At one time, higher education meant following “the Love-song of Dido” and listening to the “tale of Troy divine.” Teaching involved “nothing new, no time-saving devices — simply old time-glorified methods of delving for Truth, and searching out the hidden beauties of life” in the same curriculum “that was taught in the groves by Plato, that formed the trivium and quadrivium.” Such endeavors were to be reserved for the “Talented Tenth,” who in turn would be entrusted with “lifting … [their] duller brethren.”
In 1987, on the campus of Stanford, Jesse Jackson vocalized the view of most of those running our universities today, by leading the chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western culture’s got to go.”
Rejecting a notion of a “talented tenth” and echoing Bill Clinton, Barack Obama repeated his campaign point during the first presidential debate: We have “to make sure that college is affordable for every young person in America.”
And during the second, “townhall” debate, Obama went off topic to reiterate his concern for the “people who have the grades and the drive to go to college, but can’t.” Continuing his biographical narrative as son of a Kenyan goat herder and a mother so poor she had to accept food stamps, Obama hinted at his own intellectual merit when he expressed gratitude for “scholarships.”
Obama has been given a pass as an intellectual, as “professorial,” yet has been unwilling to release his school records or senior thesis at Columbia that would prove the merit upon which his scholarships were based. It is now well known that he got through Harvard law school with some help by Khalid Al-Mansour. Other associations include Rashid Khalidi, professor of Middle Eastern studies at Columbia.
Obama’s years at Harvard, 1988-1991, were the years of the building up of the culture wars, a time when the sixties radicals, ensconced in positions of tenure or deanship, devoted their efforts to a subversion of traditional Western standards of excellence, truth, logic, and respect. The notions expressed in my opening quotations provided fodder for a wholesale debunking. Affirmative action in admissions and hiring extended to an affirmative action of methodologies and subjects — of a non-Western origin. Consequently, the quest for truth was replaced by the analysis of — and quest for — power. Obama, like his colleagues, taught at least one such course, Race, Racism, and the Law at the University of Chicago.