So between the failure of Solo, the divisiveness of The Last Jedi and the falling interest in Galaxy’s Edge, our good friends in the news media have concluded that Disney Star Wars isn’t doing too well. And I for one am shocked!
Great news! I was so pleased to learn that we’ll finally be getting what we all wanted in Marvel Phase 4 – a female Thor.
So I was excited to hear that talks between Sony and Marvel have broken down, and as a result there will be no more Spider-Man movies in the MCU. This can only be good news, right?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, what a truly incredible trainwreck. Rian Johnson’s complete inability to craft anything even resembling meaningful (or coherent) plotline is truly remarkable to behold. Six months out from this farce, let’s take a closer look at everything that went wrong.
RED LETTER MEDIA
(RED LETTER MEDIA) Finally it’s here! The truly epic review/critique/analysis/film making educational video of the 1999 film “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” There was so much to discuss with this film it had to be long so please don’t complain. If you think it’s too long then don’t watch it. In this opening segment I discuss the major flaw of The Phantom Menace which is the characters and the lack of connection with the audience.
While I like their rants (Paul Watson, Mark Dice, and others) and these commentaries hold much truth in them, I do wish to caution you… he is part of Info Wars/Prison Planet network of yahoos, a crazy conspiracy arm of Alex Jones shite. Also, I bet if I talked to him he would reveal some pretty-crazy conspiratorial beliefs that would naturally undermine and be at-odds-with some of his rants. Just to be clear, I do not endorse these people or orgs.
Dennis Prager discusses Merkel’s ban of the Burka and the Niqab while relating it to the cultural relativism of the left. Take note the German Chancellor is running for her office soon… “shoring up” votes in other words:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she believes the full Islamic face veil or “burqa” has no place in her country and should be banned. Critics have pointed to her announcement, made at the Christian Democratic Party conference, as an attempt to shore up her conservative base after announcing she would seek another term as German leader…. (BREITBART)
If you listen closely, Dr. Williams refuses to use the term “African American” in a simple discussion of the issues facing Americans:
In fact, in an old article, Dr. Williams spells out his thinking clearly… one post sums up Walter Williams main points well:
First it devalues the diversity within Africa – Africa is filled with nations and regions with diverse histories, peoples, ethnicities and leaders. Second, it perpetuates the whole trend that Americans and Europeans need to help them poor AFRICANS. So we devise buy a water bottle and feed a African child campaign – or consumeristic ploys that convince you to buy products to that .00000001% goes to some African AID/HIV fund where the marketing costs more than what is donated. Third – using the term African American is retarded b.c it takes away from the concept that Blacks ARE Americans – they are more American than anyone else who claims to be American because they built this country – they built up our profits, our surplus – they literally built Wall Street in NYC! They gave America culture – and all along dominant America stole their bodies, their labor, their minds and their rhythms – so this time around can we at least not try to steal their identities? If Blacks are telling us the term “african-American” doesn’t make sense -we should listen! Wouldn’t it sound retarded to call white Ameircans “European Americans”? It non-sensical to add a pre-fix to their “Americaness” because doing so takes away their Americaness. Fourth – Blacks whose ancestry date back to slavery are not from all over the African continent – mostly they were captured and sold from African’s gold coast – Western Africa fight – the label “African-American” is very inappropriate because many blacks trace their ancestory to the Carribeans – or to Brazil – or to Mexico.
While I am not a fan of Woodrow Wilson at all, he makes a great point in this WIKI article:
The term “hyphenated American” was published by 1889, and was common as a derogatory term by 1904. During World War I the issue arose of the primary political loyalty of ethnic groups with close ties to Europe, especially German Americans and also Irish Americans. Former President Theodore Roosevelt in speaking to the largely Irish Catholic Knights of Columbus at Carnegie Hall on Columbus Day 1915, asserted that,
There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all … The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic … There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.
President Woodrow Wilson regarded “hyphenated Americans” with suspicion, saying, “Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.”
The modern Left is all about division. Separating people. And by separating [dividing], a culture is conquered:
….Most black families in the United States today have been here longer than most white families. No one except the American Indians can claim to have been on American soil longer. Why then call blacks in the United States “African-Americans” when not even their great-great-great-grandparents ever laid eyes on Africa?
It is certainly understandable that activists, politicians and others who wish to divide Americans for their own purposes would push the notion of “African-Americans.” They also push such things as the “African” holiday Kwanzaa – which originated in Los Angeles – and “black English” or “ebonics,” which originated centuries ago in particular localities in Britain, and is wholly unknown in Africa.
It is certainly understandable that activists, politicians and others who wish to divide Americans for their own purposes would push the notion of “African-Americans.” They also push such things as the “African” holiday Kwanzaa – which originated in Los Angeles – and “black English” or “ebonics,” which originated centuries ago in particular localities in Britain, and is wholly unknown in Africa.
Names are just part of the process of creating wholesale frauds about the past in order to advance special agendas in the present. Personal names are also part of that fraud.
Of all the reactions against the supposed “slave names” among blacks, the most painfully ironic has been the taking of Arab names instead. The Arabs engaged in massive enslavement of Africans before the Europeans began to and continued long after the Europeans stopped.
One of the many reasons for studying history is to prevent history from being misused for current hidden agendas. Names are just one of the things being misused in this way.
What prompted this post was a fellow I know — J. Giordano — excerpting a bit from the following book by Theodore Roosevelt. I excerpt more of it here for those who love history:
Theodore Roosevelt, Fear God and Take Your Own Part (New York, NY: George H. Doran, 1916), 17-28; the book is online for reading HERE.
But in addition to fearing God, it is necessary that we should be able and ready to take our own part. The man who cannot take his own part is a nuisance in the community, a source of weakness, an encouragement to wrongdoers and an added burden to the men who wish to do what is right. If he cannot take his own part, then somebody else has to take it for him; and this means that his weakness and cowardice and inefficiency place an added burden on some other man and make that other man’s strength by just so much of less avail to the community as a whole. No man can take the part of any one else unless he is able to take his own part. This is just as true of nations as of men. A nation that cannot take its own part is at times almost as fertile a source of mischief in the world at large as is a nation which does wrong to others, for its very existence puts a premium on such wrongdoing. Therefore, a nation must fit itself to defend its honor and interest against outside aggression; and this necessarily means that in a free democracy every man fit for citizenship must be trained so that he can do his full duty to the nation in war no less than in peace.
Unless we are thorough-going Americans and unless our patriotism is part of the very fiber of our being, we can neither serve God nor take our own part. Whatever may be the case in an infinitely remote future, at present no people can render any service to humanity unless as a people they feel an intense sense of national cohesion and solidarity. The man who loves other nations as much as he does his own, stands on a par with the man who loves other women as much as he does his own wife. The United States can accomplish little for mankind, save in so far as within its borders it develops an intense spirit of Americanism. A flabby cosmopolitanism, especially if it expresses itself through a flabby pacifism, is not only silly, but degrading. It represents national emasculation. The professors of every form of hyphenated Americanism are as truly the foes of this country as if they dwelled outside its borders and made active war against it. This is not a figure of speech, or a hyperbolic statement. The leaders of the hyphenated-American movement in this country (who during the last eighteen months have been the professional German-Americans and Austro-Americans) are also leaders in the movement against preparedness. I have before me a little pamphlet, circulated by a “German-American” organization, consisting of articles written by a German-American for a paper which claims to be the leading German paper in Illinois. This pamphlet is a bitter attack upon the policy of preparedness for the United States, and a slanderous assault on those advocating this American policy. It is, therefore, an effort in the interest of Germany to turn the United States into a larger Belgium—an easy prey for Germany whenever Germany desires to seize it. These professional German-Americans and Pro-Germans are Anti-American to the core. They play the part of traitors, pure and simple. Once it was true that this country could not endure half free and half slave. Today it is true that it can not endure half American and half foreign. The hyphen is incompatible with patriotism.
Patriotism should be an integral part of our every feeling at all times, for it is merely another name for those qualities of soul which make a man in peace or in war, by day or by night, think of his duty to his fellows, and of his duty to the nation through which their and his loftiest aspirations must find their fitting expression. After the Lusitania was sunk, Mr. Wilson stated in effect that such a time was not the right time to stir up patriotism. This statement is entirely incompatible with having a feeling of deep patriotism at any time. It might just as appropriately have been made by George Washington immediately after his defeat at the Brandywine, or by Abraham Lincoln immediately after the surrender of Fort Sumter; and if in either of these crises our leaders had acted on any such principle we would not now have any country at all. Patriotism is as much a duty in time of war as in time of peace, and it is most of all a duty in any and every great crisis. To commit folly or do evil, to act inconsiderately and hastily or wantonly and viciously, in the name of patriotism, represents not patriotism at all, but a use of the name to cloak an attack upon the thing. Such baseness or folly is wrong, at every time and on every occasion. But patriotism itself is not only in place on every occasion and at every time, but is peculiarly the feeling which should be stirred to its deepest depths at every serious crisis. The duty of a leader is to lead; and it is a dreadful thing that any man chosen to lead his fellow-countrymen should himself show, not merely so profound a lack of patriotism, but such misunderstanding of patriotism, as to be willing to say in a great crisis what President Wilson thus said at the time of the sinking of the Lusitania. This statement, coupled with his statement made about the same time as to being “too proud to fight,” furnishes the clue to the Administration’s policy both before and since. This policy made our great democratic commonwealth false to its duties and its ideals in a tremendous world crisis, at the very time when, if properly led, it could have rendered an inestimable service to all mankind, and could have placed itself on a higher pinnacle of worthy achievement than ever before.
Patriotism, so far from being incompatible with performance of duty to other nations, is an indispensable prerequisite to doing one’s duty toward other nations. Fear God; and take your own part! If this nation had feared God it would have stood up for the Belgians and Armenians; if it had been able and willing to take its own part there would have been no murderous assault on the Lusitania, no outrages on our men and women in Mexico. True patriotism carries with it not hostility to other nations but a quickened sense of responsible good-will towards other nations, a good-will of acts and not merely of words. I stand for a nationalism of duty, to oneself and to others; and, therefore, for a nationalism which is a means to internationalism. World peace must rest on the willingness of nations with courage, cool foresight, and readiness for self-sacrifice to defend the fabric of international law. No nation can help in securing an organized, peaceful and justice-doing world community until it is willing to run risks and make efforts in order to secure and maintain such a community.
The nation that in actual practice fears God is the nation which does not wrong its neighbors, which does so far as possible help its neighbors, and which never promises what it cannot or will not or ought not to perform. The professional pacifists in and out of office who at peace congresses pass silly resolutions which cannot be, and ought not to be, lived up to, and enter into silly treaties which ought not to be, and cannot be, kept, are not serving God, but Baal. They are not doing anything for anybody. If in addition these people, when the concrete case arises, as in Belgium or Armenia, fear concretely to denounce and antagonize the wrongdoer, they become not merely passive, but active agents of the devil. The professional pacifists who applauded universal arbitration treaties and disarmament proposals prior to the war, since the war have held meetings and parades in this country on behalf of peace, and have gone on silly missions to Europe on behalf of peace—and the peace they sought to impose on heroes who were battling against infamy was a peace conceived in the interest of the authors of the infamy. They did not dare to say that they stood only for a peace that should right the wrongs of Belgium. They did not dare to denounce the war of aggression by Germany against Belgium. Their souls were too small, their timidity too great. They were even afraid to applaud the war waged by Belgium in its own defence. These pacifists have served morality, have shown that they feared God, exactly as the Pharisees did, when they made broad their philacteries and uttered long prayers in public, but did not lift a finger to lighten the load of the oppressed. When Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bryan made this nation shirk its duty towards Belgium, they made us false to all our high ideals; for they acted and caused this government to act in that spirit of commercial opportunism which refuses to do duty to others unless there is in it pecuniary profit for one‑self. This combination of mean timidity and mean commercial opportunism is peculiarly odious because those practising it have sought to hide it by profuse outbursts of wordy sentimentality and loud professions of attachment to impossible and undesirable ideals. One of the besetting sins of many of our public servants (and of not a few of our professional moralists, lay and clerical) is to cloak weakness or baseness of action behind insincere oratory on behalf of impractical ideals. The true servant of the people is the man who preaches realizable ideals; and who then practises what he has preached.
Moreover, even as regards the pacifists who genuinely desire that this nation should fear God, it is to be remembered that if the nation cannot take its own part, the fact that it fears God will be of no practical consequence to any one. Nobody cares whether or not the feeling of the Chinese people is against international wrongdoing; for, as China is helplessly unable to take her own part, she is in practise even more helpless to take the part of any one else and to secure justice and mercy for any one else. The pacifists who are seeking to Chinafy the United States are not only seeking to bring the United States to ruin, but are also seeking to render it absolutely impotent to help upright and well-behaved nations which are oppressed by the military power of unscrupulous neighbors of greater strength.
The professional pacifists, the leaders in the pacifist movement in the United States, do particular harm by giving well-meaning but uninformed people who do not think deeply what seems to them a convincing excuse for failure to show courage and resolution. Those who preach sloth and cowardice under the high-sounding name of “peace” give people a word with which to cloak, even to themselves, their failure to perform unpleasant duty. For a man to stand up for his own rights, or especially for the rights of somebody else, means that he must have virile qualities: courage, foresight, willingness to face risk and undergo effort. It is much easier to be timid and lazy. The average man does not like to face death and endure hardship and labor. He can be roused to do so if a leader of the right type, a Washington or Lincoln, appeals to the higher qualities, including the stern qualities, of his soul. But a leader, or at least a man who holds a leader’s place, earns praise and profit unworthily if he uses his gift of words to lull well-meaning men to sleep, if he assures them that it is their duty to do the easy and selfish thing, and furnishes them high-sounding phrases with which to cover ignoble failure to perform hard and disagreeable duties.
Peace is not the end. Righteousness is the end. When the Saviour saw the money-changers in the Temple he broke the peace by driving them out. At that moment peace could have been obtained readily enough by the simple process of keeping quiet in the presence of wrong. But instead of preserving peace at the expense of righteousness, the Saviour armed himself with a scourge of cords and drove the moneychangers from the Temple. Righteousness is the end, and peace a means to the end, and sometimes it is not peace, but war which is the proper means to achieve the end. Righteousness should breed valor and strength. When it does breed them, it is triumphant; and when triumphant, it necessarily brings peace. But peace does not necessarily bring righteousness.
As for neutrality, it is well to remember that it is never moral, and may be a particularly mean and hideous form of immorality. It is in itself merely unmoral ; that is, neither moral nor immoral ; and at times it may be wise and expedient. But it is never anything of which to be proud; and it may be something of which to be heartily ashamed. It is a wicked thing to be neutral between right and wrong. Impartiality does not mean neutrality. Impartial justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and uphold ing it, wherever found, against the wrong. Moreover, submission to an initial wrong means that all protests against subsequent and lesser wrongs are hypocritical and ineffective. Had we protested, in such fashion that our protest was effective, against what was done in Belgium by Germany, and against the sinking of the Lusitania by Germany, we could have (and in such case we ought to have) protested against all subsequent and minor infractions of international law and morals, including those which interfered with our commerce or with any other neutral rights. But failure to protest against the first and worst offences of the strongest wrongdoer made it contemptible, and an act of bad faith, to protest against subsequent and smaller misdeeds; and failure to act (not merely speak or write notes) when our women and children were murdered made protests against interference with American business profits both offensive and ludicrous.
The pacifists have used all kinds of arguments in favor of peaceful submission to, or refusal to prepare against, international violence and wrongdoing, and among others the very ancient arguments based upon the supposed teaching of the New Testament against war. In the first place, as I have already pointed out, this argument is quite incompatible with accepting the lesson taught by the action of the Saviour in driving the money-changers from the Temple; not to mention, incidentally, that the duty of preparedness has rarely been put in stronger form than by St. Luke in the direction that “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”
 See the excellent little book called “Is War Diminishing?” by Woods and Baltzly. The authors deal, as they necessarily must if truthful deal, with the mischievous activities of those professional pacifists among whom Mr. Andrew Carnegie has attained an unhappy prominence: activities which in this country for the last five years have worked nothing but evil, and very serious evil, to our nation and to humanity at large, and to all genuine movements for the promotion of the peace of righteousness. The writers instance Mr. Nicholas Murray Butler as presenting in typical manner the shams and perversions of fact upon which the professional pacifists rely for their propaganda, and remark that these pacifists, “who pride themselves on having the superior moral point of view, openly disregard the truth,” and ask “these professors of ethics, law and justice, these presidents of colleges, these moral educators, if morality is not necessarily bound up with truth.” The pacifist movement in this country has not only been one of extreme folly and immorality, but has been bolstered by consistent and unwearied falsification of the fads, laudation of shallow and unprincipled demagogues, and condemnation of the upright public servants who fearlessly tell the truth.
I just wanted to catalog two quotes by a Jewish (non-religious), gay, anti-conservative professor, and then post some excerpts from a review of the book.
There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them. … The relativity of truth is … a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it. … The danger they have been taught to fear is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness — and the relativism that makes it plausible — is the great insight of our times. … The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.
In the United States, practically speaking, the Bible was the only common culture, one that united the simple and the sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old, and—as the very model for a vision of the order of the whole of things, as well as the key to the rest of Western art, the greatest works of which were in one way or another responsive to the Bible—provided access to the seriousness of books. With its gradual and inevitable disappearance, the very idea of such a total book is disappearing. And fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise—as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine. Contrary to what is commonly thought, without the book even the idea of the whole is lost.
Allan Bloom, Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 25, 58 (respectively).
…While I continue to learn much from Bloom, over the years I have arrived at three main judgments about the book’s relevance, its prescience, and its failings. First, Bloom was right to be concerned about the specter of relativism—though perhaps even he didn’t realize how bad it would get, particularly when one considers the reaction to his book compared to its likely reception were it published today. Second, his alarm over the threat of “multiculturalism” was misplaced and constituted a bad misreading of the zeitgeist, in which he mistook the left’s tactical use of identity politics for the rise of a new kind of communalist and even traditionalist tribalism. And, lastly, most of his readers—even today—remain incorrect in considering him to be a representative of “conservatism,” a label that he eschewed and a worldview he rejected…
What should most astonish any reader of Bloom’s Closing after 25 years is the fact that this erudite treatise about the crisis of higher education not only sat atop the bestseller list for many weeks but was at the center of an intense, lengthy, and ferocious debate during the late 1980s over education, youth, culture, and politics. In many ways, it became the most visible and weightiest salvo in what came to be known as “the culture wars,” and people of a certain generation still hold strong opinions about Bloom and his remarkable, unlikely bestseller.
Today there are many books about the crisis of higher education—while the nature of the crisis may change, higher education never seems to be out of the woods—but none before or since Bloom’s book achieved its prominence or made its author as rich and famous as a rock star. It was a book that many people bought but few read, at least not beyond a few titillating passages condemning rock-and-roll and feminism. Yet it was a book about which almost everyone with some engagement in higher education held an opinion—indeed, it was obligatory to have considered views on Bloom’s book, whether one had read it or not.
Bloom’s book was at the center of a debate—one that had been percolating well before its publication in 1987—over the nature and content of a university education. That debate intensified with the growing numbers of “diverse” populations seeking recognition on college campuses—concomitant with the rise of departments of Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, and a host of other “Studies” studies—leading to demands that the curriculum increasingly reflect contributions by non-male, non-white, non-European and even non-dead authors.
The Closing of the American Mind spawned hundreds, perhaps even thousands of responses—most of them critiques—including an article entitled “The Philosopher Despot” in Harper’s by political theorist Benjamin Barber, and the inevitably titled The Opening of the American Mind by Lawrence Levine. Partly spurred by the firestorm initiated by Bloom’s book, perennial presidential candidate Jesse Jackson led a march through the campus of Stanford University shouting through a bullhorn, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go!” Passions for campus reform ran high, and an avalanche of words, articles, denunciations, and ad hominem attacks greeted Bloom’s defense of the Western canon.
Yet the nuances of Bloom’s qualified defense of the Western canon were rarely appreciated by critics or supporters alike. While Bloom was often lumped together with E.D. Hirsch—whose Cultural Literacy was published the same year and rose to number two on the New York Times bestseller list, just behind Closing—Bloom’s argument was fundamentally different and far more philosophically challenging than Hirsch’s more mundane, if nevertheless accurate, point that educated people increasingly did not have knowledge about their own culture. Hirsch’s book spoke to anxiety about the loss of a shared literary and cultural inheritance, which today has been largely supplanted by references to a few popular television shows and sports televised on ESPN.
Bloom made an altogether different argument: American youth were increasingly raised to believe that nothing was True, that every belief was merely the expression of an opinion or preference. Americans were raised to be “cultural relativists,” with a default attitude of non-judgmentalism. Not only all other traditions but even one’s own (whatever that might be) were simply views that happened to be held by some people and could not be judged inferior or superior to any other. He bemoaned particularly the decline of household and community religious upbringing in which the worldviews of children were shaped by a comprehensive vision of the good and the true. In one arresting passage, he waxed nostalgic for the days when people cared: “It was not necessarily the best of times in America when Catholic and Protestants were suspicious of and hated one another; but at least they were taking their beliefs seriously…”
He lamented the decline of such true belief not because he personally held any religious or cultural tradition to be true—while Bloom was raised as a Jew, he was at least a skeptic, if not a committed atheist—but because he believed that such inherited belief was the source from which a deeper and more profound philosophic longing arose. It wasn’t “cultural literacy” he wanted, but rather the possibility of that liberating excitement among college-age youth that can come from realizing that one’s own inherited tradition might not be true. From that harrowing of belief can come the ultimate philosophic quest—the effort to replace mere prejudice with the quest for knowledge of the True.
Near the beginning of Closing, Bloom relates one telling story of a debate with a psychology professor during his time teaching at Cornell. Bloom’s adversary claimed, “it was his function to get rid of prejudices in his students.” Bloom compared that function to the activity of an older sibling who informs the kids that there is no Santa Claus—disillusionment and disappointment. Rather than inspiring students to replace “prejudice” with a curiosity for Truth, the mere shattering of illusion would simply leave students “passive, disconsolate, indifferent, and subject to authorities like himself.”
Bloom relates that “I found myself responding to the professor of psychology that I personally tried to teach my students prejudices, since nowadays—with the general success of his method—they had learned to doubt beliefs even before they believed in anything … One has to have the experience of really believing before one can have the thrill of liberation.” Bloom’s preferred original title—before being overruled by Simon and Schuster—was Souls Without Longing. He was above all concerned that students, in being deprived of the experience of living in their own version of Plato’s cave, would never know or experience the opportunity of philosophic ascent.
Today we live in a different age, one that so worried Bloom—an age of indifference. Institutions of higher learning have almost completely abandoned even a residual belief that there are some books and authors that an educated person should encounter. A rousing defense of a curriculum in which female, African-American, Latino, and other authors should be represented has given way to a nearly thoroughgoing indifference to the content of our students’ curricula. Academia is committed to teaching “critical thinking” and willing to allow nearly any avenue in the training of that amorphous activity, but eschews any belief that the content of what is taught will or ought to influence how a person lives.
Thus, not only is academia indifferent to whether our students become virtuous human beings (to use a word seldom to be found on today’s campuses), but it holds itself to be unconnected to their vices—thus there remains no self-examination over higher education’s role in producing the kinds of graduates who helped turn Wall Street into a high-stakes casino and our nation’s budget into a giant credit card. Today, in the name of choice, non-judgmentalism, and toleration, institutions prefer to offer the greatest possible expanse of options, in the implicit belief that every 18- to 22-year-old can responsibly fashion his or her own character unaided.
Bloom was so correct about the predictable rise of a society defined by indifference that one is entitled to conclude that were Closing published today, it would barely cause a ripple. This is not because most of academia would be inclined to agree with his arguments any more than they did in 1987. Rather, it is simply the case that hardly anyone in academe any longer thinks that curricula are worth fighting over….
Today’s academic leaders don’t believe the content of those choices has any fundamental influence on the souls of our students, most likely because it would be unfashionable to believe that they have souls. As long as everyone is tolerant of everyone else’s choices, no one can get hurt. What is today called “tolerance,” Bloom rightly understood to be more deeply a form of indifference, the extreme absence of care, leading to a society composed not only of “souls without longing” but humans treated as utilitarian bodies that are increasingly incapable of love.
Slam!Gateway Punditpoints out that even Muhammad thought Jesus was white… will the left leaning media critique Islam as multicultural racists!
The liberal media blasted FOX News host Megyn Kelly for saying Jesus and Santa were white men. (historical ~ facts)
They had to do something. She’s beautiful, talented, smart, level-headed and too damned popular.
Apparently, they forgot Mohammad said Jesus was a white man, too. Liberals constantly defend Islam and won’t say disparaging things about prophet Muhammad, but did you know Muhammad described Jesus Christ as a very fair-skinned white man?
Are Liberals going attack the Prophet Muhammad, too? And remember Muhammad was from the Middle East and an Arab. Not all Middle Easterners are dark. That would be racist to claim that. In fact Muhammad was described as white man with a reddish tint in Islamic text.
….The first University of California campus opened in Berkeley in 1873, fulfilling a mandate of California’s 1849 constitution that the state establish a public university for the “promotion of literature, the arts and sciences.” Expectations for this new endeavor were high; Governor Henry Haight had predicted that the campus would “soon become a great light-house of education and learning on this Coast, and a pride and glory” of the state.
He was right. Over the next 140 years, as nine more campuses were added, the university would prove an engine for economic growth and a source of human progress. UC owns more research patents than any other university system in the country. Its engineers helped achieve California’s midcentury dominance in aerospace and electronics; its agronomists aided the state’s fecund farms and vineyards. The nuclear technology developed by UC scientists and their students secured America’s Cold War preeminence (while provoking one of the country’s most cataclysmic student protest movements). UC’s physical infrastructure is a precious asset in its own right. Anyone can wander its trellised gardens and groves of native and exotic trees, or browse its library stacks and superb research collections.
But by the early 1960s, UC was already exhibiting many of the problems that afflict it today. The bureaucracy had mushroomed, both at the flagship Berkeley campus and at the Office of the President, the central administrative unit that oversees the entire UC system. Nathan Glazer, who taught sociology at Berkeley at the time, wrote in Commentary in 1965: “Everyone—arriving faculty members, arriving deans, visiting authorities—is astonished by the size” of the two administrations. Glazer noted the emergence of a new professional class: full-time college administrators who specialized in student affairs, had never taught, and had little contact with the faculty. The result of this bureaucratic explosion reminded Glazer of the federal government: “Organization piled upon organization, reaching to a mysterious empyrean height.”
At Berkeley, as federal research money flooded into the campus, the faculty were losing interest in undergraduate teaching, observed Clark Kerr, UC’s president and a former Berkeley chancellor. (Kerr once famously quipped that a chancellor’s job was to provide “parking for the faculty, sex for the students, and athletics for the alumni.”) Back in the 1930s, responsibility for introductory freshman courses had been the highest honor that a Berkeley professor could receive, Kerr wrote in his memoirs; 30 years later, the faculty shunted off such obligations whenever possible to teaching assistants, who, by 1964, made up nearly half the Berkeley teaching corps.
Most presciently, Kerr noted that Berkeley had split into two parts: Berkeley One, an important academic institution with a continuous lineage back to the nineteenth century; and Berkeley Two, a recent political upstart centered on the antiwar, antiauthority Free Speech Movement that had occupied Sproul Plaza in 1964. Berkeley Two was as connected to the city’s left-wing political class and to its growing colony of “street people” as it was to the traditional academic life of the campus. In fact, the two Berkeleys had few points of overlap.
Today, echoing Kerr, we can say that there are two Universities of California: UC One, a serious university system centered on the sciences (though with representatives throughout the disciplines) and still characterized by rigorous meritocratic standards; and UC Two, a profoundly unserious institution dedicated to the all-consuming crusade against phantom racism and sexism that goes by the name of “diversity.” Unlike Berkeley Two in Kerr’s Day, UC Two reaches to the topmost echelon of the university, where it poses a real threat to the integrity of its high-achieving counterpart….
….Yet when UC Two’s administrators and professors look around their domains, they see a landscape riven by the discrimination that it is their duty to extirpate.
Thus it was that UC San Diego’s electrical and computer engineering department found itself facing a mandate from campus administrators to hire a fourth female professor in early 2012. The possibility of a new hire had opened up—a rare opportunity in the current budget climate—and after winnowing down hundreds of applicants, the department put forward its top candidates for on-campus interviews. Scandalously, all were male. Word came down from on high that a female applicant who hadn’t even been close to making the initial cut must be interviewed. She was duly brought to campus for an interview, but she got mediocre reviews. The powers-that-be then spoke again: her candidacy must be brought to a departmental vote. In an unprecedented assertion of secrecy, the department chair refused to disclose the vote’s outcome and insisted on a second ballot. After that second vote, the authorities finally gave up and dropped her candidacy. Both vote counts remain secret.
An electrical and computer engineering professor explains what was at stake. “We pride ourselves on being the best,” he says. “The faculty know that absolute ranking is critical. No one had ever considered this woman a star.” You would think that UC’s administrators would value this fierce desire for excellence, especially in a time of limited resources. Thanks to its commitment to hiring only “the best,” San Diego’s electrical and computer engineering department has made leading contributions to circuit design, digital coding, and information theory.
Maria Sobek, UC Santa Barbara’s associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and academic policy and a professor of Chicana and Chicano studies, provides a window into how UC Two thinks about its mission. If a faculty hiring committee selects only white male finalists for an opening, the dean will suggest “bringing in some women to look them over,” Sobek says. These female candidates, she says, “may be borderline, but they are all qualified.” And voilà! “It turns out [the hiring committees] really like the candidates and hire them, even if they may not have looked so good on paper.” This process has “energized” the faculty to hire a woman, says Sobek. She adds that diversity interventions get “more positive responses” from humanities and social-sciences professors than from scientists.
Leave aside Sobek’s amusing suggestion that the faculty just happen to discover that they “really like” the diversity candidate whom the administration has forced on them. More disturbing is the subversion of the usual hiring standard from “most qualified” to “qualified enough.” UC Two sets the hiring bar low enough to scoop in some female or minority candidates, and then declares that anyone above that bar is “qualified enough” to trump the most qualified candidate, if that candidate is a white or an Asian male. This is a formula for mediocrity.
Sometimes, UC Two can’t manage to lower hiring standards enough to scoop in a “diverse” candidate. In that case, it simply creates a special hiring category outside the normal channels. In September 2012, after the meritocratic revolt in UC San Diego’s electrical and computer engineering department, the engineering school announced that it would hire an “excellence” candidate, the school’s Orwellian term for faculty who, it claims, will contribute to diversity and who, by some odd coincidence, always happen to be female or an underrepresented minority. UC San Diego’s Division of Physical Sciences followed suit the next month, listing two tenure-track positions for professors who could “shape and expand the University’s diversity initiatives.” If the division had any specific scientific expertise in mind, the job listing made no mention of it….
….The UC undergraduates whom I met in 2012 were serious, self-directed, and mature. But they are ill-served by a system that devotes so many resources to political trivia. UC Two’s diversity obsessions have no place in an institution dedicated to the development of knowledge. No one today asks whether the Berkeley physics laboratory that developed the cyclotron had a sufficient quota of women and underrepresented minorities; the beneficiaries of nuclear medicine are simply happy to be treated.
The retirement of President Yudof in summer 2013 provides an opportunity for an overdue course correction. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that anyone will seize it. Every potential countervailing force to UC Two has already been captured by UC Two’s own ideology. The California legislature is as strong an advocate for specious social-justice crusades as any vice chancellor for equity and inclusion. The regents have been unanimous cheerleaders for “diversity” and will run all presidential candidates through a predictable gauntlet of diversity interrogation. For more than a decade, the federal government has used its grant-making power to demand color- and gender-driven hiring in the sciences. UC One’s passion for discovery and learning will fuel it for a long time yet, but it will continue to be weakened severely by UC Two.