Universities are founded with the idea of providing the requisite freedom (libertas) and rest (otium) that’s necessary for human beings to pursue ideas and ultimately to grasp truth.
That’s certainly not the case today as most of the nation’s campuses are controlled by ideologues on the political left. Their primary interest seems be imposing their ideas upon students rather than exposing those ideas to full and unfettered inspection in the public forum so that students learn to think for themselves. Ideologues on the political left conveniently seem to forget that telling students what to think is very different from teaching them how to think.
Imposing an ideology of any stripe in an institution of higher education is antithetical to the pursuit of truth, the equivalent of an academic “mortal sin.”
During the past five decades, it’s hardly a secret that the political left has committed this sin at a far greater rate than has the political right, most of whom seem to have headed for the bunkers and are in hiding. The number of the nation’s institutions of higher education controlled by the former attest to the accuracy of this observation.
Furthermore, their prejudice as well as their ire manifest themselves in spades when the names of conservative institutions—like Hillsdale College or Liberty University—are introduced into discussion. Listening to those on the political left castigate such “conservative” institutions, one would hardly think they deserve the moniker “institution of higher education.” How could they be? They’re not “liberal”!
However, imagine one of those conservative institutions of higher education out “liberaling” those so-called liberals. An Inside Higher Ed article reports that’s exactly what Liberty University—a conservative, evangelical Christian university—has done.
No one on the political left or right would be surprised at Liberty inviting conservatives and evangelicals to speak at its Convocations. Those convocations provide students—who are required to attend—a healthy dose of conservative dogma. Recently, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) kicked off his campaign for the presidency at one such convocation. Retired neurosurgeon and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Ben Carson, is scheduled to speak at a convocation this fall.
But, guess who is also scheduled to appear on the stage at Liberty University on September 14? U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and avowed socialist.
In his statement announcing that he had accepted the invitation to address the student body, Senator Sanders wrote:
Liberty University was kind enough to invite me to address a convocation and I decided to accept. It goes without saying that my views on many issues – women’s rights, gay rights, education – are very different from the opinions of some in the Liberty University community. I think it is important, however, to see if we can reach consensus regarding the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in our country, about the collapse of the middle class, about the high level of childhood poverty, about climate change and other issues. It is very easy for a candidate to speak to people who hold the same views. It’s harder but important to reach out to others who look at the world differently. I look forward to meeting with the students and faculty of Liberty University.
Inviting Bernie Sanders speak at a Liberty University is the equivalent of inviting U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas or U.S. Senator Ted Cruz address students at an Ivy League or University of California System institution. That would be authentically liberal.
The truth be told, those on the political left are more conserative than they’re willing to admit: They aren’t much interested in listening carefully to the other side in a debate. Instead, they steadfastly refuse to issue invitations to those with whom they disagree and, should academic administators make the mistake of doing so, are forced to “disinvite” those with whom the political left disagrees. Just ask Condolezza Rice and Dr. Ben Carson.
In this instance, who’d have thunk Liberty University is more liberal than most liberal institutions of higher education in the United States?
Let the discussion begin…
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