Wednesday, November 20, 2002

I was just looking through Bouchard's 1995 review of Murray and Herrnstein's BELL CURVE that King mentioned this morning. The line that jumped out at me was this one from the end of the second paragraph: "The book's message cannot be dismissed so easily. Herrnstein and Murray have written one of the most provocative social science books published in many years. The issues raised are likely to be debated by academics and policymakers for years to come."
Right. Does anybody remember hearing this debate? I remember hearing that the book had implications that would be uncomfortable to campus orthodoxy, and the rest was silence. The review shouldn't look as naive as it does. Campuses should be the place where our culture debates the crucial questions of our age. But of course modern campuses are nothing of the sort. What we have are political stances, social-transformationalist proclamations, chants, speakouts, and enormity unity of political opinion with deep and profound intolerance for those who disagree. Campuses don't debate; they silence those who deviate from orthodoxy rather than debate them and they do it with political power, not reason.
I suppose it's because it's late in the afternoon and I'm tired, but it is striking me as terribly, terribly sad that that review is so painfully naive about the capability or willingness of academics to genuinely debate anything of any real significance on campus.