Business as Usual

"The effects of infantile instruction are, like
those of syphilis, never completely cured"

—Robert Briffault

Shortly before Christmas last, I heard a college president say, gesturing toward a copy of Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals, "That book is making my job very difficult." Evidently, the anti-academic barrage that began in earnest with Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind is having an effect. Here in Massachusetts another sign of the academic times is that Michael Dukakis, on his way out of the statehouse, stripped the state's universities of money with virtually no protest at all from the general public.

What began as a theme of the conservative press has been taken up by nearly everyone, and during the past year the folly, corruption, and sheer weirdness to be found in contemporary academic life have become stock topics of every kind of journalism. Academics now approach news magazines as if they were boobytrapped. A Smith College professor told me that when he read Time's last article on the subject, and found it did not mention Smith, he almost perspired with relief Add to a hostile press the effects of a recession and a dwindling number of applicants, and it appears that these are hard times for academia.

Illiberal Education, therefore, appeared this past spring...

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