Higher education reveals itself.
Some good comes of everything, even if it comes from something horrible. The October 7 attack on Israel by the terrorist organization Hamas was horrific, brutal, and evil. It evokes memories of the horrors visited upon Jews by Nazi Germany. I think of all reports from that terrible day, the one that bothers me most is the story of the anguished screams of a mother whose baby was placed in the kitchen oven by Hamas terrorists who then burned the baby alive. That’s just one of many examples of unspeakable, unimaginable evil.
But for all the horror, it’s possible that something good could emerge from that terrible October day in Israel. That good could take the form of a long-overdue day of reckoning for American higher education.
When news of the October 7 attack broke, it didn’t take long for the militant, unhinged leftism that is to an ever-greater degree crowding out legitimate academic rigor on elite university campuses to reveal itself. Yale University anthropology professor Zareena Grewal offered this gem.
Prayers for Palestinians. Israel is a murderous, genocidal settler state and Palestinians have every right to resist through armed struggle, solidarity.”
At Stanford University an instructor asked students how many Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust. When a student answered six million, the instructor said, “Israel is a colonizer and more individuals have been killed by colonization.”
Pro-Hamas, anti-Israel rallies that have been frequently accompanied by violence have broken out on elite university campuses. Detestable and idiotic antisemitic statements from elite university professors – who if they wish to call themselves educated should know better – have been all over social media.
In too many cases, the presidents at these elite institutions have revealed themselves to be wishy-washy ‘on-one hand-but-on-the-other-hand’ invertebrates. Yale president Peter Salovey did condemn the Hamas attack. But he then permitted a university spokesperson to water down that condemnation with a boilerplate statement saying, “Yale is committed to freedom of expression, and the comments posted on Professor Grewal’s personal accounts represent her own views,” and blah, blah, blah.
All of this has at last opened previously blind eyes to how far American higher education has fallen. Yale University, like most of its peers, is in fact not at all committed to freedom of expression. Ask the single-digit percentage of faculty who identify as conservative. They know that if they come out of that closet public condemnation and professional ostracization will quickly follow.
The truth is college degrees in general and elite university degrees in particular are increasingly not worth what they cost. That’s one reason that companies like Apple, IBM, Wal-Mart and many others are dropping college degree requirements for much of their hiring. All the major U.S. airlines have stopped requiring college degrees for pilots.
Campus reaction to October 7 has hastened a long-overdue examination of American higher education. Market forces may now succeed where conservative policy makers have failed. Creative destruction of the higher education paradigm may at long last be at hand, clearing the field for something better.