Our universities and colleges are haunted. Haunted with the ghosts of critical thinking, tolerance, debate, reason and diversity of opinion. Ghosts are dead and I can make an argument that critical thinking in our colleges and universities is dead or dying.
In the last few decades, our institutions of higher learning have become bastions of group think. I don't care if you are a liberal or conservative. On our college campuses, anything that smacks of anything that is conservative, pro-US and now, pro-Israel, is shut down and attacked.
It is amazing to me to see these so-called students shutting down free speech. There was the case of a conservative judge in Stanford earlier this year who was invited to speak at Stanford's Law School. (You know, where they allegedly teach students how to argue the law and debate!) The judge has had some controversial judgements when it comes to the whole transgender rights issue. But as he was speaking, he was shouted down by students who did not want to hear what he had to say. At this event, an Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was attending as an observer. When the judge asked this dean to address the heckling, she instead indicated she was uncomfortable with his presence at the event! Someone with a title that includes "diversity, equity and inclusion" totally supported the EXCLUSION of this judge. So rather than allow for real debate, the students and this so-called dean shut the thing down. They learned absolutely nothing that day except to deny someone their right to speak.
You see this all the time on our campuses nowadays. Rather than championing the rights of all sides to be heard, you only hear one side as the other side, usually conservative, isn't allowed to speak. How does this help the cause of higher education. It doesn't. It promotes group think. It promotes lack of critical thinking. It promotes a narrow view of the world where you, are "right" and any opposing viewpoints are "wrong."
The latest iteration of this is taking place now with the Israeli conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Mass protests against Israel are taking place on our college campuses. No doubt fueled by so-called faculty and administrators who tolerate this one sided way of thinking. Weak kneed educators allow for outright antisemitism instead of promoting debates about what each side's points of view are. It becomes childish then. "Palestinians are good. Israeli's are bad." Makes no sense since both Palestinians and Israelis are people. Some are good and some are bad. Hamas and other terrorist groups are just flat out bad.
But in today's uber woke environment, it is easy on college campuses to champion the latest case of David vs Goliath. In this case, ironically, with the kids on our college institutions today, their David are the Palestinians and Goliath is the big bad country of Israel. Protests are fine and allowed under our Bill of Rights. But violence against those of the Jewish faith, lack of tolerance for Israel's point of view, totally ignoring the attacks on Israel on October 7, and the people who were kidnapped, killed, tortured or raped, is ridiculous and heinous.
The one institution in our country where free speech, debate and dissection of many points of view should flourish is in our colleges and universities. Unfortunately, the very opposite is happening. No tolerance. No debate. No critical thinking. No education. We are churning out a bunch of college educated automatons who think alike, talk alike and whose values are all the same. Intolerant brats who want to shut down speech rather than hearing something that might offend their sensitive ears.
And what happens when they leave those hallowed halls and go out into the real world. Away from the cocoon of intolerance they have been at for four years? They get smacked in the face with the real world. Real opinions from people who don't think like they do. And they cannot shut them down. They might try, but it isn't college. And they are ill equipped to deal with the diversity of thoughts and opinion that make up real life. They can't handle it. The universities have let them down.
Our colleges and universities are doing our students a disservice. The students are modeling what their professors and administrators are doing and saying. Instead of having the guts to champion free speech, debate and tolerance.. they champion quite the opposite. Just like that associate dean at Stanford who was "uncomfortable" with the conservative judge's presence. She is a product of this horrible system of intolerance permeating our campuses today. Not only is she a product of it, she is also the cause of it with her actions.
More than ever, our country needs graduates who are critical thinkers. People who are really educated. Not robots with sheepskins after four years who have no ability to look at diverse points of view and try to understand them. Instead, we have people so afraid of divergent opinions, they think it is okay to shout them down. Then they hide behind labels such as "hate speech" to justify their actions. Shameful.
Our country better wake up. It is our ability to debate rigorously, argue, and be tolerant of someone else's opinions that made us a great country. We have that right where in other countries, you could get killed for not towing the "party line." I pray that we don't come to that. The day we are afraid to say our opinions for fear of being shouted down, or even worse, being physically attacked (and this has been happening) is the start of our downfall as a democracy.
As leaders, you might fight this intolerance wherever you see it. It is not right and leaders stand up for what's right. Even in the face of intolerance.
What will you do?