Did academia help elect Don­ald Trump win elec­tion?

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Ge­orge Will Colum­nist Ge­orge Will’s email ad­dress is georgewill@wash­post.com.

Many un­der­grad­u­ates, their fawn-like eyes wide with as­ton­ish­ment, are won­der­ing: Why didn’t the dean of stu­dents pre­vent the elec­tion from dis­rupt­ing the seren­ity to which my school has taught me that I am en­ti­tled? Cam­puses cre­ate “safe spa­ces” where stu­dents can shel­ter from dis­com­bob­u­lat­ing thoughts and re­ceive spir­i­tual balm for the trauma of mi­croag­gres­sions. Yet the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion came with­out trig­ger warn­ings?

The morn­ing af­ter the elec­tion, nor­mal peo­ple rose — some elated, some de­spon­dent — and went off to ac­tual work. But at Yale, that in­cu­ba­tor of late-ado­les­cent in­fants, a pro­fes­sor re­sponded to “heart­felt notes” from stu­dents “in shock” by mak­ing that day’s exam op­tional.

Academia should con­sider how it con­trib­uted to, and re­flects Amer­i­cans’ judg­ments per­ti­nent to, Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion. The com­pound of child­ish­ness and con­de­scen­sion ra­di­at­ing from cam­puses is a con­stant re­minder to nor­mal Amer­i­cans of the de­cay of pro­tected classes — in this case, tenured fac­ulty and cos­seted stu­dents.

As “bias-re­sponse teams” fanned out across cam­puses, an in­ci­dent re­port was filed about a Univer­sity of North­ern Colorado stu­dent who wrote “free speech mat­ters” on one of 680 “#lan­guage­mat­ters” posters that cau­tioned against po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect speech. Catholic DePaul Univer­sity de­nounced as “big­otry” a poster pro­claim­ing “Un­born Lives Mat­ter.” Bow­doin Col­lege pro­vided coun­sel­ing to stu­dents trau­ma­tized by the cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion com­mit­ted by a som­brero and - tequila party. Ober­lin Col­lege stu­dents said they were suf­fer­ing break­downs be­cause school­work was in­ter­fer­ing with their political ac­tivism. Cal State Univer­sity, Los An­ge­les es­tab­lished “heal­ing” spa­ces for stu­dents to cope with the pain caused by a political speech de­liv­ered three months ear­lier. In­di­ana Univer­sity ex­pe­ri­enced so­cial-me­dia panic (“Please PLEASE PLEASE be care­ful out there tonight”) be­cause a priest in a white robe, with a rope-like belt and rosary beads was iden­ti­fied as some­one “in a KKK out­fit hold­ing a whip.”

A doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Santa Bar­bara uses “fem­i­nist method­olo­gies” to un­der­stand how Girl Scout cookie sales “re­pro­duce hege­monic gen­der roles.” The jour­nal Geo Hu­man­i­ties ex­plores how pump­kins re­veal “racial and class coding of ru­ral ver­sus ur­ban places.” An­other jour­nal’s ar­ti­cle an­a­lyzes “the re­la­tion­ships among gen­der, sci­ence and glaciers.” A Vas­sar lec­ture “the­o­rizes os­cil­lat­ing re­la­tions be­tween dis­ci­plinary, pre-emp­tive and in­creas­ingly pre­hen­sive forms of power that shape hu­man and non-hu­man ma­te­ri­al­i­ties in Pales­tine.”

Even pro­fes­sors’ books from se­ri­ous pub­lish­ers are clot­ted with pre­ten­tious jar­gon. To pick just one from in­nu­mer­able ex­am­ples, a re­cent history of the Span­ish Civil War, pub­lished by the Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, says that Franco’s Spain was as “hi­er­ar­chiz­ing” as Hitler’s Ger­many, that Catholi­cism “prob­lema­tized” re­la­tions be­tween Spain and the Third Re­ich, and that lib­er­al­ism and democ­racy are con­cepts that must be “in­ter­ro­gated.”

An Amer­i­can Coun­cil of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) study — “No U.S. History? How Col­lege History De­part­ments Leave the United States out of the Ma­jor,” based on re­quire­ments and course of­fer­ings at 75 lead­ing col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties — found that “the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Amer­ica’s most pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions do not re­quire even the stu­dents who ma­jor in history to take a sin­gle course on United States history or gov­ern­ment.”

In­sti­tu­tions of sup­pos­edly higher ed­u­ca­tion are awash with hys­te­ria, au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism, ob­scu­ran­tism, philis­tin­ism and char­la­tanry. Which must have some­thing to do with the tone and sub­stance of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, which took the na­tion’s tem­per­a­ture.

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