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Perhaps nowhere else can one get a better sense of the direction liberals want to take this country than on your average college campus today. The trend in higher education- a term that needs to be used loosely- is currently so at odds with the purpose of a “liberal” higher education that it is no wonder today’s graduates find it difficult to find meaningful employment. Somewhere along the line, instead of turning out well-rounded, thoughtful and qualified individuals, higher education has been converted into brainwashing graduates into politically correct automatons.
It makes intuitive sense to question why a student needs to take certain courses in order to graduate. Why, for example, should someone learn ethics or literature when you want to be a computer programmer? The ostensible reason is that what they refer to as a “well rounded education” develops the mind and intellect and allows the student to differentiate between the trivial and the important- to, in effect, learn how to prioritize knowledge. More broadly, this can be viewed as forced mind exercising.
Given these tools, the hope is that one will learn to “think for themselves.” Given the tools of a broad education that includes course work outside your chosen field, one will learn to form their own opinions, attitudes and values without resorting to those of peers, parents, or society in general. One’s own attitudes and beliefs and prejudices are challenged. But here is where modern liberal arts education is failing students and graduates. Often, the result is the exact opposite of the original intentions of such an education. Instead, students are often guided towards courses and programs designed not towards the free flow of unfettered discussion, but towards a particular ideology. Considering that most college professors today are liberal, one can only correctly guess where the student is being led.
This is achieved through what can only be described as the politicization of the curriculum. For example, at Harvard, all students are required to take eight courses from the “General Education” selections- one from each area in order to graduate. Those areas are: (1) Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding (whatever that means), (2) Culture and Belief, (3) Empirical Mathematics and Reasoning, (4) Ethical reasoning, (5) Science of Living Things, (6) Science of the Physical Universe, (7) Societies of the World, and (8) The United States in the World. Regarding the Aesthetic Understanding requirement, one can satisfy that requirement for taking a special course in theatrics that delves into such weighty subjects as the “queer theater” where one is tasked with learning what it means to perform “gender.” Most of the courses in this area deal with literature and arts specific to certain cultures- Native American, Indian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Islamic, etc. In the Culture and Belief category, one can learn about contemporary Islamic communities, folklore and mythology, Buddhism, Paganism, etc. Oh- they also have a course on the Bible where the sources of differences between Jews and Christians is the primary focus and determining when the Bible became “sacred.” Under Ethical Reasoning we have such weighty topics as Human Rights, Political Justice, and The Self, Freedom & Existence which seems like it should be renamed “Everything!” In Societies of the World, one can learn how colonialism and imperialism destroyed native cultures in the Americas and Asia and Africa while celebrating these native cultures. And when US History is required, we can learn about slavery, imperialism, the dangers of capitalism, and a new course entitled: “Forced to be Free- Americans as Occupiers and Nation Builders.” One can only imagine the Bush-bashing done in that class.
I am using Harvard as an example, but the trend is the same at virtually every liberal arts college. Generally, in order to broaden a student’s academic horizons, they are steered into African Studies, Women’s Studies or Asian Culture studies courses that serve to denigrate Western Culture and view these other cultures as either superior or, at least, equal to western societies. When studied, one need only look at the course descriptions of western culture which are dominated by such areas as imperialism, the wrongs of capitalism, the acceptance of homosexuality, etc. In short, today’s students are being brainwashed into acceptance of ideas presented as facts. It is forced reverse “prejudice” against one’s own beliefs and attitudes which may be equally valid. Many times, one’s own beliefs and attitudes are frowned upon and denigrated.
The proliferation of these special ethnic studies is nothing short of academic affirmative action where every ethnicity wants a piece of the pie. At Stanford and Berkeley, for example, the special interest groups demanded and received having their “special” studies incorporated into the general graduation requirements. Instead of strengthening western civilization- that in which we live- these courses serve to strengthen the special interest. At Berkeley, a course in Latino Studies may expound upon the many wonders of that culture, but nary a word is mentioned as to why Latinos immigrate and assimilate into American society.
One of founding truths- a Western idea at that- is that all men are created equal. It took a civil war and many laws after that to bring that truth to fruition, yet the underlying concept is a color-blind society. Through these specialized subjects, however, students are taught the exact opposite of that ideal. Ironically, these liberal groups, in their typical Orwellian manner, have more or less declared this dictum: the path to a color-blind society passes through color consciousness. Sometimes, this elevates the minority to a status not equal to western society, but above western society. In effect, students are taught to be guilty for being white or of European ancestry.
Besides course requirements that force students into these areas, colleges are perhaps the biggest deniers of one fundamental American right- that of free speech. Whole books can be written and have been written regarding this subject and the examples are too numerous to recount here. But, there is one very disturbing trend regarding this practice. Generally speaking, it is the either the conservative student or the one with deep religious beliefs who usually bears the brunt of these college practices.
This liberal prejudice against religion and conservatism is codified in college speech codes. Devised as a means so as not to “offend” anyone, these onerous codes only serve to stifle speech and the free flow of information on campuses. One example is the code in effect at Syracuse University in New York. The code prohibits the transmission of any message that is “sexually, ethnically, racially or religiously offensive.” What may be a heartfelt belief by one student may be offensive to another student and thus the writer would be held accountable. This simply stifles speech on such subjects as immigration (lest a comment offend a Hispanic student), same sex marriage (lest a gay student be offended), affirmative action (lest a black student be offended), or terrorism (lest a Muslim student be offended). One wonders if this statement would pass muster on the Syracuse University campus- “The hijackers on September 11th were all Muslim.” When an indisputable fact becomes verboten, then higher education has lost its way. Just recently at Modesto Junior College in California, a student was reprimanded by the college administration for passing out copies of the US Constitution…on Constitution Day. Then there was the case of the American flags being picked up and thrown in trash bags on another college campus on 9/11/13. The reason was that by placing the flags in commemoration of those who died on 9/11, the flag-planters were desecrating native Indian lands. This was a practice held every September 11th as a cooperative endeavor by the college Republican and Democratic Clubs. It should also be noted that the native Americans in the area had no qualms against the practice and even said it was not their native burial grounds. The reason given was that the American flags were a symbol of the “colonizers” who practiced “genocide” against the native tribes in the Middlebury College area.
Ironically, when someone is found in violation of these policies and codes, they are generally denied another basic American right- that of due process. And God forbid the comment or action be of a sexual nature. While everyone obviously does not condone rape, college administrators and student peer review panels are clearly not qualified to investigate these allegations. Yet, often before a police investigation has even begun, the student has been tried and disciplined/expelled/suspended from the school. We can use the obvious case of the Duke lacrosse players, but every year there are allegations and disciplinary action for things students allegedly said or did that nowhere approximate the alleged actions of those students at Duke.
Then there is the great Oberlin College hoax this year perpetrated by a couple of students who left homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic posters, flyers and graffiti around the campus. Every liberal website and publication ran with the story. Alumni came out wringing their hands about how this could happen at such a progressive campus. This could be a case history in how the Salem witch trials occurred. At one point, a young woman walked across the campus in a towel and the community saw someone in a KKK hood and robe. The result was mass liberal hysteria, except the entire incident was a hoax by a couple of rather liberal students who had been active Obama supporters in college and high school. Yet when the truth- that is, objective facts- came out, the liberal administrators at Oberlin became as closed-mouthed as the liberal media.
At a college near where I live, I had the honor or meeting with and discussing politics with a genuine 1960s radical turned professor. He taught political science and is now deceased. He was on the front lines of the Free Speech movement- one of those bearded college students at Columbia in New York City. He lamented what had happened to that movement, especially on college campuses. When the bearded, radical class gained academic power, they resorted to the very tactics they originally fought against- clamping down on free speech. Now, it is all in the name of a respect for diversity and the feelings and sensibilities of others. In short, it is nothing but the continuing trend of the “pussification” of America where every word has to be carefully weighed before spoken or written lest it be in violation of some code. Instead of the college campus being a large free speech zone- no matter that speech unless it calls for outright violence- it is now the exact opposite. Great pieces of American literature have been exorcised of words that may “offend” someone while pieces of propaganda trash like anything by Howard Zinn have been elevated to biblical status. It is so bad that even private actual Bible study is frowned upon if not outright banned on college campuses. While college professors and administrators decry surveillance by the NSA, they frequently monitor student social media sites and discipline them for comments they make, often taken out of context. Orientation programs for freshmen entering college are notorious for their onerous requirements where the only thing that need be learned is not where the laundry is or the hours of the library, but one should be guilty for being white (and male) and the way to “success” on today’s college campus is to keep those “homophobic, racist, sexist, Islamaphobic” comments in your head. The problem is that students have very valid ideas regarding same sex marriage, affirmative action, race relations, abortion, and terrorism. Yet, the practical advice to parents and students: if you want to succeed, just accept the fact that homosexuality is fine and dandy, YOU owe it to students of color to jump ahead of you in line, abortion is just a private choice women should make (just ignore that life in the uterus), and maybe Swedes flew airplanes into buildings on 9/11…or better yet, it was just a CIA plot.
This is nothing short of a remaking of American society in the liberal mold. Is it any wonder that although today’s average graduate is a politically-correct speaker and thinker, they are ill-equipped for employment? I cry not for these people and find it better they sleep on their beds in their parent’s home listening to Rage Against the Machine than actually entering society.