Middlebury, Groupthink, and Riots

Thomas Sowell had a few things to say the other day about the fracas at Middlebury College. As always, it is very worth listening to.

Where have all these shocked people been all these years? What happened at Middlebury College has been happening for decades, all across the country, from Berkeley to Harvard. Moreover, even critics of the Middlebury College rioters betray some of the same irresponsible mindset as that of the young rioters.

The moral dry rot in academia — and beyond — goes far deeper than student storm troopers at one college.

Frank Bruni of the New York Times, for example, while criticizing the rioters, lent credence to the claim that Charles Murray was “a white nationalist.” Similar — and worse — things have been said, in supposedly reputable publications, by people who could not cite one statement from any of Dr. Murray’s books that bears any resemblance to their smears.

It seems to me increasingly that book reviews have become a political litmus test, where one writes what one believes about the author, whether or not (usually not) one has read the book in question. Not all, of course, there are plenty of good, useful reviews out there, but far too often.

The professors don’t usually riot against people whose ideas they disagree with, because they can just dismiss those ideas, with some characterization that there is no one on hand to challenge.

Professor William Julius Wilson of Harvard, for example, said of Justice Clarence Thomas, “He’ll say he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. I say I was in the right place at the right time.”

Just where did Justice Thomas say that he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps? The central theme of his autobiography, titled “My Grandfather’s Son,” credits the wisdom of the grandfather who raised him as what saved him.

Nuns who taught him in school were brought to Washington, at his expense, to be present to see him sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court, to see that their dedicated efforts on his behalf had not been in vain.

But has anyone ever asked Professor Wilson on just what he based his claim about Justice Thomas? The central tragedy of academia today is that you don’t have to have anything on which to base dismissals of people and ideas you disagree with.

Of course not, He’s a Harvard professor, which in much of our society, is akin to a demigod. Well, I’d ask, because I learned long ago that Harvard professors believe many things that are just not so.

Why should we expect students to welcome debate about differences of opinion, when so many of their professors seem to think cheap shot dismissals are all you need? Lacking their professors’ verbal dexterity or aura of authority, students use cruder methods of dismissing things they disagree with.

So long as academia talks demographic “diversity” and practices groupthink when it comes to ideas, we have little reason to expect better of student mobs that riot with impunity.

via The Real Lessons of Middlebury College by Dr. Thomas Sowell | Creators Syndicate

And so we get riots, while fools look on from their ivory towers.

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26 Responses to Middlebury, Groupthink, and Riots

  1. A problem that reaches throughout academia. Being enrolled at the same public institution in the late 70’s and in the 2010’s was an eye opening experience. Most of the professors I had during my later experience led with their social/ political philosophies. Classrooms were largely silent as professors related their views concerning modern politics with classroom study. Liberal tenants found their way into all subjects. When questioned about inaccurate statements, many professors did not want to talk about facts. Typically the next lesson or two would focus on character attacks against conservative-libertarian politicians, Christian leaders, or Christianity in general. The classroom dynamic was interesting. Openly liberal professors quickly identified the true believers in their class and those students were used to advance the agenda/ lesson. Everyone else would sit in silence, complete their work, and collect their grade. On several occasions, my objections lead to an honest exploration of the topic. Younger students would never lead a challenge and would not join in until the discussion had progressed. Usually they voiced their support after class. Only one professor punished my by devaluing a grade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      That’s interesting and enlightening. I can’t say it surprises me all that much, much of what I read says similar things, although that it almost never penalized you is encouraging. I suspect that as always, most are followers, and the fact that you made a credible case, made reasoning likewise proper for some. So good on you. I haven’t been back to mine, but Purdue was different then, and likely still is, a preponderance of engineering and other STEM types tends to make it so, not to mention too busy to screw off in the street.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadly, very sadly, liberalism has surely rotted away the best in Academia, and for quite sometime in the West. It has even affected so-called Christian academia also! Speaking for myself, I am glad, very glad I walked away from the Christian academy back in the 90’s. And btw, the best for the Anglican Gavin Ashemden, who took the high road of guts & glory to leave the Chaplaincy of the Queen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed! I think I read this morning he has now left the CofE completely, kind of hard to see how he could do otherwise.

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      • http://archbishopcranmer.com/gavin-ashenden-resigns-chaplain-queen/

        Ashenden is 63, I am not sure if he will remain an Anglican? There was some talk about him going to Orthodoxy, but I am not sure? I know he is friendly here and has written on some aspects of Russian Orthodoxy. He is of course rather High Church orientated. But a good man for sure! God Speed!

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          That’s likely what I read then. Cranmer seemed to think that the ordinariate was recruiting him, likely unsuccessfully. I’d bet if he leaves it’ll be to GAFSCOM, they’re getting to have a fair presence in the UK.

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        • Yes who really knows? But, his theological centre and thinking sure seems very Orthodox friendly. And I do believe he is not married? Bishop material somewhere, if he wants it? (EO Bishops are not normally married.)

          *I had a younger mid 40’s friend of mine here who went to the Ordinariate a few years back, he is barely hanging on? But I think it has more to do with the Jesuit “Francis”, whom he surely dislikes! Our High Church Anglican friends have always had problems with both Rome and some of the Orthodox. And I have myself much more respect for certain Orthodox, though I could never move there with their loss of the biblical and Pauline Imputation! But on the Trinity, I am closer to them than Augustine and the West. Indeed the Father is always the eternal source of the Godhead, from Whom the Son is begotten eternally and also from Whom the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally. But the great Trinity of God is always well beyond mere human comprehension. And our best Trinitarian Creeds sort of “frence” this grand mystery!

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yeah, plus he’s have to be re-ordinated (if that’s a term) since Rome doesn’t recognize Anglican orders. Only one I knew left for Rome and he was with the Syriac (Coptic) version. No answer from me, he’ll simply have to follow God, and his conscience, I reckon.

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        • *See the profound: The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Know it well!

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        • But no “filioque” for me! 🙂

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        • NEO says:

          I don’t see much harm in it, but never understood why it was added. 🙂

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        • I am not overt about the negative of the so-called “filioque” myself, and Augustine’s view does have some merit, but Christ’s place in John 14: 26, with 15: 26, and 16: 7, are incarnational, rather than processional. Of course the Father is the monarchy of the Godhead, even Augustine held to this. And the Spirit does “proceed” from the Father alone within the Godhead, as the Son is the “eternal generation” of/from the Father Himself. The Athanasian, Epiphanian and Constantinopolitan doctrine of the ‘One Being of the Godhead in Trinity and the Consubstantial Trinity in Unity’, brought to succinct theological expression in the identification of the “Monarchia” with the “Triunity” of God! Wow deep stuff!

          Liked by 1 person

        • And thank God for the Creedal definitions of the great Trinity of God! They are sort of like a great fence around the Godhead and the Trinity.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          That’s well said. I like the image of a great fence. It rather defines us.

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        • Btw, here is a great quote from an Eastern theolog: “The dogma of consubstantiality, which safeguards the unity of the Holy Trinity, thus remains a sealed book so far a we are concerned – for in a religious sense it has neither assimilated nor unfolded.” (Fr. Serguis Bulgakov)

          Indeed we are standing before a great defined revelation of God in mystery in the Trinity of God!

          Liked by 1 person

        • And in reality the depth of Christianity can only be expressed in and by dogmatic theology! Again, that’s part of my Pauline and Johannine faith at least!

          Liked by 1 person

        • And of course true Christianity is Trinitarian, of and in the Triune God Himself! And this great doctrine-dogma separates Christianity from error and paganism, as to GOD!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Whew, I got on a theological roll there, but such is the doctrine/teaching of God Triune! And yes, we “theolog’s” love it! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks to roll and fence/defend with me! 😉 Yes, us Christians need to defend and protect the Revelation of God! (1 Tim. 6: 12)…”Fight the good fight of faith…” 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          🙂 For some reason, Mary of Walsingham weighs on me tonight, not that that is unusual, it’s just stronger tonight. I know, not part of the Reformed tradition, but it has become central to me in the last few years. So your timing was excellent. 🙂

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        • 🙂

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        • NEO: If you can land an old copy? You might like the book: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Essays By Anglicans, edited by E.L. Mascall and H.S. Box, (Longman & Todd LTD, London, 1963). And yes, I have an old First here… Just 131 pages, but very good! Chapter II is very nice: Theotokos: The Place of Mary in the Work of Salvation, E.L. Mascall. He quotes Dr. Pusey several times, and at the close of the chapter!

          And I have a real favorite of mine (1912 edition),Christian Mysticism, by the great Anglican William Ralph Inge (one time Dean of St. Paul’s, 379 pages with Index). That would be a very hard found I am thinking? But worth the read if ya can find a copy?

          Liked by 1 person

        • *find

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  3. the unit says:

    Group thinkies are just another brand of groupies aren’t they? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. NEO says:

    Goodness gracious sakes alive! 🙂

    Like

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