Shocking new survey explains the mess caused by US institutions of higher indoctrination

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — There’s a direct link between the disastrous direction of America and the lack of free speech and diversity at its top universities.

In a recent study by the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), America’s most prestigious institution of higher education, Harvard University, ranked at the very bottom for freedom of speech among the 248 schools graded, with a rating of zero. In other words, the research considers free speech on campus to be nonexistent.

Also ranked near the bottom were other elite schools like Washington, DC’s Georgetown University (ranked 245th), Northwestern (242), Dartmouth (240), University of Pennsylvania (247), Fordham (244), Stanford (207), Yale (234). Many of the lowest-ranked colleges in the freedom survey also happen to be at the head of the class of “top college” listings.

The study surveyed students and examined the institutions’ responses to censorship — or “de-platforming” — attempts. Among the most shocking findings are that the worst-ranked schools, like Harvard, had a censorship success rate of 81 percent.

Apparently, all it takes for someone to be silenced in a place that’s supposed to be a safe space for controversial debate and discussion is for someone to take offense and run to the principal’s office.

It also turns out that conservatives are more tolerant than leftists, since 72 percent of students said that they wouldn’t want to allow a right-wing speaker on campus, while only 43 percent said that they’d object to a liberal guest. Meanwhile, only 73 percent of respondents say that it’s not OK to use violence against a campus speaker. I say “only” because — what’s the deal with the 27 percent who feel that it’s totally normal and cool? Imagine if this figure was extrapolated to society as a whole, with over a quarter of people feeling that it’s OK to put a beatdown on someone with an opposing view.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, half of all students surveyed admitted that it’s difficult to discuss the issue on campus, or transgender rights, racial inequality, and gun control. The result? Self-censorship to avoid offending. Kind of like in society in general. It didn’t used to be this way. Nor do the same kind of taboos exist in other Western cultures, like here in France. Although perhaps that’s changing, as some of these anti-freedom and censorship values make their way across the Atlantic and into Europe’s elite schools, in particular, and then trickle down through establishment diktat and propagated through mainstream channels.

Why are the most elite schools breeding grounds for authoritarian groupthink? Because they’re cozy little clubs dominated by establishment figures who are largely products of the same institutions themselves, and no one wants to be disinvited from their cliquey soirées. They’re also the same kind of figures who dominate the halls of policy-shaping power. While it may be tempting to dismiss the idea of a “deep state” as conspiratorial, it’s an apt description of the career bureaucrats who squat the corridors of power in Washington, steering policy and outlasting any single presidential administration — and who are overwhelmingly graduates of these same elite colleges.

A study conducted by Indiana University Bloomington professor Jacob Bower-Bir in 2021 found that cabinet-level appointees for the vast majority of government departments and agencies were overwhelmingly graduates of Ivy League or elite universities, and that of all US presidents since John F. Kennedy, only George H.W. Bush’s cabinet was “under 50 percent elite pedigreed.” The most affected departments? The State Department and the president’s National Economic Council — which would explain the current dismal state of US foreign policy and economy. Or those of the Western world more generally, considering how many foreign elites also attend the same schools.

Another analysis by Politico in 2021 found that “41 percent of senior- or mid-level Biden White House staffers — or 82 people out of 201 aides analyzed — have Ivy League degrees,” (compared with just 21 percent for Trump’s White House staff). Again, with so many staffers coming from educational backgrounds devoid of contradictory speech and debate, it’s no wonder that the Biden administration has just been spanked by the Louisiana high court, which issued an injunction earlier this month in a lawsuit filed by the attorney generals of both Louisiana and Missouri. The ruling bars Biden officials from “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing” the removal and suppression of “protected speech” online, as they stand accused of doing against inconvenient Covid-related narratives that contradicted the administration’s agenda. US District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty called the allegations, if proven true, “the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.”

Perhaps officials wouldn’t have the need to suppress contradictory information and analysis, on everything from Covid to foreign policy, had the bureaucratic elites been forced to consider radically opposing thought back in a risk-free college laboratory setting. Just maybe, exposure to intellectual heterogeneity could have convinced them of the value of diversity being more than just skin-deep. It all seems preferable to being mugged by reality mid-career while fumbling the country’s critical interests.