Stop Hiring Yalies: A 5-Point Plan for Ending Campus Madness
America’s “progressive” college students are throwing a temper tantrum, and there is method to their madness. Yes, many of the frothing sign-wavers are just so many clueless pawns, but lurking behind the campus insanity is a coldly calculated purpose. The goal is to change forever the culture of education that forms our country’s leadership class.
And, yes, the movie we’re watching is a sequel. The campus explosions in 1968 also were the fruit of careful planning in smoky backrooms among hard left agitators — who coolly crafted the slogans that addled a million hippies’ brains, all to advance the goal of crippling America’s war effort in Vietnam and installing radicals in power on college campuses.
That ’60s campus movement was itself a sequel of sorts. Instead of the Old Left’s harsh, ascetical creed that called young people to go work in factories alongside the proletariat, the New Left repackaged radicalism as a pretext for hedonism and cowardice. Suddenly, taking drugs, dodging the draft, impregnating women and packing them off to abortionists were signs of some higher virtue — brave rebellions against the tyranny of repressive bourgeois values. No wonder the tactic worked like catnip on an alley cat.
Now the hard Left has dusted off that strategy and repackaged it, attacking core principles of free speech, academic objectivity, truth-telling and moral responsibility for one’s own actions — all in the service of an ideological construct that has captured the liberal arts faculties at most universities, even those nominally Christian.
This construct is the spider that hatched a thousand eggs, from the lies at the University of Missouri about imaginary Klansmen to the spasms at toxic kindergartens like my alma mater, Yale University, where “elite” students cringe and whine that they feel “unsafe” when exposed to contrary ideas or ethnic Halloween costumes — then coldly demand an end to dissenting professors’ careers. This from the school that once gave us Nathan Hale.
There are so many jumbled elements to the new worldview twisting all too many of our young citizens into cowards, bullies and fools that one could spend hundreds of pages unpacking it, but two words really will do: Cultural Marxism. Marx followed Machiavelli in viewing every aspect of social and economic life through the jaundiced eye that sees life as, at root, a ruthless struggle for power. But Marx wrapped that Italian’s bone-deep cynicism in a pseudo-Christian costume: Yes, all of human life should be seen as a vicious fight for power. But here is the twist: We are on the side of the weak, of the victims, who have waited too long for revenge, Marxism coos to its adherents. And it joins to this a promise, one rarely stated explicitly: We will gain power ourselves by ostentatiously joining their side and speaking on their behalf, then sticking it to the former ruling class, and collecting their fallen privileges.
To accomplish this power-grab, cultural Marxists seek to infiltrate and dominate every important medium of culture, every elite institution, which magnifies their power to punish their enemies. They will be winsome when it is helpful, act vulnerable when that’s needed, but when they smell blood in the wind, they will drop the rubber Anne Frank mask and start yelling for “some muscle.”
What Cultural Marxism offers is a wish list for spoiled, lazy, randy students on the make. It helps white kids from prestigious prep schools look cool, make friends, impress casual sex partners, silence their enemies, intimidate authority figures and seem like tough, effective activists — all for the trivial price of denouncing their own backgrounds and heritage. It’s no coincidence, by the way, that the hunger strike ringleader of the chaos at Mizzou is not the working class kid from the hood that some assumed but the son of a millionaire railroad executive.
What a fantastic package deal, for the average young man with strong instinctual drives, no moral compass, and too much time on his hands since he’s not taking math, science, or foreign language classes. In any case, many of his professors are tenured radicals themselves, and their schools’ administrators are timid time-servers who know more about human resources case law than they do about science, philosophy or literature. So who will push back and fight? On campus, very few. So we must step in and help them.
Bad Student! Bad!
How to answer such students? Not with anguished pleas for sweet reason and decency. You might as well read Rilke to a snarling, snapping dog. Not with elaborate quests to understand their spiritual malformation. There is no mystery here. Most of these young people are immature, impulse-driven, ambitious, poorly formed and easily led. It is these nasty adolescent attributes that we hope education will help wear away. The great danger comes when educated people with a veneer of culture and a sexy ideology can glom onto students and tell them the lovely lie that their base impulses are noble, that they should indulge them, that it is righteous and good to follow envy, guts and glands.
Young people caught up in such a lie won’t benefit from a high-minded speech, the gift of a spiritual book or a call to dialogue. They’ve been taught to sneer at such things, in Marxist Shakespeare courses that undermine everything Shakespeare stood for, or in classes bent on Marxist-feminist-materialist deconstructions of the Bible. No, what such people need to see are consequences. They need to see that they will not in fact benefit from thuggishly silencing their opponents, terrorizing professors, wallowing in sordidness and and reducing schools to chaos. They also need to see that the powerful radicals who encourage such stunts on campus pay a price, that radical feminism, multiculturalism and race-hustling don’t pay.
Later on, when their instincts have dulled and tempers have cooled, they can open the Bible or rent Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and rediscover the finer things of life. But it probably won’t happen on campus.
So here is my five point plan for rapping the campus Left on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper:
1. Stop hiring Yalies.
Or graduates of any other elite school famous for radical activism, unless said student’s resume includes involvement in a conservative organization, like Yale’s William F. Buckley Program. Charles Murray wisely said that the SATs, and the top schools which rely on them, are a very expensive replacement that employers use for illegal IQ tests. The reason most people go to such schools, at enormous cost after years of desperate prepping for tests and interviews, is to join the social elite. Not to learn, but to make business contacts and ensure their place in our nation’s upper class. (Remember that I went to school with these people; I speak from experience.) The reason that firms hire such students is that they imagine they will be good and useful employees, with fine brains and disciplined work habits, who will benefit their companies. This is no longer true.
The students at Yale who were so offended by a professor’s wife’s plea to chill out about “offensive” Halloween costumes that they claimed that she made them feel “unsafe” are not people you want around your company. They will be prickly, thin-skinned, self-indulgent and worst of all, litigious. They will flout orders, whine, back-stab, and then when you have to fire them, they will threaten to sue you, and bad mouth your company for years. So don’t hire them in the first place.
Instead, look for truly countercultural (that is, conservative) credentials, or go for the highest-performing student from a Christian academy that hasn’t sold out to the left, such as The King’s College, or a “working school” like the College of the Ozarks, where first-generation college students put in 15-hour work weeks while studying their butts off. You won’t regret it — and if you do, they won’t sue you for canning them. They haven’t been taught to see the world as their Oyster Rockefeller, served up on a silver tray. (Yes, at Yale we had brunches served on silver trays.)
2. Tell your state legislator to defund the humanities (and most of the social sciences).
You might imagine that — if not at Sarah Lawrence or Wesleyan, at least at your local state university — the humanities are still fields where students are offered their last chance, before they enter the workaday world, to savor “the best that has been written and thought,” in Matthew Arnold’s ringing words.
Balderdash. These days, in most schools the humanities are where bad ideas go to die, excruciatingly slowly. Few people still take Marx seriously in economics, the field in which he claimed to write, because his descriptions don’t fit reality and his prescriptions have proved poisonous. So Marxists migrated to literature departments. Likewise there are very few Freudians practicing psychology, since his therapy doesn’t help people. So Freudians and post-Freudian feminists infest every English department. In general, any theory which fails the empirical test of reality will go on to infect the humanities, where the only test is tenure.
Thanks to the tenure system and the death-grip that ideologues have on graduate studies and hiring in the vast majority of humanities departments, there is no fix for this short of cutting the taxpayer funded umbilical cord to these departments. Take a moment to mourn this. But it’s okay; young people can buy art history books on Amazon, watch Shakespeare movies on Netflix, and form poetry reading clubs on Facebook — all without toxic ideologies infusing and ruining forever their appreciation of the arts.
So tell your representatives that you want them to stop wasting money by appropriating funds to university humanities programs. Let them stick to funding math, science and foreign language classes until such a time as humanities departments return to teaching the humanities.
3. Restore stiff math, science and foreign language requirements for graduation from college.
There is a high-minded reason for doing this: At their best, mathematics and science are beautiful, demanding, uplifting disciplines that force us out of ourselves and compel us to view the world objectively. Foreign languages make us encounter the “Other” in his own words and on his terms. Making these courses mandatory would also be a good idea for the crassly practical reason of economic competitiveness — preparing our kids to go toe-to-toe in a globalized economy, where millions of Chinese and Indian kids are learning computer science and physics, while native-born Americans take feel-good classes in post-colonial women’s studies.
Also, the kind of sloppy, lazy thinker who is attracted to radical leftism usually lacks the discipline to master subjects like these — and so, God willing, will flunk out of college and find work grinding coffee beans or fixing bicycles. Hey, they might even discover some self-discipline through such humble, honorable work and eventually become fit to return to college as a hard-working non-traditional student paying their own way.
4. Don’t let your kids go to a radicalized college, no matter how prestigious it is.
And don’t assume that Christian universities with skillful marketing departments are still solid. Most of them aren’t, even if they know how to talk a good talk to their alumni. Why is this one crucial? Most kids are joiners. They desperately want to be liked, and are prone to empty their minds and deform their souls in order to get that. They want to please their teachers, and be seen as “open-minded” and progressive. These perfectly natural cravings are deadly in a deeply perverse environment. So don’t send the kids you spent two decades raising and protecting as naked missionaries to Sodom. The exception here is if your kid is a thick-skinned, misanthropic, anti-social contrarian. Then he’ll do fine at Yale, as I did. Sure, he’ll be miserable, but he would have been miserable anywhere.
5. Don’t give money to your alma mater, unless …
College fundraisers are experts at milking your gratitude and nostalgia, and at hiding how crazy and alien a place your college has become. Here’s a good litmus test, which I used to get the Yale fundraiser to hang up and not call back: Ask the person badgering you for money if the school offers abortions on campus, or funds them through its health plan. Inquire if there are single-sex dorms, with restricted visitation policies. Or simply look online and see if the school has a women’s studies program. And if you have the stomach, do some digging to find out what the professors in the theology department are saying in their academic books and articles. You’d be surprised. If any of these answers doesn’t please you, spend your money somewhere else.