While public attention has been wrenched away from college campuses to the bloody streets of San Bernardino, the next phase in the surrender of the university to the forces of grievance is beginning. Fearing the wrath of the small-but-vocal mob, professors and administrators are now preemptively adopting the demands of protestors, before they even emerge. Thus, Harvard’s erstwhile ‘House Masters’ voted to change their titles, while Johns Hopkins announced a Faculty Diversity Initiative and a raft of diversity-related policies, including ‘asking’ all incoming freshman to read and discuss Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Beautiful Struggle. Meanwhile, the rewriting of history has become an unstoppable force, and the names and visages of past transgressors are being removed posthaste from college campuses, including Princeton, Georgetown, and possibly Harvard Law.
As I wrote at NRO, almost all of this can be laid at the feet of the professors. While the Black Lives Matter movement may have served as the spark for the undergrad warriors, it is the toxic environment of political correctness, intellectual discrimination, and lack of confidence in the mission of education long created by America’s tenured radicals that has prevented any ramparts against the current passions from being built. The next years will see a sweeping movement on all of America’s campuses to presume institutionalized racism against blacks, and preemptive actions to root it out. It will not take long for other minorities on campus to begin making their demands known, and for the universities to collapse into complete incoherence.
As that happens, alternatives to today’s university, such as the Thiel Fellowships, will become more attractive to serious students who want to avoid four years of indoctrination, and instead begin productively contributing to society. At the other end of the spectrum, research institutes and think tanks will not only become more necessary, thanks to the abdication of serious scholarly work on policy and humanities issues, but they will also be increasingly seen as refuges for those unwilling to subject themselves to the Junior Jacobins of America’s coddled elite. Conservatives, liberals, and all committed to the real meaning of education should embrace these alternatives. We may be approaching a turning point of historic importance, not in the cleansing of supposed sins of racism from our already-whitewashed campuses, but in exposing the corruption and inviability of higher education in America today. Visionaries like Peter Thiel, and the generous private benefactors to think tanks around the country, offer hope and a clear path for retaining America’s intellectual (and moral) integrity.