Corrosive Effects of the 'BlackLivesMattering' of Higher Education

Demonstrators march during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, San Francisco, Calif., June 6, 2020. (Kate Munsch/Reuters)

Extreme ideas about race were already prevalent on our campuses before the death of George Floyd back in May; since then, they have been at flood stage.

In today’s Martin Center commentary, sociology professor Alexander Riley of Bucknell University ponders the damage that has been done. He writes, “From my vantage point as an academic sociologist, I have seen the disturbing process of what we might call the BlackLivesMattering of American higher education from quite close up, as my discipline is one of the main sites of the creation and propagation of the absurdly fantastic ideas responsible for this development.”

Riley observes that overt racism has almost completely disappeared in America, but because it serves the purposes of “progressivism” to have demons, they came up with the notion of “institutional racism.” Academics and college leaders have been furiously proclaiming that they will stop at nothing to root out this shadowy evil.

His own school is typical.

“Within a day or so of the breaking of the George Floyd story nationally,” Riley writes, “a petition appeared on our faculty listserv. It asserted, among other things, that our university was, like the rest of the United States, a place in which pernicious and insidious anti-Black sentiment, both conscious and unconscious, was prevalent, due to the legacy of four centuries of systemic violence. ‘It is, sadly, who we are,’ the writers intoned, and they pledged to support efforts to ensure the physical safety of black members of the campus community, who were presumed to be under some serious threat of harm, and to combat white supremacy.”

Really? White supremacy puts black students under serious threat at Bucknell?

Perhaps the most extreme of the BLM proponents, professor Ibram Kendi, has been elevated to star status and given loads of money to promote his antagonistic ideas about how to reform America.

Riley concludes, “The political crisis in the country of the present moment has presented today’s purveyors of these and still worse ideas with an ideal opportunity for advancing the revolution. When the BlackLivesMattering of the universities is complete, a vast array of facts, reasoned intellectual perspectives, and legitimate areas of debate will become officially enforced taboo. This is not hyperbole. The people who hold the toxic ideas driving this revolution say as much in frank and unblinking terms.”

He says he has never been more worried about higher education. We all should be.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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