Academia's 'Half of an Education' Model

The StarTribune did the right thing this past weekend.  They condemned Hamline’s aborted offer to have Tom Emmer, the Republican nominee for Minnesota governor in 2010, teach business law classes.  They attacked it on ethical grounds, arguing Hamline promised diverse viewpoints and ideas as part of their mission and denying a conservative a teaching position was wrong.  They also stated it wasn’t fair to Emmer and it was bungled.  The StarTribune gave a nod to the idea “that offering students a broad range of perspectives better
enables them to discern the truth.”  By not offering classroom time to conservatives and Republicans, they are giving their students only half an education, and that is a dereliction of their academic duty.

I’m a 2002 graduate of Hamline University and learned a lot.  During my time there, almost every instructor was far left of center.  But, as a right of center guy, I injected a dynamic into the classroom when I challenged the dogmatic leftist paradigm.  While I may not have been the favorite of all my professors or classmates, I did get a few asides from other students for having the courage of my convictions and bringing the material to life with a different perspective.

This was the entire purpose of diversity in an educational setting; to give many different viewpoints to ideas.  It would give students an array of ways to look at things which gave the ideas a three dimensionality and value in the world.  Simply presenting a one sided argument seriously limits both the ability of the student to process the idea and make it applicable outside the academic exercise.  I was very enriched by liberal, libertarian, socialist, anarchist, Christian thoughts and ideas.  But, immersion in the Neo-Marxist and liberal thought process only gave me half the picture.  It took self-study on my part to get a full view of the world of ideas.

Since I was a non-traditional student and quite comfortable in my own philosophic underpinnings, their ideas intrigued me, but didn’t
change my perspective.  As a student of the truth, I actively sought the other side of the argument and read and listened to other thoughts about things.  I had to get the second half of my education on my own.

Hamline, by reneging on a promise to Emmer, has denied its students the full education I should have had and these students today deserve.  But, I was lucky to have the background in classical liberal thought that gave me a head start.  Not all students are so blessed.

We are seeing students from liberal colleges who don’t have even the most basic understandings of thought on the right side of the
spectrum.  When confronted with ideas about classical liberalism, individual responsibility, the power of capitalism and the inherent corruption in transfer payments from the private sector to the public sector, they are like deer in headlights.  They cannot even understand conservative language, ideals, and ethical contentions.  They weren’t challenged with these ideas and so don’t know how to counter them.

Several things happen when these poorly taught student go out into the world of diverse ideas.  First, when confronted with opposing viewpoints, they are shocked.  They think the ideas are stupid or wrong.  Then, when pressed, they begin to realize the world is intellectually a much, much bigger place than their professors introduced them to.  Finally, they question or they retreat.

If they question, they self-educate and many of them become conservative or at least receptive to these ideas.  They explore the entire world of thought and may even begin to question the foundations of their own education.  Or, it strengthens their own beliefs while
understanding the other side of the debate.  At least then they can argue coherently and purposefully.  These results are the most positive ones.  The other reaction is the growing reality of our political system.

Those who retreat race from anything that challenges their liberal convictions.  They become polarized and ignore any ideas which don’t comport with their indoctrination.  They rail wildly against other perspectives and attempt to shut down thoughts which are at odds with their paradigm.  These unfortunate students then also try to exclude conservatives from the debate.  Since they are ill-prepared to meet the intellectual challenges of opposing viewpoints, they close their ears and minds.

I’m not saying liberal academics don’t introduce any conservative ideas or thoughts in classrooms.  But what they do is present a biased view that excludes the heart and soul of a philosophic debate.  It is the guts of those ideas which are the meat of intellectual exchanges and without an understanding they are ill-equipped in the wider world of thinking.   A committed Neo-Marxist simply cannot understand the basis of capitalism or individualism or traditionalism at its heart.

In fact, we see it all around us.  The Left is frantically trying to press a narrative and philosophy that the rest of the country can see is morally and ethically bankrupt, not to mention isn’t working.  When confronting conservatives they must fall back on smear campaigns, ad hominem attacks, or daily doses of Democratic Party propaganda by their operatives in the media.  Hell, they even have to quickly whitewash the mushrooming scandals like Solyndra, Sun Power, MF Global, a failed stimulus, a failing Obamacare, and a stagnating economy with half-truths and distortions.  Instead of arguing merits, they argue strawmen and conjecture.  There is very little intellectual honesty on the Left and it is because of the half of an education that schools like Hamline provide.

In the meantime, our students are not given the tools to discover intellectual truths and explore the world of ideas because it’s too much work for European socialists like David Schultz to teach.  He just wants to present his little, moldy corner of the world.  Can’t let someone like Emmer show students just how limiting Schultz’s world view really is.  So, they lashed out and Hamline’s president, Linda Hanson caved.

Linda Hanson is a shining example of the intellectual narrowness of academia today.  In a bizarre apologia for their handling of the Emmer situation, Hanson begins citing all the ‘diversity’ Hamline engages in with the public.  However, with few exceptions, her list is just a laundry list of progressive, socialist, Democratic leaning events.  She cites one gun rights advocate as being on the law school’s staff, like he’s a token that proves how ‘diverse’ they are.

This is supposed to burnish their credentials as ‘diverse.’

“Two of our School of Business professors edit the prestigious Journal for Public Affairs Education. One of the top journals of its kind, the publication focuses on public administration, public affairs and government affairs.”

For three consecutive years, Hamline has hosted the Minnesota Economic Association’s annual conference. This year’s topic was on financial inequality and education.

This fall, Hamline School of Law’s Business Law Institute hosted a wide range of scholars, mortgage professionals and lawyers seeking
purposeful conversation around the critical issue of reforming the secondary mortgage market.” ‘Despite Emmer fiasco, Hamline embraces diversity’ by Linda Hanson, December 20, 2011, StarTribune.com

Really.  A public affairs journal that tries to figure out the best ways to have government run our lives, a conference on the artificial construct of class and how to fight an imaginary war on it and finally, reforming a system that would have never been broken had the government not had its fat fingers in the system trying to get people loans that they couldn’t afford.  This is Hanson’s lame-brained idea of intellectual ‘diversity.’  No wonder Hamline only provides half of an education.  The president of the college is half-baked.

Hamline isn’t the only college that simply refuses to embrace academic freedom in its curricula and staff.  However, they are certainly the poster child for why we need academic reform so badly.  If we ever hope to find the best solutions for our worsening problems, it will require people who see the whole world and not just the progressive/socialist/Neo-Marxist slice today’s education system offers.  It will require questioning, discussing, arguing, and passionately speaking truth to power.  Only then will we have a truly informed electorate and not an indoctrinated group of intellectual serfs.

Crossposted at Looktruenorth.com