The premise of Ben Shapiro's new book, The Right Side of History, is that, driven by the Secular Left, American culture has discarded our foundational principles from Athens and Jerusalem in favor of a pagan culture which values feelings over everything else. The ancient Greeks of Athens gave us philosophy and logic as well as the concept that life's meaning could be derived from those two elements. Jerusalem gave us Judeo-Christian morality which is predicated on the concept that we are all equals because we were all made in the image of God. Our lives draw purpose from doing God's will.
The book is way deeper than that, but this is a daily blog, not a New Yorker article. Read or listen to it, it's great.
Today, I came across an article by a Tulsa University professor lamenting the decline of his school. Two paragraphs leaped out at me.
Gerard Clancy, a psychiatrist served as president of the University of Oklahoma–Tulsa from 2006 to 2014... His therapeutic sensibilities have informed all his work as TU’s president, starting with the university’s Strategic Plan for 2017–2022. Entitled Building the Foundation for a Great Story and a Greater Commitment, the plan asks not what we want students to learn, but “How do we want TU students to feel?” The answer consists in the four pillars of the new TU Commitment: accepted (“physically, emotionally and spiritually safe”), engaged (“not talked down to, you have a voice and a desire to be heard”), empowered, and launched on a voyage of self-discovery.Emphasis and links in the original.
This is exactly how you would alter a liberal arts school if you considered feelings more important than knowledge or reasoning. Let's take a concrete example of how you might modify your curriculum. Reading a speech by Jefferson Davis on the virtues of slavery or one by Bernie Sanders on the virtues of socialism* would undoubtedly make many people feel unpleasant. If your goal is to make people feel accepted, then you'd discard them. If teaching students to reason was your primary goal, you'd have them read it and engage with the concept of an all-powerful State depriving people of their freedom under the guise of kindness.
So pick one. Feelings or reasoning? If you choose feelings, then you must discard the classics. It's not driven by hate as I and others have stated so many times in the past, it's simple logic.
Here's the action plan to do just that.
Integral to the TU Commitment is fostering a “culture of justice” on campus. “We seek out complex problems and injustices in our society,” the strategic plan declares, “and engage in work that promotes justice.” The document also lays out a Diversity Action Plan for building “an inclusive, safe, and diverse community,” which it describes as “the primary foundation on which all [the university’s] objectives will be realized.” Clancy’s approach is aggressive or paternalistic, depending on the group addressed. Faculty resistance to the moral and therapeutic imperatives of the new institutional super ego is presumed to be so extensive as to require something only a few steps short of A Clockwork Orange-style reeducation. On top of an anonymous, online-bias reporting system, Clancy has mandated training in “unconscious bias” for all employees. (We’ve already done harassment and “microaggressions.”) And just to be sure, TU’s new Institute of Trauma, Adversity, and Injustice also regularly surveys “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive, and/or hostile conduct” at the university.Again, if you valued feelings more than facts, this is a reasonable and comprehensive approach.
There's a huge implication to all of this which I'll discuss tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a picture of a dog because pictures of dogs are soothing and I care about your feelings.
* - The speeches would be virtually identical, save for the fact that Jeff only wanted to enslave blacks while Bernie wants to enslave everyone.