College campuses have of late become an exhaustive—and exhausting!—battleground of free speech, safe spaces, and politically correct delirium. While it’s no secret that academia has leaned left for decades, the left itself, as a through-composed exercise in ideological compliance to the point of brazen absurdity, has never dominated student life so thoroughly, totally, and, well, bizarrely.
One self-proclaimed liberal student says enough is enough. Enter Yalie Finnegan Schick, who is (politely and cogently) asking professors to tone down the politics polluting classrooms already rife with the thick condescension of anti-conservatism.
“I chose to study English because I wanted to improve my writing and reading abilities, because I value the literature of the language I speak, and because some aspects of the human condition are only accessible through books, plays, and poems. Reading Shakespeare should, of course, inform the way we think about systems of government, political leaders, and historical change. But it shouldn’t require an “I’m With Her” sticker and a subscription to The Washington Post. One will have a difficult time deciphering the hidden nuances of Julius Caesar if one is determined to view his character through the prism of current events.
Literature is ideally a way of broadening our social imaginations. If authors are only worth reading insofar as they inform modern phenomena, then the entire English canon is of mere antiquarian interest and can be summarily dismissed.”
Schick objects to the myopic fad of seeing literature only through the prism of contemporary events and ideological orthodoxy. So do we. The study and appreciation of literature, and of the human condition writ large, requires historical imagination—and the ability to see the nuances, complexities, and prevailing, if often determinative, conditions of other times (and the places and personalities peopling those times).
Students are cheated of the ability to learn and exercise historical imagination when men, women, and gender nonconforming humans alike are all expected to come to class with their metaphorical pussy (thinking?) caps on and their #resistance claws sharpened to pithy, poison-tipped, #ShePersisted points. Instead of the comprehensive edification of the liberal arts, students now more often than not receive a stale and narrow education on how to denounce Dead White Men. And living ones, too. Because they are all complicit in, well, something.
Schick goes on to question the real victim on college campuses:
“Universities — once characterized by a detachment from overt partisanship — have become hotbeds of anti-Trump “resistance.” In one sense, then, Trump’s America really is ‘victimizing’ students and faculty, insofar as academics has taken a backseat to politics. The real victim of Trump’s presidency may turn out to be a generation of adults whose liberal arts educations were hijacked by political debate.”
Intellectual immaturity permeates higher education—but the situation wouldn’t be so dire if higher education as we know it now didn’t produce a faction of young adults truly incapable of thinking for themselves. Disagreement and debate were once the pillars of the Ivy League; instead, professors now teach students how to be uncomfortable when others express opposing views, rather than how to embrace intellectual diversity (which was once the foundation of the liberal movement).
When professors overwhelm the discourse with anti-Trump and anti-conservative sentiment, they leave no space for a difference of opinion—and no space for the sacred task of challenging dominant views.
Thanks, Finnegan. We hope there are more Yalies like you out there, but we’re worried that you got our hopes up.