Academia and 9/11

How have the universities grappled with the tragic events of 9/11? Have they learned anything? Have they had a change of heart? Have they given up on some of their radical ways? Not according to Harvey Mansfield. He should know. He lectures in government at Harvard University. And what is true of Harvard is true of most of our universities.

“At Universities, Little Learned From 9/11,” is the title of an article he penned recently, reprinted in the Weekly Standard, September 14, 2006. In it laments that the strangleholds of political correctness, multiculturalism, leftist ideology and moral myopia continue to reign at Harvard and the academy.

Says Mansfield, “Sept. 11 was a stunning blow to multiculturalism. The attacks showed that we have enemies who hate us because they hate both our principles and our practices. They despise the way we live not because we do not live up to our principles of freedom, democracy, and toleration, but because we do. They do not think we are multicultural; they believe we have one culture, and they mean to do away with it.”

Consider how the feminists, who have long held sway in our universities, are totally blind to Islamic oppression of women: “The feminists at Harvard seek to remove every vestige of patriarchy in America, but they have said almost nothing about the complete dismissal of women’s rights by radical Islam. To do so would be to attack Islamic culture, and according to multiculturalism, every culture is equal and none is evil. They forsake women in societies that repudiate women’s rights and direct their complaints to societies that believe in women’s rights. Of course it’s easier to complain to someone who listens to you and doesn’t immediately proceed to slit your throat. No sign of any rethinking of feminism has appeared in the universities where it flourishes.”

And of course the civil libertarians continue to offer confused thinking on all this: “Civil liberties should be another topic of reconsideration. Civil libertarians on the left and the right assume that government is the object of their vigilance and minorities need special care. In time of peace that may be true, but in a war the government is your main friend, and the majority must be protected. The preaching of radical Islam is in fact ‘a clear and present danger,’ and we need to suppress it. This sort of speech is not just blowing off steam or keeping us honest or puncturing our complacency. Here is a new task to occupy the anxious minds of civil libertarians in universities: how to distinguish truly dangerous speech and how to defeat it?”

And for many university lecturers, the real enemy is the US military, not Muslim suicide bombers: “The jihadists say they will triumph because they believe in death while we believe in life. That is not quite so. We do believe in life – but not at any cost. We too value sacrifice and honor for a decent cause. But we let our soldiers speak for us. The professors, who should be our spokesmen, have learned nothing from our soldiers and have nothing to say on why they volunteer to risk their lives.”

Concludes Mansfield, “The difference between our country and the terrorists dwarfs that between liberals and conservatives within our country. But conservatives are more aware of this fact than are liberals, and our universities are dominated by befuddled liberals. Better that they be befuddled than determined to rebel, as during the late 1960s. Better still that they heed the requirements of their own doctrines in the new circumstances of terrorist war.”

During the cold war our universities were hotbeds of Marxism and radicalism. Now that Marxism has proven to be a chimera, the radical profs have not given up, they have simply found a new cause. This time it is solidarity with radical Muslims. They, like the communists before, hate America. And if anything gets the juices flowing of many Western academics, it’s the I-hate-America mantra.

In truth, 9/11 should have been a wake-up call, but unfortunately it was not. Time will tell if anything can shake our universities out of their lethargy, blindness and radical thinking.

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