It should not go unnoticed that Nancy Cantor, chancellor of the Newark campus of Rutgers University, has responded to the current protests on campuses not by telling students to "Grow Up" but by issuing a "Statement of Solidarity." Bret Stephens comments:
Solidarity with whom, or what? Well, Paris, but that was just for starters. Ms. Cantor also made a point of mentioning lives lost to terrorist attacks this year in Beirut and Kenya, and children “lost at sea seeking freedom,” and “lives lost that so mattered in Ferguson and Baltimore and on,” and “students facing racial harassment on campuses from Missouri to Ithaca and on.”
And this: “We see also around us the scarring consequences of decade after decade, group after group, strangers to each other, enemies even within the same land, separated by an architecture of segregation, an economy of inequality, a politics of polarization, a dogma of intolerance.”
It is an astonishing statement. Ms. Cantor, 63, is a well-known figure in academia, a former president of Syracuse University who won liberal acclaim by easing admissions standards in the name of diversity and inclusiveness. At publicly funded Rutgers she earns a base salary of $385,000, a point worth mentioning given her stated concern for inequality. The Newark Star-Ledger praised her as a “perfect fit” for the school on account of her “exceptional involvement in minority recruitment and town-gown relations.”
Yet this Stanford Ph.D. (in psychology) appears to be incapable of constructing a grammatical sentence or writing intelligible prose. All the rhetorical goo about the “architecture of segregation” and “dogma of intolerance” rests on deep layers of mental flab. She is a perfect representative of American academia. And American academia is, by and large, idiotic.
That’s why I’m not altogether sorry to see the wave of protests, demands, sit-ins and cave-ins sweeping university campuses from Dartmouth to Princeton to Brandeis to Yale. What destroys also exposes; what they are trashing was already trashy. It’s time for the rest of the country sit up and take notice.
For almost 50 years universities have adopted racialist policies in the name of equality, repressive speech codes in the name of tolerance, ideological orthodoxy in the name of intellectual freedom. Sooner or later, Orwellian methods will lead to Orwellian outcomes. Those coddled, bullying undergrads shouting their demands for safer spaces, easier classes, and additional racial set-asides are exactly what the campus faculty and administrators deserve.
Faculties are dominated by radical children of radical parents, Stephens notes, who carry the radicalism to a new level with every successive generation. That is why the current protests are more anarchic and incoherent than, say, the student takeover of Columbia University in 1968. The great irony of our time is that the universities, once jewels of learning, adornments of Western civilization, are increasingly anti-civilization.
I am thinking how strange it is that people go into debt to attend these anti-civilization universities, though I suppose that Ms. Cantor's $385 K paycheck demonstrates one drawing point. Stephens explores the idea of new universities that are actually devoted to learning. He wonders if there are contemporary John D. Rockefellers (University of Chicago) and Andrew Carnegies (Carnegie Mellon) who might step forward to found new universities.