The Destruction of Intellectual Creativity and Dissent in America’s Universities
David R. Barnhizer
- 408 Pages
- January 16, 2024
- ISBN: 9781510780286
- Imprint: Skyhorse Publishing
- Trim Size: 6in x 9in x 0in
The United States' education system, especially its universities, is under attack by the ideological Left, dominated by advocates of Wokeism and Critical Race Theory.
Marshall McLuhan was a brilliant thinker best known for his insight that “the medium is the message." Universities, as well as our entire educational “medium” including the K-12 system that feeds its graduates into the university and societal systems, are powerful and overarching mechanisms that we use to shape our understanding. For Western nations, the ideal of the university and of education generally has been to provide us with analytical skills, knowledge, and the ability to create and nurture a healthy society that benefits as many people as possible. That ideal, and the university as educational and social “medium,” is under severe attack.
The power to use the university as an overarching “medium” that offers a strong sense of legitimacy to even flawed and overstated arguments and assertions is why the institution is a target of an ideological Left that is now dominated by advocates of Wokeism and Critical Race Theory. Once obtaining a strong power base in university disciplines and administrations, the revolutionaries of race, gender, and other radical interests metamorphosed from heroic moral beacons fighting and railing against injustice, and revealed themselves as ideological dictators. The truth is that what we now refer to as the Woke/Critical Race Theory activist movement—particularly that controlled by those who came to power in the past thirty years or so—were not simply seeking to expand the nature and content of the university curriculum, or even what is taught in the K-12 system. Their intent was and is to “destabilize,” “transform,” and supplant what is taught. They seek to create a culture that elevates their interests while aggressively repressing anything they see as an obstacle to power, including healthy discourse and debate.
The activists of the Woke/Critical Race Theory Movement are not an honest intellectual movement. They are intense and aggressive political strategists, self-styled “revolutionaries” seeking to use our educational systems with the framed narrative of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) that is actually one of "Division, Enmity, and Intimidation/Indoctrination," all the while claiming their interests are benign and aimed at healing. In reality, they are fracturing our fundamental social order, sowing discord, and deliberately suppressing the freedom of speech and thought essential to the well-being of our democratic republic. Conformity Colleges: The Destruction of Intellectual Creativity and Dissent in America’s Universities will help you understand what is happening and come to grips with the need to challenge, counter, and reverse this “revolution." Nothing of significance can be done to stop what is going on unless the DEI administrative bureaucracy that now controls universities is dismantled or substantially weakened.
David R. Barnhizer is professor of Law emeritus at the Cleveland State University. He received a law degree from the Ohio State University, graduating summa cum laude, and also a Masters of Law degree from Harvard University, where he was a Ford Foundation Urban Law Fellow and a Clinical Teaching Fellow. After graduating from Ohio State’s law school he worked in the federal Legal Services program in Colorado Springs representing lower income and minority clients, as well as community development. During that period he taught at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs as an adjunct offering a course in the “Economics of Poverty” examining the impact of economic systems on poor and minority people and the limiting of opportunity and social justice for Blacks, Latinos, and other minorities.
While a Ford Foundation Urban Law Fellow at Harvard, he helped to establish the Law School’s clinical program. After leaving Harvard, he accepted a position as a professor of Law at the Cleveland State University where he created the nationally recognized Clinical Law program that provided civil and criminal representation to minority and economically disadvantaged individuals in the Greater Cleveland area. The work involved activities such as suing police who violated the civil rights of Blacks and other minorities, and serving as counsel for the Cleveland area’s Black on Black Crime Committee—a group of minority citizens seeking to come to grips with crime in their urban neighborhoods.
Following the model created at Georgetown University, he established the Street Law program at CSU working in conjunction with Cleveland Public Schools. It wasthe second Street Law program established in the United States. The Street Law program had law students teach legal knowledge and dispute resolution techniques to high school students in the heavily minority Cleveland public schools. He designed and conducted the training program for the Cleveland area’s Public Defender’s Office, created and directed the University’s Environmental Law Clinic, and supervised the law school’s externship semester in Washington, DC that placed law students inside Congressional subcommittees and the Department of Justice, and various non-governmental organizations.
He has also been a Senior Research Fellow at the University of London’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), and a frequent Visiting Professor at the Westminster University School of Law in London, teaching students from the United Kingdom, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. He taught human rights and international environmental law in St. Petersburg, Russia in a joint program with St. Petersburg State University, and taught in Harvard’s Intersession Trial Advocacy program. Professor Barnhizer has been a consultant with the US Legal Services Corporation, training civil rights lawyers throughout the US in critical counseling, negotiation, and trial advocacy skills. He was a consultant with Georgetown University, the universities of Connecticut and Minnesota, and Canada’s York University among others. He also provided consultant services to the US Department of Education, and was Rapporteur for the US House of Representative’s Energy and Commerce Committee’s high-level workshop on Sustainable Development.
“COVID feels like a turning point, a time when universities fully embraced the ideology of control, censorship, and compulsion, represented by universal quarantines, masking, and vaccine compliance, all rooted in symbolism rather than scientific realities. Freedom is the last thing you will find at elite institutions today. The ESG and DEI bureaucracies are deeply entrenched, and an anti-Western, anti-Enlightenment, anti-reason curricula pervades the whole of the elite establishment. It is reinforced at every level, including publishing, promotion, and tenure demands. Already by 2019, anyone in this realm who identified as a conservative was in the extreme minority. And yet this period might be more correctly seen, as it is in this brilliant book by David Barnhizer, as a codification of deep problems that already existed.
We have certainly lived through the decline and fall of the older idea of the university. Now we may yet live to see the end of the university itself and its replacement by something else entirely. Reforms can work but the reform will not likely come from within the institutions. They must be imposed by alumni and perhaps legislatures. Or perhaps the rule of 'Go woke, go broke' will eventually force a change. Regardless, the idea of learning itself will surely return. We are in the transition, and David Barnhizer is our Virgil to give us an outstanding tour of the wreckage left behind and perhaps even a path out of the darkness.”
—Jeffrey A. Tucker, founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and author of thousands of articles and ten books, including Liberty or Lockdown
“As someone who writes frequently in the mainstream press about the ruinous effects of woke ideology on society, I truly appreciate David Barnhizer’s unique contribution to the literature on this subject. Conformity Colleges: The Destruction of Intellectual Creativity and Dissent in America’s Universities is 'a one-stop shop' for journalists, often working under time constraints, who seek well-organized, intelligently triaged evidence that is essential ballast in the creation of persuasive columns.”
—Barbara Kay, opinion columnist for Canada’s National Post and the Epoch Times
“It is grimly satisfying to read the words of an observer who understands the value of the university in American life and the extent of contemporary threats to it. David Barnhizer has produced an exhaustive roster of decay, a source book that contains little good news and lots of depredation. The ideals of academic life—disinterested judgment, peer review, Ivory Tower seclusion—have fallen again and again to identity politics, resentment, and cowardice. This book is a sobering compilation of events on the road downward, valuable because people who wish to defend the traditional conception must understand exactly how far we've fallen and how ruthless are the vandals still at work.”
—Mark Bauerlein, senior editor, First Things magazine, and professor emeritus, Emory University
"David Barnhizer's book on intellectual conformity in higher education exposes the personal and systemic tragedies of what we call 'cancel culture.' Behind every story described in his 2021 work “Un-Canceling” America, and further developed in the analysis in Conformity Colleges, are people whose lives have been upended and careers damaged by Identity Groups pushing political agendas by punishing innocent victims seeking nothing more than an understanding of the vital significance of the hard-fought vision of Western society and the Rule of Law. Prof. Barnhizer has gathered their stories in Conformity Colleges: The Destruction of Intellectual Creativity and Dissent in America’s Universities, as historical evidence of the damage groupthink and enforced conformity have inflicted on the integrity of academia and on an American society whose moral, intellectual, and economic integrity is dependent on the honesty and quality of education.”
—William A. Jacobson, clinical professor of Law and director of the Securities Law Clinic, Cornell Law School; founder and president of the Legal Insurrection Foundation