Institutes of lower education (edited for length)
Rex Murphy | September 25, 2015 | Last Updated: Sep 26 12:36 PM ET
Who can be considered a highly educated person in today’s world? Well, does he or she have a fairly quick take on references from The Simpsons? Studied The Wire? Is this person fluent with, and grateful for, the pullulating neologisms for gender — does he know his “cis” from his “hetero,” his “two-spirited” from his “intersex”? Au courant on the latest pronouns, such as “ze” and “xe” for him and her, “xem” and “xir” for (I’m guessing) them? her? they? the guy next door? A diploma is his.
Some universities — and, in particularly, some humanities departments — have, over the last few decades, wandered far from the primary purpose of what these institutions were designed for: to teach what is worth knowing; to train the intellect; to acquaint students with, and help them appreciate, the glories of the human mind and its finest achievements (Read also Blessed John Henry Newman's The Idea of the University).
Concomitantly, they have descended into pseudo-studies, become infatuated with low pop culture, become obsessed with faddish social justice issues, turned hypervigilant on their students’ “comfort levels” and are pruriently concerned with sexism narratives, cause politics and “identity” zealotry (Bam!!!). They bear almost no resemblance to the institutions of higher learning — higher in its full applications — that they, at least ideally, have always aspired to be.
Junk in, junk out, is a variation on the computer axiom. Any institution that puts Madonna (or Beyoncé?) and hegemony in the same sentence, never mind in the title of a thesis, has cut the cords on the balloon and is floating off on some vague, directionless journey to nowhere in particular.
I think of that “rape victim” (click HERE for additional information regarding this sensitive and complicated issue) Emma Sulkowicz — a.k.a., the Mattress Bearer — who spent a year carrying a mattress around on her troubled, vacant head at Columbia University — this is Columbia we’re talking about, not some online degree factory — and had her pedestrian efforts accepted as an “art project.” If she had been working on a master’s in furniture removal, perhaps it would make sense. But she was awarded a master’s degree for making an exhibitionistic fool of herself, and a perfect mockery of her university. The administration helped, though: they allowed her to carry the shoddy mattress to her convocation.