Most College Humanities and Social Science Programs Have Become Enemies of Freedom and Reason

Former University of Missouri Journalism professor Melissa Click, as she threatened violence against a student journalist filming a leftist protest.

By John Zmirak Published on March 9, 2017

In the wake of the riots that have silenced free speech on one campus after another, it is clear that few colleges or universities still offer a real liberal arts education. Nor have most even lapsed into simple careerism, aiming solely at getting students ready to support themselves and their families. That would be bad enough, a grim decline from the reason that the Church created the first universities back in the Middle Ages: forming the “whole person,” as West Point still aims to do.

No, things are much worse than that. The reason that most students go to college is grimly careerist — it’s like getting a green card that permits you to work at most jobs in America. But the schools have kept the infrastructure of old-fashioned Western liberal arts institutions, adding on the apparatus of 19th-century quasi-sciences like sociology and history. However, the ideas about human nature, politics, economics, morality and culture that have captured most humanities and social science departments are aggressively hostile to the culture of the West, especially Christianity, limited government, and economic freedom. Even the unique value of human life is no longer taken for granted, thanks to the explosion of ecological fundamentalism in the name of “sustainability.”

Your average humanities department is like a seminary whose theology department has been captured by tenured atheists.

So we have the worst of both worlds: schools that keep up the pretense of forming young people in humanistic disciplines, while the teachers who’ve grabbed control of the relevant departments are doing exactly the opposite. So students pass statues of Homer, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare and Washington, en route to classes whose teachers and texts sneer at every value any of those men would have treasured. 

Your average humanities department is thus like a seminary whose theology department has been captured by tenured atheists. Even in schools that still retain a Western core curriculum, there are influential teachers like the late Edward Said of Columbia, who boasted that he taught the “canon” of Western literature as a means of exposing our culture as the oppressor of most of the world.  

Rejecting Reason, Freedom and Objectivity

Even worse than that, whole disciplines have turned against ideals of reason, free discourse and objectivity, and rest their conclusions instead on untestable, aggressively political dogmas whose premises are unquestioned. In fact, if a student or teacher attempts to question them, he will simply be punished, academically or professionally. Thus they operate less as intellectual fields of inquiry than intolerant, man-made religions — or ideologies. That word means more than just “worldview.” It’s a term for a set of intellectual rationalizations for positions you chose for non-rational reasons, such as the craving for money, power, privilege, or revenge. An ideology is a half-baked idea with a fully loaded pistol.

An ideology is a half-baked idea with a fully loaded pistol.

The great critic of Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, Eric Voegelin, explained how to distinguish a legitimate, grounded worldview from an ersatz religion, or ideology. In The New Science of Politics, he noted that ideologues defend their systems not by anticipating objections and answering them, but instead by forbidding the questions.

Marx allowed no room in his system of materialistic determinism for the possibility  of God. When students asked him about that, he told them that in a future socialist paradise, the question of God would never come up. (Indeed, future Marxist governments would send the secret police to make sure of that.) Of course that is not an answer but an evasion. It’s the response not of a philosopher but of an ideologue.

Whole Disciplines Without Dissenters

Women’s studies professors, almost to a person, take for granted the right to abortion. How many “queer theory” teachers are willing to entertain the natural law objections to same-sex marriage? Will they let students defend that position in papers in their classes, without subjecting them to classroom shaming and punitive grading? Would students who end up in one of these classes have the nerve to make the experiment? I don’t advise it. I advise not taking those classes, and if they are required I advise transferring colleges.

Can we really take seriously the claim that these are legitimate academic fields, when the answers to complex questions that are widely and justly debated — not just across America, but around the world and throughout the centuries — are so blithely taken for granted that there are simply no dissenters? Worse still, these disciplines poison other departments, as history professors adopt the “consensus” of women’s studies “scholars” on one issue, and philosophers, theologians, even chaplains accept the queer theorists’ party line.

It’s not just that classes infused by such corrupted, politicized disciplines indoctrinate students with pat, false conclusions, and encourage them to wield them self-righteously as cudgels. Nor even that students are being robbed of the chance to appreciate thinkers, artists, and statesmen of the past with any sympathy or pleasure. All that is bad enough.

Lazy Thinking Makes Snowflakes

Even worse, in the long run, are the intellectual laziness and emotional fragility that such an education produces. Can you imagine college Democrats in 1952 reacting to the election of immigration hawk Dwight Eisenhower as today’s “snowflakes” responded to Donald Trump’s win? Even the self-righteous and often violent radicals who took over campuses in the 60s didn’t have melt-downs, public crying fits, and apparent nervous breakdowns when Nixon beat McGovern. Whatever crackpot ideologies they might have adopted, they had been through the training in rigorous, critical thinking that Western education has prided itself on since the ancient Greeks. Our current generation wouldn’t know rigor from rigor mortis.

All these are excellent, and to my mind decisive, reasons to shutter most humanities and social science departments, and reduce English faculty to teaching remedial reading, correct grammar, and the basics of business writing. Let universities and colleges shrink down to their icy, pragmatic core: preparing future taxpayers, without poisoning their minds with toxic ideologies founded on crass intellectual sloth. First do no harm.

But who will pass on the really important traditions of humanistic learning, which our current crop of “humanists” has poisoned like a virus yet clings to like a tapeworm? Tomorrow I’ll grope toward an answer at how to replace the wrecked infrastructure of liberal education in our current tough conditions.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Gary

    What has ruined colleges is that liberals run them. Liberals destroy everything they touch. But there is also the problem of people thinking that if you don’t have a college degree, you aren’t smart, and can’t do good work. That idea has been promoted by colleges in order to try to get more paying customers. And you have to give them credit; they have been very successful in getting people to believe that lie.

    • Triple T

      It’s as if college today is what high school was 50 years ago. I have a friend who realized early on that college wasn’t for him. He now repairs air conditioners and heating systems. He enjoys the work and is good at it. There will always be work for him, and he just bought a nice house in a good part of town. College was never meant to be for everybody and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • RebelwithaCause

      I disagree that this idea has been promoted by colleges. It is far darker than that! It has been promoted by the global progressive elites. By funnelling the naturally intelligent, (and people who will work in areas of influence (i.e.: teachers), into subverted Universities , the modern Marxist indoctrination camps, they can then strip these individuala of their capacity to reason, and indoctinate and retrain them into “useful idiots” to further their hedonistic earthly Utopian dreams of sexual promoscuity, eugenics, gloablisation, etc. This has been a far more effective strategy than the original Marxists used, who set about imprisoning and killing intellectuals when they questioned the Elite after reality began to sink in and the true evil nature of Marxism came to light. Thereis no fear of this happening again under the new program of making Zombies of modern intelliectuals at Universities as they have effectively rendered them incapable of recognising reality. It is also why they are so demanding of the hoi polloi to reconise the authority of these “expert” – the intellectual who went to University, got brain-washed and regurgitates the irrationality of progressivism. It is also why they are in melt-down after the Trump victory, because they thought they had gained total control over the masses under Obama, and are outraged that the Deplorables had the audacity to rise up against them. Because they have been Zombified this is why they the Democrats, Professors, MSM, celebrities don’t get the free thinking, rational Americans who rejected their “truths”.

  • Autrey Windle

    John, I can see why they gave you a hard time at University. You have clear, reasoned thinking and that is the antithesis of the modern university model. I wanted so much to have a university education in the 80’s but supporting myself never allowed for more than a few classes now and then. I had friends teaching a UT in Austin and was told often that I would never make it through that school because I would be throwing the books out of windows; that the current system didn’t want my reasoning brought to the classrooms. They used to shake their heads at my idealism that education was so expanding of the mind and important to the balance of life. Now in my later years, I understand. Your article made me remember a few years ago when the professor told the student to write God’s name on a paper and put it on the floor and stomp on it. I was sickened by the fact that that would even be tolerated from any ‘teacher’. Not having a higher education, I didn’t understand Marxism but I thank you for giving some info in your article. I live by common sense and I no longer envy all my friends their ‘higher’ education because I clearly see it steals the free and critical thinking of most of the children who end up there. When you steal the education of the children and silence questioning and reason, you can kill an entire society. This has been the objective of the enemy forever and now the Universities seem to be in the devil’s back-pocket. God bless you and God protect our society from the destroyer. Amen.
    P.S. Snowflakes are all different from each the other/ these crybabies are just plain cornflakes soaked in lowfat milk of human unkindness.

    • Wayne Cook

      Marxist thought isn’t higher education. It’s a rejection of God. Then the construct attempts to put together a world base on oligarchy. Basically the NWO is simply a smaller, more intense oligarchy.

      • Autrey Windle

        I didn’t finish school and understanding of Marx wasn’t part of my GED and then not being able to finish college I never really knew anything to speak of about Marx so reading this article was helpful to my understanding. I thought I might have learned that if I had gone to University. That’s all I meant…

        • Wayne Cook

          I lived it. I grew up in South America in a time of enormous unrest, Marxist ideology in universities and the beginninings of several terrorist organizations. Heck, I was just 15 when 300 university kids were machine gunned in Bolivia where I lived. Che Guevara had died one year before and the students were celebrating the anniversary. The government was having none of it. Obviously, I have strong personal feelings and from that point on, close up knowledge of what Marxists do to kids, teachers, and towns.

          • Autrey Windle

            I am glad you made it safely through what sounds like a perilous time. I am a bit embarrassed by my lack of historical world affairs knowledge. I have been a little busy putting out home-fires in my tumultuous little life and find that I finally have the time to catch up on learning things I just want to know instead of spending all my time learning what I needed to know yesterday to avoid getting run over in my daily existence. There is a reason I strongly advocate to nurture, rear and guard your children. I am what can happen to them if they are too much latchkey and left unguarded. God spent so much time pulling me away from death’s door that it’s a wonder He had time to help everybody else! I promise everyone that they do not want their children to have the life I had. If my precious Mom hadn’t gone home to Jesus, she would tell you I’m right. Eventually I hope to know who the despots and dictators were and what havoc they wreaked on the people they were supposed to be looking out for. I firmly believe that if we don not know history we are doomed to repeat it. I did know Marx, Mao and Hitler were top 10 worst of the worst, but I am slowly learning exactly why. It breaks one’s heart but I am comforted that God holds their victims close by His throne. I can tell He led you through what you have experienced as part of your combat training. I am confident that you are an able warrior and want to encourage you and all the warriors that we have a deployment right where God puts us and He always knows exactly who He needs where. Go with God, my friend.

  • Gary

    In this day of the internet, YouTube, libraries, etc. anyone who wants one can become educated in just about any subject they want. College is not needed for an education. Unless you need a degree in something you want to do, like be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher in government schools, an engineer, etc. you don’t need a college degree. You can learn about a great many things, and do it much more inexpensively than by paying for college.

  • Rex Rhinesmith

    Thanks for giving substance to the merits of Prician avoidism in the context of “higher education”, two words which, when joined, should never appear outside quotation marks. One cannot imagine a more appropriate time to invoke Proverbs 20:3 “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.”

  • Wayne Cook

    No surprise. The same thing happened in much of South America in the 60’s…then the continent turned socialist over the next two decades. Ecuador broke the icy grip of communism when she voted them out…

    Will universities ever change? Not until funding changes. Not until tenure is stripped. Not until reality is forced on Marxist professors.

  • blackfeather

    …and the picture of this moron typifies exactly what this story is about.

    • Triple T

      You can sense the BO in that area just by looking at that picture

Inspiration
When It Looks Like We’re Getting Nowhere
Tom Gilson
More from The Stream
Connect with Us