In the News: “Political Correctness Threatens American Higher Education”

Cover of "The Assault on American Excellence"In The American Interest, the Christian A. Herter Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Michael Mandelbaum, reviews Anthony Kronman’s The Assault on American Excellence. Mandelbaum’s article is headlined “Political Correctness Threatens American Higher Education.” The review, describes a kind of “tyranny of the majority.”

Mandelbaum writes, “the suppression of speech subverts the two basic missions of the university. One of them is the discovery and production of knowledge, which requires free inquiry. The other is the education of students. At its best, this involves what the great sociologist David Riesman called ‘deprovincialization’—taking the individual beyond the boundaries of the familiar and exposing him or her to ideas, customs, and beliefs previously unknown and sometimes disorienting when first encountered. The demand, widely articulated on campus, that students be protected from exposure to ideas that distress them runs directly counter to one of the central purposes of the institution.”

Mandelbaum warns, “Political correctness of the kind that Kronman analyzes is fostering skepticism about, disapproval of, and even outright hostility toward institutions of higher learning in the wider public. That, in turn, poses a major threat to higher education in the United States. Its institutions, like all institutions, require public acceptance in order to survive. Indeed, colleges and universities need more than acceptance: They require active support. Public ones need appropriations from state legislatures; private ones depend on donations from individuals, often alumni.”

In Education Next, Mark Bauerlein, a professor emeritus of English at Emory University, reviewed the Kronman book in August 2019, under the headline “Two Answers to Political Correctness.”

— Education Next

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