Thursday, July 6, 2017

What is up? The policing of ideas. . .

First let me remind you of the Esolen affair.  Prof. Anthony Esolen, a well-traveled and popular speaker, raised the profile of Providence College (Providence, RI) speaking before church groups, men’s conferences, academic gatherings and other forums.  “And at all those places I have praised Providence College to the skies. I have been an ambassador for the college,” said Esolen, who taught literature in the Development of Western Civilization program at Providence -- at least until his position became untenable.  The respected professor, known for his orthodoxy and unflinching defense of a distinctly Catholic worldview, found himself increasingly isolated by student activists and faculty members who protested his critique against “diversity,” the most sacred cow of modern day education.  Esolen, who recently was awarded an honorary doctorate from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, has moved on and will join the faculty of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts as fellow and writer in residence.

Now Paul Griffiths has just resigned from his chair in Catholic theology from Duke University. Why?  It seems Griffiths had spoken his mind too freely and frankly with his reservations regarding the various diversity initiatives on offer at Duke. For this sin, the administration of the university wasted no time in disciplining him.  You can read it all here.  There is no academic freedom or liberty to think at Duke when it conflicts with the sacred cow of diversity and the university's devotion to this new idea.

Over at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, MD, the president has resigned after barely a year in office.  Simon Newman, university president, resigned weeks after a furor erupted on campus over faculty firings and a student newspaper article.  The resignation was an abrupt reversal for Mr. Newman, who had vowed not to step down even after faculty members called for his resignation and his actions were denounced by advocates of academic and journalistic freedom.

John Hittinger, chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX, indicated that the only PhD program there was being shut down by the university -- a well regarded program and, indeed, the only one of its kind in the US that focused on the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas.   The President decided to withhold the contracts of 18 tenured faculty, the entire Philosophy department and the entire English department, and instead sent them a letter threatening to eliminate their programs after a “review” and possibly terminate them.  Then the furor created by the President resulted in this:  . . . no tenured faculty members will be laid off this year, and everyone will receive a one-year contract by mid-June. He also said there’s no way the university would eliminate English or philosophy, two of its major service departments. Yet St. Thomas is reviewing programs within these departments—such as degree offerings, he said. The Board of Directors could eliminate jobs at some future date, pending the outcome of the review…

Okay. . . my point in this?  Once again, it is revealed that certain ideas are so sacred to modern universities that no opposition can be tolerated -- among them the sacred cow called "diversity."  Once again it is shown that it is not merely within a state or secular university that such threats to academic freedom and the policing of free speech is taking place.  Finally, this is a threat to all schools and universities since the pressures are the same wherever you go and it appears that many, maybe even most, universities will not allow those who disagree with a "diversity" worldview, curriculum, and philosophy.  The threats are not imaginary and are definitely real.  The danger is less to the creative and more to the traditional.  We certainly do not give veto power to the past but should we give it to the present or the future?  Neuhaus was correct.  Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Remember: Everything will be fine as long as you subscribe to man-made climate change. Got it?

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall that the Hebrews fell for a cow early in the Exodus. There just seems to be something about cows, something "sacred."

The modern university is awash with idiots who cannot think at all. The idea of being exposed to new and different ideas has been completely abandoned. So much for liberal education.

Fr.D+

John J. Flanagan said...

The universities have been infected by radical thinking for so long, and I can barely remember when secular colleges encouraged full debate and freedom of expression. During the 1960's it all started off. By the time I completed my Bachelors in English, I found most of my professors were lefties and only a handful were conservative. This is going to be a "long war" indeed, but we must never give up. It is important to speak one's mind freely, and articulate the Christian worldview despite the opposition you will receive.