An “ever more monolithic intellectual environment on American campuses” contributed to a recent uproar over a reasonable op-ed, one writer claims.
The uproar over University of Pennsylvania professor Amy Wax’s op-ed extolling the “bourgeois norms” of 1950s America was the product of “delusional student narcissism,” writes Heather Mac Donald at The Wall Street Journal.
“To the list of forbidden ideas on American college campuses,” Mac Donald writes, “add ‘bourgeois norms’—hard work, self-discipline, marriage and respect for authority.”
These virtues, Mac Donald claims, are fully practiced by “affluent Americans.” Nevertheless, “Student and alumni petitions poured forth accusing Ms. Wax of white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia and demanding that she be banned from teaching first-year law classes. ”
Particularly surprising, Mac Donald writes, was the negative response from the dean of the University of San Diego’s law school: “[The law school] has one of the highest proportions of nonleftist professors in the country—about a quarter of the faculty…If USD is willing to match Penn’s hysterical response to the Wax-Alexander op-ed, is there any educational institution remaining that will defend its faculty members against false accusations of racism should they dissent from orthodoxy?”
None of the professors’ high-placed critics have engaged with any of their arguments. Mr. Ferruolo’s schoolwide letter was one of the worst examples. The dean simply announced that Mr. Alexander’s “views” were not “representative of the views of our law school community” and suggested that they were insensitive to “many students” who feel “vulnerable, marginalized or fearful that they are not welcomed.” He did not raise any specific objections to Mr. Alexander’s arguments, or even reveal what the arguments were.
Instead, he promised more classes, speakers and workshops on racism; more training on racial sensitivity; and a new committee to devise further diversity measures. Stronger racial preferences will most certainly follow. The implication of this bureaucratic outpouring is that the law-school faculty is full of bigots. In reality, Mr. Alexander and his colleagues are among the most tolerant people in human history, and every University of San Diego law student is among the most privileged—simply by virtue of being at an institution with such unfettered intellectual resources. The failure of administrators like Mr. Ferruolo to answer delusional student narcissism with obvious truth is an abdication of their responsibility to lead students toward an adult understanding of reality.
“Each of these administrative capitulations,” Mac Donald argues, “sends a message to professors not to challenge the reigning ideology.” The end result is a stifled campus “where behavioral analyses of social problems may not even be whispered.”