About a quarter of a century ago, I read Whittaker Chamber’s magisterial “Witness,” his cri de coeur execration against “Godless” communism. As a young man, Chambers had embraced communism and even wrote for the Marxist-cum socialist Daily Worker. Over time, however, he came to realize that in this war of ideas, one side embraced God and one rejected Him entirely. Chambers wrote starkly to friends and even to his wife, “I know that I am leaving the winning side for the losing side, but it is better to die on the losing side than to live under Communism.”
Forty years ago, that war had become one of conservatism versus leftism. I bristled at Chamber’s resignation, so much so that I mocked his prophecy to myself. At the time, it felt as if conservatism had fully replaced the left. Oh, the naivete of youth.
Conservatives, and specifically Republican conservatives, have done some sound and resourceful things, and that should not be lost in what follows. Even today, the Palmetto and Tar Heel State conservatives are waging impressive campaigns against CRT and radical gender theory, and to return libraries to neutrality on controversial issues. While piecemeal, these initiatives are not unsubstantial. However, where conservatives have failed and continue to blunder, and painfully so, is in moving the leftward needle in American colleges and universities even a little.
Today there are nearly 5,300 public and private colleges and universities in the US, about 4,000 of which are degree-granting. Apart from perhaps a half dozen of these that are conservative, the remainder are starkly left-of-center. This is not just in states like New York and California but in states like North and South Carolina. And this leftward list applies to both public and private institutions, including, sadly, soi-distant church-related ones. To the acute observer, this comes as no surprise.
The left has a stranglehold on education from cradle to grave in the US. If you find this incredulous, recall the mass protests from colleges and universities praising Hamas and condemning the Jews. Recall how it was peopled by many young women, not one of whom would be allowed out without a male escort in Palestine. Joseph Sobran said it best: we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English in college. Some conservatives do work at these institutions, but they work almost entirely undercover and in fear of saying or doing something that could cost them their livelihoods.
A recent observation brought these realities painfully to the fore. Recently I attended a presidential forum sponsored by the North and South Carolina Republican Women (my wife among them). About 200 people were in attendance, and the College Republicans of the university at which this event was held were invited to come. The faculty advisor for this group, however, is a very left-wing Democrat, taking on the role of faculty advisor for the CRs only if she could also sponsor the Young Democrats.
A dozen or so Young Democrats also attended and spent the better part of the evening snickering about the candidates and in general disparaging them to one another. Moreover, when we stood for the pledge of allegiance, they did not all join us.
These were just a few small reminders that we were not on friendly territory, simply because it was a university campus — a location where the left’s ideology goes unchallenged regardless of the political makeup of the citizens.
I’ve met frequently with leaders who have the power to diminish the leftward lurch of this particular institution of lower [sic] learning. Yet nothing has changed. When I related this to them plainly over a month ago, my lamentations were met with deafening silence.
So, here we are — a very red state, with very powerful conservatives at this institution and also in both the state and federal venues of power, essentially waving the white flag before leftism. Granted, there may be things ongoing behind the scenes, but if there are, they are well hidden indeed. The Palmetto State has tens of millions of surplus dollars, but, so far anyway, not one dollar has gone toward, say, a chair of Western Culture at any institution, including the one I tried to establish in the university from which I retired. Meanwhile, those millions will be doled out to any number of left-leaning groups that will further solidify the left’s mise en abyme of poisonous ideology.
What astonishes me is that so many conservative politicians do not appear to grasp that at every one of these institutions, students are being taught essentially never to vote for a conservative. And yet, year after year, these elected conservatives (only by the skin of their teeth in some cases) fund and refund these leftward encampments. At all the political science departments I know about in three states over a 42-year career, not one employs even a political moderate, and many have self-proclaimed Marxists and socialists. You can bet the farm that if the situation was reversed, the left would “solve” it in less than a year.
Leon Alberti gave us the word Renaissance to refer to the uomo universal or the universal man as one “who could do all things if he wills it.” Is this the best we can do? Are our wills so weak we are afraid to act defiantly in the face of this left-wing stronghold of the university?
In the end, Whittaker Chambers appears to have been the better scryer after all. We conservatives have joined the losing side after all. It is also why the right will never win a lasting victory.