By Dr. John O. Hunter
Did you ever think you would see what is now happening on our college campuses?– masked radicals punching women in the stomach? spitting and throwing feces? campus police asked to stand down while radicals vandalize buildings, set fire to classrooms, wreck automobiles, break windows?
Granted, many of the violators are professional agitators, rather than students, all the more reason to enforce the law on campus. Time for BMOCS and WMOCS to intervene, college heroes, get up and get to it in a brave and orderly way. The vandals and desperadoes do not own the college!
Worst of all is that some college administrators simply stand aside; some will even defend the chaos.
Who are these guys? not just the agitators but the administrators,who seem to be so indecisive — not all, but enough of them to begin to ask, “what do you think you’re doing?” Are they just flying on the wings of ideology?
Where are the college presidents who should be defending academic values and upholding the law? Whoever and wherever they are, I don’t hear much about them. Too often, what is coming across to the public is weakness, lewdness, denigration of our Constitution, and ridicule of historical achievements– a stream of invective and hyperbole that so far seems to go on without challenge except for a few courageous organizations, such as National Association of Scholars, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, FIRE, Young Americans for Freedom, Academic Leadership Council.
Thank God for them and their allies.
What’s behind all of the chaos? I believe it stems mainly from the Marxist orientation of radical left-wing professors who are striving to capture a “progressive” high ground for revolution that seeks to purge historic liberal balance, an “alienation of the intellectuals” that the eminent historian, Crane Brinton, posited as the first stage of revolution in his classic work, Anatomy of Revolution.
Why are there so few cool-headed folks on the academic front lines now? What happened to the old balanced engagement of “I disagree with you, but I will contend for your right to be wrong – – let’s go get a beer and try to work it out.”?
Let’s be clear and honest about it: There is a serious problem of teacher incompetency in secondary and post-secondary education, and an even greater problem of too many staff assistants who do not contribute to an educational mission. The fault lies with Boards and administrations that were not alert to an Orwellian invasion, wrought primarily by Dewey – soaked schools of education and state agencies, but aided and abetted by our own lack of courage to stand up to assaults on institutional integrity and academic standards.
Yet somehow I do not feel despair: We are facing a crisis, but I remain confident that there is a residual cadre of committed professionals in education who could right the ship if they would step up to answer the call for meaningful reform.
As for the progressives, not all radical thinkers are deluded or to blame for the extremism of their colleagues, and of course we need sharp dialectical analysis and disagreement. But it seems to me that too much of the language and action now unfolding is putting us on a slippery slope. Too many of our students and some of their professors are opting for violence, and so I worry more than I did before.
In my view, a lot of the dissonance is due to the media complex that loves to stir things up for ratings. What happened to the old professional journalism that tried to be impartial and thus helped us in a search for the truth? Has it been sunk by ideological warfare? Can we recover from the polarization and enjoy once again the honor and thrill of an objective teaching – I am confident that what we have seen in recent years is not a long-term trend. I believe that we can and shall recover from the progressive insurrection.
In my 50 years of mixing with college faculties, a few were knotheads, and may have claimed progressive identity, but the majority I knew were astute professors and teachers, truly committed to their students and their institution, competent in their disciplines, and good citizens. It’s not possible that we have lost them all, but it’s obvious that we need new leadership.
Some of that leadership will come in reminders of our personal autonomy and moral identity from new professors on the scene, such as Jordan Peterson of Toronto University. He sets a new tone, and others will follow.