No matter how you slice or dice it, today’s universities, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, are intellectual wastelands often more committed to propagating the Leftist faith than knowledge. The campus vocabulary says it all: trigger warnings, safe spaces, micro-aggressions, social justice warriors, cultural appropriation, speech codes, and disinviting –while many instructors are obsessed with the Procrustean bed of race, class and gender. Further add the well-paid diversity and inclusion apparatchiki, ever-expanding definitions of sexual harassment and Stalinist measures to impose gender equality and on and on.
Conceivably, as the stench may become unbearable a distinguished board of inquiry will try to explain this debacle mess and there will be no shortage of possible culprits. Fortunately, no need to wait decades for the verdict—the faculty was responsible even if they did not personally inflict the evils. More precisely, all of this happened thanks to cowardly professors, nearly all of whom enjoyed tenure, saw the disaster in the making, and all could have helped strangle the evil it in the cradle.
The accused professors will naturally offer the time-honored defenses —I had no idea what was happening, I myself was unable to stop it, I remained silent in order to hide two white male libertarians in my basement, or I was only following orders from administrators. Lies, all lies and I’d bet my last dollar that every academic on today’s campus knows these excuses to be bogus.
This is a serious indictment so let me first explain how professors could have successfully resisted the barbarians. Begin with the obvious—preventing academically weak affirmative action admittees from dumbing down the classroom (and, for good measures, serving as useful idiots in campus demonstrations). Yes, professors cannot dictate admission policy but they have absolute power to flunk dummies (regardless of race or sex) and, no doubt, after a point the Office of Admission social engineers would realize that it’s pointless to lower standards if dimwits quickly flunk out despite all the tutoring and remedial courses. Ditto for the hiring and firing of colleagues– complain all you want about wild-eyed feminists, but these ideologues were mostly hired by white male professors who knew what they were getting and, for good measures, these allegedly “blameless” academics awarded them tenure, signed off on sabbaticals and authorized research funds for released time to write yet more rants masquerading as scholarship.
What about all the wacko courses inflicted on hapless students? Since every regular course required faculty approval, professors themselves hold the smoking gun as the course catalogue fills up with the likes of courses on Queer Theory or—and to be specific—UCLA’s “Aliens, Psychics and Ghosts.” And don’t argue that this pedagogical nonsense slipped under the radar—course syllabi are routinely reviewed in hiring, promotion and salary increases. A professor serving on the promotion and tenure committee could always vote “no” on some fuzzy-brained ideologue up for tenure unwilling to teach according to minimal professional standards.
Going one step further, the proliferation of trendy, intellectually light weight departments such as Black or Chicano Studies requires faculty approval and must be justified on scholarly grounds, not the number of rioting students in the President’s office. A faculty committee reviewing a possible Department of Native American Studies (almost guaranteed to become a hotbed of racial activism) can surely reject the request by noting that this new department substantially overlaps with courses in the Anthropology Department.
Finally, the entire administration, from Chancellor to Assistant Dean of Minority Outreach to a significant extent ultimately depends on professorial acquiescence. No University President could remain in office facing a clear-cut faculty revolt nor could the Assistant Dean and his aides survive a faculty report documenting gross bureaucratic mismanagement. Similarly, widespread faculty objection would doom any administrative effort to require that all courses—even those in science and engineering—to include material on the contributions of women and minorities.
In sum, the tenured faculty has, or perhaps had, all the power necessary to kill today’s PC madness, if it wanted to. This is not a question of the Right resisting the Left; even most those on the Left understand the evils of speech codes, mandated sensitivity training, Stasi-like bias response teams to monitor professors for the slightest offense, creating entire departments only to celebrate iffy grievances and all the rest that defines the contemporary Politically Correct university.
So, why did all these professors go AWOL when the barbarians were on the march? And keep in mind that nearly all of these would-be guardians of life of the mind enjoyed tenure. Admittedly, at least some professors actually wanted a PC-dominated university but I’d guess that most of these were hired after Political Correctness was already in place and thus supported it to further their own careers.
No doubt, this sheepishness was just all too easy. Why invite trouble by flunking unqualified students preoccupied with “offensiveness”? Nobody will complain (let alone know) if you bestow charity “B-‘s” for terrible work and invisibly shift the curve to pass everyone. Nor will anybody notice if your lectures skip topics that affront the social justice crowd. It’s hard enough climbing up the academic career ladder without picking fights with administrators mindlessly pushing the diversity agenda. As the Chinese proverb says, the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
Moreover, if the aversion to PC nonsense cannot be stomached, there’s always the option of safely expressing opposition, perhaps anonymously, in the outside world. Not all that different from decades back when small town closeted gays periodically took a San Francisco vacation for a week of debauchery to get it out of his system. Become a keyboard warrior to expose campus PC idiocy or attend conventions of the National Association of Scholars to achieve cathartic release with like-minded heretics (though even here, take my word for it, taboos exist regarding “controversial” topics). Or financially support campus-oriented free speech organizations. All good therapy but none substitute for courage when tough choices are to be made inside the university.
But fear not, there is some hope. Successful resistance begins by recognizing that the fight must be social—you need colleagues who chime in publicly when you object to hiring an incompetent whose qualification is entirely biological. Few can stand alone and be stigmatized as the department’s racist, misogynist, homophobe, etc. when cowardice goes unnoticed.
Those wanting to resist the barbarians should study military history demonstrating how small groups of men risked their lives, even facing almost certain death, not for some abstract idea like “freedom” but out of deep loyalty to their comrades-in-arms. Today this tradition lives on in elite military units such as the Navy Seals but the model is certainly appropriate for the contemporary academy. As per elite military units, require courage-demonstrating initiation rituals, for example, giving a speech to the full department (to be videotaped) on why diversity and intellectual excellence are incompatible. Afterwards this band of brothers will organize a little private welcoming ceremony, offer toasts, and present the new recruit with his official membership certificate suitable for framing and an “offensive” lapel pin to intimidate snowflakes, cupcakes, social justice warriors, Stalinist administrators, professional victims and anybody else who identifies with a category whose name ends in “community.”
Better yet, each of these sworn enemies of PC faith will post a sign in their office: “We will defend the Life of the Mind so mess with us at your own risk. We know the location of your safe spaces, and if you continue to destroy the university, we will violate these spaces, burn your coloring books, melt you crayons and drown your puppies. Is that clear?”
When PC administration with their army of snowflakes, cupcakes, sensitivity counselors and assorted social justice warriors insist that the sign is threatening “hate” and should be removed immediately, the response should be what the Spartans told the Persians at Thermopylae when asked to surrender their weapons: Molon labe—come take them.