The American university is the anti-Disneyland... the saddest place on Earth.
Today's colleges can make MSNBC seem fair and balanced and give the term "clinical depression" a sunny and joyful flavor.
It's no wonder so many prominent liberal intellectuals are angry, begrudging, and gloomy. They imbibe four to ten years of it during their college studies. And their brethren in the media give them a consistent platform for their gloom.
A few years ago, the Washington Post discovered that over 72 percent of college professors classify themselves as liberal. The study showed that the most left-leaning departments are in the humanities, "where at least 80 percent of the faculty say they are liberal and no more than 5 percent call themselves conservative." Needless to say, I'm a man on an island in my field of English literature.
I spent the summer working on my Ph.D. at a particular state university in the eastern part of our country, where I was exposed to misery and resentment I had only heard in rumors. Everyday was filled with the faults of conservatism and capitalism, while extolling the virtues of social justice and moral relativism. American democracy doesn't truly exist, my colleagues would say, and inequality between races, gender, class, and sexuality is as strong today as ever. America, they believe, is beholden to rich, white men who exploit others for the greed of the nation's privileged elite.
My professors lectured that "[economic] class is not discussed enough in classrooms today," "capitalism doesn't care about history," and "the university is the last bastion of socialism, where knowledge and money should be separated." All of these things were said with straight faces by tenured professors who required we purchase textbooks they helped write, while teaching for universities that charge tens of thousands of dollars in tuition.
Only in a liberal's distorted logic does it make sense to preach about fairness and exploitation while making money off the very people they're trying to convince.
We dived deeply into the socialism of Paulo Freire and the atheism of Friedrich Nietzsche, along with the radical feminism and the America-blaming postcolonialism of various theorists. We were even shown a film clip mocking the traditional institution of marriage during our gay studies.
It was upon reading Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto (twice!) when I spoke up. And I nearly started a riot. After hearing the professor proclaim that "not everyone has a chance to succeed in this country," my hand could not restrain itself from raising. I argued that everyone possesses different talents, work ethics, social connections, and personal attributes that may lead to different levels or types of success; but opportunity in America is equal for all. That's why I love this country, I said, and why this land has been a shining example for freedom, equality, and prosperity across the globe.
That didn't go over well. The majority of the class, with liberal reflex fully engaged, harped about income levels, racial discrepancies, and gender issues, while I fended for myself. I explained the difference between equal results, which they were actually seeking, and equal opportunity, which we all have been given by our creator and the laws of this country. I received nothing but appalled disgust that I could believe in such antiquated and fantastical notions. I kept quiet the rest of class.
This is the sadness that exists in higher learning today. This is the hopelessness that our students are being fed; that we do not control our own destiny, that there is no God or ultimate value system, that certain groups are constantly exploited, that someone else is always to blame. I spent much of my summer frustrated and annoyed over politics.
But a stronger feeling soon took over: pity. I feel truly sorry for those that hold such a pessimistic view of our country. I feel like they are missing out on the creative genius of our founders and beautiful determination of the American people. I feel the ignorance of personal responsibility and the jealousy of others will continue to distort our nation's vision for generations to come.
Our universities should be a place of optimism and possibility, triumph and truth. We need success stories not sob stories. Our nation is the most prosperous and generous on the planet, and our students need to be reminded of it daily. We stand for equality, hope, and positive production, and anyone can become a success.
After speaking out in favor of conservatism that day, an interesting thing happened on my way back to the dorm. Several of my classmates, also fellow college English instructors, caught up to me and told me secretly, "We just wanted you to know that we agree with you." I replied, "Then thanks for letting me get hung out to dry in there." They laughed at my half-joke, but then quickly turned serious and said, "We were just too scared to say anything."
Conservatism, truth, independence, and freedom always need to be defended. And optimism about the blessings of our nation should not be ignored. When I return to my studies next year, hopefully I can rely on some new friends to get my back.