“The film is about the freedom to believe what you believe and not be persecuted for it.”
– Director Jay Roach on Trumbo
Last night while watching the film Trumbo, a typical Hollywood treatment of “How the Left was Wronged,” I was continually struck by how the story mirrors events over the past 50 years in academia, with the roles reversed. The First Amendment is in greater jeopardy today, not because of a few leftists in Hollywood in the 50’s, but in large part because millions of students on American campuses have been indoctrinated with the new totalitarian leftism of 2020. Today’s persecution is far more significant than it was in the 50’s because the process has grown much more pervasive and more chilling, but certainly no less devastating than it was for Trumbo. Until recently it has remained under the radar to some because many of the students and faculty who are directly impacted are afraid to give any voice to their true beliefs. Propaganda reigns, and the relentless imposition of multicultural, leftist ideas, and the ruthless persecution of anything that conflicts with them, has gradually spread from the university to all aspects of public life, especially mainstream media and government. Even silence has become suspicious to the Party, much like the fate of Sir Thomas More who believed the law would protect him against being forced to take the King’s oath because “silence confers consent” … until he was at last beheaded.
In another era the brilliant and prescient Orwell explains that the Party (Stalinist Russia) could not protect its total power without rewriting all history and degrading the people with constant propaganda.
Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.
— George Orwell ,1984 (published in 1949)
Yet knowledge of this deception, even within the Inner Party itself, could lead to the implosion of the State. The solution to this paradox is “doublethink”, the method of directly controlling thought. Doublethink is critical in allowing the Party to know what its true goals are without recoiling from them, avoiding the conflation of a regime’s egalitarian propaganda with its true purpose of total control.
Thus, in the case of workers at the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth, doublethink means being able to falsify public records, and then believe in the new history that they themselves have just rewritten. The other ministries are similarly named: the Ministry of Peace is concerned with war, the Ministry of Love is concerned with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty is concerned with starvation. The paradox is also expressed quite succinctly in the Party slogans: War is Peace and Freedom is Slavery.
The Role of the University Today: Ignorance is Strength
“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”
— George Orwell,1984
The university today is all about insuring control of thought and speech. They want to rewrite the past, and they control the present by indoctrinating students, rewarding those who incentives and disincentives, and idealizing people who embody their values, thus providing role models for students. This guarantees that their millions of student “products” entering critical professions like teaching and journalism will control the future.
A Recent Case in Point
This is not an exceptional case. I chose it because it is the most recent, as well as typical of thousands of other cases. In July 2020 Michigan State University Vice President for Research and Innovations, Stephen Hsu, was forced to resign. His “crime” was citing a study published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year. The study, conducted by researchers at Michigan State and the University of Maryland, concluded, “We did not find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime.” They analyzed 917 officer-involved fatal shootings and found that that “per capita racial disparity in fatal shootings is explained by non-White people’s greater exposure to the police through crime.”
These findings surprise nobody apart from the hopelessly woke and are highly relevant to any debate about so-called systemic institutionalized racism. And of course it is this relevance and clarity that undermine the rationale for BLM and gets a prominent Asian-American scientist fired simply for bringing it to the attention of the community. Rather than refute these facts, the Leftist mob of student and faculty protestors attack the individual as “racist” and the cowardly MSU administration collaborates in the injustice. Police are bad because they enforce “systemic racism” and kill innocent people of color “every single day,” a gross lie entirely refuted by all evidence. The BLM solution to skyrocketing robberies, assaults, rapes, shootings, and murders in Democrat run cities such as NY, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit and elsewhere is to “defund the police.”
If you disagree with this ludicrous policy based upon blatant lies, you will be eliminated, your constitutional rights and due process trampled upon, particularly if you work for a university. Nobody ever protests against this kind of contemptuous political aggression. Thus it has become commonplace — one piece of a larger strategy universities use to silence scientists, very similar to the purging strategies employed by Russian and Chinese communists. Besides public punishment like this, they also systematically reward those who support their “progressive” narrative. Sound familiar? It is basically the same one-sided strategy Leftists use to control the news media, publishing houses, and entertainment industry – all of which have come under the near total control of the Left as a result.
Other strategies on campus include intimidation and harassment of conservative students and forcing them into “Diversity” indoctrination programs from identity grievance studies programs, such as feminist and gender studies, gay and queer studies, Black studies, Hispanic and Chicano studies, indigenous studies, and ethnic studies, which have adopted Marxist theories popular in sociology and political science. At the same time, they attempt to silence any voices that conservative students themselves want to hear.
Increasingly, universities have been restricting speakers with views that effectively counter their propaganda. Data from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) shows this disturbing trend. Protests and shutting down speeches have been going on for decades, but began to escalate in 2017. That year, according to the FIRE data, there were about 40 scheduled speaking events. Of those, nearly half (19) of the speakers were disinvited due to protests by the left. Here are just a few that were either rejected or had to end their presentations during 2017. None of them could possibly be considered to be White advocates.
Milo Yiannopoulos was disinvited from San Diego State University. “University canceled campus speech by right-wing activist Milo Yiannopoulos after student groups expressed opposition to his presence on campus,” according to FIRE. He was also prevented from visiting the University of California, Berkley: “Yiannopoulos’ invitation was opposed by students who felt that he is a ‘bigot’ and ‘misogynist.’”
Charles Murray, a political scientist, had to relocate his lecture from Middlebury College in Vermont because of pressure, and when protesters found out the new, private location, they attacked him and Professor Allison Stanger, surrounding their car, and injuring Stanger badly enough for her to require emergency room treatment.
Gavin McInnes: DePaul University in Chicago refused the Proud Boys speaker because administrators said his statements “encouraged a violent response to the physical attacks during protests, and his announcement of a ‘military division’ of his Proud Boys’ alt-right’ group.” At New York University, McInnes had to stop speaking and was asked to leave “after repeated disruptions and fights, leading to multiple arrests.”
Heather Mac Donald, an author, was forced to end her speech after Black Lives Matter protested because they did not like her pro-police policies.
Ben Shapiro: The Concordia College student government “rescinded funding for the event after it had been granted, citing Shapiro’s alleged ‘hate speech’ towards marginalized communities.”
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is what goes on everyday in the classroom. The overwhelming leftist bias built into the universities of today stems for the longstanding exclusion of conservatives from the faculty. As a result the political affiliation of full-time faculty in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democrat and this can be easily demonstrated. For example, Mitchell Langbert’s 2018 study, “Homogenous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty” found that Democrat professors outnumber Republican instructors by over ten to one. This sample consisted of 8,688 tenure track, Ph.D.–holding professors from fifty-one of the sixty-six top ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S.
Faculty at 39 percent of the colleges in this study had zero Republicans, even though labeling yourself a Republican may mean nothing more than thinking that Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush would have made a good president. The political registration in most of the remaining 61 percent, with a few important exceptions, is slightly more than zero percent but nevertheless absurdly skewed against Republican affiliation and in favor of Democratic affiliation. 78.2 percent of the academic departments in the sample have either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference. Ideologically linked fields, especially the interdisciplinary studies fields are 100% leftist.
The author concludes that
political homogeneity is problematic because it biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility. . . . Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists’ biases cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant. In the study of gender, Charlotta Stern finds that the ideological presumptions in sociology prevent any but the no-differences-between-genders assumptions of left-leaning sociologists from making serious research inroads. So pervasive is the lack of balance in academia that more than 1,000 professors and graduate students have started Heterodox Academy, an organization committed to increasing “viewpoint diversity” in higher education. The end result is that objective science becomes problematic, and where research is problematic, teaching is more so.
If political homogeneity is embedded in college culture, attempting to reform colleges by changing their cultures seems a very tall order. The solution to viewpoint homogeneity may lie in establishing new colleges from the ground up, rather than in reforming existing ones.
How did we get here?
A general consensus is emerging that we are where we are today because of education. Former Oklahoma Wesleyan University Everett Piper:
The fault for the nightly news lies with our colleges, universities and our public schools. But the blame also lies with us. All parents and other citizens who support these broken schools, with their tuition and tax dollars, need to wake up and face reality. Until we stop sending our kids off to intellectually bankrupt schools, we can expect nothing other than an intellectually bankrupt culture.
I have spent the past 50 years on campus, as student, faculty and now Professor Emeritus. Over this period everyone in my generation has witnessed the complete transformation of the university from an institution of “higher learning” to one devoted to Marxist indoctrination.
It’s interesting that even a mainstream figure like Newt Gingrich would cite the Frankfurt School’s Herbert Marcuse as laying the foundation of in the 1960s as a professor at the University of California, San Diego. One wonders if he has connected the dots on people like Marcuse. Many of us believe that an even more extensive influence derived from Franz Boas, also a German-born Jew. As an anthropologist, Boas was one of the first to scorn any biological or evolutionary influence on human behavior in favor of pure cultural determinism. It’s remarkable how such ignorance persisted in an era of unprecedented scientific advance in genetics. He inspired a number of prominent students—Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and many others (including Obama’s mother)—who came to dominate anthropology in the US. By the late 60’s all hiring in anthropology would be Boasian adherents and today’s anthropology departments are virtually 100% leftist, according to a 2018 study that I discuss later in this essay.
This clearly shows how the Left inevitably seeks to eliminate all other points of view. During the 70’s and 80’s the rest of the social sciences and humanities followed suit. Once a given field or a department turned to the Left, it could never turn away; it would not be “allowed” to do so. As a result the American university system became increasing leftist.
California Association of Scholars Chairman John Ellis explains that the ratio of progressive versus conservative faculty members has increased exponentially toward the progressive side of the equation, from three to two in 1969 to more than eight to one currently. Moreover, at the more recently appointed assistant and associate professor level, that ratio explodes to 48 to one. “Everyone can see that it’s wrong. It’s unhealthy,” Ellis states. “And no one does a thing to stop it.” Similarly, Stanley Rothman and colleagues provided evidence that while 39 percent of the professoriate on average described itself as Left in 1984, 72 percent did so in 1999.
President Reagan was aware of this rise of anti-Americanism in our universities during his tenure and provided this warning in his farewell address on Jan. 11, 1989:
An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions.
If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-60s.
But now, we’re about to enter the ’90s, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs [protection].
Along with the rise of Leftist ideology came a scorn of biology, logic and science in general, the dismissal of a foreign language requirement and an across-the-board lowering of academic standards—most recently not requiring standardized tests for admission at the University of California because Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans have lower scores. Grade inflation has been rampant. Prof. Robert Weissberg, long associated with AmRen, notes that “formerly tough professors who demanded educational excellence were cowed into lowering those standards by anonymous student evaluations. No savvy instructor would now challenge a student who ‘explained’ that socialism could end homelessness by eliminating all rent. If he did, the humiliated student would anonymously write how she felt ashamed, cried herself to sleep and felt diminished self-esteem” (my emphasis).
Enrollment-based budgets and soaring tuition costs fed this effort. Filling seats became a priority that led to “grade inflation, shortened reading lists, painless exams and no-brainer writing assignments,” Weissberg adds, while the increasing popularity of political correctness narrowed the field of “acceptable” information.
Yet perhaps above all else, the doubling of non-academic administrative and professional employees — including so-called “diversity specialists” — has far outpaced the growth of students and faculty. Such expansion has given rise to quota-mongering epitomized by Harvard, where black, Native American, and Hispanic students are invited to attend with SAT scores of 1,100, while Asian males and females requires scores of 1,350-plus and 1,380-plus, respectively, to get the same invitation.
Bloated bureaucracies are paid for by staggering tuition increases that have precipitated more than $1.5 trillion in student debt nationwide. All loan defaults on that debt are underwritten by the taxpayer, giving colleges no incentive whatsoever to control costs.
But the good news is that this outrageous and contemptible status quo is now being threatened by the China Virus devastating our economy and precipitating extended shutdowns. “The coronavirus pandemic threatens to remake U.S. higher education, speeding the closure of small, financially weak colleges and forcing others to make tough decisions about what they can afford,” Bloomberg News reports. But there’s nothing unaffordable about reinstituting ideologically balanced faculties and tolerance for dissenting ideas, or paring bloated bureaucracies that cultivate intolerance while calling it diversity. This coming fall, even though most of its students will be forced to attend classes online, Harvard University will be charging them nearly $50,000 for the online-only studies, even though it receives more than $40 billion in endowments. With this situation replicated in many brick and mortar institutions of propaganda masquerading as “higher learning,” now is an opportune moment for re-structuring the status quo.
With universities like Harvard charging $50,000 tuition this year for on-line courses espousing leftist propaganda, it is the perfect time for a bold new initiative in higher education: A truly national on-line university for conservative and liberal students who want an excellent education, rather than a one-sided diatribe, from their professors.
This should become a national discussion and national goal; one that could be realized by the fall of 2021. To be successful, such a university should draw from the strongest faculty nation-wide, especially excellent, well-published professors who wish to escape from their current leftist overlords. They should be paid competitive salaries and charged with developing a curriculum second to none. Another key to success would be a central organization of high-quality university faculty and administrators with experience in our failing universities who see the need to start fresh, without the liabilities of an administration bloated by non-academic administrative and professional employees — including so-called “diversity” specialists.
Administrators of a new national on-line university could be housed in an existing brick-and-mortar institution, but students and faculty could reside anywhere in the country, or world for that matter. Initial funding could be generated in part from all the donations no longer being sent to current leftist institutions, but also from investors and philanthropists who are willing to see and seize a bright future. If full-time tuition costs were 40% that of Harvard, this would amount to $20,000 per student per year, with virtually unlimited enrollment.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 3.1 million higher education students enrolled exclusively in online programs in fall 2017. Under the conditions imposed by the 2020 pandemic, this number could grow by 500% or more in the coming year.
What Can We Do?
Amidst the current climate of violence, looting, arson, and the destruction of historical artifacts, cries of “defund the police!” have reached fever pitch. The one good thing that can come from this situation is to finally realize that we have long been subsidizing our own problems. Why continue funding institutions that for three generations have had an anti-American, anti-White, anti-male agenda? As one female columnist pointed out, “a large majority of the destructive Black Lives Matter crowd is made up of white, “university-educated” women.”
But If June saw a sudden rise of protests and city council votes to defund the police, July has seen calls to defund the universities spreading like wildfire on social media. Writing in Spectator USA, Peter Wood proposes that “Now is the moment to defund the colleges. We should defund them because they are the root of the virulent anti-Americanism that feeds the riots, the looting and the learned helplessness that afflict the country.”
Wood proposes several commonsense measures for reining in these America-hating entities. They include refusing to cut checks to alumni donation campaigns, enrolling students in educational programs beyond the reach of the indoctrinators, and “rolling back the massive subsidies that state and federal government put into higher education” that are nothing more than “a thick-shelled nut of special interests.”
A similar Call to Arms was issued by Jay Latimer in American Thinker:
It’s no secret that much of the radical ideology fueling the Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots are the product of our dysfunctional higher educational system. Universities today are almost 100% hard left-wing bubbles, openly hostile to any conservative thought. They are intolerant of opposing opinions, the very opposite of the kind of dialogue intended for higher education, and so desperately needed today. These Molotov-cocktail wielding radicals are the end product of years of propaganda from left-wing professors.
Colleges may hate conservatives, but they will be forced to listen – and change – if you target their pocketbooks. And colleges and universities are vulnerable, especially with the current double-whammy of lower student enrollment and the coronavirus taking its toll.
Here’s a modest outline of how to begin.
Every alumnus should write to their college ASAP to state that not a single penny will be given until things change significantly. This is your chance to be heard, so let them have it with both barrels! (I’ve attached my letter to Duke below). In fact, go it one better and tell them that you will do your best to convince other alumni to stop donating as well. We are in an ideological war – you need to show them whose side you are on.
[If you are reading this, please do this now. And even if you had no intention of giving money, tell them that you were – a lot.]
Halt Student Loan Guarantees:
The higher education system is kept afloat by a sea of student loan debt, much of it guaranteed by the Federal Government. This amounts to a huge subsidy, estimated at $100 to $250 billion per year, funded by our tax dollars. It’s long past time to stop this madness– let the universities compete in the marketplace without these kinds of perverse incentives (and watch those Diversity Deans collect pink slips).
Tax the Endowments:
Again, hit them in the pocketbook. Why should Harvard not pay a penny of taxes on its $40+ billion endowment? It’s always irked me that someone like Elizabeth Warren can rant about businesses “paying their fair share of taxes” while taking a high six-figure salary from an uber-rich institution that doesn’t pay any taxes at all. Tax them now!
Two days later a similar statement was published:
Defunding universities substantially would reduce their freedom to carry out their anti-American and anti-justice practices. They would be in a weaker position to spend millions of dollars on ever-proliferating “diversity and inclusion” officers, departments, and programs. But reduction would best be targeted: malicious sexist and racist grievance studies programs should be defunded entirely, and the programs cancelled.
What can we do? Certainly stop donating to universities. Better, encourage others to stop donating.
Then on July 10, Trump tweeted:
… and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2020
Of course, Trump has “examined” a lot of things—with no consequences. Earlier on July 4th at Mount Rushmore, the president said, “our children are taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that they were villains.”
Last year, the president signed an executive order that required colleges to defend free speech after Hayden Williams, an activist with the conservative group The Leadership Institute, was assaulted at University of California, Berkeley. “These universities,” he said, “have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans.”
As I write this essay I see that another voice has joined the chorus. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk has initiated ‘Divest U’ campaign with the goal of siphoning funds from prominent universities.
Defunding certain colleges will not be easy, it will take years, and would only happen under a Republican administration. The Treasury Department would need time to prove that schools are indoctrinating instead of educating. In the meantime, concerned citizens should immediately stop all donations and other financial support. It is perfectly clear that no university has any intention of ever voluntarily reforming itself. They are overwhelmingly leftist because that’s the way they want it and that’s the way they want to keep it. Only significant financial pressure will produce any positive changes. Those of you who are college or university alumni might consider writing a letter like this one provided by Jay Latimer, pen name of a Duke University alumnus:
To: Office of Gift Planning, Duke University
CC: Duke President Vincent E. Price
I am very sorry to have to write you this letter, but I feel I no longer have any choice.
As you know I was considering a major donation to Duke University. However, after learning of President Price’s “structural racism” initiatives, I will no longer be donating to Duke. In fact, I will make it my priority to convince other alumni not to donate as well.
I am shocked and appalled to see the direction that Duke University has chosen to take. I am ashamed to be a Duke alumnus, and am worried and indeed horrified at what this once great institution is becoming.
President Price’s recent announcement to go all-in on a “structural racism” ideology insures that Duke will become a place where racial grievances are magnified, and where people are judged and rewarded based on the color of their skin and actions of their ancestors. Ironically this kind of ideology is the very definition of racism, and the polar opposite of Martin Luther King’s vision for a color-blind society.
This radical “anti-bias” ideology is anathema to higher learning, and barely existed a decade ago. And yet President Price now wants to “ensure every student leaves Duke with an understanding of the nature of structural racism.”
This is indoctrination, pure and simple. It is no different than what was seen in China’s Cultural Revolution. Force feeding any kind of ideology – much less a newly created, radical one – does not belong in a free society, much less in a supposed bastion of higher learning.
I wonder, will an allowance be made for those students who do not wish to be “trained” in such a racially-charged ideology? I’m guessing not – like the victims of Communist dictatorships, they will be made to obey whether they like it or not.
The philosophical underpinnings of “structural racism” are also deeply ignorant. Students of history recognize that slavery and inequities have been a part of the human experience for millennia. Simplistic slogans attacking “white privilege” ignore this background (in fact the very word “slave” is derived from the Slavic peoples – who are now ironically lumped in with the oppressors).
The Duke University I knew and loved is long gone, destroyed by radicals seeking political power at the expense of free speech and learned discussion.
This is a travesty.
For those of you who think these proposals are too extreme, I have just this to say: Are you living inside a bubble? What do you think is happening here? Get with the program. Live free or die.