This summer, the excellent Michael Walsh delivered to the public an excellent book — The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West. In its pages, Walsh discusses the damage the cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School, a group of radical academics imported to America in the 1930s as they fled persecution from Hitler’s goons, did to post-war American society.
The Devil’s Pleasure Palace is important work and it deserves reading, because it illuminates the perversion of what used to be an American culture that enhanced and strengthened the society it reflected up until the cultural Marxist influence began changing that culture into something else.
And that change emanated from the universities, where the rot began.
Over the past few days we have seen evidence of just how far gone American academia is, complete with screaming hysterics and forced resignations over Halloween costumes at Yale and screaming hysterics and forced resignations over artistic displays of indeterminate ideology at the University of Missouri.
The latter appears to be the most full exposition of pathology on campus available for examination, and perhaps the best example yet of how the Left is eating its own in the institutions it dominates. Essentially what happened at Mizzou is that a number of minor “racial” incidents on campus — unidentified perpetrators allegedly hurling drive-by epithets to black students, a swastika drawn in feces on a building wall (which would be an expression of anti-Nazism, if we are to take the previous examples of such artistic expressions as Piss Christ as analogies, no?) and, curiously, a state law passed banning abortions at the Planned Parenthood facility on campus — created an environment of “tension,” which spun rapidly out of control.
And the spinning achieved rapidity thanks to a most ironic figure. Johnathan Butler, son of a Union Pacific railroad executive with a salary of some $8.4 million per year, wrote a long letter detailing the incidents above and the further grievance that he’d lost his student health insurance, and said he was going on a hunger strike until university president Tim Wolfe, who Butler alleged was insufficiently committed to remedying the “intolerant” climate on the Mizzou campus, resigned.
Further demands were made of Wolfe, including that he admit his “white privilege” before resigning — demands which smack of totalitarian regimes in humanity’s ugly past, though one wonders if any of the students were even aware of, say, Soviet show trials or had read Orwell. Shortly thereafter, some 30 members of the school’s football team threatened to strike in advance of its game Saturday against Brigham Young University if Wolfe wasn’t gone.
So Wolfe resigned, apologizing profusely not for his “white privilege” but that he didn’t do enough to “heal” the tensions on the campus. Upon that victory, the protests only metastasized into a true menagerie of modern Leftism, so much so that a crazed communications professor named Melissa Click was caught on video attempting to recruit students to serve as “muscle” to eject a reporter covering the cavalcade. Click may or may not have resigned; that is unclear.
And this at an SEC school, no less! At least that’s what impacted some of the shocked commentators, who have made note that like many universities it’s the football program in Columbia which governs the place. To be fair, Missouri just joined that football-factory league a few years ago and is a cultural outlier among its members — at an Alabama, Florida, or LSU the suggestion the football team might strike over “safe-space” or political correctness concerns would be met with consequences so immediate and so harsh that it’s inconceivable it would ever happen. At least as of today that’s true.
How did we get here? Besides the utterly weak response of Missouri’s Democrat governor Jay Nixon to the Ferguson rioting which encouraged the insanity at its flagship university, that is. The answer, of course, can not only be found in Walsh’s book but with the Republican Party as well.
Republicans have controlled many, if not most, of the governorships in America over the past several decades in which education spending has skyrocketed out of control.
This was done for a number of reasons, of course. For one thing, Republican voters tend to be huge fans of college athletics, and thus respond extremely well to the idea of building palaces on campus to compete with neighboring states on athletic fields, and, oh yeah, in the classroom as well. For another, it’s long been held that excellent universities are a prerequisite, or at least a major driver, for economic growth.
But fundamentally, the thinking has been that driving millions of teenagers into college and delivering them out of the universities armed with degrees would create a massive class of college-educated, white-collar upper-middle class suburbanites who would dutifully vote Republican ad infinitum.
Which is a terrific vision for the future, but for a sizable oversight — the free money going to the universities served as a magnet for the cultural Marxists who had already infiltrated those institutions to take their cultural aggressions beyond any limits. That funding created “Studies” departments and curricula preaching various iterations of Critical Theory, positions for deans and provosts and other quasi-academic (at best) personnel charged with indoctrinating students in various disciplines of social activism and an orgy of rule-making that led to the modern phenomenon of political correctness.
It’s so bad that many of these universities, if not most, are little more than hyper-expensive adult day care facilities, offering zero training in useful skills to the majority of their students and producing the worst generation of overgrown children imaginable. Missouri and Yale aren’t outliers; they’re just this week’s examples of campus idiocy on parade.
If it was just Democrat state legislators and governors appropriating tax dollars toward ruining the universities, it would be bad enough. But Republicans did the same thing, and worse than that they made no effort to insure that traditional American cultural and political perspectives were given their due hearing. Republican politicians have stood by as conservative faculty have been hounded out of taxpayer-funded academia, and now there is barely a Republican to be found at a Missouri or Yale.
So for many — at this point it’s completely fair to suggest most — of America’s institutions of formerly higher learning, the answer is strangulation. It’s time to stop paying for the creation of leftist indoctrination centers turning out entitled monsters who insist on “safe spaces” and special-snowflake pronouns and who gleefully participate in #Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter mob action.
First, we need to admit we’re part of the problem. Then, work to fix it.
As Marco Rubio said the other night, welders make more money than philosophers. We should be training more welders and less philosophers. It turns out that welders are also a lot more likely to vote Republican than the hungry-by-choice Johnathan Butlers of the world.
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