The great Darel E. Paul, professor of political science, published a well-researched and thoughtfully organized article at Areo on how the new identity politics has taken hold at schools across the nation. He connects the dots which show how identity politics has become a staple at schools as different as Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen State College and Yale.
Colleges and universities across the English-speaking world are caught up in the enthusiasm of a Great Awokening. Its dogmas are structural violence, systemic racism, racial stress, white privilege, white fragility, implicit bias and microaggressions. From the University of Missouri to Evergreen State College to Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, faculty and students are ablaze with the fire of social justice.
In Paul’s view, liberal arts colleges are particularly likely to get wrapped up in the dogma of critical race theory because they lack – by definition – traditional STEM programs like business, medicine, engineering and agriculture. He reports that predictably “…this spring the Great Awokening finally came to my home institution, Williams College.” Unfortunately for Williams, Paul writes that the school seems unpleasantly close to being another Evergreen State College.
Administrators and other campus leaders have encouraged white members of the college community like myself to listen. Over the past two months, I have striven to do exactly that. In fact, I’ve done quite a lot of listening (and reading). I have spent dozens of hours listening at meetings and reading copious documents produced by activist students and faculty. I have also watched videos and read documents resulting from the racial blowups at Yale University in 2015, Evergreen State College in 2017 and Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. Listening to these views from multiple campuses helped me realize that what seems to be a local discourse responding to local issues is actually a local manifestation of an international social, political and ideological phenomenon. All the accents and cadences of critical race theory can be identified. Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen and Yale could really be Any Residential College in Any Town.
Paul notes that the folks promoting critical race theory are ultimately leading us into a Soviet Union style educational system where truth matters very little. All that matters is whether research and teaching supports the dominant ideology.
Just as critical race theory can destroy knowledge, it can likewise destroy institutions premised upon the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. Thanks in large part to the influence of critical race theory, Evergreen State College melted down in Spring 2017. The concrete results of that meltdown included numerous faculty resignations, a catastrophic collapse in enrollments, layoffs, budget cuts and worldwide humiliation. Every institution of higher education should learn the lessons of Evergreen, for history is wont to repeat itself―the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
Areo is an opinion and analysis digital magazine focused on current affairs — in particular: humanism, culture, politics, human rights, science, and free expression.