Enough is Enough is Enough








Extremism does something to the soul; it bequeaths a sense of holiness that carries the believer to the brink of sanity and beyond. All it takes is a leader to fuse soul to soul and it carries the world. Today we are watching the extremists of two religions vow extermination of each other—triggering the cancellation of commencement exercises on a US college campus. After eight years of watching the rise of the far right, both here and abroad, we are witnessing the rise of the far left. Enough is enough. It’s time for the nations of the West to declare a universal month of penance—a time to get off our pedestals, go to our knees, and acknowledge our own participation in the destruction of peace and order.

The cancellation of commencement ceremonies at Columbia University was due to protests against the US support of Israel in the Gaza-Israel war. Though the war began with Hamas’s attack on Israel, the protests were on behalf of the Palestinians trapped in the Gaza strip as Israel returned fire, vowing to destroy Hamas forever. As the number of Palestinian casualties rose, so did the number of anti-Semitic threats in the US, not only at Columbia but across the country. In true extremist fashion, protesters declared Israel the “oppressor” and Palestinians the “oppressed,” a position that echoes the political theory being taught as catechism in our universities. There are no angels here. Netanyahu’s far right reign verges on a dictatorship, making Israel as difficult to support as Hamas’s terrorist regime. But I find university students jumping in on one side or the other based on a political theory being taught as Truth both painful and appalling—a betrayal of the very meaning of the university.

Most of my undergraduate education at the University of Chicago was devoted to understanding the nature, function and consequences of theory in all fields and stemmed from the belief that truth emerges from debate. The goal of the interdisciplinary curriculum was the education of citizens. For me, this work was liberating, for it made my home culture one of many, and the effect was most profound in the social sciences. Reading the debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1797 made me a devotee of James Madison who managed to lead that cacophony of voices into a single document whose central principals have remained through 200-plus years of lawmaking and change. For all, the curriculum stressed breadth before specialization, a more thorough going version of the two years of general education that was standard fare in colleges across the nation.

But the demands of specialization have had a daunting effect. In the years since, as I put that training in critical thinking to work in the writing classes of two large state universities, I found the education focused solely on specialization and the training of professionals. General education, which most closely resembles the training of citizens, seemed an irritating leftover from some earlier concept of education. One professor of political science insisted that introducing students to a competing theory would just confuse them. Debate of multiple theories within fields had also disappeared. The anthropology department was based on the theory that economics is the driving force of culture and ostracized the one professor who insisted that the need to reproduce was a central force. A Bulgarian graduate student decried that absence of religion as a cultural and political force. As a result of this devotion to a single ideology academics were unable to explain current events, such as the role of religion or the rise of dictatorships. To replace older theories with one that divides the world into “oppressor” and “oppressed” only perpetuates the insistence on theoretical conformity.

For left-leaning university departments to impose one political theory as Truth is brainwashing, not education and is very little different from powers on the right threatening the Speaker of the House for talking with the opposing party. The result is that the university has used its influence to increase polarization and hostility to the point where on at least one campus, they cannot even risk handing out degrees. Enough.


One Response to Enough is Enough is Enough

  1. Terry Persun June 5, 2024 at 6:23 am #

    I so agree with you here. A little critical thinking would help on many fronts these days.

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