Fifteen people tell the truth

© 2016 Jim Spence - If you have been a reader of the opinions posted on this site, you knew long ago that we have been no fan of many aspects of K-12 public education or higher education. The reasons are numerous and they have been listed frequently.
This week a curious “declaration” was released. It was signed by a handful of professors (15) from Ivy League schools. The declaration FINALLY recognizes the problem that has been America's elephant in the room for several generations. Signed by scholars from various academic fields, the declaration urges college students to get this…………..”declare their independence.”
While the arrival of this profound declaration is pretty late, it is still welcome. No doubt it is the “minority view” on college campuses everywhere. And sadly minority "views" have been the whipping boys.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the professors who signed this document issued a disturbing warning regarding, “the vice of conformism” on college campuses and suggested that students should learn to: “Think for yourself.”
It is a sad state of affairs that such a declaration even has to be made in places of higher learning where the teaching of critical thinking should be the primary mission. However, it is clear that at least these educators are now willing to openly admit that public education facilities have been gradually transformed into indoctrination centers. Those willing to surrender their freedoms for the sham idea that government can solve everyone’s problems have dominated higher ed for several generations. Consider some of the language contained in the declaration to explain why this is so:
“At many colleges and universities what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” does more than merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views on moral, political, and other types of questions. It leads them to suppose that dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them.
Since no one wants to be, or be thought of as, a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies.
Don’t do that. Think for yourself.
Thinking for yourself means questioning dominant ideas even when others insist on their being treated as unquestionable. It means deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions—including arguments for positions that others revile and want to stigmatize and against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.”
Professors from Harvard, Princeton and Yale, signed this declaration, which was published by Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. It would be terrific to see academics all over the nation actually DEBATE the validity of the declaration. It is unlikely this will happen because of course most professors are in fact "immunized" from critical scrutiny.
Princeton’s Robert George, one of the signers of the document added this:
“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.
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.
So don’t be tyrannized by public opinion. Don’t get trapped in an echo chamber. Whether you in the end reject or embrace a view, make sure you decide where you stand by critically assessing the arguments for the competing positions.”

Those of us who have routinely decided where we stand based on critically assessing the arguments for competing positions, and have rejected all forms of Marxism that are the foundations of Democratic Party thinking, encounter the tyranny these fifteen professors speak of virtually every day. America can do better. Sometimes desperately needed reforms begin with fifteen people telling the truth.

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