The firing of Naomi Schaefer Riley by the Chronicles of Higher Education back in May for daring to write an article criticizing the intellectual relevance of doctrinal theses developed and written by students in Black Studies programs came about after a torrent of outrage fell from the academic heavens accusing Ms. Schaefer Riley of being….wait for it…yes, a racist.
The fact that anyone writing commentary for the Chronicles of Higher Education would boldly trumpet the overdue observation that Minority Studies, and the 1960s-based Left-wing ideology supporting such programs, were churning out a bunch of bogus bull is a very positive portent for the future of higher education. Those weed-covered campus walls of rhetoric and sophistry are beginning to show the cracks and fissures of academic irrelevance.
John Ellis, Professor Emeritus of the University of California and President of the California Association of Scholars, has added his voice in opposition to minority manipulation by Left-wing academia. By comparing the educational experiences of 19th century immigrants with the Black college experience these past 40 years, Dr. Ellis hits the higher education nail right on its pointy head.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, large populations of poor immigrants arrived in the U.S.–Irish, Italians, and Jews from Russia and Poland. Their extreme poverty placed them at the bottom of the social ladder….Yet just a few generations later they were assimilated, and their rapid upward social mobility had produced mayors, senators, judges, and even Presidents from among their ranks. None of this could have happened without first-rate public education.
To be sure, they worked hard to get ahead, but they were not obstructed by something that afflicts the have-nots of today: as they walked through the school gates they were not met by people intent on luring them into Irish or Italian Studies programs whose purpose was to keep them in a state of permanent resentment over past wrongs at the hands of either Europeans or establishment America. Instead, they could give their full attention to learning. They took courses that informed them about their new land’s folkways and history, which gave them both the ability and the confidence needed to grasp the opportunities it offered them.
When we compare this story with what is happening to minority students today, we see a tragedy. Minority students are met on the way to campus by hard-left radicals who claim to have the interests of the newcomers at heart, but in reality prey on them to advance their own selfish interests. Of course, what black students need is the same solid traditional education that had raised Irish, Italians, and Jews to full equality. But that would not serve the campus radicals’ purpose. Disaffected radicals want to swell the ranks of the disaffected, not the ranks of the cheerfully upward mobile. Genuine progress for minority students would mean their joining and thus strengthening the mainstream of American society–the mainstream that campus radicals loathe….
They need those students in self-destructive Black Studies courses that keep them resentful and under-educated. But that is only possible if they can maintain the illusion that they help and support black students, rather than exploiting them. Minding the Campus
Professor Ellis’ words echo those of Victor Davis Hanson. The Left requires Blacks to be perpetually resentful, perpetually needy, and perpetually focused on the past. It is the White Liberal Left’s racial rationale for keeping Blacks under its thumb, a political strategy that mimics the patriarchal barefoot-and-pregnant approach.
But the good news is that the higher education bubble is bound to burst. With today’s outrageous tuition costs and the indentured servitude of student loans, the righteous reckoning is well on its way, bringing with it a big dose of financial accountability and consumer dissatisfaction.
A Big Education overhaul is long overdue and it will be spurred by the financial thrusts of the market—an economic reality that seems well beyond the intellectual reach of the academic elite.