on the Charles
Woods has provided a vivid picture of the ideological hysteria
that has gripped Harvard University. In "Memories of Harvard"
he elaborates on how that institution celebrates Angela Davis and
other Stalinists while treating self-identified conservatives (even
low-octane ones like Scoop Jackson-Democrat Harvey Mansfield) as
me though to make one critical observation regarding the explanation
suggested for this situation. One may infer from Woods's remarks
that sympathy for the Communist Left is running riot among Harvard's
student body. This may be true but is an insufficient cause for
what has been described. My own perception is that Communist sympathy
explains less about the political attitudes in question than the
kind of militant "anti-fascism" that Harvard faculty and
Harvard and its clones, being "anti-fascist" means opposing
white, Western, Christian civilization, especially as incarnated
by heterosexual males. Communism is talked up as an "anti-fascist"
force but particularly when defended by a black feminist, Angela
Davis. That is to say, Communism is embraced to whatever extent
it is identified with anti-religious social engineering, undertaken
to overcome the past. The point is not whether Communist regimes
are on the same wave length as the American academics and students
being presented. In my opinion, Communists are less lunatic, not
more so, than the fellow-travelers now defending them. But what
draws our own cultural gravediggers to anything smelling of Communism
is a search for allies.
are needed to accomplish the task of getting rid of the homophobic,
anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, and capitalist burden of history.
Note this has zip to do with Communism as dialectical materialism
or with Angela Davis' meditations on Stalin as a Marxist theorist
and practitioner. It is entirely a question of joining up with other
presumed enemies of those one hates.
other considerations should be kept in mind to grasp how Harvard,
Yale, Penn. and other schools of this caliber developed their present
attitudes. One, only about a quarter of their student bodies (one
might imagine that the faculty percent is even lower) come (most
broadly understood) from white Christian families. That percent
shrinks even more if one distinguishes between males and females,
the sad reality being that the gender gap is very much alive in
education as well as in politics.
is thriving among the female academics of my acquaintance; and this
identification is far more critical for them than being WASPs, Irish
Catholics, etc. Two, the groups that have come to dominate universities
are either hostile or at the very least indifferent to what these
schools had been founded for. Those in vocational fields, by and
large, have little interest in the humanistic and religious things
that some of our best universities were meant to carry on. As long
as they receive grant money and technological assistance, these
representatives of nontraditional fields will stay out of harm's
way or support whatever establishment provides them with funds and
equipment. Moreover, elite universities have transformed themselves
ethnically as well as in terms of disciplines. They have drawn in
groups—e.g., self-conscious blacks, Jews, and Hispanics—who feel,
and are politically encouraged, to feel, and act like marginalized
aggrieved minorities do not feel a part of the culture and history
that Ivy League institutions once proudly claimed to uphold. Why
should these people rally to what they see as the source of their
group's suffering and oppression, particularly when the majority
society tells them this revulsion is justified?
point being made is that the adulation of black Stalinists at Ivy
League schools is the least of our cultural, social worries. Far
more ominous is the "anti-fascist" terrorism that engulfs
our education and political life. It betokens the ruthless war now
being waged against the Western past and Western heritage, indeed
against anything that can not be fitted into the pc grid. If some
terrain has to be sacrificed as the good guys regroup, I'd be happy
to leave the universities to the Devil. These collections of lunatics
and those impersonating them would drive the poor wretch crazy.
Gottfried is professor of history at Elizabethtown College.