Increasingly, the American educational system seems to reject the values that made the United States, and indeed western civilization, successful. There are numerous educators and educational bureaucrats at all levels who cringe even at the thought of alluding to the unparalleled advances in freedom, government, science, philosophy, the arts, and so much more that characterize the American experience. The latest example of the bizarre influence imposed by university professors on students can be seen in the recent move to exclude American flags at campus events.
It is truly ironic that the same educators that call the loudest for multiculturalism display an extraordinary bias against western civilization, the culture that, more than any other, has displayed tolerance, acceptance, and respect for others. That includes the most important of western traits, the concept of individual liberty, and the equality of all.
In his new book, “Inventing the Individual,” author Larry Siedentop notes: “Like other cultures, Western culture is founded on shared beliefs. But in contrast to most others, Western beliefs privilege the idea of equality. And it is the privileging of equality—of a premise that excludes permanent inequalities of status and ascription of authoritative opinion to any person or group—which underpins the secular state and the idea of fundamental or “natural” rights.”
The U.S. concept of equality does not suggest that all people are the same; each person possesses individual talents, strengths and weaknesses. It does not call for equal outcomes. Those who struggle harder, have talents in demand, or are merely fortunate will always disproportionately prosper. It does refer to the belief that all have the same rights under the law, and that, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, there are “Unalienable right” that can never be denied or reduced.
Individual liberty is an annoying challenge to higher education personnel, who by an overwhelming percentage prefer the collectivist mentality that characterizes socialist regimes. While castigating the wealth created by the free market system they despise, university officials unblushingly hike their tuition rates year after year, making college education a nearly life-long financial burden. Now there are calls for the taxpayers to pay these substantial debts, allowing the same hypocritical university bureaucrats to raise tuition even higher.
Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sita Slavov writes:
“The liberal bias in academe is pervasive and well documented. For example, Daniel Klein has shown that Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the social sciences and humanities. Stanley Rothman, Robert S. Lichter, and Neil Nevitte have shown that 72 percent of higher-education faculty identify themselves as liberal. Some liberal academics even admit that they would discriminate against conservatives in hiring and peer review…”
The defection of educators from core American values is neither a tempest in a teapot nor an arcane philosophical debate. An entire generation or more of students is in the process of being alienated from the very culture from which they came.
Americans gasp in astonishment at news reports of young people from middle and upper income families from the U.S. and Europe who run away from home to join ISIS and other despotic movements. They shouldn’t be so surprised. Increasingly, from the lowest grammar school grades to the highest levels of graduate schools, students are spoon-fed a steady diet of anti-western propaganda, both from school and Hollywood. George Washington, who was instrumental in founding a nation built on the concept of freedom, is just an old dead white guy. Che’ Guevara, a murderous thug who helped bring Soviet nukes to Cuba, is a ubiquitous symbol of “cool.”
Those that dissent from the leftist hierarchy are penalized or ghettoized into so-called “free speech zones” designed to prevent the spread of ideas to others.
American constitutional government based on individual rights, that most successful of ideas and institutions, can wither away within a single generation at home. The global consequences will be dire. Without U.S. support, be it military, cultural, economic or otherwise, other western-style governments will not survive. Other governance schemes across the globe—theocratic extremism in the Islamic world, thinly veiled dictatorship in Russia, Communism in China and North Korea, and the numerous bankrupt socialist, strong-man, or ethnocentric regimes elsewhere offer no palatable alternative.
Clearly, it is time that Americans reclaim their educational system.