- Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Dear Dr. E: I’ve heard you talk about how our American colleges and universities have become “postmodern” and why that is a bad thing. I’m not sure I understand what postmodernism is and its dangers are. Could you explain further? — Curious Mom from Michigan

Dear Curious Mom: Research has repeatedly shown that nearly all of today’s universities fall within a postmodern paradigm, both ontologically and epistemologically. This is to say that the faculty and administration of just about all our nation’s schools of higher learning believe that truth (with a lowercase t) is constructed rather than revealed. They believe all knowledge of what is real is relative and subject to individual interpretation.

They argue that all who still believe in objective Truths (with a capital T) are either ensconced in empiricist modernity or deluded by the black-and-white buffoonery of the religious right. In other words, the leaders of today’s academic enterprise sincerely believe that truth is nothing but a social construct and that the business of education is to push political opinions on vulnerable students rather than help them pursue and find what is objectively true, right and real. 
Good sources on the issue of postmodernity and its aversion to pursuing truth, knowledge and reality include Gene Edward Veith’s book “Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought & Culture,” David Horowitz’s “One-Party Classroom” and his other, similar work, “Indoctrinate U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom.”

(Sidebar: Before you let any of your Democratic friends tell you that Mr. Horowitz is some right-wing crank, remind them that he was the intellectual engine behind the 1960s radical left and that he wrote for and supported the Black Panthers, Tom Hayden and others. Read his autobiography, “Left Illusions,” and you will see that the man knows from whence he speaks.)

At the risk of being a shameless self-promoter, let me refer you to a couple of books I wrote. “Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” is my national bestseller, and the sequel to it is “Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, but It’s Good.” Both books tackle the freefall of academia, and both provide several real-world examples that corroborate my claims of a postmodern malaise running rampant on our college campuses.

Now, if, after reading some if not all of the above, you still need more convincing that something is terribly amiss in our institutions of higher learning, then I’d suggest you pick up a copy of your local university’s course catalog and read the descriptions of some of the classes. For example, you could go to your own backyard and the University of Michigan, which not that long ago offered a course entitled Ethics of Corporate Management, which the university itself described as follows: “This course is not concerned with the personal moral issues of honesty and truthfulness.” The catalog then goes on to say that it is assumed that all students attending the university have already “formed their own standards on these issues.”

This is the poster child of my point! With postmodern confidence (perhaps a contradiction in terms?), one of the premier academic institutions in our land boasts that “honesty and truthfulness” are relative constructs subject to the whim of each student. And leaders of this university wonder why so many of their alumni with “maize and blue” diplomas hanging on their office walls are liars, cheats and thieves. Go figure. 

So, back to the question: It is true that I am claiming that today’s universities are hopelessly muddled in a swamp of opinions where the loudest, most obnoxious person wins the day and controls the debate regardless of the veracity of his or her claims.

Yes, some of the faculty left are polite, and despite their affection for postmodernism, they allow students to express their views freely. But for every one of these kinder and gentler postmodernists, there are thousands of elitists who sincerely believe they are justified in not tolerating those they deem intolerant. They seem to proudly say that they “hate those hateful people” that they are “sure that nothing is sure,” that they “know that nothing can be known,” and that they are “absolutely confident there are no absolutes.”

Because of postmodernism, the ivory tower has fallen. It has become the Tower of Babel almost overnight. If I were you, I’d keep my kids away from such places before they get buried in the rubble.

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