by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Robert Paquette writes for the Martin Center about the disappearance of college instruction focusing on Western civilization.
Stanley Kurtz ranks as one of this country’s most insightful critics of higher education. The National Association of Scholars chose wisely in commissioning him to write a report on what has happened to the teaching of Western civilization on the postmodern campus. For those worried about the future of the republic, The Lost History of Western Civilization offers little solace. The opposition has reached the red zone and appears close to putting the game away.
Kurtz’s potent and well-written diagnosis does go a long way toward identifying the more prominent “scholarly” culprits responsible for what can only be described as a great betrayal of the ethos of liberal arts education. As the folks behind the 1619 Project at The New York Times understand all too well, the deposits of wisdom that form the foundation of a civic culture necessary to sustain a free society cannot be defended if they are not taught or taught only in politicized caricature.
In truth, the presence of activist professors and students on campus long preceded the onslaught against a curriculum that featured mandatory core courses centered on a canon of Great Books, a canon that was never as static as its critics maintained. The question that has to be asked, over and over again, is: Why did so many college presidents and boards of trustees at our finest institutions, the very beneficiaries in most cases of a coherent and demanding liberal arts education, so quickly and abjectly surrender to the transformationalists? Leaving the curriculum only to the faculty amounts to dereliction of fiduciary responsibility. …
… Predictably, the “curricular reform” that propounded new general requirements to save the humanities ended up offering an array of courses that traduced the reality of a distinctive Western heritage while pumping into students’ skulls multicultural mush laced with identity politics and served up in the name of global citizenship.