by Heather Mac Donald
St. Martin’s Press
book review by Christopher Klim
“The great accomplishment of European Enlightenment was to require all forms of authority to justify themselves through rational argument, rather than through coercion or an unadorned appeal to tradition.”
For decades, splinter groups on campus have seized control of events and departments to block intellectual discourse. The result has been the destruction of property, the dissolution of longstanding careers, and the dissemination of fear throughout campus and especially within its ranking officers. Even the police are afraid to act. The majority on campus is being divided, tagged, and bagged as the perpetrators of crimes (racists, rapists, etc.). While the characterization of these crimes runs roughshod over the facts and statistics, the fringe bullies push forward, isolating and destroying anything or anyone in their path. They stamp their feet and scream like toddlers, finger-pointing manufactured offenses. Anyone not adhering to their proclamations is inherently guilty. However, the underlying cause of all of this is as simple as it is obvious: These student protesters are for the most part not prepared well enough for higher learning, and society at large continues to ignore the root problem.
Welcome to the Age of Ignorance, a malignant tumor ironically embedded within the Information Age. We have easy access to science, history, and art, but most of us hyper focus on ephemeral cultural pursuits that add little value to progress yet wield untold levels of impact on the course of society. We’ve turned our eye from the ball and the need to bring society as a whole forward. We lack even basic survival skills, much less the fruits of higher learning, and depend solely on corporate streams for staples and narrow unvetted avenues for information. We have all the mental worth of automatons and the stability of shifting sand. No wonder so many of us are unhappy and scared.
“Everywhere we look at present we see something new trying to be born. A pregnant, swollen world writhing in labor, and everywhere untrained quacks are officiating as obstetricians. These quacks say that the only way the new can be born is by a Caesarean operation. They lust to rip the belly of the world open.” – Eric Hoffer
Mac Donald begins her thoughtful treatise with “The Hysterical Campus,” although the entire book could’ve been dubbed the same. Campus life has been turned on its head by small interest groups managing to rule the provost’s office—actually blackmailing a frightened and misguided academic hierarchy into submission. We saw this during the 1960s, which may have been the historical beginning of the movement that strangles academic reason today and threatens the entire institution.
“What the intellectual craves in his innermost being is to turn the whole globe into a classroom and the world’s population into a class of docile pupils hanging onto the words of the chosen teacher.” –Eric Hoffer
When tyrannical groups seize power, dissent is silenced by any means and a so-called enlightened way of thinking is taught with equal force. This is happening right now. These protestors, which typically believe they are elevating thought for the first time in civilization, reveal their core ignorance. They are beating the well-worn path of socialist incursion. It begins with the drumbeats of group think and ends with violence and ultimately the transformation of free thought into a mortal sin. These dangerous groups, narcissistic by nature, cannot view themselves within time, because for the most part they lack even a basic education in world history.
“…liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants.” – Frederick Douglass
The Diversity Delusion is a difficult read, not because the prose is challenging, but rather it identifies damaged social structures as the root cause of inferior education while undressing political correctness as the seed of campus dystopia now spilling over to contemporary society. Working people once giggled at academia’s labored and awkward striving to modify thought and language, but it’s no longer funny. Formerly a place where great minds convened to prove their mettle, academia today often resembles a socialist retraining camp. It’s a place where the best intention—to be inclusive—has metastasized into fascist singular thought. This is hardly an environment to foster creativity, much less bring the disciplines forward.
The author restates the original campus mission, which includes the necessity to educate all who approach higher learning. It’s a societal sin to abandon eager minds. Clearly many of the rioting students were given a different education and a sure-fire path to failure when dropped in the mix with students who gained more advanced preparation for college. The answer isn’t dumbing down the disciplines to appease these students, and it certainly isn’t to vilify the luckier students with a suite of theoretical and frankly racist labels ending in “…aggression” and “…privilege,” as is taking place today. Warning, this bad campus drama has already arrived at the office, within government, and amid various public forums.
Making amends to these students could involve a one- or two-year college primer path, so that willing students can level themselves to the course of study they desire. A society’s most important resource is its people. We need everyone, not the marginalization of disadvantaged individuals or the vilification of those more fortunate. Those reactions are the lazy answers to the problem. They are the uninspired and ultimately damaging paths to take. Unfortunately, the protesting academic body have labeled the effort to expand their knowledge as “racist” thought.
Mac Donald’s writing is that of a traditional journalist who reports events, supports it with actual fact, and then layers with commentary wrought through her personal view. Her book is brave, and the research goes deeper than just academia, but it will no doubt be attacked by the Age of Ignorance’s foot soldiers, who claim to adhere to no religion but burn with an orthodoxy as hot as a fundamentalist at a revival and who sport every attribute of its righteous tunnel vision. Either group would proudly stand in a crowded room with a finger in the air and exclaim, “I am the wisest. I know the one truth. I am the way.” History burgeons with these reckless clowns. They are the fools who have started wars and led entire societies beneath brutal regimes, each expounding the virtues of their idealistic utopias. Enough is enough. Only logic and courage will combat these self-absorbed bullies. Mac Donald sounds a clarion call for the knowing.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review