Book Analyzes Campus War Against Freedom of Thought

Published October 6, 2017

Education at American colleges and universities has taken a back seat to identity politics and the rise of so-called “social justice warriors” who are controlling most campuses today. Insanity has taken the place of inquiry.

Scott Greer’s book, the title of which is a clever takeoff on the award-winning movie No Country for Old Men, offers a psychological and philosophical analysis of the people now controlling the nation’s college and university campuses, who want to disenfranchise and humiliate everyone who is not part of their designated victim groups, especially straight white men.

Political Takeover

If we are to overcome the domineering left on college campuses and on the streets of America, we must understand what is really going on. Greer has studied the campus takeover and describes it brilliantly, with 318 references that could make No Campus a handbook for dismantling leftist institutional power.

Greer details how, with speech codes favoring liberal views and silencing dissent, higher education has become toxic to intellectual development and our once-prized institutions have become incubators for extreme identity politics.

Rooted in Affirmative Action

Greer argues the foundation for higher education’s decline is in “Diversity America’s” worship of affirmative action, a policy that has turned out to be far more corrosive to society than constructive, creating more problems than it has solved.

While affirmative action was taking hold, political correctness came into vogue, and years later it spawned today’s infamous concern over “microaggressions.” Now a common complaint on college campuses, a microaggression is defined as any word, conversation, or action that could be construed, however implausibly, as a denigration of a minority group—or even a majority group, such as women.

Microaggressions, in turn, have brought on “trigger warnings,” which are notices placed before text or speech explaining that what follows might offend someone’s sensibilities. Schools began to publish handbooks of things that could be considered microaggressions, which led to the development of “safe spaces” on most campuses, locations where students would be safe from any communications that might make them uncomfortable.

Numerous psychologists now argue such absurdities are leading to depression and anxiety instead of critical thinking among the students whose childhoods are thus being extended instead of ended.

Who’s in Charge Here?

Greer’s book is filled with amazing stories of crazy student control and administrative cowardice.

My favorite illustration took place at Yale University, where a standard liberal professor and dean of housing defended his wife, a fellow Yale administrator, for stating students at Halloween should be allowed to wear any costume they wished, even if some students found them offensive. A black female student berated him for threatening her safety as a minority by allowing students to wear their choice of costume. She was supported by enough students to force the couple to step down from their positions at Yale.

The book deals extremely well with the impact of Black Lives Matter (BLM) on college campuses, whose influence on the town of Ferguson, Missouri greatly affected the University of Missouri. That school was brought to its knees in 2015 by student protests which closed the school for a while. The administration fully sided with the protesting students. In 2016, the university suffered the consequences of its capitulation, as registration declined 20 percent and the school suffered a $32 million budget shortfall.

Phony Crime Stories

Probably the easiest target for social justice warriors has been the Greek fraternities and sororities, most of which are very white and stand for a tradition of good friends and good times on campus.

Similarly, most readers will recall the fraudulent story about the Duke University men’s lacrosse team a few years ago, and perhaps more recently the Rolling Stone story of rape at the University of Virginia, both of which proved to be without a shred of evidence. Greer supplements these with a dozen other stories of leftist-generated scandals on other college campuses, which activists likewise created out of thin air.

The virulent strain of identity politics Greer identifies has infected college campuses more than any other portion of society. The young people have energy and are willing to consider extreme political ideas, and the left has easily created this safe space culture.

“Colleges are no longer simply places where students go to learn for four years,” Greer writes. “A subsidized commune for maturing adults is a more apt analogy for the role universities now serve.” Students now expect the school to solve their personal problems, in addition to—or instead of—providing an education.

Trump vs. PC

In the epilogue to the book, written just after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, Greer explains what a horror Trump’s move into the White House was for the campus movement, where voting for Trump was characterized as a “hate crime.” In his election campaign, Trump had consistently derided political correctness, and his victory should give some strength to those on our college campuses who want to stand up against the abuse they have been taking.

This marvelous narrative will likely be followed by many similar books describing the blight on our campuses, but it is not likely that any will do it better.         

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director at The Heartland Institute.