What is Racism: Reflections as if Students Matter

As the title of these remarks indicates, we take off from the Socratic “what is” question.  The issue at hand regards events, which as usual at Trinity, have eventuated in had a one-sided monologue, especially since this summer. What is the essence of the thing being discussed, in this case racism?  How does a thoughtful person, as opposed to a committed ideologue, begin to answer this question?  I address my remarks here primarily to the students, whose minds are still potentially open.  Keeping minds open is the primary task of a genuine teacher and of the education students should all desire to receive.

Racism is a human phenomenon.  It has always been with us.  Therefore, it must be deeply rooted in human nature.  And hence as is always true of Socratic questioning, one question leads to another:  “what is human nature”?  We are natural beings, and like everything else in the cosmos, we consist of bodies and are moved by various material forces, in our case, many of them simply genetic.  But unlike everything else in the cosmos, we reflect on the nature of the cosmos and our own nature.  And those reflections can change the world we live in—in some mysterious fashion that itself needs to be studied and explained.

As a result of the previous point, we humans are also historical beings.  There is a reason no one studies the history of beaver architecture or the history of the social relations of lions.  These are not historical beings.  We thinking beings are unlike any other beings in the natural whole in that we are capable of living under different social and moral circumstances and we have something to do with those circumstances coming to be and passing away.  This uniqueness is both the greatness of humanity and its greatest danger—for history teaches that we fail more often than we succeed in creating our institutions.  I am sorry to report that I am certain that this reality of both success and failure will always be our lot as human beings.

What are the faculties that allow human beings to be so different than anything else within the natural whole?  To start with, we have five senses; admittedly we share this with most animals.  But our senses are dependent on speech in ways that make us distinctive.  This is an issue you could spend your entire four years studying, indeed your entire life.  We will have to rely on one small example.  Given our natures, and our memory capacity, we could not walk into a forest and give a proper name to every tree.  Language would reduce to an almost infinite number of nouns and no one could remember them all.  Hence we group together things that have the same surface look: trees, shrubs, dogs, cats.  We have no choice in this linguistic abbreviation given the kinds of beings we are who have limited memories and must converse with each other in an efficient fashion just to live.

On a basic level, language consists of grouping many particulars under general concepts or “universals.”  We have for thousands of years debated whether those universals are eternal and transcendent, or changeable and based on mere human conventions.  I am confident that debate will never be definitively resolved.  The point is that even in conceptual thought—which seems to transcend the senses—at the deepest level we are radically dependent upon the senses. In our desire to access and know our world, we rely especially on our eyes.   But to a lesser extent we are dependent upon the ears—for example, there are multiple languages and even dialects.   And then our other senses give us access to the world in a descending order—with taste being of limited help in our desire to access and know our world.

In every instance, processing the data of the senses leads us necessarily toward grouping a many under a one, for mere efficiency if nothing else.  But this necessity can also mislead us into believing that these sensually dependent groupings, these manifestations of difference, grasp important rather than superficial, surface differences.

We are now in the vicinity of being able to give a first, provisional explanation of why racism is rooted in human nature.  We are beings determined by our senses, which give us access only to the outer look or external manifestation of things—in the process we tend to treat superficial differences as essential.  Just as we quickly understand upon reflection that every tree is distinctly different, despite the shared word tree, we discover that despite the similar external looks of various human beings, as individuals we essentially differ considerably.  But it is not the senses that give us access to this essence of our individuality.  It is reason and reflection.  We may, if dominated only by our senses, group people together by race and treat them all the same, but when we “look” only slightly below the surface, we see how different individuals really are.

Racism is rooted in human nature.  The cure for the illness is also rooted in human nature.  As individuals we need to develop our reason, the ability to grasp what is essential in human existence, in ourselves and in other individuals.  That essential difference will be found beyond the surface grasped by the senses.  If we quit the cultivation of reason, categorized by some as a clever trick of domination, we have lost the only tool we have to overcome racism.

If we initially group individuals by any of their superficial, surface looks—albeit for present purposes let us limit ourselves to race—we will always miss what is essential.  Below the surface the interesting fact is that individuals group themselves according to their natures and aspirations.  Some are musical, some competitive and love sports, some love abstract thought, some are pious and pursue the immortality of the soul, some love painting, religion, dance, languages, micro-biology, natural eco-systems, the nature of black holes.  Actual individuals sort themselves out into these genuinely interesting groups.  And given a chance, similar individuals will find each other.  By cultivating reason we give ourselves this chance; and that should be at the core of a genuine liberal and liberating education.

But before individuals can discover others like themselves, they must discover themselves as individuals, and this is an entirely different undertaking than inventing oneself out of thin air—also known as “self-identifying.”  All true culture, from farming to educating individuals, rests on the cultivation and perfection of an underlying nature that would not develop and come to perfection unaided.  But in the case of human beings, our underlying nature means multiple distinctive natures as suggested above.  And those natures transcend race.  Those individual natures need to be discovered through experience and reflection.  And that is what should be aided and assisted by a genuine liberal arts education.

The solution to racism lies in the core American and Western commitment to the freedom of sovereign individuals to find themselves and follow their distinctive natural muses.  And recognizing that core premise of individualism was the genius of Martin Luther King, who crystallized the thinking of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 70s.  King’s “dream” was that everyone be judged by the quality of their souls, and not the color of their skin. For further and more elaborate reflections on King go to my remarks at the Churchill Institute webpage (thecinst.org) under “news.”  King’s vision is one that can bring us together.  Our new “Diversity” approach to race has led us away from those principles and into the lap of an all too divisive and hatful new permutation of racism.

Let me very briefly deal with that last premise by reference to two recent events.  President Trump’s disappointing slide into a moral equivalency argument in response to events in Charlottesville is a case in point.  By failing to call out racist behavior and views for precisely what they are, and pointing instead to how the left was in its own way equally to blame, the President gave a patina of respectability to hateful views and behaviors that are totally un-American.  The real white supremacists of the Alt-Right assign virtue to one racial group and various forms of vice and insufficiency to all individuals in other groups.  It is precisely this un-American refusal to treat sovereign individuals as individuals that is at the basis of their hate and racism.  And it should be denounced in no uncertain terms even if it hadn’t eventuated in a descent into violence.  That there are other evils in the world in no way mitigates the evil of these views and the President erred in not making that clear.

Then there is also the fiasco that swirled around one of our own Trinity Professors this summer which has been so devastating to the financial future of the College.  But it is the moral future of the College that is primarily at stake.   I cannot bring myself to repeat the words that this apparently hate-filled Professor endorsed.  Those words are vile, divisive and racist.  To fail to state that clearly is to have no moral compass whatsoever.  The understanding that asserts that every individual in a group is racist by birth—in the case of the Trinity Professor in question the group is whites—is the same underlying premise used by the real white supremacists.  It is to treat individuals as group members and vilify the entire group and therewith all sovereign individuals in those groups.

What is so morally obtuse in what has transpired is that the Administration of Trinity College, and the majority of its faculty, far from expressing their clear outrage at obviously hateful and racist sentiments, have actually apologized to the offending Professor, turned him into a hero, and then recently given him a platform to speak on campus.  This has been followed up by more faculty panels purporting to offer a “dialogue about race,” which are nothing but part of the monolithic choir singing to each other that has come to dominate the intellectual environment at Trinity.  This behavior of appeasement is to give the same inappropriate imprimatur of respectability to hateful views in the same way that President Trump gave to actual white supremacists.  This alt-left racism and fascism can be dressed up with all the sociological neologisms, barbarisms and obscurantism possible, but lipstick will never beautify this pig.

In his triumphant public return, the Professor who set Trinity afire this summer, again assured us that all whites are racists.  We did learn from the recent public homecoming, I am told, that the phrase “white privilege” is identical in meaning to “white supremacist.”  This picture of white supremacy is presented as something gained by birth, and apparently something one cannot transcend without an ongoing chorus of mea culpas delivered to Diversity priests.  The softer version of this position is based on the argument that the “society” is racist.  But as any thinking being would know, an abstraction like “society” cannot act because it is mythical to anthropomorphize something other than an individual human being.

The responses I have heard from many students to the latest presentation of racism we have been discussing include “Whatever” and “I just want to get out of here.”  And once they graduate, they will give no further thought to Trinity College, nor should they.  For they will have had an indoctrination substituted for a genuinely liberating, liberal arts education.  They will have endured rather than being fructified and elevated.

The diversity, alt-Left mantra on racism, of which we have heard all too much since this summer, is just the tip of the iceberg, it has created a monologue at Trinity, with an echo chamber that has made its participants tone-deaf to the larger society.  The nonsense and absurdity about white supremacy, as if nothing has changed in America in the last fifty years or since the heyday of Jim Crow in the South, is increasingly met in the larger society with dismissive anger.  The majority appears to be saying, “Okay, you win. I am a racist.”  “A curse on your house; I no longer care.”  “You hate me and you hate American society; you have completely lost me.”

In the process the moral sensibilities that are needed to fight real racism and white supremacist fascism are dulled and numbed.  And the real white supremacists are emboldened to come out of their warrens and presume to speak for more than their distinctive one percent.  In the process, the majority of Americans are stuck in the crossfire between the Diversity Alt-Left and the Nazi Alt-Right.  And the two will simply feed off of and reinforce each other.  It is time for the sensible middle to stand up and say enough to our racists and fascists of the right and left.

This is an absolutely disgusting situation to be in where common sense has been neutered by extreme ideologies.  In this trying moment, let me share my prayer and hope for all of our students.  You have four years of extraordinary opportunity as a college student; you are blessed in that regard. Few of your fellow citizens have this opportunity.  You have the leisure for self-discovery and thought you may not have again for decades.  Use these years to discover who you are as an individual.  And look for like-minded spirits; I assure you they are all around you regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality.  And you will also find like-minded spirits littered throughout human history if only you look and find a guide to help your seeking.  Don’t let anyone give you spurious reasons to dismiss large segments of your species, both living and dead, because they belong to some group that can be stereotyped, stigmatized and dismissed with a nonchalant, unthinking wave of a hand.

As you pursue your education and self-discovery, there will be landmines all around you.  They are all manufactured by the corporation called GROUPTHINK.  This situation will require some courage to navigate, but for the sake of discovering your selves and like-minded others, question the dogmas of your professors, especially the dominant dogmas at Trinity.  When ideological premises are put forward as “truths,” ask the questions, “How do you know?” “What counts as a foundation for your assertion?”  “What counts as knowledge in your understanding?”  “In concrete terms, what is your vision of the good life?” And always ask and wonder, “What are the alternate opinions”?  For as has always been true, only by questioning reigning views can you find the most consistent and clearest opinions, and perhaps thereby come within the vicinity of actual truth.  And please don’t fall for the old nonsense that “there is no truth,” for that is obviously being asserted as a truth. What is the point of an education if nothing is true? Never trust snake oil salesmen or a person who tries to sell you a $25 Rolex.

As you strive to discover yourself and kindred spirits, I offer a small experiment.  This falls under a paraphrase of the oath attributed to Hippocrates, the hero of all doctors:  try to find a cure, but at least do no harm.  I can’t promise you this will solve all problems, but I can assure you it will do no harm.  As you walk about campus, rather than being closed off, looking at the ground, or some electronic device, as if no one else existed on the planet, make eye contact and acknowledge the existence of other individuals as individuals regardless of whatever group you might think they belong to upon surface inspection.  A nod, a half smile, a gesture, a phrase like “How’s it going?” or “What’s up?” or even, if you must, “Hey dude” might seem like mere conventionality or cliché, but these civilities actually convey the acknowledgment of another person as a sovereign individual, while simultaneously asserting your determination to be open to others. This acknowledgment of each other as individuals is as good a first step toward overcoming racism as I can think of at the moment, and it requires little investment on your part.  There is truth in the old adage that even the longest journeys begin with a single step.

Ivy League Professors: Some Thoughts and Advice for Our Students and All Students

We are scholars and teachers at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale who have some thoughts to share and advice to offer students who are headed off to colleges around the country. Our advice can be distilled to three words:

Think for yourself.

Now, that might sound easy. But you will find—as you may have discovered already in high school—that thinking for yourself can be a challenge. It always demands self-discipline and these days can require courage.

In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student—or faculty member—faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink.

At many colleges and universities what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” does more than merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views on moral, political, and other types of questions. It leads them to suppose that dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them.

Since no one wants to be, or be thought of as, a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies.

Don’t do that. Think for yourself.

Thinking for yourself means questioning dominant ideas even when others insist on their being treated as unquestionable. It means deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions—including arguments for positions that others revile and want to stigmatize and against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.

The love of truth and the desire to attain it should motivate you to think for yourself. The central point of a college education is to seek truth and to learn the skills and acquire the virtues necessary to be a lifelong truth-seeker. Open-mindedness, critical thinking, and debate are essential to discovering the truth. Moreover, they are our best antidotes to bigotry.

Merriam-Webster’s first definition of the word “bigot” is a person “who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” The only people who need fear open-minded inquiry and robust debate are the actual bigots, including those on campuses or in the broader society who seek to protect the hegemony of their opinions by claiming that to question those opinions is itself bigotry.

So don’t be tyrannized by public opinion. Don’t get trapped in an echo chamber. Whether you in the end reject or embrace a view, make sure you decide where you stand by critically assessing the arguments for the competing positions.

Think for yourself.

Good luck to you in college!

Paul Bloom
Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology
Yale University

Nicholas Christakis
Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science
Yale University

Carlos Eire
T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies
Yale University

Maria E. Garlock
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-Director of the Program in Architecture and Engineering
Princeton University

David Gelernter
Professor of Computer Science
Yale University

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions
Princeton University

Mary Ann Glendon
Learned Hand Professor of Law
Harvard University

Joshua Katz
Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics
Princeton University

Thomas P. Kelly
Professor of Philosophy
Princeton University

Sergiu Klainerman
Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics
Princeton University

Jon Levenson
Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies
Harvard University

John B. Londregan
Professor of Politics and International Affairs
Princeton University

Michael A. Reynolds
Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies
Princeton University

Jacqueline C. Rivers
Lecturer in Sociology and African and African-American Studies
Harvard University

Noël Valis
Professor of Spanish
Yale University

Tyler VanderWeele
Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director of the Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing
Harvard University

Adrian Vermeule
Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law
Harvard University

James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions
© 2017 The Trustees of Princeton University(link is external)
Please send comments and inquiries to cduke@princeton.edu(link sends e-mail)

Dr. Smith Attends ACTA Oases of Excellence Conference

Dr. Smith was invited to participate in theACTA and the Fund for Academic Renewal Host Oases of Excellence Conference in Washington, DC this past June.

The John Roderick Wilson Oases of Excellence Faculty Conference, sponsored by ACTA and the Fund for Academic Renewal, brought together academic leaders from across the country. Faculty gathered from across the country to discuss how to best renew American higher education from within the academy. The day-long conference featured strategy sessions on development, collaboration, and establishment of new programs.

We have a few photos from the conference.


Watch the Colloquium Keynote Address by Robert George

The CI Colloquium on March 30th began with introductions and was followed by the keynote address from Robert P. George of Princeton University.


Churchill’s President Opposes Trinity College’s Crackdown on Access to Information

The President of the CI has posted the following letter to the Trinity faculty listserv.

Dear Colleagues:

I write to express my disappointment.

The Trinity faculty, which when I arrived was so proud of its faculty governance, has now finally caved to a heavy handed agenda on the part of the Administration. It has accepted a new loyalty oath/gag order on faculty committees run through at a December meeting that few attended, and where many who were scheduled to talk weren’t even allowed the privilege.

The faculty has now sent the message that it surrenders.  We can now happily sit insulated from any access to the truth—I desperately hope that this is not because this generation of academics doesn’t care about the truth anymore.

The FAC, under our new gagged circumstances, can no longer discharge its duty of reporting to the faculty and after consultation reporting back to the Administration.  And the Administration can continue to withhold and misconstrue vital information.  Perhaps some confidentiality is required with sensitive files in a committee like EPC; the only reason for confidentiality in the FAC is, in my opinion, to keep from the Trinity Community the financial abyss over which we stand.

We are left, and here I will address the matter from the perspective of FAC, with an open-ended gag order that doesn’t even have a statute of limitations or spell out what is and is not confidential.  Assuming the committee ever again gets access to actual information, rather than a disinformation campaign, the “facts” can no longer be openly vetted or discussed, perhaps ever, and certainly not until we are confronted long after the fact with a fait accompli.  Presumably members of the Administration will not be similarly gagged.  Hence no matter what they say, they cannot be questioned.  Would any of us accept this kind of situation in any other venue of government?  Especially on FAC, we as adults are now in precisely the same position we were in during high school on student council.  We are to spend our personal capital in some kind of socialization exercise, or simply to give the Administration cover.

The faculty now seems content to accept whatever it is told on an act of pure blind faith.  I am willing to bet that almost none of you would proceed on blind faith in any other aspect of your lives.  What is so disappointing is that on one level this is not an issue about what political party we belong to, or what intellectual tribe informs our doings.  This is about pure and simple class loyalty—and the class in question is that of the professoriate.  The faculty has abdicated its guild loyalty.  Having gone quietly down this authoritarian path, the lessons of history would suggest that the faculty now follow the gag order with book burnings, the faculty manual being the first to be burned.  since it has by steps been rendered meaningless.

As a present member of FAC, I will not sign what I see to be a fascist loyalty oath and an attempt to cut off open access to information.  I would advise others not to sign this oath until they have thought it through and also sought counsel.  You must realize that this loyalty oath in fact becomes an addendum to your contract and that has far reaching ramifications.

I know that in a similar situation, the Trinity faculty that was on board when I arrived would have acted swiftly.   They would have voted to recall the Faculty Conference that initiated and pushed through this agenda.  They would not have allowed the left over committee without portfolio to be transformed into our faculty Senate, which has primarily come to be the organ of the President and not the Faculty.  That Trinity faculty would have reigned in the power grab of this committee.

I am going to finish by reiterating that everything I see, and that anyone who pays attention to public documents sees, indicates that we are standing on the edge of a financial abyss.  We got there by choices that we are now doubling down on.  The reduction in alumni giving I warned about a decade ago remains in place and if anything is getting worse.  Alumni alienation is increasing.  Alienation from our traditional recruiting base of full payers is increasing.  Then we admitted 40% of our class without Board scores, and in need of greater discounting, which creates ongoing structural, not transient, deficits that have been projected out at least three years.  But it is not clear how these deficits will ever be overcome when we continue to project out short classes five years into the future together with declining full payers. On the College’s website it now says 57% of early admissions were admitted without board scores, and presumably the same discounting.  What is happening is a calculus for disaster.  And the response of the Administration is to shut down access to information.  And the faculty simply surrenders.  But I will not.  I will not sign the loyalty oath; let the enemies of open access to information in our committee system do what they will.

Respectfully yours,

Gregory Bruce Smith

CI Supports George and West Statement on Freedom of Thought and Expression

On March 14th Princeton professors Robert P. George and Cornel West released a joint statement in defense of Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression. The Churchill Institute supports this statement. Please read and sign the statement here:

Sign the Statement: Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression – A Statement by Robert P. George and Cornel West

Menges Colloquium Session Descriptions and Readings Are Available

The schedule, readings, and participant listing for the Tenth Annual Carl B. Menges Colloquium have been set. More information about the colloquium, “Western Civilization, Diversity, and the Liberal Arts in the 21st Century”, is available here.

Below are links to the colloquium schedule, session descriptions and readings, and a listing of participants:


Sessions and Readings


Tenth Annual Carl B. Menges Colloquium Announced for March 30th

The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) is pleased to announce that the Tenth Annual Carl B. Menges Colloquium will co-sponsor the Inaugural Churchill Institute Colloquium, “Western Civilization, Diversity, and the Liberal Arts in the 21st Century.”  The three-day event will take place March 30 – April 2 at the Hilton Hotel in Hartford, Connecticut.  Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University, one this country’s most prominent public intellectuals, will deliver the keynote address.

The schedule has been published.

Churchill Celebrates Martin Luther King

The following originally appeared in the Trinity student newspaper, The Trinity Tripod:

The Betrayal of Martin Luther King

— Gregory Bruce Smith —

We celebrate Martin Luther King as an American icon. And rightly so. But why is he that icon? For an answer we can turn briefly to King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and his famous “I have a dream” speech from the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. Links to the two works can be found above.

Arrested with others for resisting an unjust law, King sent his famous letter primarily to white clergy in the South who chided him for being a provocateur. He cites St. Augustine: “an unjust law is no law at all.” That is because there is a higher law than the ephemeral laws enacted by human beings. King alternately calls those laws “natural laws,” “rational laws,” or “Divine laws.” He cites not only Augustine, but Paul, Aquinas and various Christian theologians as well as repeatedly referencing Socrates and other later Western philosophers. King appeals to the twin wellsprings of Western Civilization, Socratic rationalism and Scriptural teachings, especially the Christian variant focused on love and redemption. He appeals to what is arguably the central notion of Western Civilization, natural right or natural law.

King repeatedly appeals as well to the American Constitution and the Declaration of independence which he is clear are manifestations of those natural law premises. King does not criticize American or Western civilization for its principles, his criticisms center on the failure to live up to those principles. He stands up for the American dream, the Judeo-Christian heritage, the Founding Fathers the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence. King asserts openly and proudly: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are by nature created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable right.” All men are sovereign individuals, children of God, with equal rights according to nature. It was the failure to treat everyone as an equal individual that was at the heart of King’s Civil Rights crusade.

King borrows a thought from the Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr that “groups are more immoral than individuals.” In that vein he cautions especially his black followers not to descend into hatred based on dismissing all white Americans as evil or through repudiating Christianity or America itself. He especially cautions against what he sees as the danger of black nationalism. He specifically cites Brown v Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that “separate is never equal.” He cautions his followers not to lose faith in America, but to be the agents that call all Americans back to their own principles. King’s faith is a faith in the sovereignty of rational individuals as God’s children. It was by treating all blacks as members of a group that the segregationists had been able to demonize them individually.

To confront individuals as group members is to open the door to division and hate. King counsels Christian love and its redemptive value. It leads to the core dream of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. His dream is that 1) Americans will be brought to live up to their principles; 2) that a day will come when no one is judged by the color of their skin but only by the content of their individual character, and 3) that the aim should be an American brotherhood of individuals. That is the American Dream at its core, more even than the materialist aspects of home ownership, economic independence, consumerist success and so on.

And hence while we must in Socratic fashion chide and question individuals who are unjust, we must avoid “the cup of bitterness and hatred” that comes from distrusting all of the members of any group. Talking specifically to blacks and whites, King echoes a sentiment of Frederick Douglas, that our destinies are now tied together forever. As black and white, we will succeed or fail together.

There is a stirring idealism in King’s vision. There is also a sound and prudent realism. King is skeptical of the notion of inevitable progress: that notion numbs the moral and intellectual faculties of man. King’s premise is that “time is neutral.” Human beings, if they wish to come closer to their principles, must wade in and work for them. Individuals must rationally question contemporary orthodoxies as did Socrates and be willing to stand up to entrenched power as did the early Christians. The higher law does not actualize itself without rational understanding and moral commitment.

Unfortunately King’s dream is being betrayed in our time. The issues King confronted are now filtered through the ideological mantra of “race, class and gender.” While some who would use this rubric are merely soft, tolerant liberals, the captains of this this new approach have a clear set of premises. Far from enthroning the core premises of Western Civilization the new approach can clearly be traced to the twin assaults on the entire Western tradition by continental nihilists Nietzsche and Heidegger and their descendants. Christianity is not only rejected but seen as the root of all evil. Reason is rejected also as a great miscreant, irrationalism is enthroned: there are now no common truths to which sovereign individuals of any race, class or gender can ascend.

On the basis of this understanding, transcendence is rendered impossible, immersion in a group becomes an imperative. Liberal education is no longer seen as a Socratic emancipation from myth and error, it becomes instead an exercise in the immersion in multiple impermeable “narratives” each equal in principle and immune from criticism. Left in the wake is only white or black reason. Unfortunately such notions also come loaded with new permutations of original sin now loaded on a new race, to say nothing of a new class and gender.

Herein we arrive at a new basis of hatred and division, precisely what King tried to avoid. No principle of unity remains, unless some groups simply bow and admit group evil and culpability. Denied the possibility to be equal, rational individuals, we are forced to be members of mutually suspicious groups. On these terms hate will always trump love. And on these terms both Ferguson and the assassination of New York City policemen become predictable. The battle for the future of King’s vision hangs in the balance.

CI Endorses University of Chicago Defense of Free Speech

The Churchill Institute wholeheartedly endorses the actions of the University of Chicago in endorsing Free Speech and vigorous academic debate on college campuses.  CI calls upon Trinity College to make a similar public statement. Read more