Last week’s column discussed the highly publicized university corruption scheme wherein wealthy parents bought admission at prestigious universities for their children. That is dishonest and gives an unfair advantage to those young people but won’t destroy the missions of the universities. There is little or no attention given by the mainstream media to the true cancer eating away at most of our institutions of higher learning. Philip Carl Salzman, emeritus professor of anthropology at McGill University, explains that cancer in a Minding the Campus article, titled “What Your Sons and Daughters Will Learn at University” (https://tinyurl.com/y9ds7e7t).
Professor Salzman argues that for most of the 20th century, universities were dedicated to the advancement of knowledge. There was open exchange and competition in the marketplace of ideas. Different opinions were argued and respected. Most notably in the social sciences, social work, the humanities, education and law, this is no longer the case. Leftist political ideology has emerged. The most important thing to today’s university communities is diversity of race, ethnicity, sex and economic class, on which they have spent billions of dollars. Conspicuously absent is diversity of ideology.
Students are taught that all cultural values are morally equivalent. That’s ludicrous. Here are a few questions for those who make such a claim. Is forcible female genital mutilation, as practiced in nearly 30 sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern countries, a morally equivalent cultural value? Slavery is currently practiced in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan; is it morally equivalent? In most of the Middle East, there are numerous limitations placed on women, such as prohibitions on driving, employment and education. Under Islamic law in some countries, female adulterers face death by stoning. Thieves face the punishment of having their hands severed. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in some countries. Are these cultural values morally equivalent, superior or inferior to Western values?
Social justice theory holds the vision that the world is divided between oppressors and victims. The theory holds that by their toxic masculinity, heterosexual white males are oppressors. Among their victims are females, people of color and male and female homosexuals. The world’s Christians and Jews are oppressors, and Muslims are victims.
Increasingly, the classics of Western civilization are being ignored. Why? Because they represent the work, almost exclusively, of “dead white men.” Only works of females, people of color and non-Western authors are seen as virtuous. The same is true with political history. The U.S. Constitution should be less respected because its writers were white slaveholders. The academics who teach this nonsense to students are grossly ignorant of the struggle over the slavery issue at our 1787 Constitutional Convention.
Professor Salzman concludes his article with the observation that “Marxist social justice offers all the answers anyone needs, so no inquiry or serious research is required. Be confident that at university your children will learn ‘the right side’ to be on, if little else.” As a result of leftist indoctrination, many college students graduate illiterate, innumerate and resistant to understanding. A survey of employers showed that over 70 percent found college graduates were not well-prepared in skills such as “written communication,” “working with numbers/statistics,” “critical/analytical thinking” and second-language proficiency (http://tinyurl.com/yymfsrg4).
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni publishes occasional reports on what college students know. One report found that nearly 10 percent of the college graduates surveyed thought Judith Sheindlin, TV’s Judge Judy, is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Less than 20 percent of the college graduates knew the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than a quarter of the college graduates did not know Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during World War II; one-third did not know he was the president who spearheaded the New Deal. Such ignorance might explain why these young people are the supporters of today’s presidential candidates calling for America to become a socialist nation.
By the way, one need not be a Westerner to hold Western values. One just has to accept the sanctity of the individual above all else.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
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