The Death of the American University

Tom Ciccotta, Contributing Writer

I once had a professor who said that F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” He stood there in front of us, believing that he was the living embodiment of Fitzgerald’s claim, while I rolled my eyes somewhere in the back of the classroom.

Through discussion and engagement with exclusively leftist literature, we were forced to conclude that despite the Obama presidency, America was still an inherently racist country. Opposing ideas were never presented in the classroom. My desire to include Thomas Sowell, an African-American economist and prolific writer on race from Stanford University, in the course’s open-ended final project on personal identity, was met with quick rejection from the professor.

We are engaged in an intellectual war. Many of our professors are merely ideologues who live comfortably  with the knowledge that their life’s purpose is to create mirrors of themselves that will go out into the world and change it in their image. When Ben Carson gave the commencement address at the University in 2010, several faculty members turned their backs to the speaker. Why do those who are tasked with molding us into critical thinkers so willingly reject intellectual diversity and opposing ideas? Ironically, when the resulting world descends into chaos and corruption, instead of blaming themselves, the same professors will believe that it’s because they haven’t yet done enough.

“Maybe you can start to get how your privilege oppresses people and why you need to be aware of your privilege so you don’t continue to sound like the classist and racist bigot you have presented yourself as,” one of the University’s most prominent left-wing student leaders said to me in a debate over tuition-free college. This might have been an attempt to get me to shut up and go away, but in reality it just added fuel to my fire.

The sole tactic of progressives on this campus in debate is to dismiss the speaker by attacking his or her credibility, rather than considering the merits of the argument. This ends now. This is why “opposing ideas” presented in the classroom are rarely two truly conflicting ideas. To me, this points to the weakness of their positions. Bias in many ways is inevitable and appropriate, but the silencing of opposing ideas through aggression, personal attacks, and control of curriculum and discussion only speaks to the fear that progressive ideas will be challenged and defeated. No idea is unworthy of discussion on the University campus.

A recent campus study revealed that there is a significant conservative student population on campus. So where are you? Let’s band together and demand our campus progressives in the faculty and student body to actually act on their self-proclaimed virtues of tolerance and diversity.

“The Marxians pretend that what their inner voice proclaims is history’s self-revelation. If other people do not hear this voice, it is only a proof that they are not chosen. It is insolence that those groping in darkness dare to contradict the inspired ones. Decency should impel them to creep into a corner and keep silent,” Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises said.

Silence isn’t an option. They will hear us soon.

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