The British travel writer Alexander Kinglake (1809-1891) once suggested that the legend “Interesting, if true” be inscribed on the lintels of the Churches of England.
That was a mildly amusing mot, not least because of its pertinent application in so many other circumstances. If the doctrines of the Church of England strain one’s credulity, or one’s allegiance, how much greater is the strain exerted on those moral resources by our intercourse with certain other institutions. Consider, to take just one example, our institutions of so-called higher education. You know as well as I how thoroughly that “so-called” is merited by sodden, politically correct swamps that our colleges and universities have occupied in recent years. Those scenes of spurious “micro aggressions” and “trigger warnings,” of mephiticrievance mongering, sexual inversion, and infantile political posturing: is there any aspect of American society more distaste, more pampered, more epicene? I doubt it. Kinglake’s wry observation might be justly applied to those portals of inanity, but a friend who recently visited Berlin had an even more appropriate label. It is this advisory from Checkpoint Charlie, which divided the American from the totalitarian zone of Berlin.
Really, is there any more pertinent sign for most colleges and universities? Cigarettes manufacturers are required to ornament their wares with all manner of alarming advisories, why shouldn’t institutions of higher education face similar requirements? After all, the noxious atmosphere they diffuse is perhaps even more dangerous than cigarette smoke, which harms only the body. A college education threatens to eat away at a student’s soul and capacity for a healthy, robust, adult emotional life. “You Are Leaving the American Sector.” For many, perhaps most colleges and universities today, that about sums it up.