27.2.17

TEN YEARS AGO.

City University of New York's K. C. Johnson became more sympathetic to scholars of the right after the vilification he got (the link now goes to the memory hole) for investigating the trumped-up charges (oh, if we had the terms "fake news" and "alternative facts" in the vernacular back in the day) against the Duke lacrosse squad.  "Really, the absolute refusal of the Group of 88 or other players in this affair to apologize or tone down their behavior in any way, as if all of the facts are the same now as they were on March 29th, and to show no indication they've comprehended anything … it's depressing."

But the tendency of the people in power in higher education to let "the right," loosely speaking, to win the logical arguments by default has a long pedigree.  Over the weekend, I was tossing stuff and I came across a Washington Monthly 20th Anniversary issue, from October 1989 (they hadn't yet twigged to the reality of Communism crumbling, such were deadlines in those pre-internet days) with the cover featuring "Why higher education is neither."  This article came out about a year after Charlie Sykes's Prof Scam, and many of the points the authors make could have as well have been made by Mr Sykes, or any of the other Tories.  The argument they raise in response to the Canon Conflicts back in the day generalizes.
What's unfortunate is that while the conservative reformers have diagnosed the ailment correctly--curricula diluta--they've tended to offer a suspiciously narrow cure: a canon composed almost exclusively of Western, and male, influences. Liberals have responded by dismissing the idea of a core altogether--ceding leadership to the Right--rather than working to institute their own core, one that preserves greatness as the standard but doesn't stop at William Bennett's borders.
In how many other ways to the Folks In Charge of higher education continue with business as usual, and no indication that they've comprehended anything?

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