Colleges Caving to Leftists
American colleges and universities are about to hold commencement exercises for some 4.8 million students. These graduates will be further to the political left than their parents. Pew Research data indicates that, increasingly, the more college someone has, the further left their thinking becomes. And a growing number of students are embracing radical leftist views.
These institutions have become incubators for leftism, in some shockingly toxic forms. Curricula are becoming politicized and radicalized. Administrators and professors are pushing extremist and bizarre ideas. They fixate on race, sex and class in noxious ways, often in response to demands from activist students.
This trend is nothing to shrug your shoulders over. The more that schools and society permit and encourage this trend, the more damage it will cause. Leftist education is nothing less than a threat to Western civilization.
Today’s leaders—its politicians, chief executives, journalists, commentators and other pacesetters—are yesterday’s university students. To see what the United States is about to become, just look at what our universities are teaching today’s students.
Leftism: The ‘Consensus’ Ideology
Professors have been politically left of the average American for decades, but in recent years, the gap between the two has dramatically widened. In the late 1960s, about 43 percent of U.S. college professors self-identified as left of center. Around 2001, that number began to shoot up, increasing to 60 percent by 2016. Between 2001 and 2010, those identifying as “far left” more than doubled, according the American Institute for Economic Research (May 1).
Meanwhile, faculty considering themselves right of center fell from 28 percent in the late 1960s to 22 percent in 1995 to 12 percent today. The institute attributed this shift to retirements and “an emerging bias in faculty hiring.” Today, America’s self-proclaimed “far left” professors roughly equal the total number right of center.
Higher education “is skewed heavily toward a single ‘consensus’ ideology,” the institute wrote. This is particularly true in certain fields of study. “Professors in the humanities and social sciences skew much further to the left than the physical sciences,” the institute wrote. “Over 80 percent of English professors, for example, identify on the political left. Subjects such as history, political science, sociology, and fine arts typically approach or exceed 70 percent.” It happens that these college departments are growing, with faculty hirings in the humanities outpacing those in science and engineering.
Students attending leftist-dominated universities are emerging as converted, even radical, leftists, socialists and Marxists. And predictably, leftist ideology is spreading into high schools and even grade schools. Based on political campaign contributions, teachers constitute one of the most liberal professions in the nation.
The University of Michigan has nearly 100 “diversity administrators,” a quarter of whom earn six-figure salaries. An economics professor at the school recently calculated that they cost the university around $14 million annually, Forbes reported. Such administrative bloat is common: It has actually become normal in universities to have more administrators than full-time faculty.
What do all these diversity professionals do? They search for injustice. They snoop out racism and bigotry. And they find it—in society, in history, in their schools’ curricula, on their own campuses. Everywhere they look, they find evidence of inequity that demonstrates how important their own jobs are.
In Britain, a new report from Universities UK says colleges must “decolonize” their curricula and become “racially diverse and inclusive environments” to ensure that minority students perform as well as their white peers. There has been a push to increase diversity on campuses by admitting more minorities. But when admissions officers prioritize skin color over scholastic achievement, they end up with students unequipped to meet academic demands. When these students underperform, these educators blame, not their own racial quotas, but the supposedly racially biased curricula. They want to ensure that black, Asian and minority ethnic students graduate with top degrees by making schools’ teaching less white, male and Euro-centric.
Cambridge University in Britain just announced it will conduct a two-year inquiry by two post-doctoral researchers from its Centre of African Studies to determine the degree to which the institution profited from the slave trade. “Glasgow University, which carried out a similar, smaller, exercise last year, found that it had benefited to the tune of almost £200 million [us$260.2 million] and would be undertaking a program of ‘reparative justice.’ It includes creating a center for the study of slavery,” the Times reported (April 30). Such projects are underway in colleges and universities everywhere throughout the U.S. and Britain.
So these students learn that they can blame their academic failures on institutional racism. In literature classes, they skip Chaucer and Shakespeare in favor of women, people of color and queer authors. In history, they learn how America’s founders were slave-owners and rapists. Encouraged by well-paid diversity administrators, they are overturning tradition, speaking out and demanding change.
At Hofstra University, students have defaced a statue of Thomas Jefferson with “decolonize” and “Black Lives Matter” signs and stickers. The statue represents “a legacy of racism and bigotry on college campuses,” according to the student president of Hofstra College Democrats. The student group Jefferson Has Gotta Go is also demanding “an online, bias reporting system, an online complaint receipt program, and mandated, comprehensive, cultural competency training.”
Such stories are routine. Radicalized students are attacking American history. They are vandalizing statues. They are using threats to silence free speech. They are demanding resignations. They are marching and demonstrating with violent rhetoric—and violent actions.
The American Institute for Economic Research article stated: “Multiple surveys suggest that students outside of the progressive left self-censor their beliefs on campus, fearing both viewpoint discrimination and bias from faculty in grading. Recent empirical studies of faculty in psychology and law also reveal evidence of actual discrimination against viewpoints that fall outside of the progressive umbrella, particularly in academic hiring.”
Claiming to fight for tolerance and freedom, leftism uses intimidation, bullying and mob rule in an attempt to gain power. And with that power, it uses coercion, authoritarianism and tyranny.
A vivid example of just how far awry this trend can go occurred recently at The Evergreen State College, a public liberal arts school in Washington State that is one of the most leftist colleges in the country.
Evergreen: A Cautionary Tale
Filmmaker Mike Nayna told this story in a recent documentary. A few years ago, Evergreen’s president George Bridges began a program to “advance diversity” on campus. He told the college faculty, “I established and charged this equity council—this incredible equity council—with developing a plan for institutional change, systemic change, that would enable Evergreen to acknowledge and address the equity gaps that are pervasive on our campus.”
The “equity council” wanted control over hirings, over which individuals could be hired to which positions—and which positions existed in the first place.
In one of the council’s first staff meetings, one instructor said, “It will take many hands to do this, to unscrew the structure of institutional racism.” Another organizer had attendees come to the front of the room and form what he called a “canoe,” a visual demonstration of getting everyone on board with their plan for campus social justice. He organized them in rows as if in an enormous canoe. College administrators joined the group, but the organizer told them to step back out, saying, “You have to ask for permission and commit some things before boarding the canoe.”
What followed was a series of self-punishing apologies and pledges from white-skinned faculty members: “I would like to board the canoe because I’m committed to enhancing and furthering inclusion and equity on our campus …” and so forth. One female student emotionally stated, “I am here because I refuse to continue to be assimilated. I refuse! And I refuse to let whiteness consume me. And I’m going to say that word explicitly: whiteness!”
Such obsequiousness and self-loathing is exactly what “cultural competency training” is meant to produce.
This documentary features excerpts of a lecture to Evergreen faculty given by Robin DiAngelo, whose academic title is Scholar of Whiteness Studies. Here is how this white woman defined racism: “Structural, institutionalized inequality—or racism. An anti-racist frame understands racism as a system. While individual players partake in it, it’s not dependent on individual players. It’s embedded in the fabric of the society, in all the institutions, the norms, the practices, the policies, the way that history’s told. And it functions to ensure an unequal distribution of basically everything between people of color as a whole and white people as a whole.”
By that extraordinary definition of racism, no white person can escape. If you are white, you are guilty. If you think you are not, here is what DiAngelo has to say to you about that notion: “I can’t emphasize this enough: This is not useful. Just get rid of it. It is not possible to avoid being socialized into a racist worldview if you’re white. It’s not possible. It’s coming at us 24-7. The only way to resist it is to be able to see it and think it through. So to deny it is not going to help you.”
Evergreen’s equity council sponsored lectures and activities to educate students and faculty on how to detect all the racism at the college. And they found lots of racism. The harder they looked, the more they found. In fact, they managed to conclude that The Evergreen State College was actually a bastion of white supremacy. They found that this college—one of the most leftist colleges of all the leftist colleges in this country—was systematically destroying “people of color.”
A biology professor at the college, Bret Weinstein, was alarmed by these developments. “There were all these allegations about white supremacy at Evergreen. And every so often, somebody—sometimes it was me, sometimes it was somebody else—asked, OK: Where is this white supremacy? Can we see it? Can we evaluate it?” He raised the question at one staff meeting, and here is how, in his words, a black faculty member responded: “To ask students who are suffering from white supremacy to tell us about instances of white supremacy is itself racism. And she said we must stop asking them, because we are inflicting harm on them asking for evidence. And the phrase she used—she said, To ask for evidence of racism is racism with a capital R.”
The message the students received was clear. What, then, were they to do? Once their eyes had been “opened” to all the white supremacy and institutional injustice against “black and brown bodies” at the college, were they not obligated to stand up for themselves? Using whatever means necessary?
In March 2017, racial minorities at Evergreen made a shocking request: They wanted a day in which, in the words of the student newspaper, the Cooper Point Journal, “all white faculty and students remain absent from campus, leaving the space free for community members of color.”
Professor Weinstein e-mailed the faculty director of First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services calling this demand “an act of oppression.” He refused to leave campus for being white. Word of his dissent and obstructionism got out. Soon after, a mob of about 50 angry students besieged Weinstein and shouted obscenities at him every time he tried to explain himself.
Someone called the police, but the students blocked officers from entering the building. When police found another way in, the students left and went after the college president. Weinstein ended up having to hold his class off campus because police couldn’t guarantee his safety.
President Bridges agreed to a meeting with the protesters later that day. Video emerged online of that raucous, profanity-laced “meeting.” The students behaved like barbarian children, pitching fits, exhibiting unbridled emotion, anger and hatred. Anytime one of the administrators or faculty tried to respond, the students shouted them down and screamed at them.
After the meeting, a coalition of black students issued a set of demands. Among them was a demand that the video of the event be taken down. They said it had been “stolen by white supremacists and edited to expose and ridicule the students and staff.” Other demands included the disarmament of campus police; the firing or suspension without pay of Weinstein and other faculty members; “mandatory sensitivity and cultural competency training for faculty, staff, administrators and student employees”; the permanent hiring of a “Trans & Queer Center” coordinator; and “the creation of a permanent position that will support undocumented students.”
President Bridges treated these students’ deranged demands as if they were reasonable and fair. He meekly agreed to some of them. Over the negotiating table he proffered something of a half-hearted defense of free speech, but when one of the students pushed back, he said this: “They’re going to say some things that we don’t like, and our job is to bring them all in—or get them out. What I hear us stating that we are working toward is, bring ‘em in, train ‘em, and if they don’t get it, sanction ‘em.”
He was describing political reeducation—and if that failed, punishment. This is authoritarianism, pure and simple.
The Evergreen students took control of the college. At one point they were stopping cars entering and leaving campus, apparently looking for Weinstein. When he rode his bike to campus to teach that day, he was told he wasn’t safe on or off campus, and that he should at least go home and get in his car—which would offer some protection in case the mob caught up to him.
Why did these students want to commit violence against Weinstein? His “crime” was simply to disagree with their coercive methods. Yet in their minds, this mild-mannered, politically liberal college professor came to embody the racism they had become convinced was endangering their lives.
This is absolutely unhinged thinking. In the thrall of radical racial justice illogic, The Evergreen State College rapidly transformed into an asylum run by the inmates.
First the Campus, Then Society
It is chilling to see students, radicalized and angry, en masse, violently forcing their ill-informed, preposterous views on college authorities. It is chilling to see faculty responding by apologizing and kowtowing, giving in and appeasing this unruly mob. It is chilling to see administrators, in an craven effort to prove their leftist credentials, using their power to coerce and force nonbelievers into compliance.
But in a way, this scenario is playing out society-wide, as leftists bully their way into the mainstream, accuse anyone who opposes them of bigotry, and increasingly gain the support of the media, the courts and the politicians to enforce their views.
Look closely at what is happening on our college campuses. This rot has been fermenting for years, and now it is getting more emotional and, animated by the spirit of the mob, more violent. It shows the extremes to which the intolerance of the radical left is going. This toxic behavior is seeping beyond the “safe spaces” of these campuses. It is affecting high schools, middle schools and even grade schools. It is transforming American workplaces. It is making its way into courtrooms. It is spreading into our politics. It vividly shows how these policies proposed to solve the nation’s problems actually end up creating crises that are many times worse.
“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20). A movement like this can never be satisfied. Appeasing it only fuels it. Fulfill one of the left’s demands, and they return with five more in its place.
The pillars of American society are under determined attack, and they are crumbling.
In this documentary, Professor Weinstein concluded: “I keep being invited to talk about free speech on college campuses, and every time I’m invited I make the same point: This isn’t about free speech, and this is only tangentially about college campuses. This is about a breakdown in the basic logic of civilization, and it’s spreading. College campuses may be the first dramatic battle, but of course, this is going to find its way to the courts. It’s already found its way into the tech sector. It’s going to find its way to the highest levels of governance if we’re not careful. And it actually does jeopardize the ability of civilization to continue to function.”