Education

Book: Rise of gender and ethnic studies programs helped bring about decline of modern academia

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

Modern academia has gone astray and identity studies programs are in large part the culprit, argues author and poet Bruce Bawer in his new book ”The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind.”

“Identity studies sum up everything that’s wrong with the humanities today,” Bawer told The Daily Caller. “They’re about nothing other than group identity, group oppression, and group grievance. Instead of engaging in objective scholarly study of, say, black American history or women’s literature, these departments are boosters for everything having to do with the group in question. It’s all slogans. Kids don’t learn anything other than to think of themselves as having been wronged by capitalism, by the West, by America, by white men.”

Bawer says that this has consequences beyond the classroom.

“Young people who have been brainwashed in college by all this groupthink head out into the world and are constantly on the alert for ‘racism’ and ‘sexism,’” he told TheDC.

“And they find these things everywhere, just as they were trained to. If they hear a white person criticizing President Obama – boom! Racist. If a man has something negative to say about Hillary Clinton – boom! Sexist. It’s simple as that. These kinds of knee-jerk reactions are daily fare nowadays. It’s the only way the products of these cockamamie programs have learned how to think about anything. They make these facile, baseless charges and actually think they’re making insightful moral judgments. It doesn’t bode well for America’s future.”

Read more of TheDC’s interview with Bawer about his new book, what he would tell students about to go to college and much more.

Why did you decide write the book?

Because all too many college students and their parents are being gypped. They’re paying for an education – and instead they’re getting indoctrination.

What is the Victims’ Revolution?

Education in the humanities used to mean learning about, and learning to appreciate, the glories of Western civilization – accomplishments that were made possible, in large part, by capitalism and individualism. Now, too often, it means being taught to despise Western capitalism and individualism, and to see Western civilization as a plot by white males to oppress members of other groups. Students are trained to see everything around them in terms of the power of oppressor groups over victim groups. They’re trained to cultivate resentment and to pour out ideological, jargon-heavy rhetoric about revolution. They think they’re having their eyes opened about the world but all they’re doing is being turned into robots parroting old, worn-out Marxist slogans.

What was the purpose of higher education before the Victims’ Revolution, compared to what it seems to be today?

Ideally, the purpose of humanities education was, among other things, to learn about history and culture; to learn to develop one’s own taste; and to learn to think critically and to discuss ideas profitably with people who thought differently than you did. Now it’s about becoming politically correct – adopting the same views as your teacher and everyone else in the class. It’s sheer brainwashing. And so many kids don’t even realize they’re being brainwashed!

What is wrong with “identity studies” – i.e. women’s studies, black studies, queer studies, etc.? Why aren’t they real academic disciplines?

Identity studies sum up everything that’s wrong with the humanities today. They’re about nothing other than group identity, group oppression, and group grievance. Instead of engaging in objective scholarly study of, say, black American history or women’s literature, these departments are boosters for everything having to do with the group in question. It’s all slogans. Kids don’t learn anything other than to think of themselves as having been wronged by capitalism, by the West, by America, by white men. College should bring together young people from different backgrounds so they can learn to get along, respect one another, and appreciate all that they have in common. Instead these pernicious “disciplines” encourage them to pigeonhole themselves and others and to see only differences.

What have been some of the consequences of the revolution for society at large?

Young people who have been brainwashed in college by all this groupthink head out into the world and are constantly on the alert for “racism” and “sexism.”  And they find these things everywhere, just as they were trained to. If they hear a white person criticizing President Obama – boom! Racist.If a man has something negative to say about Hillary Clinton – boom!  Sexist. It’s simple as that. These kinds of knee-jerk reactions are daily fare nowadays. It’s the only way the products of these cockamamie programs have learned how to think about anything. They make these facile, baseless charges and actually think they’re making insightful moral judgments. It doesn’t bode well for America’s future.

Are you hopeful things will change?  

I have to be. By writing this book, I’m trying to help bring about a change. And I’m inspired by others who are in there fighting as well. People like David Clemens at Monterey Peninsula College in California, who singlehandedly took on a humanities program as benighted as any of them and managed to institute a Great Books Program and to teach a course about male culture – an effort to undo some of the damage done by women’s studies courses which relentlessly depict men as naturally violent and as potential rapists.  

What would you suggest to kids about to enter college today?

Don’t just go by the annual rankings in those magazines. Do some Googling. Check out the course offerings at various colleges in the departments you’re interested in. The course titles and descriptions alone can tell you a lot about whether they’re serving up a lot of vapid, ideology-driven nonsense or courses of actual substance. Look at the website of an organization like the National Association of Scholars [(NAS)], which has been combating these nefarious trends for years, and find out who belongs to the NAS, who’s writing for them these days, and where they teach. This sort of thing can get you started on the way to an education worthy of the name.

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