By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
Freedom of expression in private universities and First Amendment Rights at public universities have given way to “safe spaces, toxic masculinity, LGBT rights, gender dysphoria, micro aggressions and triggers.” These shibboleths combine to stifle free speech and logical thought, and replace it with group think. If Jack and Jill don’t learn at college, but instead continue the indoctrination started in K-12, what possible us are they to society? Can America, as the land of opportunity continue to be a place of opportunity, or will we descend into a totalitarian society where conformity is rewarded and thought is punished. Sort of like 1984 except it’s 2018.
Amy Wax, Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania has been excoriated for her views when she poked a stick into a beehive. Tenure is liberating that way. In an op-ed for Philly.com, she argued, with Larry Alexander, a law professor at the University of San Diego, that the decline of “bourgeois values” since the 1950s has contributed to a host of social ills. Male labor-force-participation rates are down to Depression-era levels. Opioid abuse is epidemic. Half of all children are born to single mothers, and many college students lack basic skills.
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Prof. Wax attacked the truth suppression taking place at the American university in general and the University of Pennsylvania in Particular.
Prof. Wax says of the state of the academy today:
Another reason measures of academic performance are hard to ignore is that students often expect equality of results and—especially in our identity-conscious world—issue loud demands for equality in group outcomes. When that doesn’t happen, frustration and disappointment ensue, followed by charges of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.
Those accusations are bound to provoke concern from the accused, especially those who deny that bigotry is the chief cause of certain inequalities by pointing to possible alternatives—including group disparities in qualifications, skills, performance or life choices.”
The mindset that values openness understands that the truth can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, doesn’t always respect our wishes, and sometimes hurts. Good feelings and reality don’t always mix. But there is a price to be paid for putting the quest for psychological comfort over openness on matters central to how our society is organized. Universities, like other institutions, scheme relentlessly to keep such facts from view. Yet although the culture war is now tilted against those accused of discrimination, politics persists, and frustration tells at the ballot box. The deeper price is that people come to believe that truth yields to power, and that political pressure should be brought to bear to avoid inconvenient realities.
Some in this camp claim benign motives. They seek to safeguard the feelings of those who might be distressed by public knowledge. One can argue about when, how and in what form the disclosure will best balance personal privacy and our society’s need to know. But when facts are concealed, they do not change. They have consequences whether or not we are prepared to face them.
That belief that political force determines objective reality has characterized totalitarian regimes world-wide and throughout history—regimes that are responsible for untold amounts of human misery. That mindset is dangerously inconsistent with the kind of free society Americans have painstakingly built and defended over many centuries, at the cost of blood and treasure. Perhaps we no longer want such a society. But we relinquish it at our peril.