Monday, May 08, 2006

Higher Ed Today

The New School has invited Sen. John McCain to speak at commencement this year. However, as you would expect from a school like this, there was no shortage of student outrage. Apparently McCain does not like homosexuality. A student who helped organize the dissent, Harper Keenan, is quoted as saying something that pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with college education today. He says "In all of our classes we’re taught the value of inclusion of all people, and we’re taught to question our leaders."

I can hear these same words being parroted on campuses across the nation.

In all our classes we are taught to question authority, but we are never taught to question all of our classes. How sad, that students just believe whatever they are taught to believe when it comes from people they approve of. Someone should tell him that just because they are taught something, does not mean it is dogma. Professors are as fallible (if not more falliable) as anyone else.

Secondly, if there is one thing they should have learned in college, it is that as J. S. Mill might put it, there is nothing more valuable then hearing your views collide with views that you disagree with. It is only the foolish and unlearned, and those who hope to stay that way, who want to hear only voices of people they already agree with.

Thirdly, I am wondering why this "inclusion" that the New School sophmore spoke of, does not manage to extend to John McCain. Isn't his voice one that he has not heard much of around the New School? Or are we to take it to mean that the value of inclusion only extends as far as the 20 or 30 percent of people (in this country) who New School Students are generally likely to agree with?

3 comments:

Malaika M. said...

You know, "Karl", I think the phenomenon of which you complain is the tendency of people to want to hang with those they agree with and stay away from people who are different from them in opinion or any other matter. Both right and left are guilty of this.

The amen corner is a comfortable place to be, and the people in it are popular with the preacher.

You do have a point about how "inclusion" often does not apply to those on the other side of the political spectrum.

Once I was at a minyan in a notoriously liberal section of Brooklyn just before I stopped going regularly out of a certain annoyance with their haskafah (and the fact that they moved deeper into Brooklyn where they were harder to get to). There was some big political issue going on and various VERY leftist Jewish groups were organizing rallies and protests at City Hall. The women doing announcements said, somewhat jokingly if there were any Bush related announcements as well. Chuckles around the room.

Afterwards while we were eating our vegetarian potluck dinner I asked, "If a Republican came to the minyan, would people here appreciate the diversity?"

They got really tense and said something about how the hypothetical Republicans wouldn't feel comfortable here and most likely wouldn't be back. I took that as a no.

It confirmed a realization I have had in recent years, that there are right wing fascists and left wing fascists and the middle ground between them can be a lonely place.

Karl said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment at the end that there are left and right wing extremists, and little place for the middle ground. I also suspect that since I am around the political left I notice it so much more.

But I think that the problem on the left is compounded by a hypocricy you don't find of the right. The right will come straight out and tell you how they couldn't care less about other people or their views. The left believes this but speaks openly of the need for diversity and inclusion. But diversity is just empty rhetoric if it just means a wide variety of people saying the same thing. It is just a way to hide their closed mindedness in a way that the right cannot.

Treifalicious said...

I would argue that it's not that the left doesn't care about other people or their views, the stereotypical liberal elite thinks they know what is best for these other people and writes their views off as being the result of ignorance or just plain evil.