Dr. Alan Charles Kors of the University of Pennsylvania delivered a powerful speech at the Leadership Institute last Wednesday regarding the trend of American institutions of higher education toward increasingly liberal rule. Given for the first time at a Mont Pelerin Society meeting in Guatemala last November, Kors’ speech, ‘The Betrayal of Liberty and Intellectual Pluralism on American Campuses,’ served to inform patrons of the present double standards and relativistic jargon of American higher education.
• An abortion debate at the University of Pennsylvania women’s center featured all pro-choice speakers. When questioned about this obvious bias, a representative replied, “Oh no, we represent only the middle. Some people think no one should have an abortion, and some people think that everyone should have an abortion. We are pro-choice here.” When asked for the names of those who thought that everyone should get an abortion, none were provided.
• Kors’ Vietnamese foster son called home on his second day of school at Boston University. He said, “I learned something new today. I’m Asian. And I’m oppressed.”
The emphasis of race and sex in even freshman orientations serve to undermine individual worth, Kors stated. Some universities line students up, from most white to most black, and they are then asked to convey how they feel about their place on the spectrum.
With Harvey Silverglate of Harvard, Dr. Kors is one of the founders of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) which, in thousands of cases, has defended students whose civil liberties have been violated.
The message that universities send today is, “Privilege has made whites, Christian men, and heterosexuals oppressive and smart, and the rest need saving,” Dr. Kors observes. Kors believes that it is everyone’s individual right to “decide for themselves the importance or the relative unimportance of their race, gender, and religion on every campus in the world.”
A vulgar irreverence for traditional values and Christian foundations is prevalent on campuses, seen in the controversy, or lack thereof, surrounding Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a photograph of a figurine of Christ on a crucifix, submerged in a tank of the author’s own urine. Winning awards from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, it was largely sponsored by the federally funded National Endowment for the Arts. When conservative leaders spoke out against not the photograph itself, but the use of taxpayer dollars to promote it, these critics were hushed in the name of artistic freedom and diversity.
Kors reflected on the possible catastrophic consequences had a similar photograph been taken of Martin Luther King, Jr., or Malcolm X. “We would shut down for days of conscience,” he predicted. “We would create an annual week of shame.”
What contributes to the left-wing plurality in academic institutions? Kors says that this involves the people hired in order to bring intellectual diversity into the department. Once they got tenure, they shut the door behind them. Also, the cowardice and moral shortcomings of conservatives allow for this passage. They too often refuse to question and draw attention to these issues. They think that they first must graduate… then get a job… then get tenure… then get a chair, in order to establish credit for their worldviews and arguments. “If you keep selling your soul, you won’t have anything left to give,” he mused.
Clauses are continually being written into the doctrines of these universities, supporting the presumed idea of sensitivity and tolerance. In many places of higher learning, it is illegal to:
• Laugh at someone else’s sexually or racially coarse joke;
• Laugh in the general direction of a minority;
• Refer to someone as your ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’, substituting positive, neutral terms such as lover or partner;
• Show potentially offensive facial expression; or
• Hold or eat food in a provocative manner.
“If we smile at the tragedy of our universities, then we do so at our own demise.” We must make sure that students understand that it is good and right to question the increasingly liberal assault on personal and academic liberty.
Kors is often asked when political correctness began in earnest in the United States. He said that PC obsession, as we know it today, can be dated to 1984. “The majority of students on college campuses voted for Ronald Reagan.” These students did not understand the magnitude of their deception and oppression, and had to be “saved from their downfalls,” according to university professors and administration. Bitterness induced these individuals to begin to “toe the PC party line.”
“University professors believe that they have only four years to undo what has been done to their students K-12,” is what Kors sees in the lecturers and administrations that he regularly challenges.
Mary Kapp is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.