In the Winter 2018 issue of Academic Questions, the special issue, “Unorthodox Ideas,” our authors present a clutch of disparate ideas and viewpoints that are for the most part forbidden in the scaly strictures of today’s campus in order to make a point about intellectual freedom.
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The De-rehabilitation of Charles Murray
John Derbyshire, Long Island, New York
The first entry in our “Unorthodox Ideas” feature posits that the distinguished but vilified co-author of The Bell Curve (1994) had been enjoying a period of widespread—if halting and belated—recognition for his work on human capability and social class stratification in the 2000s. Even the science of intelligence testing had come around to affirming much of Murray’s disparaged conclusions about innate human differences. Then came the election of President Donald Trump—and the Left’s obsessive drive to prove that white racism is at the heart of his ascent.
Race, Crime and Culture
Barry Latzer, John J. College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Culture matters when it comes to crime, says Barry Latzer, and not all cultures are equal when it comes to nurturing law-abiding citizens. This concept would seem to warrant great interest among scholars, public officials, and the reading public struggling to make sense of this fundamental social problem. Unfortunately, at least one major academic publisher violated basic peer review standards—and very likely its own financial interests—to ensure that the evidence for this proposition never sees the light of day.
Front and Center: The Place for Western Classical Music in the Curriculum
Dan Asia, University of Arizona, Tucson
Western classical music represents the highest artistic achievement, and possesses “undeniable pedagogical, cultural, and spiritual significance,” writes Dan Asia. In the academic curriculum, however, it has taken a back seat to all varieties of popular music, the result of the attack on artistic standards and an aversion to the notion of an aesthetic hierarchy. Instead, Asia suggests that classical music be recentered in the college music curriculum, allowing students to “confront its beauty and bear witness to its magnificence.”
Low-Skilled Immigration and the Balkanized Campus
Jason Richwine, Washington, D.C.
The mass immigration and slow assimilation of low-skilled Hispanics has contributed to the permanence of multi-group affirmative action and identity politics in American university life. As Jason Richwine argues, “University campuses have become microcosms of interethnic disputes in American society.”
Southern Symbols: Not in Memoriam, but (Once Again) in Defense
Aaron D. Wolf, The Rockford Institute
Pressure to denounce and remove Southern monuments from the public square, writes Aaron D. Wolf, risks abolishing with them the traditions of agrarianism, localism, and resistance to federal encroachment, all uniquely Southern contributions to the American body politic.
The True Author of Frankenstein
John Lauritsen, Dorchester, Massachusetts
To writer and publisher John Lauritsen, the evidence is overwhelming that Mary Shelley is not the author of the classic nineteenth-century novel Frankenstein (1818). Lauritsen is convinced that Shelley’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote the anonymously published novel, which he says abounds with the theme of male love. Needless to say, his thesis has not impressed academic critics, who cling to Mary Shelley as an early feminist icon and have banished Lauritsen from several scholarly venues.
Aristocracy and Civilization
Chilton Williamson, Jr., Editor, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture
Our elites can learn quite a lot from aristocracy, properly understood, says Chilton Williamson, Jr. Aristocracy’s purpose, writes Williamson, is “the preservation of civilization by making valuable and significant contributions to it and transmitting it to future generations.” By contrast, meritocratic society today “is inherently an agitated, uncertain, and unstable society, incapable of transmitting anything beyond mere technological inventions to the next generation.” While we are desperately in need of one, however, it is unlikely a true aristocracy can be restored.
The Moral Case for Concealed Carry on Campus
Timothy Hsiao, Grantham University
Timothy Hsiao disputes the most commonly made arguments for not allowing students and campus personnel to carry guns, insisting that it is logical and moral for colleges to provide this right. Resistance to this idea, writes Hsiao, is primarily “an emotional response rooted in fear of the unfamiliar, rather than a disinterested consideration of the evidence."
Long Live King William
Carol Iannone, editor-at-large of Academic Questions
For the final entry in our “Unorthodox Ideas” feature, Carol Iannone argues that for what he and his mistress Camilla did to Lady Diana Spencer, to the institution of marriage, and to the integrity of the church he is supposed to head, argues that Prince Charles has disqualified himself as successor to the British Crown.
Tom Wolfe and the Rise of Donald Trump
Wight Martindale, Jr., Villanova University, Villanova, PA
The connection between the late and illustrious man of letters and the crafty developer may not be obvious. But Wight Martindale, Jr. sees in both “natural drainers of the swamp, born iconoclasts” who “remained outsiders, for life.”
Appreciating Tom Wolfe (1930-2018)
Carol Iannone, editor-at-large of Academic Questions
Against the headwinds of postmodern literary boredom and countercultural cant about form over substance, Tom Wolfe restored realism to its proper literary station, presenting America as it truly is using a “broad social canvas, numerous characters from varied levels of society, and multiple plots and subplots.”
A Renaissance for the Humanities
Milton Ezrati, Center for the Study of Human Capital at the University at Buffalo (SUNY)
Attacks on the study of the humanities—first, from the “cult of progress” in the nineteenth century, then from the postmodern rejection of virtue and universal truth in the twentieth—have left the study of Greek, Latin, history, philosophy, and literature withered. But the decline of religious belief and moral direction over the past few decades leads Milton Ezrati to conclude the humanities might be primed for a comeback.
Education Reform: Does Anything Work?
Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas, Prof. of Education, Emerita
Despite somewhat promising local education reform efforts in the past few decades, two recent books indicate that the “top-down” approach to education reform, starting with the federal government, has come to dominate the field, with little resistance from erstwhile proponents of local control.