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The post-enlightenment at Stanford University.


Thursday, April 14, 2016, by Paul Gleiser

According to the Daily Caller, Stanford University’s conservative-leaning Stanford Review promoted a ballot initiative in the university’s spring student government election. The measure called for a two-quarter course in Western Civilization as a school-wide requirement for graduation. It failed by a margin of six to one.

Western civilization, you must understand, is offensive to the oh, so sensitive students at many elite universities as well as to the far-left professors who teach (read: indoctrinate) them. It is from Western civ that we get racism, sexism, colonialism and a whole raft of other malignant –isms.

It falls to these students and their professors to rid the world of these, and indeed all perfidious –isms, before it’s too late.

Of course these pea brains don’t know that the very idea of a university is one of the great triumphs of Western civilization. Little do they, or the militantly secular and anti-religious faculties who teach them, understand that the modern university traces its roots to the monasteries of the Catholic Church. (Have any of them ever thought to ask, “Why do we wear robes at graduation? How did that tradition get started?”)

The question of yea or nay regarding Western civ at Stanford failed in a democratic process. Yet the irony of democracy being a product of Western civilization is completely lost on the very students who cast the ballots.

The students at Stanford – together with all college students everywhere – are tethered to their smartphones and laptops and the world wide web. Yet there is exactly zero appreciation of the fact that the science that stands behind almost every modern technology traces its roots to Europeans such as DaVinci, Copernicus, Newton, Kepler and Galileo.

Medicine as an academic discipline. Freehold tenure of land. Fractional reserve banking. Trial by jury. The primacy of the individual over the state. Religious tolerance. Representative government. Common law. All of these things and more that the well-fed, well-clothed and well-cosseted students of Stanford University take for granted came about as a result of the advances of civilization brought about by western Europeans.

In fact, virtually all of mankind’s advances in the past 500 years in architecture, engineering, science, art, music, medicine, law, commerce and government sprang from the collective creativity of our ancestors from western Europe.

Thank the British for then exporting that aggregated body of knowledge all over the world – most notably to the North American continent where it flowered into the most successful society in human history.

Certainly Western civilization has much for which to apologize. Slavery is, of course, its greatest sin. But it is nevertheless worth remembering that the Brits gave up slavery throughout the empire on their own in 1833. After a bloody internecine struggle, so did the Americans 30 years later.

The economic and social successes of Western civilization are now emulated – to one degree or another – in every corner of the globe.

The question the kids at Stanford should ask is this: How can you not study Western civ and yet call yourself educated?

About the Author

Paul Gleiser 3

When I was a young man trying to break in to the radio business, one of the biggest radio stations in the country was Dallas’s KLIF 1190 AM. The station was owned by broadcasting pioneer Gordon McLendon. McLendon was known for his sharply-written editorials. Those editorials were, however, a one-way street. There was no practical way for the listener to respond. But that is no longer the case. With the the advent of the Internet, lectures have turned into dialogues.

That’s my hope for my website. I say what’s on my mind. You respond by saying what’s on yours.

That’s why we call it You Tell Me.

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