Over the past several months I hope that I have made it clear that I believe the only solution to our cultural crisis is for the liberal establishment and the institutions that they dominate to take a leadership role in addressing the contradictions and false narratives that plague our social discourse. This should start with our leading liberal arts colleges and universities that have in many ways given birth to and harbor the anti-Americanism that has undermined the very principles that are necessary for this resolution. It is simply mandatory that the liberal arts establishment in higher education get hold of itself and return to a critical role that they have all but abandoned over the past several decades and, in fact, have been a big part of the problems we face.
Thankfully, there are some leaders in higher education who share this view and are questioning what the response from higher education should be. One in particular is my friend Dr. Lorraine Pangle, Co-Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center at The University of Texas at Austin, who recently authored an essay entitled “The Task of the Liberal Arts in Troubled Times” for the Heterodox Academy, in which she suggests that the response to the current malaise from the colleges of liberal arts should be “a renewed commitment to a core task of the university, a task that schools and colleges of liberal arts, of all institutions, are best equipped to carry out: to serve as centers of deep, searching, courageous inquiry into our society and into the ideas about human nature and human thriving and justice that it rests on….as scholars the most important contributions we can make to a nation in turmoil lie not in the actions or even the stands we take but in slowing down and asking the right questions, often the questions that no one is asking….and creating constructive dialogue between diverse and even clashing perspectives….There is no other institution in our society that is as well equipped to lead in this delicate but crucial work”.
Very well put, but not without extreme difficulties in implementation. After all, almost all of the country’s elite academic establishment, most of the control of news and cultural output, and a significant portion of America’s corporate elite view the United States as home of “systemic racism” and institutionalized white supremacy and oppression, views that predominate in the higher reaches of the universities that will be necessary for this crucial work to succeed. So it seems that a critical mass of mea culpa will be necessary, and it will be very interesting to see what level of introspection can be reached in order for the required leadership that Dr. Pangle has in mind to rise to the occasion. We should all pray that it does, for the alternative will not be pretty for the liberal arts or for the country.
Greg Stachura says
As you know, Hillsdale College has swum against the progressive undercurrent of higher education. I agree with your skepticism regarding the possibility of redeeming those swept downstream. But we can always hope that a Hillsdale College will point to the emperor having no clothes and enlighten those whose vision has been opaque.
James Windham says
Agreed that Hillsdale deserves our continuing support, as does the NAS and ACTA as Dr. Tom suggests, but he also rightly notes that people of our persuasion are not as good at these fights as the left is–they are still waging the French Revolution!
Steve Tredennick says
At some point, whether it is another four years of Trump, the attrition (and money) at many of these bastions of liberal education, the wising up of parents as to where they are sending their money to educate their precious children in these institutions of lower learning, a significantly reformed judiciary thanks to Trump, McConnell and the Republican Senate, something else, or a combination thereof, will result in it no longer being “cool” to be anti-American and the pendulum will slowly, albeit painfully turn.
Dr. Tom says
My view is that leftist indoctrination begins in the elementary grades and continues unabated all the way up the chain. Unfortunately, Gramsci’s thesis about peaceful communist conquest by infiltration of education, entertainment (movies especially) and the media has succeeded. It has taken many decades, but these people are not quitters.
We must bring an equal devotion to the struggle. I despair of that. It is not in the nature of conservatives to march in collective lockstep as the Left does.
Antonio Gramsci was one of the founders of the Italian communist party in the 1920s. Mussolini had him shot.
Ann McCulloch says
Grateful for the Pangles at UT, Hillsdale, & those Christian schools/home schools that actually teach the Bible, the truth on which our democracy is based. God says His word will succeed in its mission (Isaiah 55:11)
As for mea culpa in regard to systemic racism, we can confess & forsake
placing the economy above the good of all humanity: slavery in all forms,
profit above the general welfare. Teaching the humanities is the rear view mirror so that we can choose a more just future.
Major contributing factor to anti-American professors in both private and public colleges and universities is the awarding of tenure an ongoing sustainment of “right thinking”.
Old enough to remember the warning of Nikita Kruschev “we will defeat you from within”. Looks like this prediction is coming home to roost.
We must speak truth in love at all times and situations with disregard for embarrassment, humiliation or loss. Remember the founding fathers pledged it most lost all in signing the declaration of independence.
Challenge authority to the point of civil disobedience when personal freedoms of life, liberty and personal property is attacked or taken by anyone other than God.