Behind the anti-American hate seen in the current rioting, arson, and looting is the long term undermining of America carried out systematically in our universities. Various social movements—the counter-culture movement of the 1960s, the feminist movement from the 1960s, the revival of Marxism in the 1970s, the race activists from the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter, the gay liberation movement, the Palestinian anti-Israel movement—have been adopted and absorbed in universities in their most extreme and maximalist forms. Professors have ceased to see themselves as scholars striving for impartial and objective knowledge, choosing instead to be advocates of preferred groups and movements, and activists advancing “progressive” and far-left causes. Teaching has become largely political indoctrination, and administration includes ideological control and suppression of unwelcome opinions.
In the mid-20th century, most American colleges and universities had Western Civilization courses or programs. By the end of the century, most of these had been jettisoned. Western Civilization was no longer viewed as the font of great scientific and technological discoveries and achievements, of brilliant literary and artistic works, of advanced development of democratic institutions, of recognition of civil and human rights. Instead, Western Civilization was characterized as imperialistic, colonialistic, capitalist, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic, the work of evil white men who should be expunged from memory.
The work of evil white men was banned in favor of works by lesbians of color, indigenous natives, gays and transsexuals, Africans, Arabs, Indians, and East Asians. No more would students be sullied by the disgraceful works of the Jewish Bible, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, the Gospels, Augustine, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, and, skipping over many, Yeats, Proust, Joyce, Kafka, and Camus.
The only Western author honored in contemporary American universities is Karl Marx. In fact, Marx’s class-conflict model of society has been adopted throughout the social sciences, humanities, education, social work, and law, ranging females against males, people of color against people of white, LGBT++ against heterosexuals, indigenous natives against “colonialists,” Muslims against Christians and Jews (as always throughout history), disabled against abled, poor against well off, and unsuccessful minorities against Asians. The goal is the socialist utopia run by females, people of color, and transsexuals.
In Defense of Reading Dead Rich White Guys … Like Shakespeare.
Universities celebrate non-Western authors who attack Western Civilization. Throughout the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the toast of universities, the recognized king of the new anti-American truth, was Edward Said, an immigrant from Egypt who claimed Palestinian ethnicity. Raised to a professorship at one of America’s elite universities, he used his platform to vilify Western Civilization. In his book Orientalism, assigned to millions of university students in social science and humanities courses as the latest version of God’s Truth, he became the most influential intellectual in American universities.
Said’s central argument was that Western understanding of the Middle East—the region’s tribalism, religious fanaticism, imperialism, slavery, and oppression of women—did not really have anything to do with the nature of the Middle East, but was a projection of Western sins on the Middle East, in order to justify Western imperialism and colonialism in the Middle East. This theory came to be known as “post-colonial theory.” It was widely adopted in American academia and believed to be a definitive debunking of Western approaches to non-Western lands and cultures.
Said never offered any alternative picture of the Middle East, of its tribalism, religious fanaticism, imperialism, slavery, and oppression of women; he offered no more than a debunking of the Western view. But he was ill-prepared to do what he claimed. Said was a professor of English and a specialist in the writings of Jane Austen. He had no background in the history or anthropology of the Middle East. About the Middle East he had nothing to offer beyond a crass pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel partisanship and activism. For serious students of the Middle East, his writings are useless.
Nor did Said have a historical background in Western Civilization beyond English literature. So, it is not surprising that he was incorrect about the Western view of foreign cultures; more than any other civilization, Western Civilization was more curious about, more systematic in investigating, and more careful in its portrayal of foreign cultures. Nonetheless, his superficial and biased work was and is welcomed and celebrated in American colleges and universities as a serious debunking of Western Civilization.
One further example is from American anthropology, which champions all other cultures in the world, but can never extend its understanding and sympathy to American culture (or Israel’s). A popular ethnographic study of Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa read over decades by literally millions of students in anthropology courses (including mine) was promoted to shame America, on the grounds that these hunters and gatherers, and indeed all hunters and gatherers, better than America exemplified American values of gender equality, the prominence of female contributions, peaceful resolution of conflict, and prosperity, even “affluence.” Feminists celebrated. This account seemed to be true, until the historical and ethnographic details were examined closely. The prominence of female contributions was exaggerated, as was gender equality. These folks were very peaceful, unless they had to eliminate a troublesome fellow or faced encroachment of others. As far as affluence goes, there was a lot of leisure in good years and a lot of starvation in bad ones. In short, it was all bunk. But it provided an excuse, however invalid, to shame American society and Western Civilization, and to advance the partisan interests of those who profit from undermining American culture.
It rather amazed me when I was teaching in an elite university how many of my colleagues proudly proclaimed that they were communists, offered North Korea as a model to be followed, championed Communist China, and how few found American culture and Western Civilization achievements to be proud of. In fact, they seem to take pride in undermining America and the West. Like the mainstream media—the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC—working furiously to paint America as negatively as possible, American colleges and universities (with the exception of STEM disciplines) are enemies of America and the American people.
Republished from www.pjmedia.com
Philip Carl Salzman is a senior fellow with The Frontier Centre for Public Policy.