Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

At Last


I am so glad to see all the attention that higher education, and education in general, is now getting. I can’t tell you the number of people who assured me through the years that all the left wing propaganda, and Marxist and quasi-Marxist theorizing and indoctrination that was going on in universities was just a fad that would soon pass, would be rejected by students, not be tolerated by parents who had to spend so much money on tuition, and so on. I can’t tell you all the professors who might have joined in the movement to rout the radicals but could not rouse themselves to do so because they wouldn’t take it seriously (I’ll be there waiting when these fads have passed, one professor said to me. He’s still waiting). In some cases, moderately liberal professors with a traditional bent who should have joined in the anti-radical movement shrank from it, for fear of being called “right-wing.” That’s why radicalism always wins out over liberalism, as Solzehenitsyn pointed out.

Complacency has been our worst enemy, and sometimes the complacency came from conservatives who wanted to believe that America could survive anything under any circumstances. As if you could have generation after generation of students coming up in anti-American indoctrination and not have that become problematic in myriad ways throughout the society. A lot of the movement to restore the university began in the eighties, and many conservatives wanted to adopt Ronald Reagan’s optimistic view of America. But Reagan himself, in his farewell address to the American people as president in 1988, warned that we were not doing “a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world.” He did not rely on some perennial and impregnable sense of American exceptionalism that could survive anything, no matter what. He knew that American exceptionalism had consciously to be guarded and sustained and cultivated through great effort. Many young people today take for granted the blessings that America offers them, see them as only what is everyone’s natural and universal right, and focus entirely on America’s flaws and failures to achieve perfection.

At any rate, it seems to me that more people have now seen the light and are willing to face the truth, and that is a good thing.


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