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OPINION

‘Brutal Minds’ is a Devastating Critique of the Brainwashing in Higher Ed

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File

Award-winning Professor Stanley K. Ridgley has written a book exposing how badly higher education has become infested with dogmatic progressivism. Brutal Minds: The Dark World of Left-Wing Brainwashing in Our Universities.

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“Many call themselves ‘marginalized voices’ and are declared off limits to criticism,” he explained. “The fact is they are not marginalized. They are lionized, they are feted, they have a canon of books and seminal thinkers, they have a zealous following, and some earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for diversity consulting.” 

“If folks think of the university as an aristocracy of the learned, of the best and the brightest, the reality in the bureaucracy is increasingly that of a ruling clerisy of the worst and the dullest,” he went on. Ridgley said the activists “are trying to transform the university into an institution more appropriate to the thirteenth century” that will “ensure ideological conformity.” 

He compared the status in higher ed to Václav Havel’s real-life essay, “The Power of the Powerless.” The former Czech president explained how a small business owner in 1970s communist Czechoslovakia put a sign in his window that said, “Workers of the World, Unite!” not because he supported the communist movement, but “because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble … someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life.”   

Ridgley revealed that much of the indoctrination and wokeness is imposed by the Student Affairs departments in universities. Students need to be prepared to be assaulted “intellectually, verbally, psychologically, ideologically [and] racially.” He warned that “these folks aren’t satisfied just performing their handsomely subsidized antics on the campuses. They’re on a mission to ‘boldly transform higher education.’”

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He explained how it is allowed to continue happening. “Sleepy boards of trustees are feted and given PowerPoint presentations that show progress of a sort, with metrics sufficiently abstract and yet seemingly on point.” The book is peppered with recent outrageous incidents that have occurred at universities around the country, and he described a few of the most outrageous professors. 

Ridgley compared the indoctrination to that of cults, using the Unification Church as an example. Cults “prey on the weak and well-meaning, the uncertain and unaware.” They are directed like “sheep” into one group. Whereas “the strong, assertive, confident, grounded, morally secure student with a strong belief system” are akin to goats, and “quickly returned.” He said, “Cultspeak” is recognized as “big smiles and the mantra of inclusion and belonging.” He laid out several revealing red flags, such as keeping recruits “occupied to such a degree that they don’t get around to thinking about what they are doing or what is being done to them.” 

Phrases like “Critical Race Theory” are no longer used since the public is onto them. Instead, it’s “learning about race” or “antiracist pedagogy.” Ridgley has a gift for breaking down the propaganda and defining it at its root level. “The content of antiracism is a mash-up of pseudoscientific speculations inspired by psychopathic paranoia and codified into a conspiracy theory,” he explained. 

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One chapter goes over the extracurricular workshops the do-gooders push on students, while another focuses on “hook and hammer;” how the “authoritarians” craft a “seductive, idealistic, visionary” message to hook students, then hammer them “with the stark message of racial reality” to “move them quickly along a conveyor belt of conversion.”

Ridgley offered solutions. He said parents should push back, since they are paying huge amounts of tuition. He ridiculed the correspondence universities send to parents, “They offer upbeat, wholesome mails couched in the occasional jargon-laden abstractions.” There is nothing on the parents’ portal or “school’s website about destabilizing the student’s sense of self and replacing the student’s belief system with a crypto-Maoist doctrine in a process of unfreezing-changing-refreezing.” 

The universities can be sued over workshops and racial caucuses that violate anti-discrimination laws regarding race, gender, etc. He provided a list of 15 key steps that may be taken, such as cutting all ties with the radical leftist American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Ridgley decimated the organizations. Their national “[c]onferences are places where student affairs staffers go to be somebody,” he said. “It is there they can be taken seriously, no matter now vapid … they take selfies with the high gurus of the faith.” 

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He recommended that students contact the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for free speech issues, the National Association of Scholars to find helpful faculty, and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for resources promoting “academic excellence, academic freedom, and accountability in our universities.” 

Too bad this book wasn’t required reading for every student entering college. It would eliminate a lot of unnecessary divisiveness and they could avoid learning the hard way later in life that they’re really conservatives.

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