I think it was Carl Jung who said we must (paraphrasing from shaky memory) be able to hold two opposed ideas in our mind at the same time.

Tonight I sit with two opposed reports of recent life in these United States. One describes events of the week just past at Yale Law School, and the other, events from several years ago at Providence College. Let's begin with the latter, since it bears more obviously on the topic named in the title of this post.

I am subscribed via email to the website The Catholic Thing, which daily publishes relatively short essays on topics that bear on Roman Catholicism in some form or other. The authors can be either clergy or laypersons. The common denominator of all of their submissions is consistently high quality. Yesterday, October 23, 2021, I was very impressed by a piece, "Our Cultural Confusions about Men and Women" by Anthony Esolen, formerly a teacher of English at Provdince College, now on the faculty at Mary Magdalen College.

I was a tad irked that this man had been teaching about only fifteen minutes from my house, yet his name was new to me. After reading his "TCT" (The Catholic Thing) essay I went to Wikipedia for more about him. It appears that he was cancelled a few years ago by Providence College. Obviously, their loss. In the Wikipedia article I read, with deep gratitude, the following, from a fellow academic who supported him. That man, Robert P. George, wrote that those at PC, faculty and students alike, who objected to Esolen's views

...should respond in the currency of academic discourse "reasons, evidence, arguments" not by attempting to isolate, stigmatize, and marginalize him for stating dissenting opinions.1

How archaic that suggestion sounds to our woke-infested ears! It sounds, so, WHITE, if you'll pardon the expression. The Wikipedia article contains more about this episode at PC. Esolen calls to mind this, from George Orwell: “The major problem of our time is the decay of belief in personal immortality.”

As for the "opposed" idea or report we have only to look to Yale Law School last week. The always useful Washington Free Beacon ran an article describing an uproar at the Law School produced by a second-year student's email. I am rather frightened by almost all I read about this, for lack of a better term, "happening." See what you think and please let me know. Perhaps I'm just getting old.

On the other hand, who can read this and simply shrug? From the Asian-American student group at the Law School: "Conservative pundits," the group said, "have invented a crisis of free speech in higher education as a way to distract from the substance of what they are doing in the world—accelerating the climate crisis, propping up the prison-industrial complex, eroding the rights of marginalized communities, deepening economic inequality, and waging perpetual war around the world."

This is not the voice of a "student." This is the voice of a Fascist-in-the-making. And this is the voice of our best and brightest, presumably. God help us all.

The Next Day, 10/25/2021: Addendum.

Amended 12/7/2021: Footnote added last paragraph.

The money quote here is from Robert George: "...the currency of academic discourse "reasons, evidence, arguments..."2

That's what this fight is all about. That's what the phrase "Western Civilization" boils down to. That's what all my perseverations3 on Orwell's concern for the future of objective truth are about. Remember, he said he was more afraid of that than of bombs, and he had seen what bombs do.

  1. Alas, the original source for Prof. George's remark is no longer available. Here is verbatim the footnote provided by Wikipedia to the above citation: "George, Robert P. "I have always thought highly of Providence College". Tumblr. Retrieved May 15, 2017."
  2. See note '1' immediately above.
  3. See, for example, Orwell on Fact and Reality, and Orwell on Fact, Opinion, and Prison