Here’s a pop quiz for you college students out there.
When handling controversial issues, whether modern-day or historical, do your professors present both sides? Do they solicit alternate viewpoints, or at least create an atmosphere in which those who disagree feel comfortable airing a different perspective? Do they encourage critical thinking?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, congratulations. Because your experience puts you in a distinct minority among college students.
Consider some all-too-typical examples:
• A mid-term exam in a criminology course at the University of Northern Colorado required students to write an essay on the topic, “Explain Why President Bush is a War Criminal.”
• At Colorado University Law School, a professor of property law harangued his class on why all Republicans are racist.
• A required “Peace Studies” textbook at Ohio State University (Marion) claimed that the Soviet Union, unlike the United States, was a force for peace in the Cold War, and that the United States is the world’s greatest terrorist state. The authors did not even entertain the possibility that the United States might be in any way a force for good.
“You have to believe that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic, imperialist, Islamophobic country to get through many courses in universities these days,” notes David Horowitz, a former left-wing activist who provided the above examples to the Ohio Senate when campaigning for adoption of an Academic Bill of Rights. The story of that battle is detailed in his latest book, “Reforming Our Universities.”
The sharp left bent toward political correctness in nothing new in our nation’s universities. It can be traced to the heady days of student unrest that arose in late 1960s and early 1970s during the Vietnam War. But as Dinesh D’Souza showed in his 1991 bestseller “Illiberal Education,” it wasn’t until the 1980s -- when those who had marched, chanted and protested as students themselves became professors -- that our nation’s colleges morphed from institutions of scholarly pursuit to full-fledged indoctrination factories.
The result, as author Roger Kimball documents in his book “Tenured Radicals,” is nothing less than a “war against Western culture.”
It’s important to note that the problem arises not from the inclusion of politically liberal ideas. The problem, as an examination of the curriculum of almost any American college reveals, is that the conservative position has been evicted. It’s treated in one of two ways: It’s held up for ridicule, or it’s simply ignored.
If, on the other hand, professors were presenting both points of view, fairly and dispassionately, there would be nothing to quarrel about. In fact, there would be much to praise, because such academic inquiries lie at the heart of what a university is -- or should be.
And it’s not just in the classroom. A student at Palm Beach State University tried this year to establish a chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student group, at the campus “rush” event for registered clubs. She was told by phone and email that she could do so. But when one administrator saw her table adorned with literature (including Heritage Foundation reports) that dared to criticize President Obama’s economic policies, she ordered the student to collect her material and leave immediately. The administrator claimed the group could not exhibit at the event because it hadn’t registered properly. But the law permits even leafleting at a public university, with no special permission required.
“College is a refuge from hasty judgment,” Robert Frost once wrote. At least, it’s supposed to be -- and a long time ago, it actually was. But unless parents, students and community leaders stand up for their rights, the rush to muzzle conservative thought, while leading a leftist propaganda parade on campus, will continue unabated.
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