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University Indoctrination and the American Electorate By: Orit T. Sklar
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 17, 2008

“It all boils down to all of you here in New Hampshire. It’s a swing state,” Michelle Obama stated at a Keene State College rally last week. “New Hampshire is in a position to turn the tables. Students are in a position to have the kind of impact they’ve never had before.”

It was over a year ago that I began questioning how the far-reaching support Barack Obama had at universities and among college students could impact the election and ultimately the country. It wasn’t as if I was attending an Obama rally – which actually took place at the Georgia Institute of Technology one month prior with an estimated attendance of 20,000 people – or at the Trinity United Church of Christ listening to a diatribe against America by Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Rather, I was sitting in a crowd at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta at Georgia Tech’s 226th commencement ceremony, waiting the conferring of my college degree. As a member of the Georgia Tech community and the largest graduating class in the Institute’s history, I – along with thousands of graduates, their families, and friends – was part of a captive audience subjected to the words reflective of Barack Obama’s presidential platform of “Hope” and “Change.”  

The graduation ceremony began with a “Reflection” – the politically correct term for an invocation that is supposed to be less controversial, since any acknowledgement of God is frowned upon – by Reverend Anthony Motley of Atlanta’s Lindsay Street Baptist Church titled, “Developing a Transnational Spirit.” He wasted no time injecting race and classism into his address to the 2,200 students:

If you plan to offer the well developed the skills you have honed to perfection, here at Georgia Tech, to the marketplace of the 21st century…then you had better prepare yourself, if you have not already, in the rarefied atmosphere at Georgia Tech, to enter a world where past notions of racial class and privilege are outmoded and completely irrelevant.

Deriving this message from The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman (who spoke at Georgia Tech and features the Institute in the revised edition), Motley went on to quote directly from the book: “Globalization 3.0 is going to be more and more driven not only by individuals but also by a much more ‘diverse’ – non-western, non-white – group of individuals, individuals from every corner of the flat world are being empowered.”

His emphasis on the need for the university to focus on diversity – curiously omitting “intellectual diversity,” of course – soon shifted into an incoherent tirade also touching upon black liberation theology and the backlash against Don Imus following his remarks about the Rutgers’ Women’s Basketball team in April 2007:

The reaction in the African American community to the insensitive remarks of Don Imus makes it clear that we have reached a watershed in American society, where racism, bigotry and xenophobia will no longer be accepted with a “wink and a nod.” No, No, No. It’s a new day; a day where only a spirit of trans-nationalism will equip you to mix and mingle and find your niche. That narrow kind of racialism or nationalism or tribalism or sectarianism, now and in the days ahead will be totally unacceptable and costly. No group will settle for “whipping boy” status! Foreign or domestic! Any public remarks as vile as those spoken by Imus will result in one receiving the typecasting status of a social pariah, a relic of the past, and a throw back to a bygone era when the term “ugly American” was used in foreign lands to describe the condescending, patronizing attitudes of many of our soldiers and American tourists.

In the course of his speech, Motley – one of Obama’s leading supporters in Georgia – echoed many of Obama’s talking points, including the need to improve America’s reputation in the world as he encouraged the audience to adopt a multi-cultural mindset:

But in this fresh new and exciting global environment, only a spirit that transcends nationalism, to embrace the rich mosaic of colors and cultures and clans though the international community will equip those who enter the market place to successfully mix and mingle and manage.

Many in the crowd were shocked at Reverend Motley’s diatribe – especially the guests, including alumni, who were not accustomed to the campus environment which is often characterized by such leftist rants.  One such alumnus, who was in the audience watching his fiancé graduate, took to his MySpace page to convey the scene and his frustration:

Almost all of the people in the crowd bowed their head in the expectation of a short bit blessing the graduates and in thanks for this day…However, Mr. Motley decided that this would be the time to press his politics on the crowd of nearly 8,000.  He had a captive audience and proceeded to lecture the crowd on how racists we all were, no matter how we actually act, and how any thoughts that dissent with the opinion of this new crop of ‘civil rights’ advocates are immoral.

University commencements are a good way to gauge the toxicity of the current campus culture, because they demonstrate that the problems are not isolated to the classroom or the campus programming. In an article titled, “Liberals Dominate Commencement Ceremonies at Top Universities (Again),” Young America’s Foundation spokesman Jason Mattera highlighted the fact that “A strikingly disproportionate number of commencement speakers at our nation’s top colleges and universities in 2008 were Democrat Party officials, leftist activists, and members of the old media.” One-sided commencement speakers might seem like a one-time affair, but in reality this phenomenon is part a much larger problem – the lack of intellectual diversity on college campuses.

Campus brainwashing affects the quality of scholarship and detracts from the development of critical thinking skills. Students are not encouraged to develop an independent mindset and to employ a scholarly approach to the challenges facing the country. Instead, far too often professors and administrators promote the use of sound-bites in hopes that eventually students will catch on and regurgitate their political views, rather than learn to articulate their own.

This disturbing trend has become increasingly apparent when Obama’s supporters on campus advocate for and defend his message. “Instead of critically analyzing his policy proposals, students are clinging to his abstract, euphoric message of ‘hope’ and ‘change,’” said Georgia Tech undergraduate student Chandler Epp. “The Obama-mania mindset of blindly following the leader – without regard for the direction in which he would take this country – is being cultivated by the campus environment, or at the very least the campus environment is contributing to it.”

Even though universities have come under greater scrutiny for promoting policies, programming, and curriculum that is on par with their own personal political agendas, the university remains the antithesis of the marketplace of ideas and altogether an alternative universe. A study published on May 1 conducted by the Panetta Institute, a nonpartisan center for the study of public policy, reported that “Although opposition to the war in Iraq remains strong on U.S. campuses, American college students now are even more worried about the state of the economy… and they’re eager for a change in national leadership.” Echoing this theme, polling showed that “53 percent of college seniors see the country on the wrong track, with only 26 percent saying right direction.” Additionally, college students favored Obama over McCain 59 percent to 27 percent, hardly similar to the tight race reflected in the national polls.

This generation not only expresses support for Obama in polls conducted; they showed up throughout the Democratic primary season in record numbers. Despite their enthusiasm and a markedly increased presence, “The Year of the Youth Vote” – a headline from TIME Magazine – is still a lofty, far-out notion to many analysts who continue to disregard their impact in November. However, the same cannot be said about the long term consequences on the American electorate. Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) said in a recent interview on NPR, “If the current polls hold up and young people vote overwhelmingly Democratic, the Republicans will still be paying a price for that in twenty-five years.”

By placing the university campus under a microscope, it is apparent that the problems are not limited to one particular area or department, but rather there exists a network of layers and players. Despite all of the talk of diversity and openness, universities often act in stark contrast to their stated goals. Campus administrators and professors abuse their positions to advance their one-sided agenda, and to make matters worse, censorship is often applauded and promulgated while the free exchange of ideas is limited and discouraged. The systemic problems which exist on college campuses have manifested in a way that may now have a noticeable and dramatic impact on the general public and the world.

The Obama campaign continues to take advantage of the products of university indoctrination, and even though they appear to be recruiting many students, it remains to be seen just how much these efforts will impact the general election. “Barack Obama has entranced young voters,” remarked Accuracy in Media Chairman Don Irvine at the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream 2008 Summit in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. “We don’t really know if that will be successful in getting them to the polls, but it certainly has fueled their activities.”

One thing is certain:  Regardless of what happens this November, the effects of university indoctrination will be seen long after this election cycle. Today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders, and many will mature in age but not in worldview as a result of their college experience. Therefore, to avoid the long-term pitfalls of a biased college education – one that is often replete with leftist orthodoxy and devoid of intellectual diversity – it is imperative that efforts to reform higher education continue and triumph.

Orit Sklar is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Orit has been involved in the conservative movement and the quest for academic freedom both within and beyond Georgia Tech, and is currently co-plaintiff in a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging Georgia Tech’s unconstitutional policies.

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