John Leo
Last week's column on the moral stupor of our universities in the face of terrorism generated a lot of interesting mail.

A Boston College graduate wrote: "College professors today, for the most part, are hippies with Ph.Ds. During the past 40 years, conservatives have entered the private sectors while the lazy anti-war, anti-America intellectuals have flocked to college campuses. As a result, it is nearly impossible to break the grip that the left has on the college system. Professors discover your views through papers and classroom comments, and they do not forget. They indirectly pressure young students to adopt leftist ideals by refusing to present the competing philosophy."

A professor at a Catholic university in the West said she has been "banging my head against the wall" after reading her university's resolution that stressed the need to guard against "religious or national stereotyping," but had nothing much to say about the attacks of Sept. 11. "Why is my employer having such a difficult time issuing a condemnation of one of the most despicable acts in our history?" she wrote. "Cautioning American citizens about tolerance in a time of crisis is important. But there are other moral dangers, too. Evil must be confronted and defeated, and Americans must be cautioned to be brave and steadfast in doing so.

"I don't think it's anti-Americanism here. That's a more common sin at elite universities. But the notion that appropriate moral conduct might include being tough-minded and resolute in the face of attack rather than simply tolerant is completely foreign here. We are moral one-trick ponies."

A professor who has taught for 25 years at the City University of New York couldn't believe the Marxist claptrap in a statement put out in the name of the full-time instructional staff of his university: "I'm appalled to have the leadership of the union that represents me pass a resolution that basically tells students and teachers not to study or teach, or even to stand up for America, but to fight their corporate or government employers instead. I am no hawk, but ..."

(The resolution is even more astonishingly stupid than described. It condemns American militarism and says that workers of the world, including students and teachers, "do not need to be fighting against fellow-workers under other flags and gods but rather against their own corporate or government employers, as we are at CUNY.")

"Your column was not news to me, having spent the good part of 20 years on campus," another professor wrote. "Having defined themselves for years with the rhetoric of the collectivist left and its assumptions of superiority, (professors) cannot shake themselves out of their self-imposed propaganda and face reality. In contrast, the vast majority of students on their campuses have no problem at all distinguishing between the radical rantings of their professors and the cold hard fact of thousands of innocents dead in New York."

A drop-out from the academic life wrote: "I left graduate school in the '70s because it was becoming apparent that academic jobs had been filled during the late '60s by half-trained anti-war and race zealots. Large groups of would-be academics turned to law, investment banking and similar pursuits (to the questionable benefit of the nation) because the academy had become a closed, self-perpetuating cult of Marxist and other anti-Western fanatics with risibly crackpot social theories that can't stand a moment's analysis outside the adolescent hothouse of the academy."

A lifelong liberal who says he was surprised to find himself agreeing with my column had this to say: "I can't help but wonder if the 'America had it coming' crowd also advises the rape victim that she had it coming, perhaps because of the way she dressed or acted, or because of the way she treated men over the years. Then again, perhaps the rapist had been on the receiving end of so many offensive cultural messages that rape was the only means he had to express himself."

A California woman who signed herself "former Central Valley girl" praised Professor Victor Hanson's comments on the disconnect between the patriotism of students and the "boutique anti-Americanism" of their teachers at California State University-Fresno. She wrote: "Many of these students have as a heritage great-grandparents who were Dust Bowl refugees or Hispanic migrant workers. Superficially disparate, these two groups have much in common: a respect for God and country, a solid work ethic and love of family. In spite of the foolishness of the Ivory Tower elite, it cannot destroy what has been planted in the Central Valley's fertile soil of good values, productive people who know the difference between the common good and 'fatuous nonsense.'"

Many letter writers stressed the theme that most students are smart enough to cut through the ideological smog that hangs over the campuses. Let's hope that's so.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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