Monday, August 7, 2017

A World of Inversions

It is…a mistake to point at the [college] students and laugh at them for being weaklings.  The students hold the hammer, and they know it.  Yes, it is true that mere teenage boys in decades past—lads who stormed the bluffs of Normandy, sailed on ships cutting through the ice of the Northwest Passage, and slashed their way with explorers through the fever swamps and forests of Borneo—would not be preoccupied with hurtful words, and that a “trigger warning” in those days was the clutch of a rifle being loaded.  But in our world of inversions, power is granted to people who claim that they have no power and who resent the greatness of their own forebears.  They do not seek “safety.”  They seek to destroy.  The strong man is bound and gagged, and the pistol is pointed at his head—the seat of reason itself.

In such a world, it is insufficient to say that higher education suffers.  Except in the most technical of disciplines, and perhaps even in those, the very possibility of higher education comes to an abrupt halt.  If a professor must negotiate an emotional and verbal and political minefield before he opens his mouth, then he is no professor any longer.  He is a servile functionary, no matter his title and no matter how well he is paid.  He instructs his students not in freedom but in his own servility.  That many of the students demand this servility of him and of themselves makes their capitulation all the worse.

Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, pg.73

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