Thinking for oneself counters campus indoctrination
Last week, I received an email from a source that I will not name with a very interesting op-ed attached. As the Forum editor for the Justice, this happens quite often, as many individuals from both within and outside the Brandeis community want their voices and opinions heard.
This particular submitter sent me a rather lengthy article on — what they perceived to be — the worthlessness of a liberal arts degree from most universities due to subjects in the humanities being “bathed in political leftism.” The individual claimed that anyone who majors in these subjects is a fool and not worth hiring. The article went on at length regarding how young college students have been brainwashed into hating America and “American values,” and that this mass persuasion is begetting a generation of college graduates wholly unaware of the many facets of American civil and intellectual life.
Writing from a concerned and vengeful perspective, the submitter said that the higher education system in the United States, on a large scale, has essentially been hijacked by thousands of professors and administrators who seek to do nothing but indoctrinate young undergraduates into hating America and perceiving it to be a racist, homophobic, sexist wasteland built on the backs of slaves.
The writer took the role of a job interviewer looking to hire a freshly minted college graduate.
Upon seeing a liberal arts degree on their resume, he immediately rejects their application, citing a woeful unawareness of anything regarding classical liberal American values. I happen to disagree strongly with this position; nonetheless, I see numerous points made by the author that are worth addressing.
Absorbing this information the author describes could cause a student to fail to appreciate everything beyond the above that makes America great, and to gravitate towards those who the submitter perceives to be ideological extremist politicians who want to do nothing but take the hard-earned money and freedom of millions of unsuspecting citizens. Instead, he argues, students should be taught to appreciate everything great about this country.
In order to achieve this result, the submitter suggests that the ideal liberal arts education in the United States is one that teaches a young whippersnapper what makes America so unique, and to become an expert on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers, the Bible, the “moral and economic greatness” of capitalism and the utter miracle that is fossil fuels and how they have raised the standard of living worldwide.
As an antidote to the poison of the left, writes the submitter, a college student can major in an unbiased STEM field and watch Prager University videos to stimulate their more abstract intellectual and political curiosities.
This, the submitter writes, would allow a student to foster a love for the United States, and motivate one to get married, care for a spouse and kids, and build a home and successful family dynasty; in his own words, become a person worth hiring. Never mind the fact that taking someone’s political views into account in the hiring process is a textbook case of workplace discrimination and is uniquely un-American, but I digress.
Despite its biases and claims that are outright false, the piece got me thinking. Is my generation really being brainwashed into believing one particular ideology, one that makes us hate our country, its history and its values? Is this the norm for universities elsewhere, where more and more conservative students, or even those that may disagree with the predominant political views — which, to the submitter’s credit, are often skewed towards the left or even the far left — of their community say they are being discriminated against?
I know from experience that some viewpoints, especially those of social and economic conservatives, are often shunned or silenced outright. I know what it’s like to sit in a crowded lecture hall, in front of an intimidating professor in a politics class, and challenge their assertion regarding racism or gender identity and simply state your own.
You might feel discouraged from simply speaking your mind, or even fearful that you might face some repercussions or be shunned by your peers if you do. It’s easy to be discouraged from holding your current views by an environment so heavily skewed in one direction, fearful of alienating or even offending some of your peers who may view American politics, history and philosophy from an entirely different lens. Does this learning environment amount to one that is breeding a population of liberal arts graduates that is (at least, according to the author) wholly unappreciative of the many luxuries and freedoms afforded to American citizens? Even if this is the case, it most certainly does not make a liberal arts education worthless, nor does it disqualify one from being hired (as the author of the piece claims).
College should be a place where one is not simply absorbing and nodding at everything he or she hears, but a place where the assertions of literally everyone can and should be challenged at every opportunity.
If a professor or classmate is saying something you believe is wrong or contradictory to your own beliefs, it’s up to you to have conversations about those differing beliefs, and find the truths for yourself.
This does not necessarily have to take the form of shouting in anger during a presentation or class about how your views are being attacked or about how everyone around you is being brainwashed, but it should drive some form of introspection or a desire for a higher knowledge of whatever it is you think is being presented unfairly.
After all, if our founding fathers had simply nodded their heads in the face of British imperialism despite internally disagreeing with it, I likely wouldn’t be here writing this article.
The point is that even if us college students are being manipulated into hating America and are “poisoned” with radical leftist ideologies, we should still do our best to figure out things for ourselves and challenge the status quo. For now, I don’t see anyone trying to start a communist revolution in my Intro to Symbolic Logic philosophy class.
-Clarification: The Justice did not include the initial email received by the writer as it did not meet the Justice's standards for submission.