TENURED RADICALS: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education by Roger Kimball

TENURED RADICALS: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education

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A conservative attack on the supposed causes for the crisis in the humanities. Kimball, managing editor of The New Criterion, argues that today's courses in liberal arts are being politically subverted by yesterday's rebels, now in charge of the college educational system. To him, they are ""tenured radicals"" of the far left, and their agenda is to dismantle the traditional curriculum, advocate radical feminism and gay rights, further the tenets of deconstruction, and ban politically unacceptable speech. Be that as it may, Kimball's rhetoric is shrill, reminiscent of the redbaiting tone of the 1950's, when the overzealous saw a Communist conspiracy sprouting on every college campus. This time it is the Marxist professor and the deconstructionist who are craftily establishing ""a blueprint for a radical transformation that would revolutionize every aspect of social and political life, from the independent place we grant high culture within society to the way we relate to one another as men and women."" In the midst of the mudslinging, Kimball does manage to dig sharply at some of what he sees as the hilarious nonsense that takes place at university conferences and is duly written up in scholarly tomes. But even as he jabs at the ""sillybits,"" he fails to admit their essential purpose in a free university, which is to act as a clearinghouse for ideas. In the end, Kimball asks: should ""the voters at large in this country, favor spending their tax dollars to support university humanities programs that have frankly devoted themselves to a radical political agenda?"" But if radical--or any other--ideas cannot exist in a university environment, where can they?

Pub Date: April 25th, 1990
Publisher: Harper & Row