One of the strangest experiences I had upon quitting teaching was that I started worrying, quite a lot, about what my former students would encounter in college. I think the reason I hadnâ€™t worried much about this before was that, as long as I remained in the classroom, even if former students of mine were having all the useful wrinkles in their brains massaged flat by their professors, I could still compensate for what was being done to them, in a way, by stirring new wrinkles into the minds I still had at hand. But once I quit, there could be no more of that, no more compensations, and so the worrying set in.
The truth is that American colleges and universities typically propagandize rather than educate. (There are some exceptions, but they make no difference when higher education is assessed as a whole.) While anyone can still get a good education in any number of narrow fields, as far as general education is concerned, colleges and universities are anti-educational institutions. Not only do they do more harm than good, they do harm exclusively. It is almost impossible to communicate just how bad they are, and just how ruinous the effect is that they have on the thinking of their hapless young victims.
But thanks to a trio of heroes, one of them an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University (of all places!) communicating just how bad they are has just become marginally easier. These heroes have been hard at work exposing the corruption at the heart of the contemporary university, a corruption they call â€œgrievance studies.â€
Have you heard of â€œwhite privilegeâ€? If you have, you have grievance studies to thank for it. Even though the language of grievance studies is often mocked or entirely overlooked in mainstream American culture, its extensive cultural reach exceeds most people’s grasps. For the spirit of grievance studies is the spirit that animates the contemporary university. The attitudes and beliefs typical to it are those that universities impart, with varying degrees of success, to the young and impressionable. Learning to brainlessly parrot these attitudes and beliefs is what earns one — in far too many, far too influential social circles — the contemporary honorific, â€œeducated,â€ as in â€œsheâ€™s an educated person; she recognizes her white privilege.â€
I could go on at length about grievance studies, and perhaps someday I will. But for now, just note that a respected journal in the field has agreed to re-publish a chapter of Hitlerâ€™s Mein Kampf, having mistaken the content of that chapter for cutting-edge feminist scholarship. Yes. Re-read the sentence before last a few times, slowly.