As we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, some of you may not know that he suffered with depression. According to a Time Magazine article back in the 1960s, Dr. King attempted suicide before the age of 13 when his grandmother was ill and again after her death. During […]
Several of my friends are taking their young adults to college this week. And they wonder, will my child be able to pursue truth or be indoctrinated by identity politics so rampant on our university campuses?
Recently, I read one of the best articles on identity politics yet. It was in the Wall Street Journal by Anthony Kronman, a Yale professor. Some of you might think he would be an unlikely source to question how identity politics has been embraced on college campuses, but his thoughts are insightful. His main thesis is that the educational process of American universities has replaced the pursuit of truth and reason with the dogma of identity politics and this has damaged the pursuit of truth so important to American higher education.
Diversity, he argues, is a powerful word in higher education. But it has become a political agenda about race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, and is not related to the educational ideal of diversity of ideas. Universities have become group think organizations. If you veer from the beliefs and sentiments of a group, you are ostracized. Instead of encouraging diversity of ideas, you are forced into one way to think in order to be in the club of your particular group. Kronman puts it this way, “remain in your corner in which you have been assigned.”
The fall out of this, of course, is that if you do question or have an individual opinion, you are disloyal to the group think. This is nothing more than control. This is an effective strategy for group solidarity in political fights, but an obstacle to academic learning. You must think and hold beliefs to the group to which you are assigned, not think for yourself and question.
Kronman rightfully calls out the fact that campuses are being politicized. Moreover, this move feeds into a culture of grievances, a characteristic of political life in which truth is not pursued, but blame abounds. A grievance results in a demand and converts the free exchange of ideas into a battleground. Academic differences and disagreements are not questioned with facts or learning, but inflamed by passion and feeling. This is not learning, it is political advocacy.
Kronman says that truth is not democratic. It is to be pursued and not based on what someone feels and believes. Feelings and beliefs must be reasoned and subject to a standard of objectivity. Instead, we have developed a culture of political loyalty and opinion which pushes students into segregated groups of thinking. The common ground of reason is being lost.
What is at stake? Kronman says we are losing independent thinking citizens, truthfulness and honesty. And that loss would be significant in the educating of young minds and future leaders. This should give us all pause as we drop those college kids off to places that are supposed to help them pursue truth but have become places of political advocacy.