- - Tuesday, October 3, 2017

“Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary for good government, and the happiness of mankind, the means of supporting schools and education shall forever be encouraged.”

(From the Northwest Ordinance, 1787)

These words — etched into the campus gate at my undergraduate alma mater, Ohio University — provided the model for funding public institutions of higher education from the Appalachian Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Ohio U., opened in 1804, one year after the Buckeye State entered the Union, would be the first of scores.



Unfortunately, the ordinance’s sentiments may be passe at more than a few liberal arts departments in colleges, public and private. The nation’s intellectual health may require the educational equivalent of a “bank holiday.”

For recent graduates of the departments in question, who never dealt much with history, the Northwest Ordinances were among the few achievements of the pre-constitutional government under the Articles of Confederation. They provided procedures for bringing states of the old Northwest Territory — Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin — into the union on equal footing with the original ones, barred slavery in the territories, and required certain public lands to be sold to provide funds for schools.

Bank holidays, like those imposed by the federal government during the Great Depression, temporarily shuttered financial institutions until panicked depositors ceased withdrawal runs. Today, some college students panic — to the point of riot — when confronted with facts and figures contrary to their “diversity” indoctrination.

The Founders, a few years after the Northwest Ordinance, declared freedom of speech a Bill of Rights fundamental. They never contemplated assaults on knowledge, let alone religion, that issue today from assorted locales of ostensible higher learning.

Well-known episodes abound, from retail-plus boutiques like Wellesley and Vassar, through flagship megaversities such as the University of California system and low-rent academies that include San Francisco State University to instructional cul-de-sacs like Vermont’s Middlebury College and Washington’s Evergreen State. One finds not the intellectual freedom that gave liberal arts their name, but rather cloistered orthodoxies.

Among many prominent examples, at Middlebury, conservative social scholar Charles Murray was shouted down, forced by “protesters” — censoring thugs — from venue to venue and eventually assaulted. Mr. Murray’s host, Allison Stanger, a free-speech liberal, suffered a concussion and was treated with a neck brace.

Wellesley’s campus newspaper published a now-notorious editorial explaining that opinions “enlightened” students had been instructed to disagree with amounted to “hate speech” that deserved to be violently suppressed.

Evergreen’s student paper “invited” white students, faculty and staff to vacate campus for a day so students of color could regain their composure following the 2016 election of President Trump. One white faculty member, another free-speech liberal and a professor of biology, not a social scientist, announced he’d be holding class as usual. All hell broke loose, literally. Campus police, under orders of the school president, told the retrograde professor — he was being tarred as “racist,” of course — they could not guarantee his safety.

There’s nothing new about anti-liberal, leftist McCarthyism. Like other reactionary tendencies that masquerade as progressive — hence the “Antifa” (“anti-fascist”) storm-groupies — its roots were fertilized by anti-Semitism. In 2003, anti-Zionist cultural descendants of the Hitler Youth at San Francisco State attacked a pro-Israel student rally. When Jewish studies director Laurie Zoloft urged campus police to intervene, they answered that if they did, there’d be a riot. “There already is,” she pointed out, to little avail.

First they come for the Jews, then for other small “d” democrats, dissenters and freethinkers. Having gone from bad to totalitarian, 14 years later, San Francisco State is being sued for enabling creation of an anti-Semitic atmosphere and civil rights violations.

Under the hijacked flag of diversity, they keep coming. Brandeis University is offering journalism grants for students to probe “social justice” issues. White males are barred from applying.

This mental toxin runs downhill. John Handley High School in Winchester, Va., reportedly has informed parents it would be selecting Advanced Placements students based not on individual academics but “proportional representation.” That is, by racial identity: white, black, Hispanic (not a race, according to the U.S. Census) and mixed race. No Asian students at Handley High? Regardless, the school board, with a multicultural straight face, denied this amounted to a racial quota.

It may be too late for remedial education for such educationists and their institutions. A “bank holiday,” and a long one, seems in order.

• Eric Rozenman is a communications consultant for the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center.

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