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My First Day at UCLA By: Garin K. Hovannisian
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, September 29, 2003


I walked through the beautiful campus of the University of California, Los Angeles on September 25 with the silent hope that the rumors about American higher education would prove untrue. 

I had walked through UCLA many times before, but this was an especially important day.  It marked my first as a college student.  

Dressed neatly with a feigned confidence, signs of freshness that any thinking person could discern, I headed toward my first class.  The professor of my “Introduction to Western Civilization” class indulged our group with the timeless flavor of Greek philosophy, quoting a Theban writer in his definition of man: “What is a man?  What is he not?  Man is what a shadow would dream to be.”  This sent chills down my spine. 

Then the enthusiasm stopped.  The professor began to talk about the positive contributions of modern “historians” Marx and Hegel (fathers of Communism) to history, with the neatly crafted preface, “Now don’t tell the L.A. Times that I said that Karl Marx is a great man, but…”

But at least this was contextualized.  Toward the end of the talk, the lecturer, with apparently no connection to the topic at hand, opined, “I don’t think it’s unprofessional of me to say this:  I think that each one of you should join an environmental organization.”  And then, on the theory of global warming, “even laymen know that the earth is getting hotter.”  These comments, strangely, were not responses to any questions or remarks by the students, but rather composed a part of the introduction to the course.

After a brief interlude at the food court, I proceeded to English composition.  It was then that I bumped into a group of students who marched around campus with the sign, “Impeach Cheney; Vote no on this recal.” They chanted, “Hey hey! Ho ho! On this recall, vote no!”  Revolving around the group like lunar satellites, were students who held up signs that read, “Lyndon LaRouche for president”; still others yelled, “Arnold Schwartzenegger thinks that voters are sluts!”

The English class was described to me by other students familiar with it as “more about Feminism than it was about English.” They described the professor as someone who “isn’t afraid of expressing herself…[and is]…passionate about getting her point across.”            

After passing a man who was distributing a newspaper titled “The Spark” with a sign “Socialism and Revolution” and several opponents of Proposition 54 (which would prevent the government from collecting data on race in certain fields), I found myself on Bruin Walk, where one can find any national flag except Old Glory.  (I’m not counting a cheesy rainbow-colored mockery of the flag that was on proud display.)

I finally reached the object of my journey—the UCLA bookstore.  I asked a sales employee to check the database for a few conservative books that I wanted to buy.  After receiving a negative answer on all three -- a result that, given the prominence of the books, was astonishing -- I inquired further. 

Of the 25 political books that were on display, 21 were ideologically to the Left, 3 had no apparent political inclinations, and only 1 was ideologically to the Right.

But much more perturbing is the following: MIT professor Noam Chomsky (a rabidly anti-American leftist) had more books at the UCLA Store than did Aristotle, John Locke, Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill, F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden —in effect, the entire tradition of intellectual classical liberal thought—AND David Horowitz, Dinesh D’Souza, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Larry Elder—the current-day advancers of the libertarian and conservative legacies...combined.  Whether these results were achieved as a result of faculty demands or the tastes of UCLA bookstore administrators they are equally degrading to the concept of diversity—the diversity of opinion.

If not for the language difference, the baroque-styled buildings, and that faint and fading scent of liberty, I might as well have been at the University of Havana.



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