University of Uncertainty

Posted on Jul 20 1999

“My English professor said the purpose of college is to take a high school graduate who’s sure of himself and make him confused.” So went a statement from a Kent State
University student in Ohio, who was quoted in Leonard Peikoff’s essay, “Assault from the Ivory Tower: The Professor’s War Against America,” which was included in “The Voice of Reason,” a collection of essays in Objectivist thought.

The degenerate hippie era of the 1960s may long be over, but its corrupting effects upon American academia can still be felt throughout college campuses across the United States. There is an insidious ideological menace still lingering long after the last roach of the Woodstock debauchery was finally extinguished. That menace is confusion and uncertainty–a prevailing academic, institutional aversion toward logic, confidence, certainty, and coherence: the best that traditional American values had to offer.

The apparent objective of a contemporary liberal arts education is to take a perfectly confident red-blooded American character like Archie Bunker and turn him into Frasier: gutless, uncertain, whining and wimpy; to turn a potential John Wayne into a Woody Allen. That seems to be the psychological goal of most universities these days.

As Sarah J. McCarthy wrote in Liberty Magazine this month, “Until recently, few people besides Charlton Heston have expressed concern about whether or not American college students can disobey. Many discovered that Johnny cannot read, but few saw that he cannot disobey, and neither can his teachers.”

One of the things about contemporary higher education, with its endless multiculturalism, diversity training, pacifism, feminism, collective socialism, etc., is that it somehow attempts to rob you of your innate manhood, to deprive you of all your “brute instincts,” to “humanitize” you, so that you find yourself getting to a point where, to your gross and utter dismay, the notion of female exploitation actually enters your mind when you pick up, say, a Playboy magazine, whereas the thought would have never occurred to you before. That, I suppose, is one of the high price we pay for a contemporary liberal arts education today, particularly at publicly funded state institutions.

Traditional male virility and all of its virtues–confident straight-thinking logic–are discouraged, replaced instead with a kinder, gentler, more harmonious and cooperative collectivist uprightness, often backed by a sensitivity police and a fascist speech code rife with politically-correct censorship guidelines.

A proud conservative American male in the classic heroic tradition cannot be himself. If he stands up to defend his country, the History Department will correct him, promptly reminding him of the Mylai village massacre in Vietnam. If he stands up for private property rights, the environmentalists in the Geography Department will quickly set him straight, highlighting the Exxon oil spill in Alaska. If he stands up for Second Amendment rights, the Political Science Department will immediately dismiss his fantastic, obsolete, wild-west notions of freedom by alluding to the Columbine high school mass murders. If he stands up for his own rights, the Women’s
Studies Department will quickly point out his historical oppressions. If he stands up for traditional male-female relationships, the Gay Studies Department will (not) set him straight.

In short, the more you learn, the more likely you are to become confused–that is, unless they got to you already, in which case, it may already be too late.

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