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DEPARTMENTS: Opening Salvo
I can now say without reservation that I regret going to graduate school. Having enjoyed a quite solid and substantial education at the undergraduate level, I expected the same of my terminal master’s program in British literature. What I got instead was political indoctrination—and this was at a Catholic university.
To supplement the plays in my Shakespeare course, I was required to purchase (for $150!) and then read a collection of photocopied essays on racism, gender ambiguity, religious oppression, colonialism, and radical feminism. Some of these essays—though not many—made passing references to the Bard, but what confused me, beyond their apparent irrelevance, was how they were made the focal point of class discussion to the exclusion of the plays themselves. Similarly, in a course on Medieval mysticism, my first assigned task was to read and summarize a scientific paper that ostensibly proved that even biological sexual difference is a myth. What this had to do with Julian of Norwich, St. Bonaventure, or The Cloud of Unknowing I still don’t know. And then in my classes on eighteenth-century poetry—my chosen emphasis—I learned that what Alexander Pope, John Dryden, Bernard Mandeville, and William Blake (my boys!) truly sought was not literary excellence, but rather the continued subjugation of the lower class. I was subjected to all this and more in seminar-style classroom discussions that were devoid of lectures or any kind of contextual information.
Why did I stay enrolled? To some extent, I suppose I believed (until it was too late) that at any moment the real education would finally begin. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to say that I also allowed my ego to get in the way of my reason. I liked telling people that I was working on a graduate degree in literature, and I couldn’t wait to acquire the framed diploma that would supposedly authorize me as an expert in something. It was this same attitude that made me susceptible to the propaganda that inhered in my coursework. It’s embarrassing to admit it today, but I did in fact buy into much of this nonsense; I wanted so desperately to find a place in academia—to earn the respect and admiration of my professors and peers—that I acceded to its dark side. Plus, the conviction with which these politically radical concepts and assumptions were affirmed wore away at my common sense. I wasn’t learning anything more about British literature than I already knew, but I was definitely procuring a new worldview.
In putting together this issue of Salvo, I have come to realize that my story is not at all unique. There are countless former students out there who are in school-loan debt up to their ears for having “earned” degrees in drivel. Unfortunately for many of them, they have yet to realize or acknowledge this as I have and thus find themselves still victimized by the bad ideas that attended their educations. Indeed, the leftist ideologues who inhabit American colleges and universities are intent on indoctrinating students in their own political views, and they are doing so at the expense of both academic freedom and real learning. This is a national crisis in itself, but it’s just one of the things wrong with our current system of higher education. In the following pages, we have attempted to address as many of these problems as possible, lamenting their existence and providing some possible solutions.
For obvious reasons, this is a subject that I feel quite passionate about, which explains why Salvo 5 is packed to the gills with feature-length articles devoted to it. Some of the regular departmental columns to which you may have grown accustomed (Crosshairs, Decode, Collateral Damage, and so on) had to be omitted to make room for these pieces, but I think you’ll agree that the trade-off is worth it. We are committed to curtailing the contaminative influence of contemporary academia. May this issue inspire you to join the fight. •
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