Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Bizarro World of Academia

From Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers blog, we get some "Teachable Moments" about the bizarre world of academia:

In other words, Ward Churchill’s plight gives us a glimpse into the strange world of the contemporary postmodern university of tenured ideologues, where professed identity politics, ethnic or gender chauvinism, and a disbelief in empiricism allow a con man to bully his way to guaranteed lifetime employment, and a handsome salary, and the right to say anything at all, no matter how inflammatory.

Well, almost anything at all — as we have learned in the almost simultaneous case of Harvard president Lawrence Summers, who, in some remarks, entertained the possibility that innate gender differences might in part explain why women are underrepresented in the hard sciences on university faculties. It was the sort of informal speculation that most Americans sometimes engage in and was not limited to genetics; his remarks wandered all over the larger context of socialization, child rearing, habit, custom, and gender discrimination. Qualifiers, backtracking, disclaimers, and cautious admissions characterized his speculations about innate difference.

Summers’s comments before scholars were apparently meant to incite the sort of “conversation” that universities exist for, challenging orthodoxies, shaking up complacent thinking, and, yes, perhaps provoking hurtful emotions that galvanize further debate. In some sense, his was a highbrow version of the common popular inquiry about why white basketball players, for example, are underrepresented in the NBA: Is it that white adolescents don’t grow up with the familiar culture of the court, that they don’t have enough role models in the game, or, terribile dictu, that they simply don’t jump as high or run as fast as African Americans — or all or some or none of the above?

If there is anything that the Ward Churchill saga teaches us, it is that free speech is only for those who are on your own side, and that the free speech of all others must be silenced. It is that the freedom to offend is the perogative of the politically correct, and in their hands it becomes a basic right. But if you dare to offend the minions of the politically correct, you will be ruthlessly destroyed.

The search for truth in the halls of knowledge is now trumped by feelings and appeals to emotion. Good and Evil; ethics and morality have become relative; every whim is equal to every other whim; and no distinction can be made among cultures because all are equally valid --except of course that if they are primitive, they are bound to be "better" than the technologically advanced ones, since we all know that technology is evil. In this bizarro world, Terrorism can be justified--even against children (hat tip: LGF)

In the bizarro world of academe, "truth" is now defined by anyone who "believes" something is true; not by any facts or even by objective reality. And this, unfortunately, is a lesson learned all too well by the hapless students who are foolish enough to put their intellectual development into the hands of these annointed elite.

Instead of pursuing reason and fostering independent thinking, colleges and universites which were once centers of knowledge and learning, have become temples dedicated to the worship of emotion, run by the high priests of mediocrity.

Tenure, once a firewall built to protect the pursuit of knowledge, has become a refuge for those who would destroy the very foundations of knowledge. Isn't it time for these privileged, upscale, oppressed professors to have to deal with the real world for a change?

Isn't it time we demanded some accountability from those who would teach our children?

No comments: