The Modern University
Americans have by now witnessed the frantic disruptions deployed by social justice agitators to shut down their opposition. But a larger question looms over their never-ending campaign for equality: who mobilized these fanatical students? Who fed them the radical doctrines they screech into the sky? And how is that universities, once held to a high esteem by most Americans, are now met with such suspicion and scorn?
Not until the last two years has the public’s opinion of universities diverged so radically across party lines. In just 2015, 54% of Republicans believed that higher education had a positive impact on the country. Though Republicans generally lag behind Democrat support of higher education, the figure did reflect a bipartisan support universities enjoyed.
And yet today, the public perception of these institutions have deeply soured among Republicans — as 58% now believe that the doctrines of higher education are hurting the country. This stands in stark contrast to the 71% of Democrats who approve of them. The knee-jerk reaction among pompous cosmopolitans may be to take this data as yet more evidence of conservative anti-intellectualism. Among the very academics who whittle away the hours rejecting basic evolutionary biology, it’s taken as a given that conservatives and their supposed anti-evolution biases simply can’t tolerate truths that transcend their backwards way of thinking. But there are a few factors that render this deeply flawed understanding of the modern university utterly null. In reality, the modern university has both consciously and unconsciously become an environment hostile to diversity. That is, the only diversity that makes an actual difference: viewpoint diversity.
The idea that the institutions of higher learning are becoming monopolized by progressives isn’t just the opinion of Republican partisans. It is corroborated by all of the available data on this rapidly worsening crisis. In the case of history departments, there are 33.5 registered Democrat professors to every 1 Republican and three times the number of Marxists as Republicans in the social sciences. For comparison, in the 1960s the Democrat Republican divide was only 2.7 to 1
In a rich bit of irony, many leap to the ill-considered conclusion that conservatives’ unscientific biases account for their underrepresentation in academia. Of course, this disregards all manner unscientific doctrines much of the humanities have adopted and its long documented quarrels with evolutionary biology. Much to the alarm of their natural science colleagues, humanities professors entirely dismiss the reality that evolution plays a role in human behavior. As a consequence, they label anyone who accepts this reality as “adherents to ‘biological essentialism’” — the idea that all human behavior can be reduced to biologically determined explanations. This is an argument that no serious biologist makes. In fact, nobody who recognizes the role evolution plays in our behavior thinks all of it can be reduced to biology, but this is the brush with which they tar anyone who makes this acknowledgement. This is done to legitimize the humanities’ social construct view of human nature.
The storied history of the humanities’ frustration with science is the subject of much discussion and literature within academia. But the aforementioned may serve as a window into the world of scientific denialism that appears to be replacing evangelical creationism with social justice orthodoxy. When you take into consideration that creationism carries no currency within academia, you begin realize that radical social justice faculties pose a far greater threat to the integrity of our educational institutions. Radical left-wing science deniers who control the humanities actually enlist students in their warped idea of an ideological war, while the trope of the creationist, evolution-denying conservative teacher has long been relegated to history.
Instead of exposing their ideas to criticism, our institutions of thought have taken it upon themselves to march down the path of radically militant egalitarianism. While not only ridiculing, but deriding the value of Christian teachings, they have cloaked their own social theories in a quasi-religious orthodoxy. While the punishments may not be as harsh as the Catholic Church of centuries’ past, heretics nonetheless tremble at any hint of faculty or student retaliation. These retaliations have already come to a head on many campuses, (Mizzou and Evergreen), but will only grow more systematic as older faculty retire and are replaced by a new breed of radicalized academics. From the earliest stages of education, these younger academics themselves have been run through the very same social justice centric system they will now be charged to administer and further develop.
Within the History courses themselves, “the overwhelming majority of America’s most prestigious institutions do not require — even the students who major in history — to take a single course on United States history or government.” Even while these academics instruct their students to tear down a so-called unjust system, they refuse to teach them the basics of its history or the structure of its government — largely because they self-admittedly don’t see the value in learning it themselves. Consequently, these students are deliberately kept ignorant of the very country they are taught to hold with such disdain.
This isn’t by accident; it’s by design. This much is demonstrated by the budding movement to replace traditional civics departments with the harmless-enough sounding “New Civics.” As opposed to traditional civics, which aims to educate college students on the basics of American civic institutions and traditions, New Civics openly broadcasts their goal to create activists out of students. As a consequence, these New Civics departments sidestep their obligation to actually educate them in the process. If this is in fact that case, it can be read as nothing short of malpractice. A January reportby the National Association of Scholars identified several case-studies of universities that now have New Civics bureaucracies that dwarf traditional civics education.
And this problem only appears to be getting worse. It should come as no surprise that the few conservatives represented in academic circles tend to be older. This begs the question of who’s next in line to take their place. Today, professors under the age of 36 are divided at 22.7 Democrat to 1 Republican. Though Democrats and Republicans have always had strong differences, they were reconcilable. But the unprecedented divergence of their beliefs in 2017 paints a nightmarish scenario for the university. It’s no coincidence that while in the last few years higher education has become such a partisan issue, the political divide itself has widened into a proverbial Grand Canyon.
This means that not only is one point of view so grossly overrepresented, but that the substance of what is believed is more polarizing. A positive feedback loop has been created by which those on the radical-left feel morally bound to obstruct aspiring academics who view the same issues from a different temperamental vantage. This, of course, stems from the academic left’s Kyriarchal view that other views are tantamount to actual violence. This far left feedback loop (FLFLtm) within academia is ultimately fueled by the belief that political opponents are not only wrong, but evil for holding the beliefs they do.
The epidemic of authoritarian social justice orthodoxy isn’t remotely constrained to the United States. It has begun to spread across the Anglophone academic world. In a recent and flagrant example at the Wilfred Laurier University in Canada, a grad student by the name of Lindsay Shepherd was censured and interrogated by her Supervising Professor, Nathan Rambukkana. This was for her crime of playing a 5 minute clip of Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto. During the course of the panel’s interrogation, Lindsay Shepherd revealed that she disagrees with Peterson and was only hoping to represent both sides fairly. For this, she was told that she should have presented the clip “critically,” as in, prefacing it by spoonfeeding the students that Peterson’s views are contemptible and transphobic.
In a twist of irony, Professor Rambukkana patently intimidated the student by claiming that she was in violation of the Canadian Law Bill C-16. The very same law that Dr. Peterson was criticizing in the video that landed Shepherd before the Orwellian panel. In fact, Peterson’s primary concern is that the bill would compel certain forms of speech. This is exactly what unfolded over the course of the panel. Shepherd got into trouble, not just for featuring Peterson, but for failing to criticize him before doing so. Not only would it be malpractice on the part of any educator to form the opinions of their students for them, but it is textbook tyranny to force one to express that opinion. These academics had become the epitome of the slow crawl into censorious totalitarianism that Peterson was trying to warn progressive Canadians of in the video she featured.
Ultimately, Rambukkana concludes that to play the words of a tenured professor from an esteemed university is equivalent to playing a Hitler speech. Shepherd had inflicted “violence” upon the students. This exercise in authoritarian censorship of ideas can serve as a prime case-study into the ideology that motivates this brand of academia. So convicted of their righteousness, to even think about an alternate point of view is to support it. From the perspective of radically left-wing academics, the function of the university is not to investigate, debate and discuss ideas, but to flush wrong thoughts out of their students’ minds. In their pursuit of a student body free of bad thoughts, they force scholars to conform and paint those challenging their biases like Shepherd as engaging in hatred or even violence. This results in an environment toxic not only for conservatives, but anybody who even attempts to deviate from their orthodoxy.
The result of this decentralized academic machine working toward the same end is predictable — groupthink completely insulated from corrective information. If every member of a given university’s faculty is in alignment, the flaws in their reasoning will remain unchecked. Even if you don’t like differing perspectives, there is no denying that every perspective should be subject to rigorous scrutiny so that only the most thoroughly considered ideas survive. If we fail to seriously re-establish the proper function of universities as being the workshop of ideas, the end result is that free speech will slowly be erased — the relic of a dead civilization. After all, when the next generation of politicians, lawyers, and every other stripe of authority inherits the reins of power beholden to these authoritarian ideas, we will traverse down the vary same path that has led all too many ordinary men to do what was once unthinkable — all the while convicted of what their warped, distorted lexicon calls justice.