I have come to the conclusion that contemporary academia, at least within the humanities, has become just plain corrupt.
Corruption might seem to be too strong a word, but what else does one call it when we have a group of individuals who have taken money and assumed positions under false pretenses? After all, when a person assumes the position of judge he implicitly states that he will try to decide impartially between competing cases based on the standards of law. If we find out that the individual in fact always intended to rule for one case over the other we would call that judge corrupt.
Likewise, we created universities to be places of teaching, research and intellectual inquiry. Implicit in the assumption of the role of a tenured professor is the obligation to struggle to be open minded and objective. We pay professors to honestly investigate problems and try to provide answers. If we find out that professors already believe they have all the answers, and that they view their positions as mere soapboxes for their own political beliefs, well, then that is corruption.
This is clearly what has happened to modern universities in the humanities. Mike Rosen (via Instapundit), writing on Ward Churchill, quotes Richard Rorty, a professor of philosophy in the comparative literature department at Stanford and editor of the Leftist magazine Dissent, as saying:
“The power base of the Left in America is now in the universities, since the trade unions have largely been killed off. The universities have done a lot of good work by setting up, for example, African-American studies programs, Women’s Studies programs, and Gay and Lesbian Studies programs. They have created power bases for these movements.”
Anyone who has spent the least amount of time conversing with or observing academia knows that Rorty’s assessment is completely accurate. Leftist ideologues have hijacked our institutions of higher learning and most leftists regard this as a positive development. The rest of us must ask: Do we fund our institutions of higher learning so that they can be the power base of the radical political Left, or is this clearly a corrupt abuse on the part of the Left?
I think it is an abuse of power and office that must be corrected by any means necessary. Once the institutions have become internally corrupted they cannot heal themselves. Outside intervention is required.
Just as a biased judge isn’t functionally a judge, a politicized professor isn’t functionally a professor. Just as we remove judges who are proven to be systemically biased, we should remove professors proven hopelessly politicized. A college professor who can not conduct analysis save within the boundaries of an intense political ideology is useless to the larger society in the best case, and a positive danger in the worst. We task them to analyze ideologies, not to advance one ideology over the other.
The concept of academic freedom only applies to those honestly using that freedom in the fulfillment of the office granted them. Those who cynically misuse that freedom should have it revoked. I think it is very clear that many, many members of academia have abandoned their responsibilities and have whored themselves out to politics. In doing so, they have lost all claim to the protection of academic freedom. They should be called to account. If that comes in the form of political intervention in public institutions then so be it. As unpleasant a prospect as it is, such political intervention has proven to be the only means of insuring public integrity in the long run. We must root out this corruption before it destroys the humanities.
It is time for an audit of academia.