Monday, July 10, 2017

Colleges and universities, oh my!

Some startling survey results from the Pew Forum's latest enquiries into how Americans regard various institutions. A majority of Republicans think "colleges and universities have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country." More troublingly, this is a recent trend. While always more skeptical than Democrats, a majority turned against higher education only in the last two years. We remain less feared than "the national news media," some part of which doubtless contributed to this trend.

I do find myself wondering why "the media" in such stories is usually understood as excluding Fox, and why national distrust of "the media" is interpreted as a comment on the "mainstream media" rather than Fox, the most-widely-watched-of-all, and its ilk ... but that's a topic for another day. Back to Higher Ed:
The critique of "political correctness" often targets colleges and universities, seen since the sixties to be be unpatriotic. It's had a field day with the apparently anti-intellectual implications of "micro-aggressions," "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces." Debate about these issues on campuses remains vigorous and serious (including about the appropriateness of inviting, uninviting and shouting down provocative speakers) but the right-wing media's criticisms are largely uninformed by these discussions; they quite lack the intellectual curiosity they claim to champion. But the anti-intellectualism of the land that gave us Dewey's "democratic education" nevertheless has deep roots (some religious), which have onky been strengthened by our know-nothing ruling party and its "opinion"-spewing leader.

The contrast with views of "churches and religious organizations" suggests academic religious studies is in a hot spot - or is it a sweet one?

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