Mansfield on the Academy and 9/11
Harvey Mansfield is always insightful, and his essay on the impact of 9/11 on the academy is full of good stuff. Key paragraphs:
A university is an institution of learning, and as such takes a broad view of things. But this means it should learn from events if not try to control them. What has Harvard learned from Sept. 11? Very little.
Sept. 11 was a stunning blow to multiculturalism. The attacks showed that we have enemies who hate us because they hate both our principles and our practices. They despise the way we live not because we do not live up to our principles of freedom, democracy, and toleration, but because we do. They do not think we are multicultural; they believe we have one culture, and they mean to do away with it.
The feminists at Harvard seek to remove every vestige of patriarchy in America, but they have said almost nothing about the complete dismissal of women’s rights by radical Islam. To do so would be to attack Islamic culture, and according to multiculturalism, every culture is equal and none is evil. They forsake women in societies that repudiate women’s rights and direct their complaints to societies that believe in women’s rights. Of course it’s easier to complain to someone who listens to you and doesn’t immediately proceed to slit your throat. No sign of any rethinking of feminism has appeared in the universities where it flourishes.
And . . .
The jihadists say they will triumph because they believe in death while we believe in life. That is not quite so. We do believe in life–but not at any cost. We too value sacrifice and honor for a decent cause. But we let our soldiers speak for us. The professors, who should be our spokesmen, have learned nothing from our soldiers and have nothing to say on why they volunteer to risk their lives.
All of this has been said before, of course, but it must be said again and again. Our attention spans can be brief, and we can grow weary of the ideological fight. Thankfully, Harvey Mansfield does not.