I ran across this article and thought it was excellent in articulating the growing problem of a lack of tolerance and critical thinking from many folks in academia, and indeed in society in general. As we have seen on my own infinitesimally small corner of the universe here on Saving Common Sense, any orthodox, conservative, or politically incorrect opinion is often met by the wailing and gnashing of teeth by some folks on the far left.
Instead of always addressing the merits of the arguments presented, more often than not, the responses from some people are typically nothing more than epithets of racism, fascism, authoritarianism, and so forth. There no longer exists a platform for civil debate and indeed that is what the extremism of the far left seemingly hopes to achieve. They don’t want an exchange of ideas and ideals. They want the extermination of any opinion that runs contrary to their own. This is done in an Alinsky-like manner through ridicule, demonization, and marginalization of those with whom they disagree.
Professor Amy Wax spoke at Hillsdale College on this very topic recently, and her speech was adapted into the following essay. It perfectly encapsulates the problem at hand and shows the dangerous path this lack of tolerance for free speech from some of our brothers and sisters on the left has in its deleterious effect on our society. Either we address this and overcome this knee-jerk intolerant reaction and begin to teach critical thinking in academia and in society again, or we will continue to sink even deeper into the divided cesspool this intolerance has created. Enjoy.
“There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with plenty of lip service being paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them.
The op-ed, which I co-authored with Larry Alexander of the University Of San Diego Law School, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9 under the title, ‘Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture.’ It began by listing some of the ills afflicting American society:
‘Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.’
We then discussed the ‘cultural script’—a list of behavioral norms—that was almost universally endorsed between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s:
‘Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.’
These norms defined a concept of adult responsibility that was, we wrote, ‘a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.’ The fact that the ‘bourgeois culture’ these norms embodied has broken down since the 1960s, we argued, largely explains today’s social pathologies—and re-embracing that culture would go a long way toward addressing those pathologies.
In what became perhaps the most controversial passage, we pointed out that cultures are not equal in terms of preparing people to be productive citizens in a modern technological society, and we gave some examples of cultures less suited to achieve this:
‘The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.'
The reactions to this piece raise the question of how unorthodox opinions should be dealt with in academia—and in American society at large.”