The Shadow University
by Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate

An expose of the speech codes and kangaroo courts run by politically correct fascists and spineless bureaucrats in American colleges and universities. It is also an eloquent defense of free speech and the Bill of Rights. It includes a brief history of Supreme Court rulings on freedom of speech (Chapter 2).

They trace the origins of the left-wing intolerance to Herbert Marcuse (Chapter 3). It includes a clear description of the American system of due process (Chapter 11).

Speech is freer at public universities than at private schools because public universities have to pay attention to the Bill of Rights. Private schools are not treated legally as part of the government, so they are not bound by the restrictions on government listed in the Constitution. Speech codes and administrative procedures that violate due process are regarded as legally protected rights of private institutions. The legal defenses against these restrictions of academic freedom have to be based on other arguments such as false advertising and breach of contract.

There was no golden age of academic freedom. What has changed is that now speech on campuses is controlled by intolerant "progressives" instead of by intolerant reactionaries.

The book is long because it includes many examples of speech codes and violation of due process from universities all across the country.

"The whole notion of individual liberty becomes subordinated to redressing historical wrongs against groups. Codes dismiss free speech rights in favor of a predetermined notion of historical moral responsibility..." (83)

"At most institutions there is a 'bait and switch' where students are promised academic freedom but are given speech codes and double standards instead." (85-86)

"The theologian who tells us that we are going to hell (which is profoundly 'hurtful') is quite different from the theologian who has us stoned (which is assault). The law offers us no protection against the former, except our right to ignore or respond, but it offers a great deal of protection against the latter. This distinction is rejected by speech codes." (92)

"Imagine a university of patriotic 'loyalty oaths' where leftists were deemed responsible for the tens of millions of victims of communism ..." (102)

"White students daily hear themselves, their friends, and their parents denounced as 'racists' and oppressors,' while their tormenters live with special protections from offense. Believing Christians hear their beliefs ridiculed and see their sacred symbols traduced--virtually nothing, in the name of freedom, may not be said against them in the classroom, at rallies, and in personal encounters--while their tormenters live with special protection from offense. Men hear their sex abused, find themselves blamed for all the evils of the world, and enter classrooms whose very goal is to make them feel discomfort, while their tormenters live with special protections from 'a hostile environment.'" (103)

"On most campuses, however, diversity and multiculturalism, and the programs to 'nurture' them, respect neither real differences not the individualism that lies at the heart of those differences.

Instead, academic notions and programs of diversity and multiculturalism are marked, almost everywhere, by dogmatic and partisan definitions or models. Despite the talk of 'celebrating' diversity, colleges and universities do not, in fact, mean celebration, deep study, and appreciation of evangelical, fundamentalist, Protestant culture; nor of traditionalist Catholic culture; nor of the gender roles of Orthodox Jewish or of Shiite Islamic culture; nor of black American Pentecostal culture; nor of assimilation; nor of the white, rural South. These are not 'multicultural.' They also do not mean the serious study of West African Benin culture, nor Confucian culture, both requiring intensive linguistic mastery and scholarly inquiry to achieve understanding. All that the social engineers of diversity mean, in fact, is the appreciation, celebration, and study of those people who think exactly as they do about the nature and cause of oppression, wherever they are found and however nonrepresentative those thinkers might be of the broader groups that they proportedly represent. Academic diversity and multiculturalism have remarkably narrow limits--race, gender, 'oppressed' ethnicity, and sexual preference--as articulated by self-proclaimed 'progressives.' The academic use of the terms 'diversity' and 'multiculturalism' has become a politicized perversion of language." (192-193)

"Indeed, when colleges do think about affirmation and vulnerability, they do so from racist and misogynistic notions that ego strength correlates to externalities, and that whites, men, and heterosexuals have it while blacks, women, and gays do not. A white male student who lost a father in Vietnam is deemed strong enough by racial definition to hear a professor call his late father a 'baby killer,' whereas a woman or black must be protected from the punch line of a joke." (193)

"Self-serving spinelessness, not ideology, is what has led to the current catastrophe in our universities." (313)

"It is not a complex formula. Republicans, moderates, evangelicals, assimilationist blacks or Hispanics, and devout Catholics don't occupy buildings or cause disruptions that will bring the media to campus. The improbable cry "the Lutherans are really mad" will not send administrators into panic. Administrative attention, thus, goes to the grievances of those who might occupy buildings, disrupt the campus, and attract the media." (313)

"The shame is that it does not require deep courage to resist the sacrifice of liberty and legal equality for peace. There are nations in the world where a college president indeed would risk his life by standing up for academic freedom. That is not the situation in the United States today. What is required is not so much courage as dedication to liberty and legal equality supported by just a bit of backbone. The fact that our academic leaders are not up to this task is alarming. The fear of disruption, of causing offense, of being associated with controversy, linked to careerism, has produced a hollow, unprincipled cowardice." (329)

"Let the current centers of politically correct governance of student lives in loco parentis have the courage, if they truly stand by their policies and ideologies, to put this most essential information on page one of their catalogs. Let them say to their public what they say to themselves: 'This University believes that your sons and daughters are the racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive America. For $30,000 per year, we shall assign them rights on an unequal and compensatory basis and undertake by coercion their moral and political enlightenment.' Let them advertise themselves honestly and then see who comes." (371)

"They loathe the society that they believe should support them generously in their authority over its offspring; they are detached from the values of individual liberty, legal equality, privacy, and the sanctity of conscience toward which Americans essentially are drawn; and, for both those reasons, they cannot bear the light of public scrutiny. Let the sunlight in." (373)

Year Read: 1999


Back to Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday
Back to Nonfiction Book Notes
Back to Fiction Book Notes
Back to Book Notes by Author

This page was last updated on September 27, 2011.
This site is maintained by Roy Halliday. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send them to royhalliday@mindspring.com.