Most of us are, of course, more familiar with the thin blue line — law enforcement that protects us from one another, and even from ourselves. Politically, however, during the recent elections, many conservatives were hopeful for a thick red line to save us from ideological miscreants in Congress. The end result proved not more than a paper cut, the thinnest of red lines, if you will. And while political problems do loom large, believe it or not, the problem does not lie with politics. It more lies with education — especially the higher education that forms those who lead nearly every profession in the nation.
The work to be done in education appears Herculean. Those who control what is taught and how, control what is thought and why. Right now, that control is tightly clenched by the oh-so-left in all schools of higher education, especially liberal arts ones. Ovid once warned that abeunt studia mores, or, “what one studies passes into character.” Given what is now going on in our colleges and universities, if that doesn’t chill your new year, nothing will!
The current liberal slant in schools and universities did not begin last week or even last year. The late William F. Buckley Jr. chronicled the rise of the left more than three score years ago. To be honest, the departure from what universities and colleges were supposed to do began even centuries before that. Luther, who could be brutal in his language, is alleged to have said that the intellect is the devil’s whore, or rather that reason is the devil’s greatest courtesan. Luther meant that only by the strictest of disciplines can one fight the inexorable urge to lean away from the right and the good toward the easy and the detrimental.
This dominant leftward slant of colleges and universities ensures us of every — every — profession coming away with a left-of-center focus. Universities now deem what conservatives say and/or believe as hate speech, by definition, which creates an environment of default leftism.
After 42 years in the universities, both public and private, I can assure you this is incontestably the case. My last few years as faculty advisor to the college Republicans at a liberal arts college in South Carolina proved this to be painfully so, as I watched firebrand conservative students frequently end up as liberal water carriers. College and university faculties know this too.
So now we see wokeism in every profession: journalism, medicine, information technology, librarianship, banking, finance, and K-12 schooling, to single out a few. Because of this, all who enter higher education are doomed to come out tainted with a strong dislike of American-styled freedom.
Can university education be saved? North and South Carolina have both passed laws to curb the leftward lean, but neither state has done anything to enforce the laws passed (Gov. Cooper, of course, blasted the North Carolina bill). Bills in both states and in others are like unfunded mandates. Nothing will change since there are no punitive results for failure to adhere.
Tennessee, on the other hand, is doing some splendid things to turn the tide. Not only are strong laws on the books now to prevent cancel culture and other madness as other states have done, but an amendment to their already-strong law is going forward to hold universities and colleges accountable. No other state has even begun to take this step. If passed, college and universities must prove they are allowing free speech and encouraging all discussion, posting all syllabi, and facing financial loss if found derelict. Every state with a public institution needs to adopt a similar law.
Why is this important to politics? It should be obvious, but suffice it to say that without our eternal vigilance about this, generation after generation will end up embracing these harebrained ideologies and, even worse, implementing education policies to codify them.
Judge Learned Hand once wrote: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.”
Our thin red line in politics is so tenuous now as to break. The one in colleges and universities is nonexistent, and the fire of liberty’s love is being drenched in liberalism by our institutions of higher education.
Many readers will recall Wagner’s Gotterdammerung in his famous opera Ring Cycle, where good and evil clash in what becomes an apocalypse. But the German word also means the downfall of a culture or society — its failure to live up to its established culture. Unless we are willing to tame our colleges’ and universities’ rampant liberalism, our own Gotterdammerung will be our future. Rather than expend all our energy on political red waves, let’s look further upstream in the culture to education, where waves — both red and blue — begin.