Graduating College in the Time of COVID and Peak Wokeness

In May 2020, I graduated with a journalism degree from a liberal university in a mostly liberal northern Arizona city.

My degree came in the mail in relatively anticlimactic fashion after completing my final courses online following the school's coronavirus closure.  My departure from academia was quiet and unceremonious.

This allowed me to assess in isolation (and sobriety — no bar crawl celebration for me) what I retrospectively think of my education and experience at my ultra-liberal alma mater.

For starters, I never felt as unwelcome and unduly targeted in my life as I did in the college classroom.

I was wise to sit quietly as students and professors alike wolfishly attacked our president and his supporters — myself included, although I seldom felt comfortable enough at the time to openly admit it.  Unsurprisingly, Trump was painted as a racist dolt and divisive figure while hyper-woke "educators" peddled their far-left rhetoric to parroting students. 

I was taught the evils of capitalism and the Republican Party.

I was required to shell out money for "diversity" courses that taught me that the most reprehensible individual is the straight, white male who doesn't think he's a woman.  I am a straight, white male, by the way.

I was instructed to loathe historical figures like Christopher Columbus, Mark Twain, and Ronald Reagan, to remember them for their hateful bigotry rather than their enduring achievements.

I was expected to accept as fact notions of systemic racism, gender politics, and the socialist agenda.  Simply put, America is a terrible place and always has been.

Most egregious to me, I was told my Christian faith was a sign of my moral corruption and not a moral and spiritual compass worthy of respect.

Everything you would expect in your worst collegiate nightmares, I was forced with gritted teeth to endure.

Only the boldest students stood up to or even questioned the liberal preaching, often to be lambasted by the professor and socially crucified by his minions.  These non-conforming students are modern-day martyrs by my measure.

Now, I would expect all of this from some liberal art professors, but I did not major in gender studies or feminist theory, for example.  As a student of journalism with a minor in political science, I expected to learn the full spectrum of political philosophy and gain the ability to report the news with recognition of political bias.

Unsurprisingly, I was taught the exact opposite.

Instead, if I failed to further the cause of social justice in the eyes of my professors, I feared receiving harsher judgment than my peers or being singled out as a bigot of the Trumpian degree. 

Ironically, this place that preaches inclusiveness and acceptance is not all that inclusive or accepting.

What I did not understand then, and still fail to fully grasp, is how one can be painted as a bigot for simply not being bigoted.  To put it another way, unless I actively ally myself to the liberal cause, regardless of my actual political leanings or recorded viewpoints, I am a bigot.  There is no way around it.

I naïvely trusted the university to be a place of free-flowing ideas, where viewpoints are constantly tested.  Instead, I found a factory of conformity and compliance.

And so, when I finally received my diploma, I felt cheated.  After all, I had paid dearly for this degree with my time and money, not to mention all the service industry jobs I suffered through to pay my bills.  Rather than receiving the education I feel I deserved, I received overtures of indoctrination.

Thankfully, there is a silver lining.

Amid the liberal smoke-blowing by my professors, an odor akin to musty reefer incense and hippy-van exhaust, I developed a priceless ability: independent thought.

I felt I had been pushed too far, and it was time to push back on my own.

During my time at university, I gradually gravitated to the modern school of rational intellectuals and freethinkers like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Sam Harris, Dan Crenshaw, Bret and Eric Weinstein, Candace Owens, and even Joe Rogan.

Note, these individuals all have something in common, and it certainly isn't their political leanings, as some, like Harris, for example, are left-leaning.  They have all at some point and to varying degrees been canceled by the woke mob.  Naturally, this fact made them attractive to me, representing bastions of open dialogue, the silver-clad knights of free thought.

In pursuit of ultimate truths, some of which are not entirely self-evident, I dove headfirst into the writings of every author I could find before they too were canceled — the more far out their ideas, the better.  Dostoevsky, Orwell, and Melville come to mind.  I must expose myself to as many different viewpoints as I can, I thought, lest they be ripped from the social fabric like a Jefferson statue.

To be fair to the few exceptional university professors I was lucky to enough to find, not all academic professionals fall into the woke category.  Some are fair and balanced, accepting of diverse opinions, facilitating the type of education one might hope to find at any public university.

With their support, combined with the ideological spouting of their subjacent colleagues, I eked out an education. 

My little sister, whom I envy beyond belief, currently attends Hillsdale College, the private Christian conservative college in Michigan lauded by famous conservatives like Mark Levin, Larry Elder, and Rush Limbaugh.  If indoctrination is the only option for students in 2020, private schools may be the way to go.  At least then, you have a choice.

As I look forward to beginning my journalism career, or whatever career the future holds for me, I am fearful that my future newsrooms will be extensions of the modern university — be woke or be canceled.

Until then, I find inspiration from the intellectuals previously listed.  Maybe being canceled isn't so bad.  Maybe being called out by the ideologues and the woke mob isn't the worst that can happen.  Hell, maybe being called out for having an unpopular opinion means you're really on to something.

To me, the worst possibility is the forfeiture of independent thought.  This I will never do, for I have come into close contact with those who have.  The culture they create poses a danger to the country and all those who wish to see its values preserved.

Graduating in 2020 is a terribly confusing prospect.  However, I now hold my head high with a newfound sense of purpose and hope for the future.  I believe that, despite my education, I will be just fine.

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