The Academic Curtain

An Academic Curtain has Descended across Western Universities, by Thomas Sowell.

Back in the days of the Cold War between the Communist bloc of nations and the Western democracies, the Communists maintained pervasive restrictions around Eastern Europe that were aptly called an “iron curtain,” isolating the people in its bloc from the ideas of the West and physically obstructing their escape.

East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall in1961, part of the Iron Curtin

East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall in 1961, part of the Iron Curtin

Now we have an academic curtain in the West:

[W]ithin American society there has slowly but steadily developed in too many of our own colleges and universities a set of restrictions on what can be said on campus, either by students or professors, or by outside speakers with views that contradict the political correctness of our time. …

One effect is that many of the rising generation can go from elementary school through postgraduate education at our leading colleges and universities without ever hearing a coherent presentation of a vision of the world that is fundamentally different from that of the political left. …

Despite the fervor with which demographic “diversity” is proclaimed as a prime virtue — without a speck of evidence as to its supposed benefits — diversity of ideas gets no such respect. …

Students are unlikely to go through college without being assigned to read “The Communist Manifesto” — often in more than one course — while a classic like “The Federalist” is seldom assigned reading, even though it is a very readable and profound explanation of the principles on which the Constitution of the United States is based, written by three of the men who actually wrote the Constitution.

So what are you going to do about it?

While there is no “iron curtain” around our campuses, there is a curtain, and its effects are dangerously close to the effects produced by the “iron curtain” around the Soviet bloc. What is lacking is anything like the Voice of America broadcasts to pierce the academic curtain. …

There are many recorded speeches and interviews of outstanding thinkers, from the past and the present, with viewpoints different from the prevailing groupthink on campus, and these can be presented directly to students with electronic devices.

Someone from the real world beyond the ivy-covered enclaves would have to do it. And it is not yet clear who would do it or who would finance it. Perhaps some of those donors who have kept on writing checks to their alma maters, while the latter surrendered repeatedly to ideological intolerance, might consider such a project. Campus mobs could not shout down thousands of scattered iPads.

hat-tip Matthew, Chris