Wednesday, 3 March 2021
The next pox-in-the-making
Mercatornet has a gloomy piece by Robert Weissberg on the toxic ideas corrupting today’s universities.
The toxic ideas that have corrupted today’s universities all began as tiny, obscure musings before escaping from the laboratories. They may have started with an unpublished paper or two, a request for modest institutional funding, or an informal discussion group. Eventually, they earn a panel at a regional disciplinary convention and an experimental course. In a few years, the “little idea” has metastasized into a full-blown intellectual plague.
Particularly disturbing is that the intellectual soundness of this “little idea” has no relationship to its burgeoning appeal—the opposite may be true: the wackier it is, the more alluring for career-minded academics chasing “the next big thing.” How else can one explain critical race theory, academic-style feminism, the deconstruction mania, and, alas, much more?
Intellectual sanity requires monitoring the first signs of destructive idiocy, just as the CDC tracks the early signs of an epidemic. Only then can the infant nonsense be strangled in the cradle. Imagine the intellectual mischief we could have avoided if critical race theory died an early, peaceful, obscure death.
That said, here’s the next big evil: “hate studies.”...
I recently encountered this pox-in-the-making in my Bard College alumnae magazine (the Bardian, Fall 2020), which almost incidentally mentioned the Bard Center for the Study of Hate. “Hate” has long been a professional interest of mine, so I looked a little deeper. Lo and behold, Bard’s war on “hate” is a nascent industry that already has a website, webinars, a journal, courses with reading lists, and academic specialists. Rest assured that savvy professors are soliciting naive foundations to combat this alleged evil currently bedeviling America.
As Prof Weissberg says in the article, this is just another academic racket. To my mind we could close a large percentage of university departments both in the US and here in the UK and see a net gain in academic quality.