Thursday, July 7, 2022

Can America's Universities Be Saved?

Just when you thought that nothing could shock you, and just as you were hoping that your deeply pessimistic view of the future of American liberal arts education was perhaps slightly exaggerated, you discover this story on Bari Weiss’s Substack, called Common Sense. (Via Maggie's Farm)

As it happens, we subscribe to the Weiss Substack and find it to be consistently intelligent and illuminating. We are happy to recommend it to your attention. We are also happy to remind everyone that this blog-- offered for free to whomever-- accepts donations. One should always feel free to contribute.

Anyway, on today’s Common Sense we read the story of one Joseph Manson, who recently retired as professor of anthropology at UCLA.

To be concise about it, Manson had had enough of wokeness. It had invaded his academic department and had rendered it an indoctrination mill. The mindless platitudes of leftist ideology had taken over the minds of students and even faculty. There was no stopping it, so Manson chose an early retirement.

One understands that Manson and the other professors who are subjected to harassment and worse are not crazed right wingers. They are often liberal Democrats. Go figure.

Manson writes:

I’m a 62-year-old professor—by academic standards, still young. But I am retiring this summer because the woke takeover of higher education has ruined academic life.

Woke leftists invaded and took over the department by lying about their biases:

Gradually, one hire at a time, practitioners of “critical” (i.e. leftist, postmodernist) anthropology, some of them lying about their beliefs during job interviews, came to comprise the department’s most influential clique. These militant faculty members recruited even more militant graduate students to work with them.

I can’t recount here even a representative sample of this faction’s penchant for mendacity and intimidation, because most of it occurred during confidential discussions, usually about hiring and promotion decisions.

The leftist clique of graduate students took out after a professor named Jeff Brantingham. It was merciless in its mindless attacks on his research:

In Spring 2018, the department’s Anthropology Graduate Students Association passed a resolution accusing Jeff’s research of, among other counter-revolutionary sins, “entrench[ing] and naturaliz[ing] the criminalization of Blackness in the United States” and calling for “referring” his research to UCLA’s Vice Chancellor for Research, presumably for some sort of investigation. This document contained no trace of scholarly argument, but instead resembled a religious proclamation of anathema.

Sustaining this movement is the elimination of standardized testing and the transformation of education into indoctrination. The students who are behind this assault on academic freedom are mostly morons who were admitted and even promoted in order to fulfill diversity quotas. One should not underestimate the damage that is being done by eliminating standards. 

Turning America from a meritocracy into an idiotocracy will damage the country for years to come. Manson has decided that it cannot really be stopped. How's that for pessimism?

Discussing whether to stop requiring the GRE (a standardized test, like the SAT) from applicants to our Ph.D. program, one colleague told a meeting of the biological anthropology subfield that he regarded the GRE as the most informative part of an applicant’s dossier, but that we had no choice but to vote to stop requiring it. Why? Because otherwise we would be regarded as racists. (I was the only person to vote against dropping the GRE requirement).

And, need we mention that the woke ideologues are invariably viciously anti-Semitic. We note that liberal Jews seem not to have a problem with this. And we note that the Democratic Party has become the epicenter of American anti-Semitism.

Also typical of elite U.S. universities, UCLA is awash in Jew-hatred thinly disguised as anti-Zionism. In May 2019, one of my colleagues, Kyeyoung Park, invited a guest lecturer, San Francisco State University professor Rabab Abdulhadi, to her class to proclaim that Zionism is a form of white supremacism. Unlike Rust, Enstrom, Fink, Klein, Brantingham, Park was celebrated by the faculty and administration as a courageous, embattled exponent of academic freedom. The Anthropology Graduate Students Association chimed in with a resolution agreeing with Abdulhadi. More recently, the Asian-American Studies Department posted to its website a statement accusing Israel of settler colonialism, racial apartheid, and so on.

This involves the rejection of certain cultural values, the ones that made universities great:

A 2019 article by Liel Leibovitz, titled “Get Out,” argued that the increasingly open hostility of American universities toward Jews is inseparable from the universities’ increasingly brazen rejection of two values that, during the 20th century, made them into places where Jews specifically, and ambitious and open-minded people generally, could thrive: meritocracy and free debate. In 2019, I thought that Leibovitz was exaggerating and rather overwrought. Everything that’s happened since has shown that he was spot on.

According to Manson, thought reform has taken over the minds of younger faculty and graduate students. Thus, the future looks bleak:

First, the younger faculty tend to be far more woke than their elders. Second, administrators and student protesters perform elaborately choreographed routines that inevitably end with the former enacting policies that they wanted to enact anyway, for which the latter’s public temper tantrums serve as a pretext. 

And again, students chosen for diversity are generally incompetent. This has caused some universities, like MIT, to return to standardized testing, but that policy only works for STEM disciplines:

Third, now that standardized tests have been dropped from undergraduate application requirements, a growing number of students will be simultaneously unable to handle university level coursework, and predisposed to denounce their professors for heresy, having been chosen for admission on the basis on their leftist activism as high school students. Meanwhile, California’s K-12 schools are increasingly substituting mind-damaging political indoctrination for education.

Of course, the country’s future is in those classrooms. It is not good news.


370H55V said...

"Gradually, one hire at a time, practitioners of “critical” (i.e. leftist, postmodernist) anthropology, some of them lying about their beliefs during job interviews, came to comprise the department’s most influential clique."

Why would their "beliefs" need to be stated in job interviews anyway? And wouldn't such beliefs be a feature and not a bug in job applications?

"And, need we mention that the woke ideologues are invariably viciously anti-Semitic. We note that liberal Jews seem not to have a problem with this."

Once again, if Hitler were non-white . . .

Steve Goodman said...

If you deliberately devalue the product you are selling soon enough you will run out of buyers. The value of a university education is being undermined by the very people who would benefit from its continued worth; i.e., the woke professors, who push out those who still desire to teach as described in this article. (is there anyone so stupid as a woke college professor?) Common sense dictates either the colleges and universities that are devaluing their diplomas change course soon or they will be forced to go out of business. New colleges will soon (if not already) spring up that will offer a more valuable education than the old stalwarts, like Yale and Harvard, and employers will look to these new schools for their potential recruits.

IamDevo said...

Let us imagine, for a moment, a scenario where standards of competence (I won't even demand excellence) are rejected in favor of uniformity of opinion in, say, an automobile repair shop. Whereas the shop was, at one time, a purveyor of repairs to broken-down automobiles, it has now become a shop in which the repairmen (and women too, of course--especially the women) are not trained in the techniques of automobile repair and disdain to actually engage in repairs, but rather, are trained to discuss the ways in which automobiles are retrograde, immoral and must be eliminated and replaced by other means of transportation, but without any attempt to produce those other means, merely talk endlessly about them while simultaneously criticizing the ones who previously manufactured the automobiles they wish to replace. Eventual result: no customers, no business. That is American academia today. It may take a bit longer for it to go extinct (those endowments are pretty sizable), but that is the inevitable outcome. The question is whether we can as a society outlast the collapse of the academy.

Anonymous said...

The election was stolen, massively stolen, perhaps 20 million fraudulent or voter machine flipped votes. They are still covering this up waiting out the clock hoping that when all the truth comes out that it won't be as big a deal and not prosecutable. The left has to keep making it look like the outrage over the stolen election was a insurrection AND they have to keep covering up the fact that most of the violence and damage done on J6 was by BLM and Antifa who were bussed in to create havoc. Trump's supporters were set up exactly spo they could take attention away from the massive voter fraud.

autothreads said...

Martin Anderson predicted this all 30 years ago in his book, Imposters in the Temple: The Decline of the American University.

Anonymous said...

Good question! I got mine many years ago at my hometown's state's University of Missouri. Confirmed Again: The Green Agenda Is Taking Us Backwards.

Anonymous said...

THE "UNINTELIGIBLY" has taken over... Arm yourselves and start building strong points far from the crazed...