It certainly wasn’t the Muslims… or the Marxists.
And, sad to say, it wasn’t Black Africa either.
To young progressives already brainwashed, The Breakdown of Higher Education probably comes too late. To young conservatives that owe their sense of history to Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, Ellis’s book may prove useful as a counterpoint. Ellis is a serious intellectual grounded in the modern world. Dreher, by contrast, is a populist Christian leading a revolt against modernity. It’s always tempting to quit. But if nothing is more essential to the conservative movement than acquiring historical knowledge of how we arrived at our current situation, then Ellis has much to teach us. Next time you’re told your entire worldview is racist and sexist, you might quote him: “The worldwide abolition of slavery was an accomplishment of Europeans, including those who moved to North America.” Again: “medical, technological, and social changes” have given “women opportunity that they could not possibly have had before.” And again: some “minority groups complain when their traditional clothing is ‘appropriated’ by Europeans, but those same people routinely visit dentists, board trains, switch on electric lights, and use iPhones—all of which constitutes a far greater ‘cultural appropriation’ than the one they complain of.”
Ellis’s approach to education affirms an ideal long at the heart of Western civilization, namely, the paramount importance of counterargument. In a wide-ranging study, we could turn to Cicero, Erasmus, Shakespeare, or J. H. Newman to confirm what the ancients called argumentum in utramque partem. We could trace the salutary power of counterargument in law and the arts. Aware that jargon-laced fashion has replaced serious counterargument on the one-party campus, Ellis cites John Stuart Mill: “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.” After decades of academic battle, Ellis has learned to advance his spearpoint where it cannot be easily deflected: “If leftist professors think they can fill the gap by presenting the right’s case themselves, Mill has a crushing answer: ‘Both teachers and learners go to sleep at their post as soon as there is no enemy in the field.’” Ellis adds impishly that, since the field is quite empty of enemies, campus radicals need “safe spaces” to protect their indefensible dogmas.
Ellis documents the far-left takeover of academia in grim detail. He cites an abundance of research regarding the diversity regime that emerged following the Allan Bakke decision in 1978. This regime, as Ellis notes, drew support from the expansion of Title IX offices, which were originally designed to support female student athletes. Ellis offers considerable evidence, if anyone wants to see it, that the main beneficiaries of the diversity regime are not minority students. The current educational system is, to a significant degree, invested in their failure. As Ellis writes, “The crux of the matter is that control of the education that should have led to full equality in the mainstream of society is now in the hands of people who loathe the mainstream.”
To follow Ellis’s harrowing line of analysis: the privileged radicals don’t really want the underprivileged to succeed, because, if they do, America must be a pretty good place. The radicals simply cannot admit as much while still demanding a Marxist-style transformation of American society. Education for citizenship was once a recipe for social mobility. Nowadays, if you are not running the show to begin with, you will be made to serve the radical agenda. I cannot disagree with this analysis, but it paints a very bleak picture of human nature and the raw workings of power.
What about the sciences? Unfortunately, by using the intellectual fog of “social justice” for cover, the radicals have infiltrated the realm of STEM learning. “The latest figures,” Ellis writes, “show that STEM fields too are now beginning to appoint almost exclusively leftist faculty.…”Academe’s Poisoned Groves by Lee Oser
The article is a book review of The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done by John M. Ellis.
And so, we wait for Christians to finally, finally get serious about building cheap’n’good online educational institutions for their own people.
Preferably not accredited by their enemies: after all, Harvard – like any truly excellent institution – needs no accreditation.