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Fall registration, the first day of class, the beginning of another year at the university of your choice. Each year nearly fifteen million students enter colleges in this country where their hopes and dreams will be realized, their minds opened to new ideas, and their prospects for success in life either affirmed or denied. At least, that's the idea. But from Harvard to Stanford and on hundreds of campuses in between, the best and brightest of America's youth are being introduced to ideas that will shake the foundations of their beliefs, challenge their confidence and objectivity, and, one way or another, shape the future of this nation.
Most Americans today have some vague notion that all is not well on the university campus. Parents know that colleges are run by liberals, that silly ideas are being bandied about by tenured radicals left over from the sixties. They understand that the climate on campus these days is more sexualized than ever before, but they're not really sure what it's all about. They don't know what to worry about and what to ignore, and they're just not sure what to believe anymore. So they wait and hope for the best.
What they may not know is that of the 14.9 million students who will enroll in college this year, half of them will not graduate. Forty years ago only about half of America's high school graduates went to college. Today, more than two-thirds will go. During recent years the drill from Washington has been that "every American is entitled to a college education," and record numbers of students have enrolled in post-secondary programs of some kind; but only about half will actually earn a diploma. And more distressing, thanks to the politicization of the academy, merely receiving a diploma no longer guarantees that the student has actually received a good education, or that he or she will be able to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
The cost of a college education has never been higher, and admissions standards have never been lower, but the entire calculus has changed. The university campus is no longer that idyllic place of the imagination where callow youths are educated and prepared for life in the real world. The campus is, indeed, a place of radical transformation, but not the kind that most parents expect.
To put it plainly, the university is not a safe place to send your child. The reason is that the university is only marginally about education today. For one thing, many senior faculty members have renounced classroom duties in favor of research, writing, and other non-pedagogical duties. Those with consulting practices, funded research projects, or access to a general audience can usually earn more through their off-campus activities than from teaching. Which leaves graduate teaching assistants and part-time faculty in charge, most of whom do not have the depth or the inclination to deal with the range of issues they're expected to teach.
But a far greater problem is that higher education today is now a pretext for concentrating large numbers of unsuspecting and often poorly-prepared students on campuses, away from their families and other mediating influences, where they may be socialized and manipulated by leftist faculty members and administrators for purely ideological reasons. Since the social revolution of the sixties, the agenda of the Left has been to transform the United States into a socialist utopia; consequently, the issue of greatest concern on America's most distinguished university campuses is no longer traditional learning but a new form of social and sexual indoctrination.
The Shadow University
In one of the most comprehensive and disturbing studies published to date on the crisis of authority in the academy, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses, professors Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate report that something awful is happening in our great universities. "To know the betrayal of liberty on our campuses," they say, "one must understand what has become of their divisions of university life and student life, residential advisors, judicial systems, deans of students and their officers, and of their new and profoundly disturbing student rules and regulations."
It's in this arena, where administrators exercise absolute control over students, that one finds the enforcers of political correctness, the mandatory sensitivity classes, the seminars on race and gender, and the encounter sessions through which students are indoctrinated, often by invasive and manipulative means, including various kinds of role-playing, in the dogmas of "diversity" and "tolerance" that are a mask for the anti-American and hyper-sexualized agenda of the universities. The doctrines being forced on students is distinctly countercultural and contrary to any interpretation of traditional morality, and it is easily the most sinister element of what's happening today. "The ultimate force of the shadow university," say Kors and Silverglate, "is its ability to punish students and, increasingly, faculty behind closed doors, far from public and even campus scrutiny."
Parents who send their sons and daughters to universities trusting these academics and administrators to guard their children, through the university's in loco parentis (in the place of the parent) responsibilities, are in for a shock. There is a moral agenda on campus, but a very different sort than most people expect. "The shadow university hands students a moral agenda upon arrival, subjects them to mandatory political reeducation, sends them to sensitivity training, submerges their individuality in official group identity, intrudes upon private conscience, treats them with scandalous inequality, and, when it chooses, suspends or expels them." The impact of what's being done to today's undergraduates, largely behind closed doors, is "something truly chilling," Kors and Silverglate say. It is "a hidden, systematic assault on liberty, individualism, dignity, due process, and equality before the law." The universities, as these distinguished authors conclude, "have become the enemies of a free society."
In truth, many excellent books have been written about the state of higher education in this country over the past two decades. Scholars and researchers have reported in great detail about the dangerous political agenda that has wreaked havoc on traditional learning. Allan Bloom's classic, Closing of the American Mind, alerted millions to the pernicious risks of political correctness and the change of attitude taking place in our institutions of higher learning. That book is still one of the most quoted sources on the subject. Equally important were books such as Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals, Martin Anderson's Impostors in the Temple, and Kirk Kilpatrick's Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong, which examined the impact of the sixties' "free love, free everything" generation now ensconced within the faculties and administrations of our colleges and universities.
Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education, John Silber's Straight Shooting, and Charles Sykes' A Nation of Victims each pointed out the racial component of the struggle; and more recent books-including Experiments against Reality by Kimball, Incorrect Thoughts by John Leo, and Alvin Schmidt's excellent overview, The Menace of Multiculturalism-have provided unimpeachable documentation and compelling evidence of the long-term damage being wrought by leftist tactics on campus and the even greater risks ahead for America if the historic foundations of higher education are not restored.
While every one of these works has added to our understanding of the problems, what they have lacked is the capacity to change the attitudes and habits of those who keep this corrupt system alive. That is, the mothers and fathers who send their sons and daughters to college each year, along with the many organizations that help to pay the tuition that supports it. They have either not listened, not believed the reports, or have not felt strongly enough the need to respond with anger and with force. The best books on the decline of higher education have been consumed by those with a professional interest in the subject, but middle America has yet to respond, and that must change.
As source after source has revealed over these many years, the American university is engaged in a conspiracy against the historic moral and social values of the American people. Sociologist Paul Hollander has said, "The university is the reservoir of the adversary culture." On hundreds of campuses all across the country, legions of faculty members are at war with the rest of America, and the aim of these leftist professors is to create a phalanx of liberal culture warriors who are disaffected and angry, and who share the strongly anti-American sentiments of their intellectual masters. Who will stop them? Who will rise up and change the dreadful dynamic on the university campus?
A New Absolutism
Perhaps a certain lethargy is to be expected. After all, who would have thought it would come to this? The ivory tower, the academic cloisters, the ivy-covered halls lampooned for generations as a place where nothing of significance ever happens have become, in fact, the frontlines in a struggle for the soul of America. Professors, department heads, administrators, and well-meaning trustees and alumni preside over the wholesale deconstruction of American values, and they are responsible for the collapse of educational standards and a debasement of morality that is unprecedented in American history. Because of the importance we've given to universities in our culture, those who administer the system have helped created a situation that is potentially devastating to our future as free and independent people.
Columnist John Leo, who has consistently been one of the most outspoken critics of the dismantling of the traditional curriculum, points out that during most of our history it wouldn't have been necessary to look closely at what students were learning on campus. The elements of a college education were well known and widely agreed upon. Sadly, that's no longer the case. "Colleges are unsure of their mission," Leo writes, "buffeted by consumer pressures and ideological forces, and unwilling to say what a sound education might consist of."
As a result of bias, indecision, and poor leadership, students are increasingly at the mercy of politicized faculty members immersed in the latest academic fashions. Ivy League catalogs are as likely now to offer courses on pop music, pornography, standup comedy, and television sitcoms as any more orthodox subject matter. The University of Wisconsin offers a course in soap operas. Columbia offers "Issues in Rock Music and Rock Culture." Duke's catalog offers "The Physics, History, and Technique of Juggling," while the University of Pennsylvania offers a course called, "Vampires: The Undead." And it comes as no great surprise that courses in drug culture, sadomasochism, bondage, and civil disobedience appear in a growing number of catalogs these days.
Here's just a sample of some typical course offerings: University of California at Berkeley, "Male Sexuality"; Columbia, "Sorcery and Magic"; Dartmouth, "Queer Theory, Queer Texts"; Yale, "AIDS and Society"; Cornell, "Gay Fiction"; Princeton, "Sexuality, Bodies, Desires, and Modern Times"; University of Pennsylvania, "Feminist Critique of Christianity"; Brown, "Unnatural Acts: Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Literature"; Bucknell, "Witchcraft and Politics"; University of Iowa, "Elvis as Anthology"; Swarthmore, "Lesbian Novels since World War II"; Stanford, "Homosexuals, Heretics, Witches, and Werewolves"; Oberlin, "Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare"; Rutgers, "Women on the Fringe: Perceptions of Women as Social and Sex-Role Deviants in American Civilization"; Vassar, "Global Feminism"; Wesleyan, "Pornography Writing of Prostitutes"; University of Massachusetts, "Rock and Roll"; University of Indiana, "Star Trek and Religion"; University of Michigan, "Crossing Erotic Boundaries"; University of North Carolina, "Magic, Ritual, and Belief"; University of Wisconsin, "Goddesses and Feminine Powers."
Even more disturbing are courses such as "How To Be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation" at the University of Michigan; "Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Studies" at Yale; "Feminist Biblical Interpretation" at Harvard and the University of Florida; "Witchcraft in the Modern World" at Bowdoin; and "Black Marxism" at the University of California at Santa Barbara. At the University of Chicago, literature students can enroll in "Third Wave Feminism and Girl Culture" or "Contemporary American Monstrosity," while the history department offers "Fetishism, Gender, Sexuality, Capitalism" and "Love and Eros in Japanese History."
Does anyone see a pattern here? John Leo's assessment of the problem is precise and right to the point. "The junk courses creep in," he says, "because much of the professorate now believes that nothing can truly be known, so nothing truly matters. From this it follows," he adds, "that juggling, horror movies, and serious courses all have equal claims on students' attention. Alas, the academy today is obsessed with the trivial and trashy, relentlessly focused on sexual politics, and gripped by a deep antagonism to tradition that has degenerated into a new absolutism."
Even as traditional learning is dismissed in many classrooms as reactionary, tainted by sexism, racism, and a legacy of authoritarian hegemony, the students' ability to reason, question, or challenge ideas is subverted, and efforts to think independently are everywhere undermined. The last thing leftist professors want is a roomful of students who are able to argue persuasively and challenge the bias of the typical lecture hall. Some students are able to rise above the dogma and preserve their self-respect and independence, but never without consequences. Many, on the other hand, are profoundly changed-intellectually scarred, morally neutered, socially and intellectually programmed-and sometimes physically or emotionally crippled for life.
A Crisis of Values
In their surprisingly frank assessment of the state of public education in the early eighties, the National Commission on Excellence in Education wrote, "If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves ... we have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral, educational disarmament."
Seven years after that report was published, the U.S. Department of Education conceded that, "Large proportions, perhaps more than half, of our elementary, middle, and high-school students are unable to demonstrate competency in challenging subject matter in English, mathematics, science, history, and geography. Further, even fewer appear to be able to use their minds well." Albert Shanker, head of the nation's second largest teacher's union, the American Federation of Teachers, was compelled to admit that, "Ninety-five percent of the kids who go to college in the United States would not be admitted to college anywhere else in the world."
When you combine the candor of such admissions with the fact that many universities are primarily concerned with the political and social indoctrination of students, the scope of the problem becomes apparent. There is a revolution taking place in our midst, and the insurgents are making the rules. The consequences of this situation are many and profound. Not least is the ignorance that pervades American society. More than forty million American adults are illiterate today, and fifty million have only survival level academic skills. Teachers in our elementary and secondary schools are often poorly educated themselves, the result being that two-thirds of school children are unable to read at grade level.
As we enter the twenty-first century, at least three generations of young Americans believe what they have been taught: that their own native land is populated by men and women who are homophobic, bigoted, misogynist, exploitative, environmentally insensitive, and morally corrupt. Politicians and public officials have failed to challenge the perpetrators of this ongoing educational fraud. Government, in fact, is still the largest supplier of funding for these universities, pouring billions each year into research, administration, and building projects; and of course the media, with their own liberal ax to grind, remain deceitfully silent. Is it any wonder that so many Americans are so poorly informed, and that so few college graduates are willing (or interested enough) to participate in a free, elective political system?
Excerpted from Freefall of the American University by Jim Nelson Black Copyright © 2007 by Jim Nelson Black. Excerpted by permission.
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