President Trump has asked the Treasury Department to determine whether individual universities should have their tax-exempt status or federal funding revoked because they engage in “radical left” indoctrination rather than education.
While he is at it, Mr. Trump should also ask the Federal Trade Commission to review whether individual liberal arts colleges that promote that one-sided ideology are engaging in consumer fraud.
College catalogs are as enticing as brochures for shiny new cars. They promise intellectual stimulation, critical thinking and “the free exchange of ideas,” as Yale University’s mission statement says. But like come-ons for underwater land, the claims of liberal arts colleges are bogus.
The ancient Greeks began the liberal arts tradition. They advocated systematic reflection and a search for truth. The term liberal arts itself comes from the Latin word liber, meaning free.
Today, too many colleges impose rigid conformity. Rather than encouraging students to find the truth for themselves, they propagandize, invariably with a far-left cast. Rather than encouraging open-mindedness, they promote stereotypical thinking and adherence to preconceptions and dogma. Students fear challenging their leftist professors and failing a course.
In short, a college education — at roughly $50,000 to $60,000 a year — has become a consumer fraud.
The corruption of college has taken place over decades. That is why some of the most brilliant and successful figures dropped out of college or never attended in the first place.
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, left Harvard after two years. Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor Co., left home at 15 and never got a degree, which he said would be “worth less than a movie ticket.”
Henry Ford dropped out of school at the age of 16. Edwin H. Land, who brought the world the Polaroid camera, polarized sunglasses and 3-D movies, left Harvard University after his freshman year.
Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook from his Harvard dormitory, but after the social networking website exploded in popularity, he quit school and became a full-time entrepreneur. To placate his parents, Michael Dell enrolled at the University of Texas but dropped out at the end of his freshman year. Albert Einstein could not read until he was 7. He hated school and dropped out at 15.
F. Scott Fitzgerald dropped out of Princeton. William Faulkner dropped out of the University of Mississippi.
Others who dropped out of high school or college include Larry Page (Google), David Geffen (Geffen Records), Steve Jobs (Apple), Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jerry Yang (Yahoo), Oprah Winfrey, Ralph Lauren and Walt Disney.
Nine presidents, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman, never earned a college degree.
I have never regretted my decision to drop out of college after two years. I could not stand being told by professors what to read or think. As the editor of the Clark University school paper in Worcester, Massachusetts, I called those who had placed classified ads for rental apartments in the local paper and asked if it would be a problem that my roommate was Black. Almost 40% said it would be.
The Worcester Telegram picked up the story, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination began an investigation, leading to my first newspaper job with the paper. I went on to the Boston Herald, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Since then, college has become more doctrinaire. At least 95% of college professors donate to Democrats. That would not be a problem if they honestly sought to open students’ minds rather than indoctrinating them.
Yale recently scrapped its introductory art history course in favor of a new course that considers art in relation to “questions of gender, class, and race” and discusses the involvement of art with Western capitalism and especially climate change, according to Tim Barringer, the course’s instructor and art history department chair as quoted in the course syllabus.
If that sounds like a joke out of Mad magazine, you understand why college has become a fraud. While exceptional professors still exist, the norm at too many college campuses is to portray Republicans as evil, Americans as Nazis and capitalism as a way to subjugate minorities. Protected by tenure, professors replicate themselves, blackballing teachers who do not share their ultra-liberal views.
The FTC should crack down on colleges that falsely promote themselves as offering a genuine liberal arts education when they are in fact propaganda mills for the far left.
• Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the author of “The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game.”