet recently it committed a blunder of breathtaking proportions, one so egregious that it calls for action not only by Harvard but possibly even beyond.
For many decades, defenders of liberal education — not only conservatives — have been warning the public about colleges’ and universities’ hostility to free speech. If the warnings are unsound, why has controversy persisted? If they are sound, why hasn’t the problem been corrected?
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“Always assume that there is one silent student in your class who is by far superior to you in head and in heart.” This is the counsel Leo Strauss, among the most consequential teachers and scholars of political philosophy in the 20th century, offered an advanced graduate student who had asked for a general rule about teaching.
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