Rod Dreher quotes Mark Lilla’s new book on liberalism’s crack-up and goes after Jeffrey Lebowski (aka The Dude) and fellow authors of the Port Huron Statement:

Conservatives complain loudest about today’s campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.

There is a great irony in this. The supposedly bland, conventional universities of the 1950s and early ’60s incubated the most radical generation of American citizens perhaps since our founding. Young people were incensed by the denial of voting rights out there, the Vietnam War out there, nuclear proliferation out there, capitalism out there, colonialism out there. Yet once that generation took power in the universities, it proceeded to depoliticize the liberal elite, rendering its members unprepared to think about the common good and what must be done practically to secure it—especially the hard and unglamorous task of persuading people very different from themselves to join a common effort.

Every advance of liberal identity consciousness has marked a retreat of liberal political consciousness. There can be no liberal politics without a sense of We—of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America’s imagination and become a dominant force across the country, it will not be enough to beat the Republicans at flattering the vanity of the mythical Joe Sixpack. They must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, share.

Now, someone needs to notice how evangelicals jumped on the politics of identity bandwagon — w-w and faith goes all the way down to my toenails — and further weakened a national identity. And, get this, they did it in the name of national identity.



4 thoughts on “Wow!

  1. If anything, college students are obssessed not with identities but with future jobs and paychecks so they pay off those huge loans. Colleges are more dominated by a business mentality than it is by any kind of liberal arts agenda.


  2. Curt, “college students are obssessed not with identities but with future jobs and paychecks”

    Not exactly an apt description of what happened at Yale, Missouri, or Middlebury.

    There you go again.


  3. D.G.,
    Yes, with jobs, not identities. At Middlebury, what percentage of students were involved in the protests? Now Missouri is a nother issue because there the students complaining weren’t obsessed with identity, those who were harassing them were the ones obsessed with identity. After all, isn’t that what racism is all about? A group becomes obsessed with the history or traits of their own race and assume that that is what makes their race superior. And then they treat those not in their racial tribe as inferiors. Yale provides a mix of the two, but do you honestly think that you have proved your statement by providing so few examples that are faulty examples, in terms of proving your point, anyway? I could have just as easily proved my case by talking about the students of the institutions I taught at.

    Yes, students are concerned about jobs because they have to pay off student loans while getting on with their lives..They are concerned about jobs because they have lives to live after graduation. nd for some of those students, they re concerned about jobs because they have to pitch in and support their parental families. And, of course, they are concerned about jobs because they are concerned about either becoming wealthy or avoiding poverty. A major component of Occupy concerned itself with the fact that the promise of well-paying jobs after graduation did not exist. And Occupy provides a better cross-section of college grads than the examples you provided of college students.

    My impression from discussing issues with theologians is that either they never took a class in logic or they have forgotten how to employ what they learned. You so easily assume that you have made your case with the mention of 3 institutions and yet you really have not even taken a step forward in doing so.


  4. Curt, have you not noticed that social media is not an encyclopedia article?

    I didn’t “prove” anything other than that your assertion about paychecks was not sufficiently qualified. Chill.

    After all, isn’t that what racism is all about? A group becomes obsessed with the history or traits of their own race and assume that that is what makes their race superior.

    That’s as true of black anti-racists as of whites. Blacks don’t think they are superior because of their innocence of racism or their suffering?


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