College Past Its Decline – The American Spectator

This can’t be a happy time at the Wall Street Journal, what with its Russia-based reporter Evan Gershkovich being held hostage in a Stalinist prison. His reporting made the WSJ proud. Certainly it outpaced the New York Times, which is providing its coverage of Russia’s war from the safety of not being there.

On the other hand, the Journal tarnished its image by doing its owner’s bidding in smearing Tucker Carlson on his firing by that owner. It even resorted to the poison-dagger method of settling disputes, as when it noted, “Mr. Carlson sometimes trafficked in what critics—including some higher-ups within Fox—felt was thinly veiled racism on his show.” I suppose they didn’t have to say “thinly veiled,” but did they need to accuse him of trafficking? (READ MORE: Education Has Reached Peak Absurdity, But There Is Hope)

Such charges against an ideological target are a wokey standby. I saw the same thing recently in the New Yorker’s long report on Hillsdale College and its transformational president, Larry Arnn. Unable to land a glove on him, the reporter, Emma Green, formerly of the Atlantic, did come up with this from the director of Claremont McKenna College’s Salvatori Center, where Arnn served on an advisory board: “Even prior to the Trump Administration, [Arnn] had given a lot of people in the academic world real pause. Flirtation with the disreputable right, flirtation with serious racism.” This comes early in the piece, something for the magazine’s virtuous readership to keep in mind if further on Arnn and Hillsdale come off looking better than maybe they should have been allowed to.

And just to reassert her own bona fides, Green observes later in the piece: “As I walked around [the Hillsdale] campus, it was … impossible not to notice the whiteness of the student body and the faculty. Every professor I met was a white man.” Isn’t it awful when that happens in America? She did make an exception for a professor who is Lebanese Catholic, not that his religion and the plight of Lebanese Catholics were of any interest to her.

Just before that, Green bemoaned the status of LGBTQs, who find it “almost impossible … to form clubs” or come out as gender fluid. Doggedly she tracked down a few Hillsdale grads, one of whom felt “socially ostracized” there “after she cut her hair short and started dressing in a more masculine way.” The traumas of life in a white man’s world!

To be fair, Green interviewed a wide number of Hillsdale professors, and they all come across as cordial, intelligent, engaging, and straight shooting. One suspects that Green learned quite a few things from them that she might not have in New York, and the experience didn’t immediately send her into psychiatric care. She’s left somewhat speechless upon learning that weight lifting, a healthy alternative to the snowflake stresses and depression so common among today’s youth, has become popular at Hillsdale. And she doesn’t dispute that learning is central to Hillsdale’s mission.

Oddly, there’s not a word in her piece about a longtime scourge on U.S. campuses: alcohol. A decade ago, I asked an art professor whose husband was a dean at her small college: Why all this drinking? Most every night, vans circulated on campus picking up dead-drunk students and giving them rides to their dorms. She was completely on board with the debauch — students were learning tremendously about life and socializing and being away from their parents (whose payments of full tuition kept the college alive, she didn’t need to add). She didn’t appreciate it when I countered that a night in a police cooler might prove more instructive.

I’m grateful that Hillsdale has escaped the blight that alcohol (and who knows what else) has brought to my old college surroundings at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This year’s spring break “Deltopia” in off-campus Isla Vista brought sixty medical calls and twenty-three arrests. But who’s counting? For all we know, the affected attendees were what once were called outside agitators. When the life of the mind doesn’t matter, is there really any point to college? You might find some answers in this special issue, if not in the New Yorker.

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