The National Association of Scholars (NAS) enthusiastically endorses the growing alumni rebellion against Woke tyranny in undergraduate education. No one should subsidize the turn of liberal arts and pre-professional education against free inquiry, the pursuit of truth, and the fostering of virtuous citizenship. Wokeness is a profoundly anti-intellectual force whose proponents parade it as a set of insights into how the world really works. But the insights are spurious and the movement comes down to another version of “might makes right.”
Taxpayers and parents should not underwrite this anti-education, nor should alumni. The dawning realization among many alumni of once outstanding colleges that their alma maters have turned into mere sepulchers of higher learning is long overdue. The sooner the Woke education establishment loses this financial lifeline, the better.
Alumni, of course, tend to look on their alma maters through the lens of their own undergraduate experience, and college and university offices of alumni affairs work very hard to maintain this pleasant illusion. Alumni who begin to question the illusion are typically met first with efforts to charm them back into complacency, and if that fails, with ostracism. The last thing our colleges and universities want are alumni “stakeholders” who have become skeptical of the nouveau pauvre—newly impoverished—curriculum.
Rebellious alumni should not expect quick results. The tale of America in this last generation is the economic rise of the radical gentry and plutocrats, whose power is so great that they need no longer defer to the interests or ideals of America’s decaying main streets. Indeed, they can extract wealth from ordinary Americans against their will via their capture of corporate monopolies and government bureaucracies. A thousand alumni can cease to donate to Radical U, and one Jack Dorsey can offset them by a single gift, not to mention his ability to steer the munificence of the federal government. Higher education will remain by and for the Woke establishment for some time to come, even if a large majority of alumni cease to stuff the coffers of their alma maters.
The rebellion nonetheless should continue because it is the first step towards creating a new network of higher education that can create new institutions independent of the Woke establishment, free from the federal bureaucracy, and indifferent to the professional organizations that promote stifling mediocrity. Indeed, alumni must also undertake the task of overseeing any institution they create because educational bureaucracies are always poised to lend a “helping hand,” which soon turns into a Woke-ish stranglehold. A University of Austin may offer hope now—but alumni cannot leave it to its own devices, or it will decay into another Radical U before a generation has passed.
NAS endorses the alumni rebellion—but we challenge America’s alumni to do more than withdraw their spare cash from their Woke alma maters. They must build a new network of colleges and universities, a hundred Hillsdale Colleges, and they cannot satisfy themselves with cutting checks for a different recipient. They must do the hard work of educating their children themselves.
All we Americans must, if we wish our sons and daughters to remain free.