Students at Stanford University voted last week on a ballot proposal to reinstate the study of Western Civilization. Whatever the outcome of the vote — and the results have been delayed, ostensibly because of a senate election that was “too close to call” — the fact that this question is being entertained at all is astonishing. It’s a bold move. And a victory for independent thought.
I wrote about it in my recent Federalist article “Stanford Students Fight Campus Group Think.” After the study of Western Civilization was trashed about 30 years ago, group think was able to put down deep roots on our college campuses. Political correctness created new enemies of thinking in the form of “trigger warnings” and “micro-aggressions.” I don’t think this is a coincidence. No way.
When tyrants aim to erase collective memory — by hiding or destroying the literature, arts, and history that bind a civilization together — they aim to create the conditions for conformity of thought. All totalitarians know this. ISIS militants, for example, are making a big point of destroying ancient artifacts, as the video below shows.
Obviously, ISIS takes a more direct approach than the cultural Marxists in the West. But the goals are the same: cultivate ignorance, promote group think, and destroy independent thought. It’s all about obtaining raw power.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“. . . learning about Western culture isn’t simply about undertaking a cohesive study of the history, philosophy, literature, and arts that have enormously influenced the world in which we all live. It is also about learning how to express ideas effectively, how to separate fact from propaganda through specific tools of learningdeveloped in the West. Taking those tools away—such as the Socratic method, civil discourse, and rules of order and civil debate—hinders clarity, independent thought, and the powers of observation. It makes students far less able to resist conformity and group think.”