May 10, 2017 (English Manif) — In the eighth chapter of the Book of John, Jesus Christ makes two statements in rapid succession. They encapsulate in a few phrases wisdom to cure many Christians of the anxieties that afflict the conservative movement. In 8:31, Jesus says, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” A few lines later, Jesus adds, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”
My Twitter feed has exploded in recent weeks, with plentiful panic about the pitiable state of free speech on college campuses. Big cases—big because they both worsen and reveal the deep structural wounds caused by the purge of Christian and conservative professors—played out this week: John McAdams, Anthony Esolen, Rebecca Tuvel, Paul McHugh, Carol Swain, Keith Fink, and Paul Griffiths.
I know of other professors, and of people who know of still others, who are in similar purges but who have to stay silent because of confidentiality gags. Then you must account for all the adjuncts like Mary Grabar who never got tenure-track jobs, earlier exiles like John Zmirak who got out of the academy for better lives, and the many conservatives in grad school who sold their souls to liberals, ran out of the hallowed halls screaming, or were chased out by the usual mobs of screeching race hucksters, homofascists, feminazis, climate-change cabalists, and Marxophonies before they could get their doctorates.
When the dust settles on this sandstorm, there will be many, many, many, many academics on the list of casualties. Seven in one week are but the tip of a big iceberg untouched by global warming.
Okay, the Time to Stay Calm is Over, Conservatives!
We don’t know how many conservatives the liberal academy is surgically removing in what can no longer be denied or ignored for what it is—a concerted putsch. This is the big political story of our era: money, propaganda, conspiracies, corruption, fraud, sex, lies, and hidden bodies.
This is bigger than McCarthyism, and way more expensive. It has involved financial corruption, tuition-based price-gauging, nepotism, and conspiracy to use publicly funded charities (universities) to advance one political party and stifle dissent. Besides persecuting political opponents, academia has corrupted research, knowingly spread profligate falsehoods (especially about sex, gender, and race), and defrauded millions of college graduates who went into debt for an overpriced education that left them dysfunctional, unemployable, mentally unstable, and brainwashed.
We have witnessed a criminal transfer of wealth from hard-working poor and middle-class families to fund managers and university administrators swimming in a deluxe swamp of untaxed endowments that are not being used to advance the common good.
Save the Evidence-Because It’s Really Bad for the Left
The left perpetrated this and must be held accountable, not only through shaming and a thorough accounting for the history books, but also, through some kind of massive restitution. The liberal corruption of academia coincided with enormous increases in tuition and student debt (discussed in my book).
Some estimates of student loan debt range between one and two trillion dollars, but this does not count all the money funneled into university tax shelters, which are not being taxed, and all the payments to colleges for tuition, books, fees, and other expenses, in exchange for a faulty product people were forced to buy through false advertising and a crooked credentialing system. A massive part of the nation’s economy—and of countless families’ budgets—went into a black hole of waste, creating a drag on our country’s economic growth and productivity, which nobody has yet fully theorized. And the people who did this were insufferably smug and completely wrong about everything, on top of all that. (Who will do a study on this when all the economists are paid by or scared of universities?)
Several months ago, when I came out with a book on higher education called “Wackos Thugs & Perverts,” people thought the title was outrageous. Now, as Berkeley has seen three riots and three guest speakers blocked by politically correct outrages, the harsh title seems almost too gentle. Isn’t there something deeper going on?
Everything is getting worse every day. Remember when it was only conservatives who saw their freedom crushed and they were generally deemed deserving of such treatment? I remember. I remember when even conservative watchdogs thought lots of us who came forward with stories were just loonies because why else would so many people in the academy think we were crazy?
At last, some who caviled are now realizing what is afoot. The AAUP responded to my SOS calls in 2014 with unworried emails, saying there was no tenure or academic-freedom issue there. They had the usual routine down, which they use, presumably, when being forced to deal with a kook: “My job is to make you go away, here’s a cookie; this gentleman with the holstered Taser and a security badge will see you out the back way. Good afternoon, Sir.” Now the AAUP is actually starting to sweat (too late to help me, of course—I left that job.)
But Conservatives Need to Get Serious
We can’t get it twisted, though; large numbers of conservatives were either complicit with the racket or contributed to it by their own foolishness. In 2015, I remember trekking to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican lawmakers about academic freedom, with the explicit aim of alerting them to the Higher Education Act and provisions therein, which would enable them to intervene in persecution cases like mine.
After months of trying to get appointments, my friend and I arrived to be told no lawmakers could meet with us, but instead two charming twentysomethings would greet us in their dungarees and flats, with mugs of coffee and yellow legal pads, the pages of which I am sure did not survive five minutes after my departure. These were interns or clerks or something—I wasn’t quite sure.
They told me they were concerned and keeping watch over academic freedom, mostly by reading stories about Laura Kipnis. Prof. Kipnis was a liberal Northwestern professor who wrote a column defending the practice of professors sleeping with students, and alluding to an ongoing rape investigation with dismissive comments about the (unnamed) accusers. As a result of this, the individuals who had raised the rape charges filed a Title IX retaliation charge against Prof. Kipnis, which resulted in her being investigated for two months and then cleared of all charges. I asked the Hill interns, “are you aware of other cases, for instance conservatives opposed to homosexuality, where people were actually investigated for years and then lost their jobs?”
They replied something to the effect of, “I am sure such cases exist.”
My friend stepped in to say, “It would be a very sad thing if you guys diddled around talking about academic freedom while Dr. Lopez, who’s been under investigation for 9 months already, had to leave his job in California, and nothing got done about this. Think of all the others who will lose their jobs.”
The writing could not have been darker on the wall than it was on that day. But the Hill interns said I should email them with any updates (I did, with no response) and they would keep an eye on things and let the appropriate lawmakers know they met with me. My friend and I got phone calls with various staffers over the next year, with nothing other than repetitive references to the case of Laura Kipnis. “We sent a letter to Northwestern about Laura Kipnis’s case,” one told me. I responded, with growing unease, “great! She seems a great lady! But she was cleared of all charges and has a job. Do you think you might send a letter to my college?”
“We don’t want to make things worse,” they said.
“You need hearings!” I was screaming like a crazy person screaming, “soylent green is people!” My dean, who would be named the head of the Clinton Global Initiative on campus and got elected to be president of the National Council of Deans of Arts and Sciences (which is interesting since she is dean of neither arts nor sciences), methodically loaded up my personnel file with reprimand letters and procedural annoyances until at last I decided the only fate worse than losing tenure at Cal State Northridge would be having tenure at Cal State Northridge. But as I was on my way out, I had some consolation that finally Congress was going to hold hearings about academic freedom.
Professor Robert George, distinguished with his grey locks and gleaming spectacles, appeared before Congress alongside a bunch of his students and a leftist who was told he could not hang up Bernie Sanders posters at Georgetown.
They spoke about the importance of free thought and exchange of ideas, etc., etc., etc., while I proceeded to pull out most of my hair screaming at the wall, “this is it? These are your hearings? These people aren’t about to be fired. When will we talk about defunding the colleges and subpoenaing all the creepy Medusa figures in the administration who keep landing millions of dollars in grants and harassing conservative Christians until they leave?”
Get ready for the death toll-but stop diddling
On many campuses that pushed out conservatives, the routine was frighteningly similar. Well aware of FIRE and other groups devoted to academic freedom, the administrators had learned, by a few years ago, that they could not attack conservatives by openly repudiating their conservatism. They either frame them for some unrelated procedural violation (falsifying files if they have to), or else drag them into a complicated investigation that they know will not survive an academic-freedom challenge, but will likely lead to the victim breaking a rule like confidentiality, notification, disclosure, or non-retaliation.
Because this was how the system worked and still works, countless people live now under investigation, facing certain ousters. They are hostages but we do not know where they are, since they are cowed by confidentiality rules, gag orders, and the observation that courts are siding with liberal oppressors.
If you want to save academic freedom, be aware of some hurtful truths.
First, conservatives dropped the ball. Nothing they’ve done worked and if they don’t try new approaches, this will become even worse.
Second, no painless strategy can fix this. You love homecoming, reunions, the football games, and the friends you made in college. You may have nostalgia for all you learned and the warm professors who guided you into adulthood. But those charms chain you to an oppressive system that threatens our democracy.
Universities are utterly hostile to your values and to God—even the vast majority of religious colleges. They got this bad because they rely on a steady stream of money that has never slowed or stopped, no matter how outraged the nation became. The only strategy that will work will be financial. The federal government must cease all public funding for colleges and universities, save for trade or vocational programs and seminaries (which are vocational). Our nation’s debt matches, roughly, the enormous amounts of cash that this corrupt system has funneled out of the functioning economy into their twisted Wonderland of emotional torture, sexual depravity, and fiscal recklessness.
People you love in the university system will experience pain if this system is to be fixed. Grants, backing of student loans, and tax exemptions on donations must all cease. Forget the conservative refrain of local and state control—the federal government got thoroughly entangled in all this and must take the lead. These are not non-profit charities so that loophole smacked of fraud from the beginning. In the case of most Catholic colleges, the non-profit status actually constituted charities fraud since the church has not yet reversed its stance on chastity yet these Catholic colleges not only fund homosexual social groups but even persecute people who defend Biblical sexuality on their own campuses.
Were such a strategy pursued, we would see massive job losses, the abolition of tenure, the closing of many struggling colleges, and cuts in pay. The wasteful and parasitic administrative class would have to go, causing painful unemployment to possibly millions of people who have made their living off the fat of this monstrous system. So many good people with good intentions would be hurt in the process. For that we must grieve.
But I left my job and quit tenure. It can be done. The universities and their workers brought this infernal crisis on themselves. They had adequate warnings and have no excuse for why they let the situation get this far.
Let go of “academic freedom”
Lastly, you must realize that this is not about academic freedom in the way we have discussed it thus far.
If you are truly conservative, your end goal is not a state of academic freedom, which would imply a situation in which all ideas are expressed and allowed on campus forums, and nobody is blocked from or suffers retaliation for their statements. Such a world would lack all discernment. It would be without virtue, without distinctions, constantly doubting its morals, and incapacitating the triumph of any position over others even in matters of grave importance. It would be demonic.
If you are conservative, and especially if you are Christian, what you seek is the Truth. The Truth is from God and exists as wisdom un-darkened by confusion and sinful thoughts. The Truth is not only what is, but what is right. With our imperfect minds, we cannot rush to decide what Truth is. We cannot censor competing views, except when we can show certainty. But academic freedom within such a system is a means to an end, a tool to build our monument to the Truth. In debates eventually we must acknowledge Truth where it lies, not remain uncommitted.
The left became horrendous because the left was wrong. Their prescriptions about improving race relations did not work because they were wrong. They were wrong about homosexuality and now we see the falsehoods of the LGBT movement growing more arrogant and multiplying as people who were celebrated for their errors now see further false affirmations as their entitlement, and Truth as an attack on their fragile sense of self.
The Truth is on our side. Now as we see all of higher education declare war on Truth, and on us because we championed it, we have nothing to lose. Do not hide behind caveats of academic freedom, as if all we want is to be given a chance to speak, a slush fund to bring Ann Coulter for a speech, a seat on a panel beside people peddling lies—that is not what we want. We want the left to stop lying. We want to proclaim the Truth so people see it, and stop listening to the left, and start listening to God. If this means that academia crashes and turns into ruins of a lost past, do not be mournful. Rejoice, for God has given us victory. Do not worry for tenure or being published somewhere prestigious or stuffing your resume with awards and grants. God gave you legs to walk and a tongue to shout His Word from the rooftops.
Academia is lost. We will never get our desks and library carrels back. Harvard will not ask us to speak what we know from behind a podium with a brilliant seal while the future leaders of America applause and smile. We have won our freedom. Enjoy it.
Reprinted with permission from English Manif.