by Alon Goldberg
For many on the new Left, the devil is the mere debate of issues.
A lineup of prominent professors has recently spoken out against the growing clout of the radical Left in Western academia. They are worried that subjects and research have been taken over by a wave of fashionable trends such as anti-nationalist identity politics.
Historian Niall Ferguson recently said that this radicalization will soon lead to the purging of anyone who does not conform. When this happens, students will no longer learn the truth about the crimes of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, or about the factual, non-conspiratorial version of the 9/11 attacks.
The renowned jurist Alan Dershowitz has echoed this, saying that
that the radical Left "poses a far greater
danger to the American future than the hard Right. ... When I used to
teach 150 students in my first year of criminal law, I'd look around and
I'd say, 'Future president. Future chief justice. Future editorial
director of the New York Times. Future managing partner of Goldman
Sachs. They're our future. And that's why we have to worry much more
about what's going on on university campuses than in Charlottesville
[where a white supremacist ran over a crowd of left-wing protesters]."
Dershowitz says the left-wing radicals "blackball" professors or students who dare to deviate from the orthodoxy of identity politics.
Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist and professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, founded an organization aimed at countering the Left's orthodoxy and has marshaled a coalition of professors who espouse free speech and pluralism.
He believes the radical professors in academia have long abandoned the idea of teaching students tolerance and acceptance as a means of engaging in an educated and civil debate. They believe in teaching their students about delegitimization and dehumanization, because these are the best ways to besmirch and destroy the reputations of people marked as the enemies of the new revolution.
Today's radicals used to be student activists during the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s. Some are the product of social justice movements from that era, and they believe in neo-Marxist identity politics as articulated by philosopher Herbert Marcuse, one of the ideological forefathers of radical Left.
Haidt says that for many on the new Left, the devil is the mere debate of issues. Debate is the core of scholarship and science and the foundation of any academic institution that hones intellectual skills. Thus, with the help of those professors, students are deprived of those skills and become a human herd that is easily manipulated and maneuvered.
A recent study conducted by Political Science Professor April Kelly-Woessner showed a worrying trend: College graduates are much less tolerant of opposing viewpoints that they were upon entering college.
She says this trend is a product of years spent in college classrooms where the students were rarely exposed to views different from their own and spent much of their time doing everything possible to avoid listening to anyone outside their echo chamber of radical ideas.
Kelly-Woessner says hearing differing views is critical: The more we listen to ideas that challenge our views on identity, on morality and on anything sacred or important, the more we develop critical thought and become accepting of pluralism.
This does not mean we have to accept everything, but we do have to accept the legitimacy of multiple viewpoints and the notion that this only makes people stronger, smarter, and ultimately more convincing.
Alon Goldberg manages "The Classic Liberal" page on Facebook.
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