Universities Abandon Western Civilization

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Lynne Cheney, former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in 1994 launched an attack on the group then developing National History Guidelines for the schools. In an editorial page article in the Wall Street Journal, Cheney described the proposed history standards as a “grim and gloomy” portrayal of American history.

“Imagine an outline for teaching American history,” Cheney wrote, “in which George Washington makes only a fleeting appearance and is never described as our first president. Or in which the founding of the Sierra Club and the National Organization for Women are considered noteworthy events, but the first gathering of the U.S. Congress is not.”

Cheney continued to fight for truthful portrayals of the glorious events leading to the adoption of our Constitution, when she served on the Bicentennial Commission on the U.S. Constitution in the mid-1980s. I was proud to serve with her at the time.

In their new study, the National Association of Scholars found only one in 75 top universities required students to study western civilization. In 1964, more than half required students take a two-semester course covering the history of western civilization from Greece to the modern era. The other half of the universities had required courses guaranteeing that students understood the history of their society.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, asking “What Will They Learn,” found that only 20 percent of universities require students to take a U.S. government or history course. Only 5 percent make students take an economics class. The Council said schools should expect graduates to be competitive in the world.

When parents write checks for $20,000 or more a year for college, they expect a young person to be equipped for a job. But Obamanomics has slammed the door on that prospect for many. Most thinking parents also expect the schooling would yield not only an ability to read and write but also some knowledge of history and politics. The widespread political ignorance was shown in 2008 in the election of Obama.

The National Association of Scholars said young people “are no longer learning about their civilization’s great story, its triumphs, its vicissitudes, and its singular role in transforming the human condition. What is the future of a civilization whose heirs have largely become blinded to its history?” it asked rhetorically.

The widespread emphasis on ‘multiculturalism’ is no answer. Historical scholarship, including our knowledge of interactions with other civilizations and cultures would probably have to be included. “The Vanishing West offers 23 recommendations aimed at better studying the problem and rebuilding the curriculum.

Today, at too many colleges thematic fields can include “comparative colonialism,” “gender and sexuality,” “law and society,” “race and ethnicity,” “urban history,” “Africa and the Diaspora,” and “The Border/LaFrontera.” Often no requirements are specified within the concentration or the field of study, leaving student discretion in choosing such courses as “American Sexual Histories,” “Sex, Lies, and Diaries,” or “Elvis, Dylan and Postwar America.”

Certainly as disturbing as the disappearance of the study of the Western ascent toward liberty is the reality that 1960s terrorist Bill Ayers, leader of the Weather Underground, the communist revolutionary group, and former professor at the University of Illinois, was a mentor to Barack Obama.

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  • Rifleman

    It sounds like a good read, but the title should end in, "…Our Republic." The Founding Fathers understood that turning our republic into a democracy was a sure way to destroy it, we should heed their (and history's) warning.

    • RonL

      Pardon me? We effectively became a Democracy in the 1820s with universal male sufferege, or a century later with Women's Suffrage. While this led to the rise of populism and later progressivism and socialism, it is not relevant to this story. Teddy Roosevelet and his cousing Franklin were annoying progressives, but they understood and stood for Western Civilization.
      The instututionalized Oikophobia comes not from any will of the people, but from the will of an elite, which subscribes to Cultural Marxism. The only thing this has to do with Democracy, is the two part goal of the anti-Western Elite to teach our children to hate us and import a new people with immigration.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    Soooooo, Tait Trussell (real name Tayt, T-Boz Trussell Simmons McSilverstein), David Horowitz, Alex Jones, and Lyndon Larouche all have in common that their sponsored intellectual tirades must begin with an assault on Lady Gaga. Poor, great Lady Gaga, with her great dance music and her vagina. What did she do to deserve all this Iranian Puritanical venom?

    • mrbean

      I know where you want to stick you tongue now don't I? heh heh heh

    • akbass

      Where exactly do you find this "Iranian Puritanical venom" in this article? You're obviously a product of the education system these authors are so lamenting. Read the article again, slowly. Perhaps you'll start to see through your own ignorance and realize that the author was NOT excoriating Lady Gaga. The point was that SURELY there must be other, deeper, more important subjects for college students than studying Lady Gaga. I don't think the author cares one whit about Lady Gaga or what she does, but to have university studies focusing on her and other pop icons in place of Western Civ courses is appalling.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        Nah. He was being a music snob, much like David Horowitz talking about Rap or Henry Ford talking about Jazz in The International Jew. Lady Gaga outclasses Tait Trussell in terms of reaching a maximum amount of people with a positive message.

  • tagalog

    Elvis Presley had a "profound" influence on rock 'n' roll (a subject of questionable profundity) that lasted for decades, but I don't notice any university courses about him. And rightfully so. Pop culture is hardly one of those deep, ageless subjects.

    They didn't teach about Carol Doda when I was in college, although she was a pop culture phenomenon in my day. Today, a lot of people will be hard-pressed to identify the name.

    In a century, Elvis Presley, Lada Gaga, and rock 'n' roll will be utterly forgotten except among the most obsessive of historians. Bob Dylan, once thought to be a lyric poet for the ages, is fading away like wisps of a morning fog.

    On the other hand, I find that the classic and post-classic thinking of the West (which has survived for going on 2500 years) is more and more valuable to me as my life goes on. But of course none of that is considered valuable among generations that think history didn't begin until they were born. And among educators who perceive themselves more as pimps for the current post-high school set than as conduits between the established wisdom of the ages and the leaders of tomorrow.

    The current post-high school set probably thinks that rock 'n' roll is ancient history. So its only real value at this point is to the faculty who teach it.

    • Questions

      It is people like you who will be forgotten. You might as well change your name to Roger Kimball, another dull moral scold operating with an imprimatur of "scholar."

      • tagalog

        I never said I was a scholar.

        And the term "imprimatur" doesn't mean what the context you're using it in suggests you mean.

        You and I will both be forgotten.

    • Guest

      Schools have to be dumbed down so as to allow the current studentsd to pass especially the football and basketball players.

  • DMW

    Somewhere I remember someone talking about High Priests who "strain at gnats while they're swallowing camels" (ignoring weightier matters). The "High Priests" of practically all our institutions (law, education, media, news, etc.) seem to be doing the same, as too many seemingly have nothing to regurgitate to our youth but camel excrement.

  • jacob

    Proof of the pudding to me are the questions at programs such as Want to be a
    Millionnaire ?
    People know the name of the guy who carried the drums of the "Rithm Murderers"
    band but not the name of their own state's capital, let alone some other things of
    the world…

    Yes, but Lady Gaga is a befitting subject for the morons being mass produced in
    our so called learning institutions

  • flyingtiger

    I noticed that the small state college I went to 30 years ago still demands that you take two classes of Western Civ. I haven't been in the classes, so I am not sure they actually teach Westren Civ.

  • fritzidler

    Of all my life mistakes, the biggest one was going to college. I mean any college. And that was in the seventies. Based on what I've been reading lately, that was nothing compared to now. I'm just glad I went to a no-where college in Podunk Anytown. It could have been worse.

  • mrbean

    Read: Philosophy: Who Needs It
    by Ayn Rand
    Her Address To The Graduating Class Of
    The United States Military Academy at West Point,
    New York – March 6, 1974

    • RORY


  • UCSPanther

    Lady Gaga, like many other pop artists will be swiftly forgotten and fade into the past. That is the way history works.

    Hundreds, perhaps thousands of years from now, historians will remember the war heroes, major villains and prominent leaders, but everything else will be largely forgotten.

  • kongMing

    I strongly feel universities abandoned Western thought because of a large number inept students. Today students just want a piece of paper so one hopeful day they can work at the widget factory. Professors cherry pick the talent to help with their research, and then sleepwalk through the lectures while throwing a pop culture bone to keep interest, and student loans, up.

    Real Contemporary Western issues, like the millennium problems, analytic philosophy, organic fiction, high speed I/O computational science and genetics, require highly talented and specialized individuals with broad knowledge.

  • oldtimer

    Today's heros/heroines…Drug dealing/using, animal abusing, spouse abusers, shall I go on…athletes, movie stars, recording (so called) artists. This is what our children and grand children look up to. Is it a wonder why the world is in the condition it is in. A bunch of degenerates, and some of our political leaders aren't much better. Don't leave everything up to the teachers and schools. Parents and grandparents must direct their offspring in the right direction so they can stand strong against such evil influences.

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    One of Haley's key points of emphasis was to show players that what their coaches ask of them works on film. "It' important that kids see what you're doing, and that they can have success with it," said Haley.