America’s universities: Progressivism’s final frontier
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As the great leftist primal scream continues to reverberate across America in response to the 2016 presidential election, Democrats can take heart that Progressivism is alive and well — and flourishing — in American colleges and universities.

So, too, liberal parents can breathe a sigh of relief that the Republican Armageddon has yet to breach the ivory towers, and that their precious cherubs’ tantrums, demands, and cris du cœur are being heard by sympathetic ears.

They can rest assured that the deprived, the aggressed, the micro-aggressed, the transgressed, the trigger-warned, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, and the un-coddled will always find succor and redress in the halls of academia.  

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As one properly entitled Johns Hopkins University student explained it, “I’m paying to have a support network, academically and mentally. I can’t be expected to do well in class if I’m depressed and have anxiety. If the school is worsening my anxiety, that’s their problem and they need to be held accountable for that.”

Heeding such despair, college professors and administrators are working overtime to sanitize words, phrases, speech, concepts, ideas and signals that might engender even the slightest personal unease or violation—making sure their young scholars fully embrace the principle that insensitivity and emotional discomfort are, in actuality, equivalent to literal physical assault. Thus armed, a student needs only to make an accusation to ascribe guilt — as perceived victimhood will always trump the aggressor. No proof is necessary. Feelings are the coin of the realm in the rarefied world of modern college justice.

Consonant with these efforts, university curricula are being rewritten to address the urgent need to supplant traditional liberal education (read “white”) in favor of a more identity-centric pedagogy.

Indispensable courses such as Black Hair Politics” (University of Florida), “Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology” (Swarthmore College), “Saints and Sexuality” (University of Mississippi), White People” (Middlebury College), Transgender Latina Immigration: Politics of Belonging and Labor in the United States” (Bowdoin College),Racial Capitalism” (Williams College), and “Ecofeminism” (University of South Carolina) ensure that our impressionable angels will have the necessary tools to confront the complexities of the 21st century marketplace and the inevitable ideological tyranny they will encounter along the way—especially from the “deplorables.”

Can a full-fledged major degree in “Political Correctness” be far behind?

Another uplifting consequence of the Progressive impact on higher education has been the increased spending on administrational needs as opposed to smaller increases on instructional spending—thankfully creating (and justifying) important managerial positions that previously did not exist.

As Heather Mac Donald, contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal noted in 2011, while UC San Diego was cutting degree programs and losing faculty to other colleges, its budget-protected “diversity machine” was able to run at full steam “creating a new full-time vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion”—expanding an already impressive “diversity apparatus” which included an associate vice chancellor for faculty equity; an assistant vice chancellor for diversity; a director of development for diversity initiatives; an Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity; a Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues; a Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion; as well as faculty and staff equity advisors and undergraduate and graduate student diversity liaisons  . . . the list goes on.

And to think there are those who criticize Democrats for not creating new, good-paying jobs.

But by far the most important cog in the wheel of the Progressive movement has been the necessary work to eradicate the scourge of “whiteness” from American campuses.

In a compendium of demands from 80 colleges and universities are calls for segregated safe spaces, healing spaces, Afro Rooms, dormitories, and coping events; diversity and sensitivity workshops; student-run accountability boards; annual days of remembrance; language justice and conduct codes; elimination of derogatory mascots; “sanctuary campus” designations; as well as free tuition for Black and indigenous students—many of whom also insist that the term “African-American” is passé and must be replaced by “African Diaspora” or “Black Diaspora.” 

As well, college administrations and their councils are righteously dictated to remove professors deemed undesirable by student identity groups; to rename buildings commemorating any slave owning forebears; to divest financial holdings in prisons and the “Israeli Apartheid”—in addition to insisting university presidents hold press conferences to acknowledge white privilege and deliver handwritten statements of apology to any students, alumni, faculty and staff who have been victims of injustice.   

Can there be a more important Progressive duty than to make whites feel sufficient guilt to atone for slavery, colonialism, white privilege, institutional racism, cultural insensitivity, and white supremacy—in short, to suffer “what not having hope feels like”?

In the end, despite the descending darkness and the Republican winds of despair, Democrats can sleep well knowing that the benevolent universe of the lyceum will continue to crank out perfectly-formed collectivists who will take their rightful places in the world and dutifully extol the supremacy of feelings over reason, spirituality over reality, and tribalism over modernity—regardless if what they are professing represents who they are or what they believe.

After all, an overindulged liberal mind is a terrible thing to waste—especially at 60k a year.

Russell Paul La Valle is a New York-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in many of the country's top publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, New York Daily News, Newsday, The Village Voice, and many others. He is a former contributing editor to the philosophical think tank, The Objectivist Center, where he wrote commentaries on the issues of the day. 


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