That's cute: Ivy League Unis pontificate to Class of 2021 about bigotry

Earlier this week, sixteen faculty members from three of our most distinguished universities – Harvard, Princeton, and Yale – wrote an open letter to the Class of 2021.  The letter, short and to the point, advises freshmen to eschew "fashionable opinions" and to think for themselves.  Scrupulously devoid of falling on either side of the political divide that cleaves our country, the letter admonishes students:

The love of truth and the desire to attain it should motivate you to think for yourself. The central point of a college education is to seek truth and to learn the skills and acquire the virtues necessary to be a lifelong truth-seeker. Open-mindedness, critical thinking, and debate are essential to discovering the truth. Moreover, they are our best antidotes to bigotry.

Thoughtfully, the writers include a definition of "bigotry":

Merriam-Webster's first definition of the word 'bigot' is a person 'who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.' The only people who need fear open-minded inquiry and robust debate are the actual bigots, including those on campuses or in the broader society who seek to protect the hegemony of their opinions by claiming that to question those opinions is itself bigotry.

Can't you just feel the self-satisfied simpering of the professors who gaily conclude their missive with a cheery "good luck to you in college"?

Were I not cynical and battle-scarred from a lifetime spent as a conservative in academia, I might find it within myself to send-up a rousing "hip!" in support of the letter, concluding that at least it is a first step in the long process of recovering some semblance of campus sanity.  But I don't believe that.  I believe that what this letter is is nothing more than another example of the kind of posturing that is second nature to academic types.  They make the right noises, but there is no sincerity behind the words.  Unless and until academics are willing to point a finger at themselves, call out the ultra-liberal and Marxist bullies among their brethren, and own up to the decades spent stifling and belittling conservative views, I am not interested in their mealy-mouthed squeaks about "thinking for oneself."

Think about it: if the very people calling for a pause in the intellectual genocide of conservatism on campus can't themselves name the perpetrators, how can they expect freshmen to heed their insipid advice?

Nice try.

Nancy Kelly blogs at