Mona Charen

I will not get sentimental, or so I keep telling myself. Well, maybe a little sentimental, but never maudlin at the approaching departure of my 17-year-old son for college in the fall. Fall? Did I say fall? No, he leaves in August -- cruel calendar!

If I sometimes find myself leafing through photos of him at 2 and 5 and 11 -- here nodding off in the stroller, there in his Harry Potter costume -- and if there's a smile at the memory of how enthralled the preschool David was with the Triassic, Cretaceous, Jurassic and its fearsome denizens, well, that's the way of mothers. One video I happened to pick off the shelf featured an 8-year-old David narrating a tour of the backyard with, as he put it, grinning, "my dimwitted assistant, Ben." That would be his little brother, who knew well how to give it back.

"Mom," Ben called on another occasion, "David hit my hand with his face. Can you punish him?"

Now we count the days until David is off to college. A liberal parent may glow with excitement and pride at the prospect of his child attending college. Isn't that why she got straight A's, crammed for the SATs, played travel soccer, and dug wells in Guatemala during summer breaks? But no conservative can be entirely cheerful at the prospect of an impressionable youth being bundled off to a university in the United States. Academia is a conquered land -- the playground of the ultra-left.

A recent report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education counts David's college as among the seven best for free speech in the nation. That such a list is required speaks volumes. The seven are Arizona State, Dartmouth, William & Mary, the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and the University of Virginia. Not that these seven are moderate in their political or social views. Don't make me laugh. Not that they have more than one or two Republicans in the whole humanities faculty. Ha! No, these schools excel simply because they don't exert the kind of totalitarian thought and speech control so commonplace on American campuses.

We scrape together our hard-earned income (lots of it) to deposit our cherished offspring at schools that are determined to teach them to despise everything we revere -- even learning.

Three decades ago, at Stanford University, Jesse Jackson led chants of "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go." If you were in any doubt, the National Association of Scholars reports that the mob was wildly successful. The institutions that are (or were) one of the glories of Western civilization -- universities -- now no longer see the worth of teaching the history of the West.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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