The domination of the left in the higher reaches of our elite institutions of higher education may have reached a tipping point with the eruption of Ward Churchill at Colorado University and his characterization of the 9-11 bombers as “combat teams”, the Pentagon victims “military targets”, and the World Trade Center victims “little Eichmanns”. This might just do it—this might finally command the attention of mainstream opinion leadership to the abrogation of responsibility on the part of higher education leadership that has been much needed since the total capitulation of university administrators to the militant left forty years ago. Add to this the remarks of none other than the President of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers: “One of those disturbing tendencies in academic life is that there is a desire on the part of many in the name of open-mindedness to fall into a kind of relativistic denialism in which all positions are equally legitimate, all positions must be respected, and compromise must be entered into no matter what the starting point or reasonableness of the two parties”. This strikes me as an astounding statement from one in his position, and a major breakthrough for common sense. Academic freedom and the cover of tenure can and should be set aside in the case of moral turpitude, and a clear case for it can be made here as with those continuing comments of Robert Jensen of my alma mater, The University of Texas, among many others. We may be bound by freedom of speech to tolerate their ideas, but we aren’t obligated to pay to hear them.
As Edward Feser states so well in his essay, The Opium of the Professors, “the de facto function of the modern university is precisely the opposite of the traditional idea of education, which was to socialize the young by instilling into them, at a higher intellectual level, the culture they have inherited from their forebears. The professor was the guardian of a tradition greater than the student and greater than himself, a tradition which it was his duty to impart—not uncritically, to be sure, but at the same time with a reverence and humility appropriate to the grandeur of a civilization that has existed for over two and a half millennia, and for the wisdom that its institutions embody and its thinkers have articulated.” Dare we hope for a comeback of this mission in its fullest?