Free speech, free thought, and the student’s true potential: All casualties in a PC culture
“College costs four years and $100,000 to discover that you can't know anything.”
Variations of that sentiment have been circulated by trend-watchers, cultural commentators, and by worldview speakers like myself for years now. Over a decade ago, in his excellent and heavily footnoted work Brainwashed, author Ben Shapiro observed that college “education” at many a university today amounts to, “a four-year attack on America and God.”
Shapiro had been fired from UCLA's Daily Bruin for writing an op-ed piece around the radical idea that the nation of Israel should not be forced by the UN to give up land for peace. Though extortion-like “land-for-peace” agreements have never brought lasting peace to the Middle East, and though such arrangements have never served the best interests of the nation of Israel, approval of such has been the approved party line for much of Western academia for years. Thus, Shapiro's raising of a different perspective-no matter how scholarly in presentation-meant that he had to be silenced. And he was. More than a decade after the fact, Shapiro’s book remains a captivating read.
So when the Berkeley riots over a conservative lecturer coming to campus were reported in the news last week, I was concerned for my country, but certainly not surprised. Twenty years of following campus trends, research, writing, and my own speaking experiences at universities have amounted to a stark education in what more parents need to know: Unless you send Junior to a solidly Christian and/or conservative college, there's a very good chance that you'll be spending your hard earned savings for an eight semester PC indoctrination program.
Liberal arts education has become anything but liberal. At PC-driven schools like Berkeley, the term “university” should more honestly be rendered, “monoversity.” History is revised, Western civilization is denigrated, Christianity is ignored or mocked, Darwinism goes unquestioned, voicing your conservatism will get you failed, and it is a “given” that traditional values are to be abandoned. In personal interviews with hundreds of students, professors, and administrators throughout all 50 states, the stories I have collected and corroborated are mind boggling. College education is less about the pursuit of truth, and more about the impartation of a carefully guarded, often forcefully-imposed narrative of economic socialism, political globalism, moral relativism, militant secularism, and personal meaning through hedonism. Unless your child is a reading prodigy who has steeped himself in the great traditions of western thought, and unless your student has rigorously mastered critical thinking skills, is able to spot contradictions, fallacies, and outright lies for themselves, the undergrad degree will effectively be a programming exercise designed to turn graduates into a compliant, “worker bee” leftists.
Selective tolerance is intolerance
And parents, don’t think for a minute that your child’s college education will be different because you are sending your son or daughter to a school that has been historically religious, or tied to a particular denomination. Having spoken at dozens of campuses throughout the nation, I know firsthand that some of the most vehemently liberal are the schools that were built one or more centuries ago by some branch of Christianity. When historically Christian colleges trade “liberal arts” for “liberal agenda” it is tragic, as is the effect they have on young lives.
I remember being scheduled to speak at a historically Methodist school, and being cancelled on the day of the event. The President pled with me to “understand,” saying, “You’d thank me for cancelling...I have an insurrection on my hands.” Oddly, this particular school had hosted a Wiccan wedding in its chapel only weeks prior to my scheduled lecture. I wonder what John and Charles Wesley would think of a school where faculty, students, and administration were OK with an occultic ceremony presided over by a witch, but a priori would refuse to hear what a Christian educator/author/ minister might say.
Imagine a Baptist university where we had scheduled a speaker to appear and give a lecture on the fossil record. This particular university-known for making much of its Baptist heritage-had in their speaker series a featured lecture on gay poetry by a presenter who only had an undergrad degree. At the request of some students (and working through approved university protocols), our ministry helped bring a geologist to campus who was to lecture on objections to Darwinism from within the scientific community. Thus began major pushback and a petition signed by many professors. It was demanded that this speaker be cancelled on the grounds that one who questioned evolution was clearly, “not scientific.” In the local newspaper, representatives from the faculty accused the speaker of not being, “an academic.” We pointed out that his Ph.D. was from Oxford. Again, the irony of 21st century higher education: At an historically religious school, a gay poet with a Bachelor’s degree is welcomed, a Ph.D. whose research might possibly undermine Darwin must not be heard. Caveat emptor.
G.K. Chesterton (a renowned Christian scholar from a century ago) wrote of “the white horse of truth” which-though scarred and wounded-would ultimately stand tall and unvanquished at the end of time. This is an encouraging thought when colleges hold so many issues sacrosanct, and absolutely off-limits for critical discussion or question: Global warming, sexual orientation, abortion, the nature of morality, capitalism vs. socialism, American exceptionalism, diversity, Islam and terrorism, egalitarianism, et al.
Independent Thought Not Tolerated
Ironically enough, what has become the not-up-for-discussion doctrinal foundations of American academia (the presuppositions of evolution) were encouraged for debate by none other than Charles Darwin. The famed naturalist’s call for evaluation of his theory should really be applied to other issues as well: “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” But for too many unsuspecting students (and their beleaguered benefactors who pay the tuition bill), the pressure is to question nothing and to comply completely.
Alex McFarland is co-host of “Exploring the Word,” a live Bible-teaching program with listener calls, heard daily on the AFR network. He is also Director of the Apologetics & Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University, located in SC. His website is: alexmcfarland.com