Manny Montes: Only point of view permitted on campuses is woke progressivism
Judie Rae’s recent column, “The function of higher education” was a response to my August 28 submission, “College students have been indoctrinated.” She disagrees with me. She contends to have taught for almost 30 years in various colleges and universities in California. This certainly lends credibility to her assertions, but what she describes is an academic environment as it should be. She states, “ … the purpose of a college education is to teach a person how to think, not what to think. To that end students learn to recognize logical fallacies and to create argument devoid of errors in reasoning. They learn not to argue by calling others names or by the use of hasty generalizations.” She further states, “ … they (students) are open to entertaining many points of view, and with the skills learned in school, they are able to evaluate critically; they are able to discern between fact and opinion.” Really? The only point of view permitted on many campuses is that of woke progressivism. Conservatives invited to speak on campuses have to cancel engagements because of protest or be escorted by police for their protection. Open to entertaining many points of view? Reality belies this assertion. Academia has been radically corrupted. But don’t take my word for it.
The California Association of Scholars, a division of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), issued a report in April 2012, “A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California.” https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/Reports/A%20Crisis%20of%20Competence/A_Crisis_of_Competence.pdf
The report is addressed to the Regents of the University of California, but the pathologies it diagnoses prevail throughout the country. Its analysis contradicts Ms. Rae’s assertions, and conforms to what I’ve known of academia for quite some time.
The analysis begins from a nonpolitical fact: “Numerous studies of both the UC system and of higher education nationwide demonstrate that students who graduate from college are increasingly ignorant of history and literature. They are unfamiliar with the principles of American constitutional government. And they are bereft of the skills necessary to comprehend serious books and effectively marshal evidence and argument in written work.”
It goes on to state, “that prescribed books are frequently no more than journalistic presentations of a simple political message instead of the more complex writings appropriate to an academic context; and that faculty teach what to think rather than how to think: that is, they demand correct attitudes and beliefs of students more than they require independent reading and thought.” The report is a scathing indictment of our university environment.
And then we have a list of theories with their roots firmly planted in postmodern philosophy, promulgated in our universities nation wide. Critical theory, critical race theory, (taught and innovated in the fields of education, political science, women’s studies, ethnic studies, communication, sociology, and American studies), Intersectionality, and Post-Colonialism. This last reads as if history began in the 17th century. These theories represent “The Truth;” dogma, just as fanatical religious dogma. What do all these have in common? America’s unremitting malice.
Ms. Rae’s assertion that students are taught critical thinking is belied by the fact of the ubiquitous presence of “safe spaces” on our campus nation wide. Not so at the University of Chicago. Dean of students, John Ellison wrote a letter warning to incoming first-year students that made it very clear there would be no safe spaces or trigger warnings.
He states: “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.” Now this is the university atmosphere Ms. Rae describes, yet it is not represented in most our higher educational institutions.
University of Chicago’s letter represents the kind of university that has long been vanquished. Hail UChicago.
Finally, regarding defining terms, Ms. Rae states, “Mr. Montes states, “Any right-minded person knows …” What the heck is a right-minded person? A Buddhist? An S.S. guard? A pointy-headed intellectual …? This is in reference to my statement, “BLM wants the defunding or eliminating police departments. This will save Black lives. Any right-minded person knows this will place more black lives in jeopardy, i.e., more black deaths.” Well, any right-minded person, even a Buddhist, an S.S. guard, or a pointy-headed intellectual would intuitively recognize the axiomatic premises in my statement, i.e., no police, more deaths, and recognize its truth.
Manny Montes lives in Auburn.
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