“The members of the Institute in America, gradually through the 1930s, though many of them remained writing in German, shifted their focus from Critical Theory about German society, destructive criticism about every aspect of that society, to Critical Theory directed toward American society [these were German immigrants to America who hadn’t a clue about American culture yet, they want to change it to suit their own, personal mores. Does this sound familiar? It sort of makes the case for “extreme vetting”, doesn’t it?].
There was another very important transition when the war comes. Some of them go to work for the government, including Herbert Marcuse, who became a key figure in the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA), and some, including Horkheimer and Adorno, moved to Hollywood. (Are you starting to see where this is going?)
These origins of Political Correctness would probably not mean too much to us today except for two subsequent events. The first was the [academia inspired] student rebellion in the mid-1960s, which was driven largely by resistance to the draft and the Vietnam War. But the student rebels needed theory of some sort. They couldn’t just get out there and say, “Hell no we won’t go,” they had to have some theoretical explanation behind it. Very few of them were interested in wading through Das Kapital. Classical, economic Marxism is not light, and most of the radicals of the ‘60s were not deep.
[Also, remember that university faculties had been infiltrated by the disgruntled New Dealers a decade earlier and so were now fully prepared for this new “theory” – critical theory – to bolster their weary rhetoric since it was entirely compatible with their desire to tear down our venerable institutions.]
Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for our country today, and not just in the university, Herbert Marcuse remained in America when the Frankfurt School relocated back to Frankfurt after the war. And whereas Mr. Adorno in Germany is appalled by the student rebellion when it broke out there – when the student rebels come into Adorno’s classroom, he calls the police and has them arrested – Herbert Marcuse, who remained here, saw the ‘60s student rebellion as the great chance. He saw the opportunity to take the work of the Frankfurt School and make it the theory of the New Left in the United States. [What a visionary!]
One of Marcuse’s books was the key book. It virtually became the bible of the SDS and the student rebels of the ‘60s. That book was Eros and Civilization. Marcuse argues that under a capitalistic order (he downplays the Marxism very strongly here, it is subtitled, “A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud”, but the framework is Marxist), repression is the essence of that order and that gives us the person Freud describes – the person with all the hang-ups, the neuroses, because his sexual instincts are repressed.
We can envision a future, if we can only destroy this existing oppressive order, in which we liberate eros, we liberate libido, in which we have a world of “polymorphous perversity,” in which you can “do your own thing.” And by the way, in that world there will no longer be work, only play. What a wonderful message for the radicals of the mid-60s! [And so, it came to pass.]
[These students, t]hey’re students, they’re baby-boomers, and they’ve grown up never having to worry about anything except eventually having to get a job. And here is a guy writing in a way they can easily follow. He doesn’t require them to read a lot of heavy Marxism and tells them everything they want to hear which is essentially, “Do your own thing,” “If it feels good do it,” and “You never have to go to work.” By the way, Marcuse is also the man who creates the phrase, “Make love, not war.”
Coming back to the situation people face on campus, Marcuse defines “liberating tolerance” as intolerance for anything coming from the Right and tolerance for anything coming from the Left. Marcuse joined the Frankfurt School in 1932, so all of this goes back to the 1930s.
In conclusion, America today is in the throes of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state. In “hate crimes” we now have people serving jail sentences for political thoughts. And the Congress is now moving to expand that category ever further. Affirmative action is part of it.”
The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it. It’s exactly what we have seen in the 20th Century happen in Russia, in Germany, in Italy, in China, and now it’s … here. And we don’t recognize it because we call it Political Correctness and laugh it off. My message today is that it’s not funny, it’s here, it’s growing and it will eventually destroy, as it seeks to destroy, everything that we have ever defined as our freedom and our culture.
The intellectual coalitions – so essential to the centrality of peer cooperation in academia – had changed by the 1950s due to the influx of many now unemployed movers and shakers of the New Deal era. America had shifted into a new “wartime” pattern of life that reflected the realities of the Cold War and the desires of the “greatest generation” to get on with their lives. Intellectuals as well as writers were an important component of these coalitions at this point.
“Many writers – especially historians – became prominent spokesmen for New Deal liberalism and were frequently called upon for public lectures and for popular essays on political topics by such magazines as The New Republic, Saturday Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harpers. Also active in the arena of ideas were literary critics such as Lionel Trilling and Alfred Kazin, economists such as Alvin Hansen, John Kenneth Galbraith, James Tobin and Paul Samuelson, as well as political scientists such as Robert A. Dahl and Seymour Martin Lipset, and sociologists such as David Riesman and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-MA).
Representative was the historian Henry Steele Commager, who felt a duty to teach his fellow citizens how liberalism (but not late 20th Century liberalism) was the foundation of American values. He believed that an educated public (how prescient) that understands American history would support liberal programs, especially internationalism and the New Deal. Unfortunately for him but, fortunate for America, the People thought differently even if the politicians [predictably] agreed.
Commager was representative of a whole generation of like-minded historians who were widely read by the general public, including Allan Nevins, Daniel Boorstin, Richard Hofstadter and C. Vann Woodward. Perhaps the most prominent of all was Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. whose books on Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and the Kennedy brothers – his many essays and his work with liberal organizations and in the White House itself under Kennedy – emphasized [and epitomized] the ideological history of American liberalism, especially as made concrete by a long tradition of powerful liberal presidents (most pertinent being Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt).
Commager’s biographer Neil Jumonville has argued that this style of influential public history has been lost in the 21st Century because [ironically] political correctness has rejected Commager’s open marketplace of tough ideas. Jumonville says “history now comprises abstruse deconstruction by experts, with statistics instead of stories, and is now comprehensible only to the initiated, while ethno-centrism rules in place of a common identity.”
Other experts have traced the relative academic decline of liberal intellectuals to their concern over race, ethnicity and gender, and the lack of scholarly peer review from outside their particular discipline. Heaven forbid that a middle-aged, male, white historian be allowed to critique a history written by a female, feminist, African-American-studies colleague!
Liberalism came under attack from both the Right (the early Conservatives of William F. Buckley) in the late 1950s and the New Left in the early 1960s. Historian Michael Kazin says, “The liberals who anxiously turned back the assault of the postwar Right were confronted in the 1960s by a very different adversary: a radical movement led, in the main, by their own children – the white New Left.”
This new element worked to “topple the corrupted liberal order.” Indeed, as Maurice Isserman notes, the New Left “came to use the word ‘liberal’ as a political epithet.” Others argue that the New Left was, more broadly speaking, the political component of a break with [classic] liberalism that took place across several academic fields: philosophy, psychology and sociology. It seems quite fitting that the authors of the “non-exceptional America” be hoisted up by the very students they had taught how to disrespect the great institutions.”
[Perhaps the PLDC would be more correctly described as the progressive/New Left/Democrat Cabal – the PNLDC.]
The popular 21st Century response to Political Correctness has been cyber bullying because, online, everyone has a podium from which to pontificate – not just the PLDC – and, just like the cabal, no one needs to be responsible for anything they say. To mimic a popular maxim; “If it feels good, say it.”
Are either behaviors acceptable? Of course not. They hide in the shadows of the 1st Amendment using free speech as a political terror weapon – not to advocate for ideas but to intimidate the idea makers themselves into silence – the very opposite of the intent of the free speech clause. Therefore, the solution to this problem must be found in the Constitution itself and in the personal responsibility that is essential to democracy – and the polar-opposite of “if it feels good, do it”
This degradation of and in academia clearly influenced post-war two-term liberal-Democrat Presidents – Clinton and Obama – and didn’t happen without the complicity of the institutions themselves. Let’s look at some of the shining lights of academia during that time and continuing to the present.
“Angela Davis (born 1944) is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a prominent counterculture activist and radical in the 1960s as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, despite never being an official member of the party.
Prisoner rights have been among her interests; she is the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex. She is a retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a former director of the university’s Feminist Studies Department.
[At the time, UC Santa Cruz didn’t assign grades for academic courses. When students finally figured out that without grades they couldn’t get into graduate school, they decided it might be a good idea to be responsible for their own education and get a grade you had earned. Better late than never.]
Her research interests are feminism, African-American Studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music,social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. Her membership in the Communist Party led to then-California Governor Ronald Reagan’s request in 1969 to have her barred from teaching at any university in the State of California. She was twice a candidate for Vice President on the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1980s.
Beginning in 1969, Davis was an acting assistant professor in the philosophy department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Although both Princeton and Swarthmore had expressed interest in having her join their respective philosophy departments, she opted for UCLA because of its urban location. At that time, she also was known as a radical feminist and activist, a member of the Communist Party USA and an associate of the Black Panther Party.
The Board of Regents of the University of California urged by Ronald Reagan, fired her from her teaching position in 1969 because of her membership in the Communist Party. The Board of Regents was censured by the American Association of University Professors for their failure to reappoint Davis after her teaching contract expired. On October 20, when the Courts ruled the Regents could not fire Davis because of her affiliations with the Communist Party, she resumed her post.
The Regents, unhappy with the decision, continued to search for ways to release Davis from her position at UCLA. They finally accomplished this on June 20, 1970, when they fired Davis for the “inflammatory language” she had used on four different speeches. “We deem particularly offensive,” the report said, “such utterances as her statement that the regents ‘killed, brutalized (and) murdered’ the People’s Park demonstrators, and her repeated characterizations of the police as ‘pigs.'”
So, administrations of UCLA, Princeton and Swarthmore, the American Association of University Professors and the California Court system were all comfortable with Davis being exposed to young, impressionable minds that had no life experience with which to filter, much less exchange, ideas about radical and violent philosophies that she was undoubtedly fomenting.
[But, rest assured that the California Board of Regents would never make the same decision today.]
William “Bill” Ayers (born 1944) is a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar. During the 2008 presidential campaign , a controversy arose over his contacts with then-candidate Barack Obama. He is also known for his current work in education reform, curriculum and instruction.
He is a former leader in the counterculture movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War . In 1969 he co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the U.S. Capitol Building and the Pentagon) during the 1960s and 1970s in response to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War He is married to Bernardine Dohrn , another educator who was also a leader in the Weather Underground.
Inspired by Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, Ayers became involved in the New Left and the baby-boomer generation’s own Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) [a curious name for a group that has always been violently opposed to the free exchange of ideas]. He rose to national prominence as an SDS leader in 1968 and 1969. The SDS regional group, the “Jesse James Gang” [another curious choice], the group Ayers headed in Detroit, Michigan became one of the earliest gatherings of what became the Weatherman.
Before the June 1969 SDS Democrat presidential convention, Ayers became a prominent leader of the group, which arose as a result of a schism in SDS. “During that time his infatuation with street fighting grew and he developed a language of confrontational militancy that became more and more pronounced over the year ”, disaffected former Weatherman member Cathy Wilkerson wrote in 2001.
Ayers had previously been a roommate of Terry Robbins, a fellow militant who was killed in 1970 along with Ayers’ girlfriend and one other member of the Weather Underground in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, while constructing anti-personnel bombs intended for a U.S. Army non-commissioned officer dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
In June 1969, the Weatherman took control of the SDS at its national convention, where Ayers was elected Education Secretary. Later in 1969, Ayers participated in planting a bomb at a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket affair confrontation between labor supporters and the Chicago police (continuity, folks). The blast broke almost 100 windows and blew pieces of the statue onto the nearby Kennedy Expressway.
The statue was rebuilt and unveiled on May 4, 1970, and blown up again by other Weathermen on October 6, 1970. Rebuilding it yet again, the city posted a 24-hour police guard to prevent another blast, and in January 1972 it was moved to Chicago police headquarters.
Ayers participated in the “Days of Rage” riot in Chicago in October 1969 and in December he was at the “War Council” meeting in Flint, Michigan. Two major decisions came out of the “War Council”. The first was to immediately begin a violent, armed struggle (e.g., bombings and armed robberies to finance terror) against the state without attempting to organize or mobilize a broad swath of the public. The second was to create underground collectives in major cities throughout the country. [Present day Radical Islamic terror devotees in the United States model their behavior after Ayers.]
Larry Grathwohl, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant in the Weatherman group from the fall of 1969 to the spring of 1970, stated that “Ayers, along with Bernardine Dohrn, probably had the most authority within the Weatherman”. Knowing all of this first-hand, Chicago’s University of Chicago still hired him onto the faculty and gave him the same access to the same type of impressionable minds as UCLA did for Angela Davis.
Ayers was asked in a January 2004 interview, “How do you feel about what you did? Would you do it again under similar circumstances?” He replied: “I’ve thought about this a lot. Being almost 60, it’s impossible to not have lots and lots of regrets about lots and lots of things, but the question of did we do something that was horrendous, awful? … I don’t think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable.”
In a curious side note; the Michigan union camp, where 1960s radical students aligned with Bill Ayers signed their anti-American manifesto, has been recognized as an official historical site, in a development critics say lends unwarranted legitimacy to a movement that was linked to violence, domestic terrorism and anti-Americanism.
The “Port Huron Statement,” a 25,700-word document written by one-time University of Michigan student and future California lawmaker Tom Hayden, was signed at a United Auto Workers camp near Port Huron in 1962. But even though the mission statement for the left-wing group Students for a Democratic Society blasted the U.S. and helped spawn a sometimes-violent student movement, Democrat State officials say it is part of history.
“Part of the job of the Michigan Historical Commission is not to provide monuments, but ways to tell stories about our State that are of significance and the marker at Port Huron falls under that,” said a spokeswoman for the Michigan Historical Commission. The Port Huron Statement called for total disarmament by the U.S., an end to racism and major reform of the Democratic Party. [Hayden went on to marry actress and infamous anti-war activist “Hanoi Jane” Fonda.]
“The American political system is not the democratic model of which its glorifiers speak,” one passage in the statement read. “In actuality it frustrates democracy by confusing the individual citizen, paralyzing policy discussion, and consolidating the irresponsible power of military and business interests.” [This statement actually describes the activities of the PLDC but, then again, that is their favorite tactic – “cry wolf” (or is it fox?) while you’re busy eating the hen.]
SDS began as a peaceful movement, and gained massive influence on campuses across the nation as opposition to the Vietnam War, by the privileged baby-boomers, grew. By the latter part of the decade, the group had become increasingly strident and was monitored by the FBI. In 1968, SDS activists led “Ten Days of Resistance,” with an estimated 1 million students taking part at local campus chapters. But a year later, it splintered into several groups, including the violent Weather Underground and various other factions implicated in attacks on police and civilians.
“It is bewildering that the state of Michigan would waste taxpayer dollars celebrating a failed, totalitarian-oriented ideology,” a spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation, a conservative group of students and young professionals. “The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a radical group that was eager to salute their Eastern bloc comrades as no threat to freedom. [But] what we know now reinforces how radical and ill-informed SDS was. Not to mention that their domestic policy gave us a blueprint that led to modern day Detroit.”
Selected Text from the Historical Marker for the site of the Port Huron Statement [note the complete lack of context]:
From June 11 to 15, 1962, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) delegates met near this spot to debate and approve what would become The Port Huron Statement. At the time, this was a United Automobile Workers retreat called FDR Camp. After a December 1961 meeting, held at the University of Michigan, SDS decided to build a student movement with a manifesto that provided a “truly democratic alternative to the present.” Using an original draft by Tom Hayden, about sixty students, working in groups, reviewed and debated each section. The statement was the catalyst for the student movement that changed America in the 1960s. Some 60,000 copies had been printed by 1966.
Bill Ayers has long been rumored to have attended the signing, but the Historical Commission said the left-leaning lightning rod, who went on to a career in academia despite having been linked to bombings and an attack on a New York judge, was not. Ayers has commented on the Port Huron Statement in the past. In an article written during the 2012 Occupy Wall Street movement, he drew parallels between it and the SDS members who drafted the statement.
“Revolution is still possible, but barbarism is possible as well. In this time of peril and possibility, rising expectations and new beginnings, when hope and history once again rhyme, it’s absolutely urgent that we embrace the spirit embodied in the final words of The Port Huron Statement: ‘If we appear to seek the unattainable … we do so to avoid the unimaginable.’ Occupy the future,” Ayers wrote in an article for a publication titled In These Times.
Ward Churchill (born 1947) is an American author and political activist. He was a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder from 1990 to 2007. The primary focus of his work is on the historical treatment of political dissenters and Native Americans by the United States government. His work features controversial and provocative views, written in a direct, often confrontational style [not that there’s anything wrong with that].
In January 2005, Churchill’s work attracted publicity because of the widespread circulation of a 2001 essay, “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens“. In the essay, he claimed that the September 11, 2001 Radical Islamist terror attacks were a natural and unavoidable consequence of what he views as unlawful US policy, and he referred to the “technocratic corps” working in the World Trade Center as “little Eichmanns”, referring to the Nazi war criminal.
Churchill argued that the September 11 attacks were provoked by U.S. foreign policy. He compared the role of financial workers at the World Trade Center in “ongoing genocidal American imperialism” to the role played by Adolph Eichmann in organizing the Holocaust In 2005, this essay was widely publicized when Hamilton College in central New York State invited Churchill to speak.
This led to both condemnations of Churchill and counter-accusations of McCarthyism by Churchill and supporters. Following the controversy, the University of Colorado interim Chancellor said, “While Professor Churchill has the constitutional right to express his political views; his essay on 9/11 has outraged and appalled us and the general public.”
He was then sued by several academics on charges that he deliberately misrepresented their writing in a paper he had written. The university investigated the charges and on May 16, 2006 released their findings; the Investigative Committee agreed unanimously that Churchill had engaged in “serious research misconduct”, including falsification, fabrication and plagiarism. The faculty committees at Colorado University unanimously found Churchill guilty of fabrication and falsification in two of his works that mentioned smallpox. He was subsequently dismissed from the University.
A documentary called Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech, broadcast on Hollywood’s HBO, prominently features Churchill’s case in addressing the issues of free speech and First Amendment rights. And, once again, a university professor of questionable intellectual and academic quality was championed by another academic institution – in this case, Hamilton College [Alexander would be mortified].
Lord only knows how many other ideologically-driven university faculty members were granted similar access to students in the early Sixties but the dramatic change in student behavior in the middle of the decade is stark proof that something had changed – and had changed for the worse. Acting-out, a childish behavior, became de rigeur for young adults.
“Where early student demonstrations dealt with the civil rights and “free speech” movements, beginning with the Vietnam War demonstrations the character of the protests had changed – just one manifestation of a new spirit of these later protests. The nonviolent, peaceful spirit of student activism before 1964 had given way to violent and confrontational politics. The students were now looking for violence – for riots – and they found them in abundance.
Next time: Progressive/liberal/Democrat violence.