Parents Must Stop Letting Woke Colleges Indoctrinate Their Children | Opinion

Penn State University's College of the Liberal Arts recently backtracked after receiving intense social media criticism for daring to state that conservative students, along with students of various other identities, were welcome on campus. A group of Princeton University faculty members published a letter to the school's president calling for a committee to review and approve all academic work at the university, which would upend the principles of free inquiry and speech on campus. A professor at Marymount Manhattan College is facing a petition to get her fired for merely falling asleep during an anti-racism Zoom meeting.

The message is clear: Dissent from, or even a lack of enthusiasm for, woke ideology is no longer tolerated on campus. In response, many on the Right are withdrawing into the comfort of self-justification and praying that the next election-to-end-all-elections will save the world from these crazy kids. Meanwhile, many on the Left are pretending that there is no such thing as cancel culture.

This is idiocy.

Fundamentalism cloaked in "inclusion" has taken hold en masse. It's creating a growing population willing to wipe clean both our history and our present in the delusional attempt to enforce a new political-religious purity on campus, and then in the institutions they inhabit after graduation.

Worse, the environment fostered by radical professors and administrators is coming increasingly close to justifying violence. A letter to the chancellor of Syracuse University sent by a student spells out just how miserable life can be for non-woke students on campus. At one point, the author states, "We are afraid to walk alone at night, to attend meetings for conservative clubs, to even leave our dorms. ...Our calls for help fall on deaf ears and we are left without hope."

So, parents: Why are you still sending your children to these schools?

For generations, parents have habitually sent their children and money to colleges that they know spread the virus of social justice ideology, believing they are making rational choices to invest for their children's economic futures. What has primarily mattered to so many of these families are connections, status, diplomas and "success." Good meritocratic families covet these ends so much that some are even willing to lie and cheat to gain their children admission to top schools.

This habit has made American parents the primary recruiters and funders for campus radicalization. Colleges exchange diplomas that increasingly don't represent any measurable gain in skills for up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per graduate. And they've used that astronomical sum to fund a transition from teaching with a liberal bias to teaching, as Andrew Sullivan has consistently noted, an identity-based social justice movement that resembles a new religion.

Princeton University campus
Princeton University campus Oliver Morris/Getty Images

From the Ivy League to local state universities, students may indeed become credentialed accountants, journalists or architects. But they'll also be taught that America itself is a fundamentally evil construct of power structures that must be torn down. In the end, the "success" parents want for their children will be within a system their children could be indoctrinated into rejecting. And if their child doesn't convert to being a loyal critical theorist, then they'll be ostracized, demonized, threatened or worse.

It's become common to bash the "elites" for not doing enough to stand up to this intellectual self-immolation. And there has been a quiet acquiescence by many in a misguided attempt to avoid confrontation. But that fact confuses elites' reluctance to be bold with a reluctance to utilize some real ability to make quick changes to American culture. The fact is, politicians and policy advocates are bound to either playing the long game of legislation and litigation or deforming our government to the eventual benefit of the next administration—such as further weaponizing the IRS.

The only people capable of making a real change that will greatly affect colleges in the short term are the parents still choosing to allow their children to fill the classrooms of prejudiced college professors. Believe it or not, parents do still wield significant influence over their teenage children.

Parents must choose: They can continue being discontented abettors to a crime against themselves by sending their children and money to colleges that steep young minds in the privileged stew of critical theory, or they can steer their children toward the remaining colleges that teach students how to think rather than what to think. Some do still exist.

Michael Torres is director of media at the Commonwealth Foundation and a master's student at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. Follow him at @MindofTorres.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.