On the Road from Damascus: The Fall of Antioch College
Charlotte Allen delivers a devastating report on the demise of one of the country’s most venerable liberal arts institutions, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which closed its doors in June 2007. Antioch’s decline took place over many years, and the sad story features, among other things, an administration that fostered “community” and “progressivism” by indulging student demands, no matter how outrageous; students who openly bullied other students for political transgressions, such as using the word “Eskimo” instead of “Inuit”; an affirmative action program that brought “high-risk” students and inner-city belligerence to the campus; the dissolution of Antioch’s rigorous curriculum into student-designed courses of study, and its famed student civic activism into street theatre at the shopping mall; extreme identity politics in which at least one so-called “Community Day” became a “queer” celebration; the institution of co-educational residence halls with no adult supervision, resulting in the widely ridiculed sexual guidelines in which permission for each new level of sexual contact in any given interaction had to be obtained in advance; and a student strike in which the campus workers cooperated and the grounds filled up with garbage.
By 2002, the North Central Association, the accrediting body for Ohio colleges, was criticizing the school for “its incurable deficits, its deteriorating physical plant, its obsolete science laboratories, its chronic failure to meet enrollment goals [220 students when the school closed, down from 2,000 in the 1970s], its extremely high attrition rates (partly due, some students said, to the confrontational campus culture) and low graduation rates, its thinly stretched faculty, and even its no-grades policy” (“Death by Political Correctness: Who Killed Antioch College?” Weekly Standard, 12 November 2007).
The whole thing sounds like a social scientist’s dream, a veritable bell jar in which the lethal effects of unchecked Left-liberalism on a culture can be clearly observed. Oh, and let’s not forget Antioch’s honored commencement speaker for the year 2000, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose address was broadcast from his temporary residence on death row.
Fun with Forbidden Language
Diane Ravitch’s The Language Police (Random House, 2003) is an exposé of the amazingly totalitarian level of self-censorship exercised by textbook publishers today. An amusing parody based on the many ordinary and widely-used words that have been prohibited for bias or insensitivity appears in Best American Poetry 2007. The parody, by Denise Duhamel, is titled “Language Police Report,” and begins: The busybody (banned as sexist, demeaning to older women) who lives next door called my daughter a tomboy (banned as sexist) when she climbed the jungle (banned, replaced with “rain forest”) gym. Then she had the nerve to call her an egghead and a bookworm (both banned as offensive; replace with “intellectual”) because she read fairy (banned because suggests homosexuality; replace with “elf”) tales.
The busybody (banned as sexist, demeaning to older women) who lives next door called my daughter a tomboy (banned as sexist) when she climbed the jungle (banned, replaced with “rain forest”) gym. Then she had the nerve to call her an egghead and a bookworm (both banned as offensive; replace with “intellectual”) because she read fairy (banned because suggests homosexuality; replace with “elf”) tales.
And, for good measure, here are some of the McGraw-Hill guidelines for textbook illustration—part of the ongoing liberal-feminist project for the emasculation of boys and men—as listed in Ravitch’s book:
Mother bringing sandwiches to father as he fixes the roof must be replaced by mother fixing the roof.
Mother doing household chores must be replaced by father doing household chores.
Mother doing the shopping must be replaced by father doing the shopping.
Boys playing ball, girls watching, must be replaced by coed teams, boys watching.
Girls playing with dolls and baby carriages must be replaced by both girls and boys playing with the same objects, tools, books, fishing rods, and dolls.
Girls preoccupied with their appearance, playing dress-up, and buying clothes must be replaced by both sexes equally vain, equally concerned about their appearance.
Pioneer woman riding in a covered wagon as man walks must be replaced by both man and woman walking or both riding, or woman walking while man rides.
And be sure to counsel your children to build not snowmen but “snowpersons.”
Muslim Propaganda in American Schools
“Islam and the Textbooks,” a report by Gilbert T. Sewall for the American Textbook Council, available online, surveyed seven world history textbooks widely used in the seventh to twelfth grades for what they teach about Islam. His alarming conclusion: On controversial subjects, world history textbooks make an effort to circumvent unsavory facts that might cast Islam past or present in anything but a positive light. Islamic achievements are reported with robust enthusiasm. When any dark side surfaces, textbooks run and hide. Subjects such as jihad and the advocacy of violence among militant Islamists to attain worldly ends, the imposition of sharia law, the record of Muslim enslavement, and the brutal subjection of women are glossed over. Textbooks use language and concepts so similar to Islamic content guides that it appears they are lifting content broadly and uncritically from them. Either they or ignorant staff writers are taking these guides to be authoritative and factually correct. See also Sewall’s answers to his critics at the Family Security Matters website.
On controversial subjects, world history textbooks make an effort to circumvent unsavory facts that might cast Islam past or present in anything but a positive light. Islamic achievements are reported with robust enthusiasm. When any dark side surfaces, textbooks run and hide. Subjects such as jihad and the advocacy of violence among militant Islamists to attain worldly ends, the imposition of sharia law, the record of Muslim enslavement, and the brutal subjection of women are glossed over. Textbooks use language and concepts so similar to Islamic content guides that it appears they are lifting content broadly and uncritically from them. Either they or ignorant staff writers are taking these guides to be authoritative and factually correct.
See also Sewall’s answers to his critics at the Family Security Matters website.
Promoting Awareness of “Islamo-Fascism” on Campus
David Horowitz’s Freedom Center sponsored “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” from October 22–26, 2007, comprised of various events, speeches, and panel discussions on campuses throughout the country. Horowitz himself was shouted down at Emory University (Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar, “Leftist Brown Shirts Shut Down Horowitz Speech at Emory,” www.FrontPageMagazine.com, 26 October 2007). At Columbia College, security for his appearance was very tight. Guests had to be walked over to the check-in desk, and had to leave behind their jackets, tote bags, and purses. Horowitz was accompanied by two bodyguards. That campuses should be susceptible to such dangers from within and without as to warrant these precautions is desolating. But at least unlike at Emory, Horowitz was able to give his Columbia talk to an orderly and attentive audience.
Some question the whole idea of “Islamo-Fascism,” with its forced comparison to twentieth-century European fascism, such as that of Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. Some, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, refugee from Muslim persecution in Holland and under death threats here in America, assert that the problem is Islam itself, with its jihadist aspect now in ascendancy around the world. This, coupled with Western ignorance or denial of fundamentalist Islam’s aggressive potential, portends our doom. (See “The Trouble Is the West,” an interview with Hirsi Ali, in Reason, November 2007.)
But Horowitz is to be commended for trying to educate our college population to the threat of jihadist violence and the nature of Muslim sharia law as practiced in some countries. The level of innocence and outright fatuousness of many students was revealed in some of the questions put to him at Columbia, for example, “Why do you speak of Islamo-Fascism but not of American fascism, Israeli fascism, and Chinese fascism?”
Elsewhere in the Ivy League, Diana West also ran into the reigning relativism when she returned to her alma mater, Yale, to speak with students (“Making the West Disappear,” www.Townhall.com, 19 October 2007). West’s talk was based on her new book, The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin’s Press, 2007). She endeavored to explain to the young Yalies “that the leveling of adult authority over the past half century or so was accompanied by a leveling of cultural authority,” resulting in the advance of multiculturalism and blindness to the threat of Islamic violence. West “expected to hear that Islam wasn’t all bad; that I oversimplified. What emerged instead was that the West wasn’t all good; that I oversimplified.” As the Yale Daily News later put it, “Some students said West blamed Americans for censoring themselves in thought [regarding Islam] but ignored the censorship she employs in her own speech by concentrating only on the positive aspects of Western civilization.” You know how we never hear anything negative about the West but are constantly being reminded only of its glorious achievements. Enough is enough, no?
Ideology Officially Replaces Education
The indefatigable David Horowitz notes that “[s]ince the 1960s, many newly minted academic disciplines have appeared that are the result not of scholarship or scientific developments but of political pressures brought to bear by ideological sects. The discipline of Women’s Studies, the most important of these new fields, freely acknowledges its origins in a political movement and defines its educational mission in political terms.”
Now, in response to charges of politicization in higher education, the American Association of University Professors has upheld the indoctrination implicit in these disciplines in a report, titled with unintentional irony “Freedom in the Classroom,” which declares: “It is not indoctrination for professors to expect students to comprehend ideas and apply knowledge that is accepted as true within a relevant discipline.”
As Horowitz remarks, “With this formulation, the AAUP jettisons the traditional understanding of what constitutes a liberal education and ratifies” the political transformation of the university (David Horowitz, “No Ideologue Left Behind: The American Association of University Professors Defends Indoctrination,” Weekly Standard, 12 November 2007).
As Mark Bauerlein explains, political bias is the basic substance of many disciplines nowadays and thus “[a]dvocacy stands as normal and proper pedagogy” (“Indoctrination in the Classroom,” Real Clear Politics, 12 September 2007). He quotes Pamela L. Caughie of Loyola University Chicago, who asserts, “I feel I am doing my job well when students become practitioners of feminist analysis and committed to feminist politics.” And learn to love Big Sister.
Supreme Court Revisits Affirmative Action
Opinion about the first affirmative action cases since the horrendous Grutter decision is mixed. Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson County were not the clear-cut repudiation of race-based decision making that affirmative action opponents hoped for, but they did invalidate school integration programs that were too obviously based on counting by color. Basically, it seems, Grutter was upheld. Here are some headlines that convey the gist of the story: Peter Schmidt, “Supreme Court Leaves Affirmative-Action Precedents Intact in Striking Down School-Integration Plans,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 June 2007 Linda Greenhouse, “Justices Limit the Use of Race in School Plans for Integration,” New York Times, 29 June 2007 Scott Jaschik, “Mixed Messages on Affirmative Action,” Inside Higher Ed, 29 June 2007 Abigail Thernstrom, “Supreme Gibberish,” Wall Street Journal, 2 July 2007
Peter Schmidt, “Supreme Court Leaves Affirmative-Action Precedents Intact in Striking Down School-Integration Plans,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 June 2007
Linda Greenhouse, “Justices Limit the Use of Race in School Plans for Integration,” New York Times, 29 June 2007
Scott Jaschik, “Mixed Messages on Affirmative Action,” Inside Higher Ed, 29 June 2007
Abigail Thernstrom, “Supreme Gibberish,” Wall Street Journal, 2 July 2007
The Stasi Comes to the American Campus
Several colleges have instituted systems for the anonymous reporting of “bias incidents.” Start with Stanley Kurtz at Phi Beta Cons, NRO, “And That’s Why I’m Turning You In,” 26 October 2007.
Until checked by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the University of Delaware had a mandatory system of indoctrination in which freshman were required to attend residence hall training sessions and one-on-one interrogations designed to determine their “level of acceptance” of such ideas as the “term [racist] applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality” (Stuart Taylor, Jr., “Academia’s Pervasive PC Rot,” National Journal, 12 November 2007).
The only conclusion an onlooker can come to is that “diversity” is failing badly on the American campus, necessitating even greater measures of control and enforcement.
Another Way to Hate America
We’ve just caught up with the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (Regnery, 2004). The guide is generally lively, useful, and informative, but the chapter on the Civil War is written from the Southern partisan point of view. Young people who have been taught to hate America for the depredations of the South can now begin to hate her for the depredations of the North. In many of its particulars, the Southern case meshes with the Left’s ongoing brief against our country. Lee may have surrendered but the partisans won’t, and at a time when young Americans learn nothing but what is evil in their country’s history.
The Anti-Duke Case
At Eastern Michigan University, a white female student was raped and murdered in her dorm room by a black student. It took ten weeks for the police to apprehend the culprit and for the administration even to reveal that a crime had been committed (Laurie Morrow, “Murder and Mendacity in Academe,” www.FrontPageMagazine.com, 23 October 2007).
The Campus and the War
Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson’s War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy Our Military and Lose the War on Terror (Crown, 2007), includes a chapter on academia and the armed forces titled “The Left’s Madrassas.”