Having some doubting moments recently about, well, most everything related to University. Hope I don’t end up like this guy, but I can sense it.
Intellectual sparring (dare I use the term) about ideas – among students and faculty – has been replaced by one-sided, partisan drivel (for example, Obama = admirable. McCain = terrible and, for the record, I will be voting for Obama). While it would be easy to blame a liberal bias among faculty for this groupthink, it should be noted that this simple world of good and bad pervades the world around us. On radio, television and the Internet, ideological pundits scream at one another with vitriol and fervor. My partisan colleagues are universally National Public Radio listeners. They do not hear the other side, so it is easy to demonize the other side. Their students are listening, and sadly think of conservatism in its many forms as horrific. Worse still, they now conflate liberal passion and advocacy with justice, and by default, analytic rigor and reason. They do not weigh evidence, or take note of pro, cons, costs or benefits. Doing so would be to admit that there are merits to positions they do not hold. To acknowledge that their ideology is imperfect is the first step towards compromise, or in their overused, precious phrase, “selling out.”
Funny, in the day in age he admires, most every University, college or community college would find it unthinkable to cancel their debate team. Today it’s almost unthinkable to start one for most administrators and department chairs. But you reap what you sew; professors can only do so much, and without the engaged minds of competitive debaters in the classrooms, the intellectual quality of life for the whole campus suffers.