Daniel Pipes graduated from Harvard in 1971, the same year Paul and I graduated from Dartmouth. Unfortunately for Daniel, Chuck Schumer was one of his classmates. Schumer was one of my classmates the next year. Fortunately, I don’t remember ever meeting him. Daniel writes:
“The worst class ever”: This is how Nathan Pusey, Harvard’s president at the time, described my 1971 Bachelor cohort.
What a time a college administrator would say that!
After half a century to ponder this bitter judgment, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was spot on. Of course, you can’t be sure, as no one can know all of Harvard’s 385 graduating classes. However, I can argue that ours was rash not only in college – which Pusey observed and condemned – but in the fifty years since she has been actively involved in the deterioration of American higher education and culture.
It’s one thing to be stupid when you’re 19. It’s a whole different thing to be stupid when you’re 50.
We went to a liberal university in 1967 and left a radicalized one four years later. Take a look at the innovations: pass-fail courses, student representatives in tenure committees, politicized study departments and major subjects, relevance to the new benchmark. In addition, student life has been changed through living together, nude swimming together and an end to the dress code, ROTC and Parietals. (As an experiment, ask someone under the age of 70 what parietals mean.)
Heh. We didn’t have naked co-ed swimming in Dartmouth. By the way, we didn’t have co-eds, period. Let alone naked.
Christ’s Gloriam (“To the Glory of Christ”) was Harvard’s motto for the first two centuries. In order to adapt to other times, this was changed to secular Veritas in 1836. This motto is now completely out of date and urgently needs to be replaced. Our class from ’71 should propose propaganda. This Latin term has several advantages: it dates back to 1622 or just before Harvard was founded in 1636; it does not require translation into English; and it just captures Harvard’s new spirit, which our class is enthusiastically promoting.
Almost every college in the US has seen a similar shift. Pipes understands what has been lost:
We were among the last to receive a solid, demanding and apolitical education. I am deeply grateful for that. I learned from masters of their craft. Directed by them, I wrote classical music, became confused about the different geometries, memorized Chinese dynasties, understood the meaning of Marsilius of Padua, stumbled upon Arabic grammar, and appreciated the effects of the Six Day War. I enjoy this education all the more the more I know that few of today’s students experience anything like it (and as a college junior parent, I’ve seen it firsthand).
Sad but true. Paul and I feel the same way. With only one exception that I can remember, I never had a clue what the political opinions of my professors were. Why should it show up at all?
Go to Senator Schumer:
Our cohort has done its part in turning crazy ideas from the air of our ivory tower half a century ago into the madness that has become the dogma of half the American population. Our classmate Chuck Schumer symbolizes this extension. During the revolutionary years of Harvard he was president of the Young Democrats. Today he is the majority leader in the US Senate. In both functions he triangulated between moderates and radicals; In both cases he facilitated extremism. His training at Harvard prepared him well for the national demolition today.
This is our grim legacy.
I cannot defend what certain elements of my generation have done to undermine American civilization. All I can say is that some members of our generation – Paul, Scott, and I, to name a few of the less important ones – did everything we could to fight back.