Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let's Not Emulate The Opponents Of Free Thought

To follow up from my last post (and to demonstrate that I had no intention of "picking on" doctors, per se), I would like to point out that the proclivity for attaching ideology to a personal I-am-going-to-save-the world agenda is not limited to the "Cutthroats in White Coats" whom I addressed there. Rather, it is a trait that exists in abundance among the self-described intelligentsia who see themselves as superior in intellect to the rest of us and therefore not only immune to criticism from outside their little fiefdoms, but also from within them.

Peter Berkowitz, in his column "Ethics 101," in the October 8, 2007 Wall Street Journal, points out that while ...
Academics have a lot to say about how other professionals conduct business. They seem strangely incurious about themselves.
Berkowitz points out that, beside "a few defenses of affirmative action and multiculturalism ... 20 years of generously funding research in practical or applied ethics [at Harvard, Yale and others] has made no discernible contribution to illuminating the challenges of university governance." They don't need to consider such banalities you see, because ...
... ethics faculty may have convinced themselves that professors and administrators, because of their peculiar virtue, already confront and wisely dispose of all moral dilemmas and professional conflicts of interest that come before them.
Safely ensconced inside their self-constructed cocoons of self-righteousness, people like this have no use for debate concerning subjects about which they have already made up their minds. Their way of seeing things is morally superior and therefore unimpeachable. This kind of thinking is, as Roger Kimball points out in a National Review piece published the same day, the kind of thinking that leads to situations like the ongoing one at Hamilton College (New York) where the establishment of a center on its campus meant to promote "excellence in scholarship through the study of freedom, democracy, and capitalism" was denied. But the same school was fine with:
  • Inviting "post-porn feminist" Annie Sprinkle to demonstrate sex toys on campus

  • Allowing the radical, and former Weather Underground member, Susan Rosenberg to be an "artist and activist in-residence"

  • Permitting Ward Churchill (who labeled those who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 as "little Eichmanns") to "enlighten the school about 9/11 and American culture"
It is from atop (within?) such an ivory tower that the Dean of an institute of higher learning such as Columbia University can extend a welcome to a dictator like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who: denies the Holocaust as a "myth," unabashedly calls for the annihilation of the state of Israel, allows the execution of homosexuals, supports international terrorism, imprisons critical scholars and journalists, suppresses the rights of women by force, and actively seeks nuclear weapons in pursuit of all of the above. This, we are told is OK because Columbia, in its pursuit of a liberal education, is a proud defender of the First Amendment right to free speech.

Really? Apparently the university does not extend that right to Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, who was violently attacked on stage there while trying to speak about his organization's mission to protect the sovereignty of our national borders. Apparently, the university does also not extend that right to the very people who sacrifice their time (and sometimes their lives) in defense of the right Columbia claims to hold so dear:
Columbia welcomes Ahmadinejad to campus [but] Columbia students who want to serve their country cannot enroll in the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Columbia. Columbia students who want to enroll in ROTC must travel to other universities to fulfill their obligations. ROTC has been banned from the Columbia campus since 1969. In 2003, a majority of polled Columbia students supported reinstating ROTC on campus. But in 2005, when the Columbia faculty senate debated the issue, President Bollinger joined the opponents in defeating the effort to invite ROTC back on campus.
This is not just hypocritical. It is inane. The actions of Columbia University and its president reflect a complete inability to see that their first crusade (to uphold the right to free speech, even for "cruel, petty dictators") lies in direct, logical opposition to their second (to deny that same right to anyone whose point of view does not comport with a leftist view of the world).

Though I digress (because this issue infuriates me so), and though I do my best to avoid injecting politics into this forum; sometimes it is unavoidable. Politics after all is the way civil societies hash out the inevitable differences in worldviews that exist within them. But my point here is not political. It is philosophical. It is a purely to demonstrate the impact that a worldview can have on our approach to any issue -- and how we must be intentional in our efforts not to defend our view of the world, but to seek the truth.

Those in power at Columbia University are so secure and dogmatic in their view of the world that they cannot comprehend what is a glaringly obvious contradiction that has arisen from it. They are intellectually blind. Not stupid. Blind. They are blinded by the lens through which they observe the world. That blindness, so deeply entrenched in the academic community that even questioning it invites ridicule on the questioner, is, by several orders of magnitude, more dangerous than any radical, Islamo-fascist doctor who is willing to blow himself up to prove a point.

It is more dangerous because it not only sets the presuppositions of the academic intelligentsia (those who write the textbooks and teach the classes) in unquestioning stone, it also permeates the curricula that will continue to mold the mindsets of the masses who are indoctrinated in it. Some are making it their political mission to expose and correct this fault. But my only point is to caution those who share my point of view -- the Theistic Christian worldview -- that we should never be so confident in our position that we fail to seek the Truth.

If the Christian worldview is true (and I obviously believe that to be that case), two things flow from it:

1) We are fallen beings whose intellect has fallen with us. We can make mistakes, interpret things incorrectly, make false assumptions, and therefore reach false conclusions.

2) We should never be afraid of the truth. It is dependent on, and a reflection of, our Creator.

It should therefore be our intention to always check ourselves, and one another, against the propensity for looking in the bathroom mirror to see the final arbiter of what is true. We can be justified in holding onto our beliefs, but we should never consider the case for faith to be completely closed.

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