We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


From Mr. Wood:

The Trap of Global Citizenship

Williams’ strictures on this provide a new way to look at higher education’s strange new emphasis on the imaginary category of “global citizenship.” As she points out, the term doesn’t stand for “any particular knowledge about the world,” but rather “changes in students’ attitudes” mostly in the form of rejection of “national identity.” Global citizenship “connects private feeling and qualities such as care, empathy and awareness, with the global issues of the day.” It thus “places whole areas of knowledge beyond debate.” The “homogeneity of political views” on campus is thus driven as much by efforts to manipulate the psychological vulnerabilities of students as it is by the effort of faculty members to steer away from the hard task of attempting to sort truth from opinion.

Williams herself doesn’t flinch in that effort. Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity is a short (198 page) book written in lively English and rich with examples, but it is thick with thought-provoking arguments on exactly how the “benign institution” of the university somersaulted to the frequently malign institution we have today. She finds some of impetus in what happened in the academic disciplines, and more of it in the pernicious influence of academic feminism. These are compellingly presented, but American readers will note that Williams has next to nothing to say about “diversity,” race, and multiculturalism as the anvils on which academic freedom in our universities has frequently been crushed.

The absence of these topics from a book about enforced conformity on campus is arresting, and serves perhaps as testimony to the “exceptional” character of America’s descent into leftist intolerance. Our campuses share with Britain and the rest of the English-speaking world an invasive new hatred of intellectual freedom. But we have added to it our own homebrew of racial grievance and identity politics. Britain certainly has experienced the woeful side of multiculturalism as well, but Williams treats it as secondary thread. For us, in the Age of Click, it is primary.

Britain’s example shows that the intolerance endangering academic freedom is not tied to a particular grievance, but has become a force in its own right.

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