With the way dead white males get vilified nowadays, it almost makes me afraid to die. And with the way true education is being killed off, you may be afraid to send your kids to school.
A generation ago we heard the chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western culture’s gotta go!” And it’s going, alright. One of the more recent casualties was the University of California at Los Angeles’ humanities program, which until 2011 was one of the last bastions of traditional Western scholarship in the humanities. Rick Moran at American Thinker recently covered this, and quoting a Wall Street Journal piece he writes:
Where previously, undergrads would have to take one course studying Chaucer, 2 for Shakespeare, and one on Milton, a "revolt" by junior faculty forced "a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing."
Oh, my Lord, “what fools these mortals be.”
One woman unlikely to get the above reference was cited by Heather Mac Donald in the aforementioned WSJ article:
Compare the humanists' hunger for learning with the resentment of a Columbia University undergraduate, who had been required by the school's core curriculum to study Mozart. She happens to be black, but her views are widely shared, to borrow a phrase, "across gender, sexuality, race and class."
"Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?" she groused in a discussion of the curriculum reported by David Denby in "Great Books," his 1997 account of re-enrolling in Columbia's core curriculum. "My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It's a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of color." These are not the idiosyncratic thoughts of one disgruntled student; they represent the dominant ideology in the humanities today.
“This Mozart…” It much reminds me of alluding to Scripture with a 15-year-old many years ago and his responding, “You mean, that Bible book?” It’s plain that by the time most youths reach college, much of the anti-Western professor’s work is already done.
Yet this anti-civilization thinking goes beyond the humanities. As to this, Eileen F. Toplansky addresses complaints about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and writes:
Author Philip G. Altbach, research professor and director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, posits the idea that the MOOC online courses "threaten to exacerbate the worldwide influence of Western academe, bolstering its higher-education hegemony." Thus, "by and large, the readings required by most MOOC courses are American or from other Western countries." Furthermore, "since the vast majority of material used comes from Western academic systems, examples used in science courses are likely to come from the United States or Europe because these countries dominate the literature and articles in influential journals."
Let’s place this in perspective. Should the Romans have rejected the Western culture of ancient Greece with the reasoning that it threatens “to exacerbate the influence of Greek academe, bolstering its higher-education hegemony”? Should the English, Germans, French, Spanish, and others have ignored the Western culture the Romans bequeathed based on fears of Roman influence? So what should be said of the notion that Western culture should be ignored today? It’s an idea that, while advanced by progressives, is antithetical to progress itself.
But here’s a suggestion for the Columbia undergraduate and anyone else troubled with “this Mozart.” I suggest they not walk on the pavement, enter many buildings, or use central heating, as concrete and central heating were invented by dead white Roman males. They should avoid using glass, too, as dead white Roman males learned how to mass produce it so as to make it available to everyday folks. Don’t use cranes, showers, or alarm clocks because they were invented by dead white Greek males. Don’t use modern conveyances such as cars, planes, or motorcycles, as they’re also dead white males’ handiwork. And forget morphine if you’re in pain — that was given to us by a dead white German male.
If you haven’t yet seen the light, don’t flip the wall switch because the electric bulb was also invented by dead white males. And don’t e-mail me to complain, either, because both the computer and personal computer were invented by… well, you know.
Of course, people don’t reject technology — no matter who birthed it — for two reasons. First, everyone loves the necessities, luxuries, and toys it gives us; because of man’s attachment to sin, however, not everyone likes correct ideas. Second, technology’s triumphs are empirically provable; if a plane flies, it flies, and nobody disputes that force equals mass times acceleration. But abstract ideas are a different matter.
They’re precisely the same, though, in an important sense. If we rejected prior technology and refused to build upon it, we would regress — perhaps fatally. Is it any different with ideas? Civilization works in a simple way: Each succeeding generation builds upon the triumphs of the last one and bequeaths them to the next, and if this process continues long enough you reach the stars. But, theoretically, it takes only one generation to reject all of the past and take us back to square one. And because the abstract is especially susceptible to this means that this rejection is most likely to happen where it most matters: the moral arena.
This is why the attack upon “Western civilization” is actually an attack upon civilization itself. Its instigators seek to break the chain of advancement and plunge us into a true dark age, one where we lack the moral sophistication to handle our technology properly (this is how savages end up with nuclear weapons).
This desire for square one is nothing new, by the way. The French revolutionaries — the first modern leftists — sought to make the first year of their revolution, 1789, the first year on their new calendar. The communist Khmer Rouge in 1970s Cambodia tried to do the same with their “Year Zero.”
So our modern leftists are using the Menshevik version of the Year Zero technique. After all, if you announce that you’re suddenly starting history anew, you’ve tipped your hand and people may think you’re a nut; moreover, such revolutionary change can only be enforced at the end of a gun. But if you incrementally erase history through disparagement and calls for equality, the evolutionary change will boil the frog slowly. Oh, it may take 60 years to restart history, but it doesn’t matter if your war of conquest takes six days or six decades. What counts is achieving a victory that makes the rest of history yours.
Always overlooked amidst all these machinations, however, is a troublesome little detail about destroying civilization — it destroys civilization. And when releasing that inner savage, you never can know what turns he will take or who, if anyone, will escape his fiery breath.