Intercollegiate Review Fall 2015

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ISIS Fall 2015



The Intercollegiate Review is the flagship publication of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. ISI was founded in 1953, when a young journalist named William F. Buckley Jr. led a counterattack against the progressive ideology taking over American colleges. ISI offered students a compelling alternative: conservatism. Join the ISI community and discover why so many prominent Americans—scholars and CEOs, journalists and judges, authors and politicians— point to their ISI experience as transformative.





24 NOTES FROM THE CONSERVATIVE UNDERGROUND ISI campus leaders report from the front lines

26 STUDENT VOICES Know Thy Enemy


Mariana Barillas learned her debate opponents’ arguments well

John Zmirak unpacks a survival kit for religious believers on campus

What Is Free Speech? Nihal Singh takes on the class of the ever offended and always outraged

34 ARTS & MANNERS Why You Should Read “The Worst Books” Leftists Can’t Enjoy a Good Movie Anymore


“You Don’t Have to Try,” and Other Smash Hit Lies

ISIS the Irrational Robert R. Reilly explains why the terror org is the negation of reason

40 From Leviathan



M. Stanton Evans on how conservatives marry virtue and freedom

Steven F. Hayward, the Happy Warrior, answers student questions about the conservative in academia



A Conservative Case for Freedom

When Good Intentions Aren’t Good Enough Jason L. Riley shows how liberal policies have done more harm than good for African-Americans

20 FEATURE Pithy or Toxic?

Douglas Wilson writes with snark, bite, and pith—and so should you

Garland S. Tucker III discusses Grover Cleveland, the forgotten ­conservative hero

University’s Student Modification Guidebook, 2015–16: “Microaggressions”




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Publisher’s Note

The Macro-Threat of Microaggressions


Christopher Long E DITOR

Jed Donahue



f you need more evidence of the left’s zeal to eradicate any thought that Anthony Sacramone challenges its nihilistic creed, look no further than its recent politically ASSOCIATE E DITORS correct creation known as “microaggressions.” Joseph Cunningham Stephen Herreid Microaggressions are words or actions that may somehow offend a leftist’s delicate sensibilities. Even if the perceived slight is committed unintentionally DESIG N E R Daniel Trost and is indiscernible save to specially trained microaggression thought police, the free-speaking offender will be chastised and ultimately silenced. ADVE RTISI NG MANAG E M E NT Publishing Management Associates Inc. Microaggressions might seem laughable. After all, the University of Illinois recently determined that even walking into a classroom full of white students CONTR I B UTI NG E DITORS Mariana Barillas, University of Michigan–Flint constitutes a microaggression against minority students. But ISI students write Matthew Murphy, Berry College to me with alarming regularity about how their left-leaning professors and peers Ben Peterson, Pepperdine University are crying “microaggression” to trample free speech and the search for truth. Nihal Singh, University of California, Berkeley In “Campus Chaos,” beginning on the next page, you will find several examples of microaggressions being used to squash the free exchange of ideas that was once the hallmark of the college experience. To counter the rising threat of microaggressions, campus leftists insist on placing “trigger warnings” on any thought that departs from the reigning progressive orthodoxy and on creating “safe zones” to shield sensitive students from the damage that having their beliefs challenged would undoubtedly inflict. “MICROAGGRESSIONS” MIGHT SEEM How can we combat the squelching of free thinking on campus? The answer is simple: we LAUGHABLE, BUT LEFT-LEANING must spread the ideas of freedom ourselves. PROFESSORS AND STUDENTS ARE USING Throughout this issue of the Intercollegiate Review, you will find articles from thinkers THEM TO . bold enough to challenge the left’s dogma. On page 16, Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal explains how progressive policies such as affirmative action have led to disastrous unintended consequences for the very people they are intended to help. And on page 8, popular ISI speaker Robert Reilly examines the root philosophical causes that led to Photo on p. 8: reuters/Stringer the regressive state of much of the modern Muslim world. Photo on p. 16: Getty Images These are precisely the types of ideas that more students would benefit from hearing about and fairly considering. I hope that you will share them with your The I ntercollegiate R eview (ISSN #0020-5249) is published two times during the academic year by the Interclassmates. And if there is ever anything that ISI can do to help you, my teamcollegiate Studies Institute, Inc., 3901 Centerville Road, Wilmington, DE 19807-1938. Intercollegiate Studies Instimates and I would love to hear from you.



Christopher Long President, ISI



tute, Inc. © 2015. All rights reserved. All student members on the ISI mailing list receive the I ntercollegiate R eview free of charge during the academic year. Nonmembers may subscribe to the magazine at $15/two issues or $28/four issues. Please visit­ to subscribe or for ­further information. Direct all correspondence to the above address. Address changes may be sent to Direct advertising inquiries to Publishing Management Associates Inc., 129 Phelps Avenue, Suite 312, Rockford, IL 61108-2447, 815-398-8569, Opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily represent the views of ISI or the editors. The responsibility for opinions and accuracy of facts in articles rests solely with the individual authors. For more information on ISI, visit

ILLIBERAL LIBERALISM or, How to Keep College Students from Ever Encountering an Opinion They Don’t Already Share by STERLING BEARD


he purpose of a university is to educate and challenge students. Yet more and more schools serve as expensive echo chambers in which only preapproved, “safe” conversation can take place—if students and faculty can even agree on what speech is safe!


Prominent Feminist Makes Oberlin Students Feel Unsafe The mere act of hosting a speaker has become an offense to campus liberals. Under pressure from liberal activists, colleges have recently disinvited prominent conservatives including columnist George F. Will, author Charles Murray, and human right activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Even when conservative speakers make it onto campus, they are met with attacks. In April the Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians (OCRL) hosted a talk by American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism? According to the group, Sommers was going to discuss “feminism from a perspective that differs from the general Oberlin population.” That was apparently too much for some fragile Oberlin students who decried her visit. Students accused her of being a “rape denialist” and declared that her very presence



on campus would make them feel “unsafe.” One student told Campus Reform that OCRL should have put a disclaimer on Sommers’s talk because its frank discussion of sexual assault statistics could be a “trigger” for victims of sexual assault. Some Oberlin students set up a “safe space” during Sommers’s talk. They also put up posters naming members of OCRL and declaring that they were “perpetuating rape culture.” Sommers told Campus Reform that “the students were so carried away with the idea that I was a threat

to their safety” that Oberlin officials became concerned for her safety: they assigned her a security detail. About three hundred students showed up to listen to Sommers, but she said that they “hooted, hollered, jeered, and mocked nearly everything.” She added, “I doubt my appeals to reason and rules of evidence made much of an impression.” Sommers described the behavior she had seen as “cult-like.” This sort of response must be growing tiresome for Sommers; she had received a similarly hysterical reception at Georgetown University only a few days earlier.


Arizona State University Students: “Walk-Only Zones” Are a Microaggression Students at Arizona State University (ASU) weren’t content to leave microaggression claims to the Brandeis community. In the spring they targeted an “offensive” presence on campus: pedestrian paths that go by the name Walk-Only Zones. As Campus Reform reported, ASU students started a petition to rename these paths Pedestrian-Only Zones or “any other inclusive title.” The problem was that “Walk-Only” language “marginalizes disabled bodies who cannot walk.” continued next page


Microaggression Exhibit “Triggers” Brandeis Students To create “safe” environments for students, more and more colleges are decrying “microaggressions,” which are actions, comments, or even gestures that might offend members of “marginalized” groups, intentionally or unintentionally. According to the social justice warriors who inhabit academia, many people face a daily onslaught of microaggressions. One student group at Brandeis University learned the hard way the exquisite sensitivity involved with micro­ aggressions. The Brandeis Asian American Students Association (BAASA) tried to “foster a healthy dialogue about racism . . . and how harmful and pervasive microaggressions can



be”—but ended up having to apologize for hurting members of the Brandeis community. The BAASA created an outdoor art installation consisting of a series of small signs emblazoned with microaggressions that members allegedly endured from fellow students. As the Daily Caller reported, the signs featured such microaggressions as “I’m colorblind! I don’t see race”; “I totally have an Asian fetish”; “You’re my favorite Asian!”; “Aren’t you supposed to be good at math?”; and “Why can’t people learn English when they come to this country?” But the BAASA’s effort

backfired: several students complained that the installation itself constituted a microaggression and a “trigger.” The group was forced to apologize. The BAASA’s president ended up sending a 1,278word e-mail to the entire student body. In it she apologized “to the Asian students on campus who were triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions in our installation.” The e-mail added: “We had no intention of mocking or harming our own community and ourselves. We acknowledge the disconnect between intention and effect.”

A flier advertising the petition, featuring silhouettes of people using crutches, wheelchairs, and canes, urged readers to “make ASU a more inclusive space for ALL students and faculty.” The flier declared, “Not everyone at ASU can walk, so WHY use the lingo ‘Walk Only’?”


Dozens of people signed the petition (never mind that pedes­ trian derives from the Latin pedestere, which means “going on foot”). One signer wrote, “I was on crutches for 5 weeks and felt uncomfortable when seeing [the Walk-Only sign].” Another said: “This is necessary. Oppressive language is a microagression [sic] that needs to be addressed and is often forgotten about. Word choice is one of the easiest things to change and often one of the most powerful.”

Vandals Destroy Pro-Life Display at Clarion University Less than twelve hours after Clarion University pro-life students put up a Cemetery of the Innocents—hundreds of white crosses symbolizing the millions of abortions that have taken place in the United States since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade—vandals had destroyed the display. It was the second time in four years that pro-lifers at the Pennsylvania school had seen their display vandalized. As Campus Reform reported, when the pro-life students checked their display the morning after installing it, they found crosses broken and stuffed into trash cans.

Some of the crosses had been scribbled on, with the vandals asking, “Would you support if this life was gay?” and “Would you support if this life were trans?” When Clarion pro-lifers held a similar protest in 2011, they found their 350 crosses turned upside down and covered in red paint, meant to simulate blood. Vandals also painted bloody baby feet.

Sterling Beard is news editor of Campus Reform. A 2012 graduate of Dartmouth College, he served as editor in chief of the Dartmouth Review and received ISI’s Preston A. Wells Jr. Leadership Award.


Students Deface Busts of Reagan, Thatcher In early April leftist students at Chapman University in Orange, California, defaced busts of various political figures and intellectuals on campus by wrapping them in caution tape and posting a list of charges. For example, both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were charged with “racism, classism, and homophobia.” Meanwhile, Nobel Prize–winning economist Milton Friedman was accused of “global violence and imperialism.” When contacted by Campus Reform, a university spokeswoman said that the school believed it had identified the perpetrators via social media posts—but that the university did not intend to punish the students.


n 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court championed “the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms” in American schools. First Amendment freedom on campus was especially important, the court declared, because colleges were meant to function as the “marketplace of ideas.” Five decades later, liberals have practically shut that market­place down.








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THE IRRATIONAL by R obert R. R eilly


hy does the Islamic State (ISIS) behave in the strange ways it does? What inspires it to rampage through the libraries and museums of Mosul, Iraq, destroying priceless manuscripts and artifacts? Why does it take jackhammers to priceless archaeological relics from the Assyrian Empire? Why does it line up Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, face them north across the Mediterranean, and then slit their throats? Why is it so keen on reestablishing the caliphate? Why, in short, does it behave so unreasonably?



Of course, one can answer these questions by simply quoting ISIS spokesmen and repeating their justifications, which are laced with quotations from the Qur’an and the hadith (the canonical accounts of the sayings and doings of Muhammad). But that is not a great help, because other Muslims have lived under the same injunctions without wreaking the havoc that ISIS does. There must be a deeper reason. And there is. ISIS and its al-Qaeda predecessor are incomprehensible to most Westerners because they are unaware of a pivotal theological struggle waged within Islam more than a millennium ago. It was a battle over the nature of God and the role of reason—and the side of irrationality won. The resolution of that conflict has had profound consequences for much of Sunni Islam—and the rest of the world— ever since.

the Qur’an was created in history and therefore needs to be understood in terms of the linguistic and cultural circumstances in which it was revealed. The Ash’arites claimed that the Qur’an was not created but has existed coeternally with God in heaven. Therefore, the Qur’an is not contingent on the circumstances in which it was revealed, and Arabic is the language of God (which is why all Muslims have Arabic names and must pray in Arabic, though the majority of Muslims in the world do not understand this language). Obviously, the Mu’tazilite understanding of the Qur’an allows for greater breadth of interpretation, while the Ash’arite understanding tends toward literalism (which finds its harshest expression today in Saudi Wahhabism). The Mu’tazalites had a conception of natural law that allowed man to come to know the difference between right and wrong through his reason’s apprehension of the essences of things. Since the Ash’arites asserted that man could not obtain moral knowledge through his reason, they constructed a bizarre atomistic metaphysics to defend their position and to destroy the possibility of natural law. Basically, man cannot know the nature or essence of things because


The Battle over Reason Two theological schools emerged within Sunni Islam in the ninth century. The first, the Mu’tazalites, said that God is reason and justice. The Mu’tazalites held that man’s first duty is to reason because the existence of God is not self-evident. Once man arrives at the existence of God through his reason, he examines the claims of revelation that God has spoken. If anything in revelation appears to go against his reason, he must either bring the revelation into accord with reason or discard it. Through reason, too, man comes to know the difference between what is right and what is wrong, and he must choose what is right through his free will. God is just insofar as He will reward those who do what is right and punish those who do what is wrong. The second theological school, the Ash’arite school, opposed all of this. God is not reason and justice, the Ash’arites said. Rather, He is pure will and power—unbound by anything,

including His own word. Man must abandon reason and submit to the text of revelation, no matter what it says or how unreasonable it may appear. Man’s reason is incapable of knowing the difference between right and wrong. Nothing is right or wrong in and of itself; it is right or wrong only according to what God says. Does God forbid murder because it is wrong? Or is it wrong because He forbids it? The Mu’tazilite answer was that God forbids it because it is wrong. The Ash’arite answer was that it is wrong only because God forbids it, and God could change his mind and require ritual murder, if He so chose. Also, according to the Ash’arites, God is not required to reward those who obey Him and punish those who disobey. He may reward those who disobey Him and punish those who obey, and no one can gainsay Him. Whatever God does is just—because right is the rule of the stronger, and God is the strongest. The Mu’tazalites and the Ash’arites also fought over the nature of the Qur’an. The Mu’tazalites said that



they have no natures or essences. Everything is constituted by timespace atoms that momentarily come into existence directly through the will of God. Whatever exists is an agglomeration of these atoms specifically configured for a brief moment by an act of God. These same atoms are then annihilated almost simultaneously by another direct act of God’s will. God then reconstitutes reality with an entirely new set of atoms that may be similar to the previous ones or completely different—that depends only upon Him. Therefore, a Mu’tazilite could know that a horse would remain a horse because it has the nature of the horse. But the Ash’arite could possess no such knowledge, because God might wish to turn the horse into a giraffe, and there is no reason why He could not. In fact, to say that the horse must remain a horse because it has the nature of the horse would be an act of blasphemy for an Ash’arite. It would place a limit on God’s omnipotence. The atomistic metaphysics of the Ash’arites created a fatal breach between cause and effect in the natural world. Fire does not burn cotton; God

The Consequences Today The Mu’tazilite rational theological school was suppressed by force in the second half of the ninth century, and the Ash’arite school became the majority in Sunni Islam. To this day, everything that happens is assigned to the first and only cause, Allah; secondary causes simply do not exist. Understanding that this teaching became entrenched in the Sunni Muslim world is the key to unlocking such puzzles as why scientific inquiry is nearly dead there; why the Arab world stands near the bottom of every measure of human development; why Spain translates more books in a single year than the entire Arab world has in the past thousand years; why some people in Saudi Arabia still refuse to believe man has been to the moon. Whether it is an Asian tsunami or American hurricane, Ash’arite Muslims will explain it in terms of God’s punishing sinners for their disobedience. Therefore, Allah punished the United States with Hurricane Katrina for its interference in the Muslim world. Also, Allah placed the oil under the sands of the Arabian Peninsula as a reward to Saudi Arabia for following strict sharia law.

AND WHY IS SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY NEARLY DEAD IN THE MUSLIM WORLD? does. Gravity does not make the rock fall; God does. To say that a rock falls because of gravity is an act of shirk, blasphemy—assigning a cause to something other than God. In other words, there is no continuous narrative of cause and effect tying these moments together in a comprehensible way. Each thing stands separately as an individual act of God, unrelated to what preceded it or to what follows it. Anything can come of anything, and nothing necessarily follows. Reality becomes unintelligible.



Most Westerners find all of this ludicrously improbable, but it is the daily gist of the Arab Muslim press (as anyone can see by going to the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute and reading the translations). The denial of causality manifests itself in practical ways. Speak with any American soldiers who have served with Iraqi troops, and you will find that the Iraqis resist things as simple as wearing seatbelts or Kevlar vests. The thinking goes something like this: if my time has come as decreed by Allah, the seatbelt or the Kevlar vest is not going to save me. If my assigned time has not come, why do I need to use a seatbelt or wear a Kevlar vest? In 2009 the founder of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, said: “There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam. Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain. Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it.” Similarly, in the mid-1980s the Pakistani media suspended weather forecasts after Muslim clerics objected to them as blasphemous. After all,

if God causes rain, how could man presume to predict it?

No Time, No History Let us return to the question of why members of the Islamic State are destroying priceless relics from the Assyrian Empire. They explain that it is their religious duty to destroy idols. But the human-headed winged lions they are smashing are no longer idols, because they are no longer idolized. No one has believed in the gods of Assyria for several thousand years.

opponents. They are not being quaint. The past is present to them; that is why they must smash it if it does not conform to their beliefs. Ahistory fights history. This is why the Coptic Christians were faced north across the Mediterranean toward Rome when their throats were cut, as a warning that ISIS would next conquer Rome as Muslims once took Constantinople. This is all part of the resuscitation of the caliphate, the necessity of which exists in their minds now much as it did in the seventh century.


HUMAN DEVELOPMENT? The same is true of the Egyptian pyramids, which Islamists occasionally suggest need to be destroyed for the same reasons. But no one has been embalmed and buried in the pyramids for thousands of years. While destroying parts of the ancient city of Nimrud, one ISIS militant declared, “God has honored us in the state of Islam by removing and destroying everything that was held to be equal to him and worshipped without him.” He may be a couple of millennia too late, but that does not matter to the adherents of an ahistorical religion. Islamists do not live in what we might call historical time. Recall that for them the Qur’an is an ahistorical document. It exists in eternity. Also keep in mind that Ash’arite metaphysics guts historical time of its narrative meaning: time is a succession of unrelated events. ISIS adherents live in sacred time, which is static. In sacred time, everything is present all at once. This is why Islamists refer to Westerners in their literature as “Romans,” which is what seventh-century Muslim warriors called their Byzantine

A Theological Prison The Ash’arite school remains the majority in Sunni Islam to this day. It is Ash’arite theology that continues to be taught at Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious teaching institution in the Arab world. It is therefore appropriate that Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed his warning about the extremism tearing apart Islam to the religious scholars

and clerics at Al-Azhar in a speech on December 28, 2014. The speech is worth quoting at length, particularly for anyone who thinks I may be exaggerating the extremity of the situation. Al-Sisi said: It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. . . . It has reached the point that [this ideology] is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] would kill the world’s population of 7 billion, so that they could live [on their own]? This is inconceivable. I say these things here, at Al-Azhar, before religious clerics and scholars. May Allah bear witness on Judgment Day to the truth of your intentions, regarding what I say to you today. You cannot see things clearly when you are locked [in this ideology]. You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology. You must oppose it with resolve. Let me say it again: We need to revolutionize our religion. Honorable Imam [the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar], you bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.

A Muslim intellectual reformer recently told me that he felt he had been living in “a theological prison.” With the help of the French language to get a “look from outside,” he broke out of it and found a way to reconcile faith with reason. I have tried to sketch out the contours of the theological prison. Given al-Sisi’s heartfelt cry, one can only hope for a major jailbreak. Robert R. Reilly is the author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How I­ ntellectual Suicide Created the ­Modern Islamist Crisis (ISI Books). He is ­director of the Westminster Institute.





by M. S tanton E vans

f there is one point upon which contemporary philosophers seem to be agreed, it is that American society has somehow lost its bearings. Critics of all persuasions relentlessly inform us that our nation has strayed from the values which once made it strong and informed it with purpose. As to what those values are, or were, there is considerably less agreement.




hat Is Conservatism? (1964) is a conservative classic, featuring essays by such giants as William F. Buckley Jr., F. A. Hayek, and Russell Kirk. The book is as relevant today as it was a half century ago. ISI has just released a new edition of this seminal work, featuring a foreword by National Review’s Jonah Goldberg. The IR is excited to share this excerpt from the essay by M. Stanton Evans, who mentored generations of ISI students.


p o l i t i ca

The imprint of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute Wilmington, Delaware www.isibooks .org

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in mind and will, with its demand for individual subordination to an objective, nonsecular order. Critics of the protest movement delight in pointing to what they consider an insoluble dilemma. They are joined by sectarians within the movement itself, urging on the one hand that we abandon our insistence on individual freedom, on the other that we give up our Christianized view of man. The two, we are repeatedly informed, are simply not compatible. For the purposes of this essay, I shall call those who choose the first alternative “authoritarians,” those who choose the second “libertarians.” The authoritarian believes in the objective order and is generally ready to limit individual freedom to follow its prescriptions. He prefers a hierarchical to a fluid society, conceiving some men as destined to rule, others to obey—all ordained by the objective order. The libertarian finds the idea of such an immobile society repugnant and rejects the principles which have been used to sanction it. Each has been transfixed by a single aspect of the contemporary crisis and insists that this aspect alone must absorb our full attention. The libertarian sees the power of the state increas“What Is Conse rvatism? is one ofthe my favorite boo is The Federalis while ing by leaps andIt bounds, ks. . . . t Paper s of Ameri can conser vatism .” power of the individual—correspondJONAH GOLDBERG , from the forewor d to this new edit ion ingly diminishes. What Is CoHe demands that nservatism? (1964) is a con today as it wa ser vative cla s a half centur including all other considerations, ssic—as rele y ago. Just what is vant conser vatism ? Many peo especially as ple are gropin con ser vat the structuretraditofionalis traditional ives seem to values, g for answers, ret rea t into factions— ts, libertaria ns, social con Tea Partiers, on and on. Bu ser vatives, neo s illuminating yield to the task oflort thiesconfronting even as it exp book shows thisconser vatives, and what unites con conser vatism ser vatives ’s ric Edited by Fra h internal deb nk S. Meyer ate. terrible challenge. The authoritar, who popula that became rized the ide the basis for a of “fusionis modern con tism? features m” servatism, Wh brilliant essays at Is Conserva ian sees moral standards crumbling by suc h leading ligh • F. A. Ha ts as: yek, Nobel Pri ze–winning Ro ad eco to and traditional values being ignored, Serfdom nomist and author of The • William F. Buckley Jr., founder of Na perhap s most res tional Review and demands that all other considponsib and the man le for the rise • Russell Kir of modern con k, whose sem ser vatism inal book The con ser vat Co erations, including, ifentneed be, nsethe ive movem rvative Mind its name • M. Stanto gave the n Evans, aut hor of the con credo, the “Sh yield ser vat cause of freedom, task ofent’s central ive movem aron Statem to the ent” (1960) In a foreword to this new edition,virtue. restoring aut a hordue for and Naregard #1 New York tional Review Times bestse contributing the influence lling editor Jonah of What Is Co Goldberg exp nse the rvaa Both positions book’s relevan rest on lains tismform ? on conserof ce today. vative though t and illicit conversion. In the view of this writer, they have not properly related first principles and conclusions. Patient inquiry will disclose, I think, that affirmation of a transcendent order is not only compatible with individual autonomy, but the condition of it; and that a skeptical view


Those who have been most vocal in decrying our fallen state have usually been identified as conservatives. Even this subdivision of social and political criticism has failed to reach an agreed analysis of what ails us. Some conservatives fix on one thing and some on another, so that the net effect is not clarification but compounded obscurity. This confusion is joyfully augmented by the forces which error has thrust into power. Those who benefit from the prevailing tendencies have no desire to see those tendencies corrected; thus the ruling collectivists and liberals, so called, have assiduously tried to conjure the conservative protest movement out of existence. A whole school of literature has developed, attempting to define present-day conservatism either as a revenant classical liberalism or else as a form of mental disorder. In either case, the point is to dispose of it as something too silly to be of much account. Such theoretical confusion is highly unfortunate. Before they enmesh themselves in it, most American conservatives operate in terms of an instinctive consensus; it is only when abstract sanctions are sought that the sectarians take over and begin compartmentalizing everyone into the suggested factions. Working unity is then dissipated in ideological feuding. The position set forward in this essay is not that such feuding is practically disadvantageous (although this is true enough) but that it shares a fault common to most attitudinizing at the first level of sophistication—that those who have set about to fragment the consensus offer us a doctrine less coherent than the instinctive wisdom they attack. The fundamental disagreement among conservative theoreticians occurs over the problem of man and his nature: specifically, whether the imperatives of individual freedom can be reconciled with the Christian conception of the individual as flawed





ns by







M. Stanton Evans spent decades bringing the case for freedom to ISI students around the country

of man’s nature not only permits political liberty but demands it. An attack on traditional values, after the libertarian fashion, will not check the growth of state power but contribute to its increase. An assault on individual freedom, in the authoritarian manner, will not restore us to virtue, because virtue cannot be legislated. Freedom and virtue have declined together and must rise together. They are not opposites; they are not even, in the American context, separate matters to be dealt with independently. They are complementaries which flourish or wither in a direct and dependable ratio.

The Value of Values

The libertarian, or classical liberal, characteristically denies the existence of a God-centered moral order, to which man should subordinate his will and reason. Alleging human freedom as the single moral imperative, he otherwise is a thoroughgoing relativist, pragmatist, and materialist. He puts considerable emphasis on economics. Man and his satisfactions, the libertarian maintains, are 14


themselves the source of value—and other values cannot be imposed from without. Because the free economy best serves man and best supplies his material needs, it is moral. It works. There seem to be a number of reasons for libertarian devotion to these views. One no doubt is that some present-day libertarians are genuine descendants of Mill and Spencer, and proceed—logically, as they believe— from relativist premises to a vindication of freedom. But I believe the more common occurrence is that other considerations, largely unspoken, incline the libertarian to his particular brand of relativism. Many attacks on the idea of a transcendent order can be traced to fears about the uses to which any particular affirmation of truth may be put. The libertarian suspects that commitment to this or that ethical judgment will imply the need for having it enforced by the political authorities. Yet that step, as we shall see momentarily, is neither necessary nor desirable for those concerned to nourish a regime of virtue. Additionally, there seems to be considerable confusion between value,

as received from tradition and the counsels of religious teaching, and conformity, imposed by the pressures of the group. The two may of course coincide—specifically, when group pressures aim at enforcing traditional value. But the fact that they may appear in conjunction does not mean they are the same; and in a time of triumphant revolution, inability to make the distinction constitutes failure at the most elementary level of analysis. It is hard to believe, however, that anyone interested in conserving historic American institutions could become reconciled to today’s patchwork collectivism. Our tradition, after all, running back through Adams and Madison and Dickinson and Otis to Coke and the British common law, is a tradition of imposing limitations upon the arbitrary exercise of power. The conformity of statism represents a radical break with that tradition; those who wish to affirm the values embodied in the tradition must oppose blatant violation of it, even when that violation has become settled and comfortable, and takes extraordinary effort to dislodge. They must perforce be nonconformists and rebels, ready to brave the censure of the group. Moreover, it is only if they are motivated by deeply cherished values that they can manage to do so. So far are “value” and “conformity” from being identical that the second can rise to its current distasteful height only when the first declines. A man without the interior armor of value has no defense against the pressures of his society. It is precisely the loss of value which has turned the “inner-directed” citizen of nineteenth-century America into the “other-directed” automaton of today. Man, Ortega wrote, “is a being forced by his nature to seek some higher authority. If he succeeds in finding it of himself, he is a superior man; if not, he is a mass-man, and must receive it from his superiors.” To exist in community, men must harmonize their desires; some kind

of general equilibrium has to prevail. Men who lose the “inner check,” as Babbitt called it, must therefore submit to an outer one; they become mass men, ruled by their “superiors.” The erosion of value is doubly destructive. As it promotes statism by creating the need for an external force to order conflicting desires, it simultaneously weakens the individual’s ability to withstand the state. Men without values are more than willing to trade their freedom for material benefits. That the loss of moral constraint invites the rule of power is surely one of the best-established facts of twentieth-century history. Indeed, a number of quite unconservative witnesses have pointed out that the vigor of civilization is dependent on people who are guided by some internalized system of value and who are thus capable of initiative and self-reliant behavior.

Means and Ends

The authoritarian, like the libertarian, believes that value and enforcement go hand in hand; unlike the libertarian, however, he accepts both. He merely wants to be the person doing the enforcing. The conservative, as I conceive him, rejects this common analysis. He does not share the authoritarian’s readiness to coerce his fellow men into virtue, but neither does he share the libertarian’s commitment to freedom at virtue’s expense. The conservative believes man should be free; he does not believe being free is the end of human existence. He maintains that man exists to form his life in consonance with the objective order, to choose the Good. But “choice” of the Good can take place only in circumstances favoring volition. Freedom is thus the political context of moral decision; it is the modality within

which the human mind can search out moral absolutes. In the conservative view, then, right choice is the terminal value; freedom, an instrumental and therefore subsidiary value. To the conservative, economic and political freedom per se is not “moral”; only willed human actions have moral content, and freedom dictates no particular actions. A freely acting man may or may not be moral, depending on what he does. But while freedom is morally neutral, the possible alternatives—i.e., varying forms of coercion—are not. By their nature, all coercive systems require certain actions which we hold immoral: the arbitrary exercise of power over men by other men. The Western ethic holds murder and theft are wrong because they are abrogations of divine law and of the integrity of the human personality. And it is historically demonstrable that, when total power is invested in the state,

the sanctity of freedom. If there is no value system with which we may rebuke the pretensions of despots, what is to prevent the rule of force in the world? If there are no objective standards of right and wrong, why object to tyranny? If murder and theft are not immoral, why object to them either singly or in the mass? The last argument needs to be taken a step further. The Manchesterians allege that man’s self-interest, which flourishes under a regime of freedom, is sufficient sanction to keep liberty intact. But that calculus of desires is too subtle for most of mankind. It is the immemorial habit of man to be unable to see his long-term interest when a short-term one appears before him. When he thinks he can achieve an immediate benefit, he is willing to give up some of his freedom to obtain it. As F. A. Hayek puts it: “Because of the restricted capacities of our minds, our immediate purposes will always loom large, and we will tend to sacrifice long-range advantages to them.” Surely the entire trend of modern politics has demonstrated this point with disturbing finality. Only when there is widespread adherence to a consensus of value, and only when that value is one which sanctions the continuance of freedom, can freedom endure. As freedom is the condition of value, so is value the guarantor of freedom.




murder and theft tend to become official and impregnable. The free economy permits morality but does not guarantee it; the coerced economy guarantees immorality. This formulation may prove distasteful to authoritarians accustomed to identifying all defenders of economic freedom as Manchesterians. Yet I can conceive of no other which can maintain the conditions of moral choice. It may prove equally distasteful to libertarians, accustomed to seeing all “true believers” as enemies of liberty. Yet I can conceive of no other that will ensure

M. Stanton Evans (1934–2015) was a leader of the early conservative movement. He wrote conservatism’s central credo, the “Sharon Statement” (1960), and was the author of several books, including Revolt on the Campus, The Theme Is Freedom, and Blacklisted by History. INTERCOLLEGIATE REVIEW · Fall 2015





t has been a half century since President Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 commencement address at Howard University, the historically black college in Washington, D.C.

He had signed the Civil Rights Act a year earlier and would sign the Voting Rights Act just two months later. But Johnson’s speech wasn’t a victory lap, as some anticipated. Instead, it was mainly about what government should do next on behalf of blacks. This was merely the “end of the beginning,” he said, quoting Winston Churchill. “That beginning is freedom; and the barriers to that freedom are tumbling down. Freedom is the right to share, share fully and equally, in American society—to vote, to hold a job, to enter a public place, to go to school,” said Johnson. “But freedom is not



enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘Now you are free to go where you want and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.’ “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.” Johnson said that the “next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights” was “not just freedom but opportunity” and “not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.” The president had launched a war on poverty and racial inequality, and he was going to win it by redistributing wealth and pushing numbers-based racial remedies. But what if Johnson was mistaken? What if there are limits to what government can do beyond removing barriers to freedom? What if the best that we can hope for from our elected officials are policies that promote equal opportunity? What if public-policy makers risk creating more barriers to progress when the goal is the everelusive “equality as a result”? At what point does the helping start hurting? Over the past half century, popular government policies and programs aimed at helping blacks have not worked as intended. The intentions behind welfare programs, for example, may be noble. But in practice they have slowed the self-development that proved necessary for other groups to advance. Minimum-wage laws might lift earnings for people who are already employed, but they also have a long history of pricing blacks out of the labor force. And so it goes, with everything from soft-on-crime laws that make black neighborhoods more dangerous to policies that limit school choice out of a mistaken belief that charter schools and voucher programs

harm the traditional public schools that most low-income students attend. People of goodwill want to see more black socioeconomic advancement, but time and again the empirical data show that current methods and approaches have come up short. Nowhere is the gap between intentions and results more evident than in affirmative action.

FROM COLOR BLINDNESS TO QUOTAS Affirmative action is now approaching middle age. We are five decades into this exercise in social engineering. And aside from the question of its constitutionality, there remains the matter of its effectiveness. Do racial preferences work? Have they in fact helped the intended beneficiaries? How much credit do they deserve for the minority gains that have occurred? Although proponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 dismissed concerns that it would lead to quotas and timetables that required employers

to hire or promote specific numbers of minorities, the concept of equal opportunity soon fell by the wayside, to be replaced by a concept of equal results—exactly what Lyndon Johnson called for in his 1965 speech at Howard University. In 1987 the Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer wrote: “The expectation of color blindness that was paramount in the mid-1960s has been replaced by policies setting a rigid frame of numerical requirements. . . . Whatever the term meant in the 1960s, since the 1970s affirmative action has come to mean quotas and goals and timetables.” Glazer’s analysis is still true, only more so. A report by the Congressional Research Service found that the number of federal statutes that granted “preferences in employment, contracting, or awarding federal benefits on the basis of membership in a preferred class” had jumped from 172 in 1995 to 276 in 2011. There is no question that black poverty fell and that the professional class swelled in the decades following

President Lyndon Johnson at Howard University, June 4, 1965



the implementation of has actually worsened racial preferences. In in more recent years. 1970 blacks comprised “Segregation by 2.2 percent of physiincome among black cians, 1.3 percent of families was lower lawyers, and 1.2 percent than among white of engineers, accordfamilies in 1970, but ing to census data. By grew four times as 1990 those percentmuch between 1970 ages had more than and 2007,” accorddoubled. Liberals ing to a 2011 study automatically credit by two Stanford affirmative action, but note what much of one. In 1970, 33.5 perUniversity scholars. “By 2007, was already happening prior to the cent of blacks were living below the income segregation among black introduction of preferential poliofficial poverty line. In 1990, two families was 60 percent greater cies in the 1960s and early 1970s. full decades of affirmative action than among white families.” “By 1970 over a fifth of Africanlater, the figure was 31.9 percent. Empirical data show that in an American men and over a third of Under affirmative action, lowera of racial preferences, quotas, and black women were in middle-class income blacks have actually fallen set-asides ostensibly intended to help occupations, four times as many as in farther behind. Between 1967 and the black poor, that subset regressed. 1940 in the case of men and six times 1992, incomes for the wealthiest as many as in the case of women,” 20 percent of blacks rose at approxiHELP OR HARM? wrote Stephan and Abigail Thernmately the same rate as their white Proponents of affirmative action strom, coauthors of America in Black counterparts. But the poorest 20 percredit it with the increase in black and White. “Thus,” the Thernstroms cent of blacks saw their incomes college students and contend that concluded, “there was a substantial decline, at more than double the ending double standards in admisblack middle class already in existence rate of comparable whites over the sions would reduce their numbers by the end of the 1960s. In the years same time period. Income disparity and decimate the black middle since, it has continued to grow, but among blacks increased at a faster class. But is this another example not at a more rapid pace than in the rate than income disparity among of affirmative action being oversold preceding three decades, despite a whites. This trend, which social as crucial to the success of blacks? common impression to the contrary. scientists call “income segregation,” The history of affirmative action in Great occupational advances academia since the 1970s is were made by African Amera history of trying to justify icans before preferential holding blacks to lower stanpolicies were introduced.” dards in the name of helpThe earlier drop in black ing them. The left believes poverty was even more drathat the large black-white matic. In 1940 the black povgap in academic credentials erty rate was 87 percent. By among college freshmen 1960 it had fallen to 47 perdoesn’t matter, or that racial cent, a forty-point drop that and ethnic diversity is a predated not only affirmative bigger concern. But what action but also the passage if the efforts to color-code of landmark civil rights campuses at any cost are bills that liberals would not so benign? Are black later credit with the steep students helped or harmed decline in black poverty. when they are admitDid affirmative action ted to a school with lower play a role in reducing qualifications than those the percentage of poor required of other students Speaking at an ISI event, Jason L. Riley argues that liberal blacks? If so, it wasn’t at the same institution? policies make it harder for black Ameri­cans to succeed





Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate about the answer, because some states have banned the use of race in college admissions, and enough time has now elapsed to evaluate the results. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action in public education and public employment. In 2013 the New York Times ran a front-page story on the University of California system’s efforts to maintain a racially and ethnically diverse student body without using group quotas. “Across the University of California system,” the Times reported, “Latinos fell to 12 percent of newly enrolled state residents in the mid-1990s from more than 15 percent, and blacks declined to 3 percent from 4 percent. At the most competitive campuses, at Berkeley and Los Angeles, the decline was much steeper.” But the article acknowledged that “eventually, the numbers rebounded” and that “a similar pattern of decline and recovery followed at other state universities that eliminated race as a factor in admissions.” Given all the dire predictions made at the time, it’s nice to see that the worst-case scenarios didn’t come to pass. But the too-seldom-told story of affirmative action in the University of California system is of the black gains that have occurred since it was abolished. In their book, Mismatch, authors Richard Sander and ­Stuart Taylor Jr. tell this good-news story by comparing the pre– and post–Proposition 209 eras. Here is a sample of their findings: • The number of blacks entering UC as freshmen in 2000 through 2003 is, on average, only 2 percent below pre-209 levels, and black enrollment jumps when we take into account transfers and lower attrition.

• The number of Hispanic freshmen is up by 22 percent over the same period, and again more when we include transfers. • The number of blacks receiving bachelor degrees from UC schools rose from an average of 812 in 1998–2001 (the final cohorts entirely comprised of pre-209 entrants) to an average of 904 in 2004–2007 (the first cohorts entirely comprised of post-209 entrants). For UC Hispanics, the numbers rose from 3,317 to 4,428. • The number of UC black and Hispanic freshmen who went on to graduate in four years rose 55 percent from 1995–1997 to 2001–2003. • The number of UC black and Hispanic freshmen who went on to graduate in four years with STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] degrees rose 51 percent from 1995–1997 to 2001–2003. • The number of UC black and Hispanic freshmen who went on to graduate in four years with GPAs of 3.5 or higher rose by 63 percent from 1995–1997 to 2001–2003. • Doctorates and STEM graduate degrees earned by blacks and Hispanics combined rose by one-quarter from cohorts starting in 1995–1997 to cohorts starting in 1998–2000. Prior to the passage of Proposition 209, blacks and Hispanics in California were steered into schools where they were underprepared relative to the other students. “Diversity” was deemed more important than learning. Proponents of racial preferences weren’t overly concerned with whether these minorities actually graduated, and many of them didn’t

(or did so only by switching to a less demanding major). After race preferences were banned, blacks and Hispanics were more likely to attend a school where they could handle the work, and as a result many more of them have flourished academically. Yes, fewer minorities attended Berkeley and UCLA in the wake of the new policy, and instead matriculated at less selective places like UC Santa Cruz, but more minorities overall not only graduated but also obtained degrees in engineering and science. What’s more important? Once again empirical data show blacks doing better in the absence of a government policy originally put in place to help them. Once again the political left, which has a vested interest in convincing black people that group success is highly dependent on policies like affirmative action, has ignored or downplayed results at odds with its agenda. Jason L. Riley is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. This essay is adapted from his book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (Encounter Books), by permission of the publisher.



How to Write Good Satire by DOUGLAS WILSON

Sarcasm isn’t the same thing as insight. But snark can be done well. Douglas Wilson shows you the rules of the game.


had the entertaining misfortune of attending high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during some years of high turbulence, 1968–1971. My high school had Bob Seger for an alum, not to mention an SDS chapter, though I hasten to add that I am not suggesting any causal connection. There were commies on the city council, and I came out of my homeroom once to see a line of cops running by with billy clubs. It was a time that was capable of holding your attention.


My upbringing had been in a faithful evangelical home, decidedly conservative in theology, and with conservative instincts everywhere else. But inherited instincts alone won’t cut it when you are a high school kid in a maelstrom of political incoherence. I have always loved books, and am drawn to them, and as a result of this grievous failing, I once wandered downtown to haunt a big bookstore that was located there. While browsing, I came across a copy of Up from Liberalism by William F. Buckley Jr. I bought it, and thereupon entered a world where wit was a weapon. Buckley was interesting. The thing that affected me most was that he was contrarian in the adverbs. He did not just contradict the Proposed Stupid Policy HB.192 on the merits; he did it deftly in the way he dismissed whatever it was. I was conquered. My experience with the written word up to that point, not counting the Bible, had largely involved evangelical Christian books along with missionary magazines and newsletters. And, whatever their other merits may be, missionary newsletters are not famous for their zest in flamboyant verbal combat. While still in high school, I subscribed to National Review, and so it was that I began my polemical studies. Now I take it for granted that scurrility is out, and that blog rants that result in visits from the Secret Service are also to be avoided. But besides that, what are the parameters? If someone wants to write engaging prose about the cultural and political world, and he desires to use what the French might call le snark, what are the rules? Let us reduce them to two questions. First, is this use, whatever it

is, consistent with the basic tenets of morality, and second, is it being done effectively? Is it good in the moral sense of that word, and is it good in the pragmatic sense of that word? If God is unhappy with our rhetorical efforts on behalf of the good guys, then perhaps we should not be keen on continuing them. And if our rhetorical efforts on behalf of truth, beauty, and goodness are making all the undecided people yearn for lies, ugliness, and badness, then perhaps here also we should lay off. In sum, it is bad to be effective when you are bad, and it is bad to be ineffective when you are good.

clipping on one team, then that same behavior should be called as clipping if the other team does it. If one team has to go ten yards for a first down, then the other team should not be required to go fifteen. This is summarized by that ubiquitous political cliché, a level playing field. We go to great lengths to achieve this sort of fairness in athletic competitions, and we are quite right to do the same when we are talking about whether the rules of cloture in Senate debate should apply to one of the political parties or to both of them. But when it comes to ultimate questions, when it comes right down to it, the fact that one side gets to tell the truth about the other side does not mean that the other side gets to tell lies in return. Jesus said that the Pharisees were blind guides. He said that they were whited sepulchers. He said that they would strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. He was quite within His rights to say all this because what He was saying was true. In return, they did not get to call Him a glutton and a drunkard, because such an accusation was false and slanderous. We cannot create a level playing field here by saying that if one side gets to use “tough language” then the other side also gets to do it. Elves can say that orcs are orcs when the orcs don’t get to say that the elves are orcs. This is true because only the orcs are orcs. And this is why the Golden Rule does not apply in a simplistic way. I ought not to ask whether I would want to be called a whitewashed tomb, decide that I wouldn’t, and therefore maintain I must never call anybody else that. I don’t want to be called that because I don’t want to be that. But what would a man who is not a whitewashed tomb want to be called if he were a whitewashed tomb? Because he loves the truth now, he would want to be told the truth then if he were in the grip of a lie.



ENGAGING SATIRE? A MORAL WAY TO WRITE I may decide that a joke is a clean one and that I may tell it without any worried thoughts about the Day of Judgment. But that doesn’t mean I know how to tell it effectively or well. I can certainly tell a good, clean joke that doesn’t come back to haunt me at the great white throne, but I can also tell a good, clean joke after which point nobody laughs. A good summary of our moral responsibility is found in the second greatest commandment, which is that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus summarized this in another way when He taught us that we should do as we would be done by. But it is precisely here that a common confusion enters. People tend to confound foundational political debates with something like a football game. If a penalty is called for



Wielders of the satiric pen: G. K. Chesterton, H. L. Mencken, and William F. Buckley Jr.

But even this said, we instinctively recognize that such things are dangerous. How are we to check ourselves? Elijah once dispatched two companies of fifty men with fire from Heaven, which definitely caused the third captain of fifty to become more polite in his addresses to the prophet (2 Kings 1:10–14). But when the Lord’s disciples suggested the very same approach be taken with a Samaritan village that would not put them up for the night (Luke 9:55), Jesus told them that they did not know what spirit they were of. So we need to be careful here. There is a deeper right than being right. So there are a number of principles that a writer aspiring to write moral satire should keep in mind. First, he should live in community, and not in a Unabomber cabin. He should not be an angry man, the sort of guy who consistently gets bad service in every restaurant he goes to. He should be an engaged member of a church, and a loving member of a family, and no one he knows in either of those places should flinch whenever he walks into the room. He uses satire in the right place, as the right tool for a particular job—and not as the only hammer he has. A writer should target lack of proportion, which is not the same as exhibiting lack of proportion. He should be a wordsmith, and be a careful student of those who have successfully written this way in the past. He needs to be 22 INTERCOLLEGIATE REVIEW · Fall 2015

courageous—he needs to be the kind of writer who punches up. As King Lune of Archenland put it, “Never taunt a man save when he is stronger than you: then, as you please.” And the motive force of all that he writes should be that he deeply loves what he is defending. Some people sign up because they have to shoot some­ thing, and wolves will do in a pinch. But others, who are more faithful in the task, fight because they love what they defend. In short, properly understood, satire is philanthropic, not misanthropic. The model should be Chesterton, not Swift.

WRITING WELL Once we have gotten it clear in our minds that there is a moral way to write with a zesty tang, there is still the question of doing it well, doing it right. Unfortunately, part of the cost of doing it right is the willingness to get out there and do it wrong for a bit. Even in the midst of writing like a beginner, there should be some significant feedback from friends, family, and readers, and it should be feedback that encourages more. In addition, because the posture of the satirist is that of the universal critic, some aspiring satirists have made the mistake of believing their own brochures. In other words, because they are aspiring to be universal critics, they find it hard to be anybody’s student or disciple. But this is a gift that, to be honed well, must

be guided by mentors. This means reading widely and, when it comes to examples of the satiric pen in history, reading deeply. It means learning the deft touch of Austen, one of the few writers who could take somebody completely out using nothing but the passive voice. It means learning the ebullient and purple rascality of Mencken. It means admiring the droll cynicism of Bierce. It means taking lessons from the prophet Amos. Albert Camus once said, “Those who write clearly have readers; those who write obscurely have commentators.” This is true (mostly) for every form of writing, but it is only half true for the satirist. Successful satirists attract readers like all clear writers do, but failed satirists do not even get the “participant ribbon” of attracting commentators. Nobody got the joke and everybody passes on. When he doesn’t understand a philosopher, the average reader blames himself. When he doesn’t understand a satirist, he blames the satirist. And this is as it should be. To obtain really learned commentators, it is necessary to write turgid and humorless prose, like slowly cooling magma, the way Heidegger did. But that is perhaps a subject for another time.

Douglas Wilson is a prolific author as well as a theologian and pastor. He teaches at New Saint Andrews College and blogs at

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in JournaLism

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Challenging the progressive monolith on college campuses is no easy task. But as these ISI student leaders will tell you, it’s worth it. FIGHTING FOR TRUTH AT CHAPEL HILL The University of North Carolina’s Carolina Review


his past winter, the Chancellor’s Office at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted a dinner discussion on “diversity and progress.” The chancellor invited representatives of more than forty student groups on campus—but none from a conservative student organization. The Carolina Review, a monthly conservative journal that is part of ISI’s Collegiate Network, exposed

the chancellor’s hypocrisy in an article titled “Conservatives Need Not Apply.” ISI, Campus Reform, and other national organizations picked up the story, revealing how “diversity” at Carolina doesn’t include intellectual diversity. This was one of more than ten Carolina Review stories that made national news last year. In another story, the Review revealed how a law professor claimed that the base of

DARE TO EAT A CHICKEN SANDWICH? John Hopkins’s Voice for Life


n April the Johns Hopkins University student government voted to ban Chick-fil-A from campus, arguing that the restaurant would


create an “unsafe space” and subject gays and lesbians to a “microaggression.” Why? Simply because the CEO of Chick-fil-A supports traditional marriage. I broke the story nationally with an op-ed for National Review Online, and I subsequently appeared on Fox and Friends to make the case for freedom of speech on campus.

the Republican Party consisted predominantly of white supremacists and members of the KKK. The Carolina Review works tirelessly to call out liberal bias on campus and raise high the standard of conservatism in North Carolina. —Francis C. Pray III ’17

Earlier that month, the Johns Hopkins Spring Fair had attempted to ban Voice for Life, a pro-life student group I founded, from displaying models of fetuses in various stages of development. The committee in charge of the fair said the models would be “triggering and disturbing” to students. But when our group fought back—and Fox News and other media outlets began reporting on the story—the committee relented. Voice for Life almost didn’t make it off the ground. In 2013 the student government denied our group recognition as an official student club. But we fought that, too, and the student judiciary committee reversed the decision. Johns Hopkins recently created a Task Force on Academic Freedom to

reassess the university’s policies relating to freedom of speech, owing in no small part to our campus activism. You can fight back. —Andrew Guernsey ’16



ruin ISI has quickly made an impact on UCLA’s liberal campus. As an ISI Society, our student group receives mentoring and financial support from ISI and has brought important conservative ideas to a campus that aggressively resists challenges to liberal orthodoxy. In April, Bruin ISI hosted a debate between Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley and Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy. These two leading thinkers debated the topic “Resolved: Liberal Policies Make It Harder for Black Americans to Succeed.” A hundred people turned out to hear Riley and Kennedy exchange statistics, arguments, and occasional barbs. The

audience was both respectful and engaged, and a number of students stayed long after the debate to ask questions of Riley and Kennedy. On a campus that fights to keep conservative ideas out, Bruin ISI provided students and other community members with something rare indeed: the chance to hear two serious thinkers present well-reasoned arguments on both sides of an issue and then come to their own conclusions. —Cherish Zinn ’16 and Ross Hougham ’15



o matter what you study or what your postgraduation aims are, there is no better feeling than triumphing over the forces of campus illiberalism. This past year the Cornell Review, a member of ISI’s Collegiate Network, had several stories go national. In one case, the Review exposed the ­Obamacare-like “student health fee” the university imposed on students.

Our reporting sparked campus protests, and Fox News, the College Fix, and other outlets picked up the story. In another instance, our reporters caught a professor on video saying in a lecture that all whites should “commit race suicide.” The Daily Caller, FrontPage Magazine, and many other media outlets covered the video. Similarly, we captured video of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry saying during a speech that she hoped Trayvon Martin “whooped the s— out of George Zimmerman.” Everyone from the Huffington Post to National Review to Breitbart News jumped on the story. At the Cornell Review we have our eyes set on escaping the underground and taking our views and reporting to the campus’s mainstream. I hope that other campus conservatives and libertarians across the country will fight with us. —Casey Breznick ’17


The Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley and Harvard Law’s Randall Kennedy debate at UCLA

Learn how to start an ISI Society or a student publication of your own and receive grants of up to $10,000 from ISI. Visit or e-mail INTERCOLLEGIATE REVIEW · Fall 2015





t the modern university, religious students expect to be in the minority. As an undergraduate, I saw this as an opportunity to examine my own beliefs and gain insight into the dominant secular perspective. Surrounding myself with people who disagreed with me, I learned their arguments just as well as my own. It was the best way to prepare myself to defend my values. My first major foray into apologetics actually began in financial desperation. After transferring to a more expensive school, I heard about a scholarship competition sponsored by a campus organization called the Students for FreeThought. At the time, I was not well acquainted with the group, but I submitted an essay on the implications of the argumentative theory of reasoning and won the scholarship. Students for Free-Thought, it turns out, is a secularist organization. In fact, the scholarship the group offered was created in memory of an atheist founding member. Although Students for Free-Thought does not officially subscribe to a political creed, its members promote positions consistent with a socially progressive outlook, including supporting access to abortion. By 26 INTERCOLLEGIATE REVIEW · Fall 2015

contrast, I am a practicing Catholic. It was a strange situation, since mem-

were members. It was critical to examine the morality of abortion, and I did so. But it was equally important for me to portray the reasons why people disagree. With an audience of many skeptical secularists, I attempted to defy the stereotype that pro-lifers use misplaced emotional or religious appeals to justify their position. Using a more academic approach, I examined the historical development of the philosophical differences underlying the abortion debate. Although I cannot say for certain whether I changed minds, a willingness to understand the arguments of my intellectual opponents put me in a position where I could. Knowing both perspectives is good strategy, as it allows us to anticipate objections while demonstrating careful consideration of the issues. By respectfully listening to one another, we can prove ourselves like-minded truth seekers rather than ideologues. In a secular world, adherence to traditional values is often viewed as a consequence of ignorance. I have an obligation to be a witness to the falsity of this notion. Belief is not irrational; nor is defending the sanctity of life. Reason, religion, and ethics are all


OWN; IT WAS THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE MYSELF TO DEFEND MY VALUES. bers of Students for Free-Thought disagree with many of my views. But the experience taught me an important lesson: I learned I was capable of creating an appealing argument for a dissimilar audience without compromising myself or my values. Almost as soon as I won the scholar­ ship, I was invited to represent the pro-life position at a public dialogue. The event was not sponsored by the Students for Free-Thought, but my interlocutor and many in attendance

necessary and compatible responses to the recognition of a natural order. Although we cannot ensure that everyone accepts this reality, thoughtful engagement can be the first step toward helping others— and ourselves—discover truths that transcend our material existence.

Mariana Barillas is an ISI Honors Scholar. This summer she served as an ISI Collegiate Network intern at Campus Reform.





n the fall of 2014, as UC Berkeley was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its Free Speech Movement, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks elicited nationwide criticism for characterizing free speech and civility as “two sides of a single coin.” He argued that we can exercise the former only when we “feel safe and respected.” Ours is a hypersensitive age—consider the explosion of “trigger warnings” for even classic works of the Western canon—and the flighty sentiments of the ever-offended classes surely must not determine what is and is not legitimate speech in a free society. At the time, I critiqued Dirks’s argument in an op-ed in Berkeley’s student newspaper, the Daily Califor­ nian. Drawing on John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, I questioned whether free speech itself had become a “dead dogma” on campus for want of “full, frequent, and fearless discussion of its value.” Now I am even more convinced

failed to furnish a principled argument for why students should not be able to take the most direct route to class. While I am heartened that my peers are moved to take action where they perceive injustice, I am deeply concerned that they evince utter disregard for the individual rights that underpin any hope of a shared life in a democratic society. The understanding of free speech behind these three protests is totalizing and zero-sum; it physically coerces immediate attention and affords no room for reasoned discussion. Past being uncivil, such tactics go beyond speech. In stark contrast with these protests, the ISI Burke Society at Berkeley has offered online commentary and public debates on the issues at stake. True free speech earns attention through the merit of its arguments and their aesthetic

that we suffer from a THE FLIGHTY SENTIMENTS OF THE fundamental misunderstanding of what free speech truly is. MUST NOT DETERMINE WHAT IS AND IS NOT There is little ques. tion that we also suffer from a dearth of civility. Chancellor Dirks and Provost presentation. At its best, it sparks Claude Steele were hectored, jeered further truth-oriented engagement. at, and drowned out by protestors Free speech and the preparedness to during a May event on what makes a defend it are two sides of a single coin. university public. The disruptions— over Berkeley’s allegedly racist and sexist decision not to grant a professor tenure—became so frequent and indecorous that the event had to be cut short. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. In December, PayPal cofounder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel had to be evacuated to safety when a band of protestors stormed Wheeler Auditorium. In April, members of the Black Lives Matter movement twice blockaded Berkeley’s iconic Sather Gate, which stands at the heart of Nihal Singh is a senior at Berkeley and the Berkeley’s central thoroughfare. They president of the ISI Burke Society.





Steven F. Hayward Happy Warrior

What was the most important lesson you learned from your experience as the first visiting conservative scholar at one of the most liberal campuses in the country?

conservatism more attractive? —Katherine Sodeika, University of Wisconsin– Madison

—Alaenna Bieganski, University of Wyoming

Probably that being a ­“happy warrior” was the best way to unnerve campus leftists—that and having the confident attitude that even though I was badly outnumbered, they had more to fear from me than I did from them. Campus leftism tends to go so unchallenged that it’s easy to unnerve progressives. But you need to pick your battles carefully, because at a big public university, there’s simply too much nonsense to take it all on. Also, conservatives have a great inherent advantage at large liberal ­universities— we’re more open to different points of view and tend to be more capacious and genuinely “liberal” (in the right sense of that word) in our ­learning.

Liberal ideology is very attractive to young people. How do we make 28



he University of Colorado chose wisely when, in 2013, it named Steven F. Hayward the school’s first Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy. A former ISI Richard M. Weaver Fellow at Claremont Graduate University, Dr. Hayward has been a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, and a distinguished fellow at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. He also has written several books, including the acclaimed two-volume Age of Reagan. A popular speaker at ISI conferences, Dr. Hayward is now the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University. He agreed to answer ISI students’ questions about a variety of issues.

That is a tough question. To grasp the depth of the challenge, read Michael Oakeshott’s classic essay “On Being Conservative” and take in his explanation of why youth is naturally inclined toward liberalism. The task of persuading people of the truths of conservatism involves trying to impart wisdom that usually comes only with age and experience. This requires a lot of artful persuasion, and open, thoughtful minds on the receiving end. Churchill supposedly said, “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” Just tell people you are ahead of your time! (The authenticity of that Churchill quotation is in doubt, but I say use it anyway.)

Which thinkers on the political left do you most respect and why? —Ben Peterson, Pepperdine University

Michael Sandel, who is a critic of the left from within the left; Robert Putnam, whose work tends to ratify a lot of conservative insights about social order; William Galston, one of the few liberal students of Allan Bloom who respects and engages conservative perspectives; Alan Wolfe on occasion. John Rawls deserves respect and serious reading, as he attempts to justify aggressive egalitarianism within the liberal tradition instead of tearing it down like Marx and today’s nihilist postmodern left. Even if his premises and major steps are wrong, he is the key thinker for much leftist thought today, though I find that few leftists have read him carefully. Finally, Cass Sunstein is the most sophisticated political-legal thinker on the left, and he is dangerous precisely because he can synthesize conservative thinkers like F. A. Hayek into his leftist agenda. I used to enjoy the prose style and unusual arguments of the late Murray Kempton. He was the left’s closest equivalent to William F. Buckley Jr., and some of his old columns are worth reading.

Would you advise a student interested in graduate studies to take a gap year after college or to begin grad school right away? —Alexis Stypa, Ave Maria University

If you have a clear idea of the academic path you want to take, there is no reason to delay going straight to graduate school. But if you’re not sure, it would be a good idea to work for a year or two, preferably in a job or an internship close to your field of interest (in Washington if you’re interested in political science; for a church group if theology; at a publishing house if history or English; etc.). I worked for two years between college and graduate school and was glad I did.

corrupted it badly. I like to say that the environment is too important to be left to environmentalists—they just screw everything up. Read Roger Scruton’s terrific book How to Think Seriously about the Planet: The Case for an Environ­ mental Conservatism.

What do you think is the greatest obstacle to conservatism in the coming years? —Caroline Stout, Texas A&M University

The single most important overarching political ques-

“Campus leftism tends to go so unchallenged that it’s easy to unnerve progressives.” Is environmentalism, when practiced prudently, a conservative enterprise? —Chase Padusniak, College of the Holy Cross

Certainly. Conserva­ tion and conservatism are etymological twins, and conservatives who are rightly concerned with the conservation of “social ecology” can be just as concerned with the natural or physical ecology of the world around us. It is a great tragedy for nature that the left has monopolized the issue and

tion at the present time is whether we still think there is such a thing as human nature. The core of postmodernism—and many of the campus enthusiasms about how one’s gender identity is solely a matter of free choice or will— explicitly denies the idea of human nature, though this often comes disguised in an attack on “objectivity,” “social construction” of language and reality, and so forth. The rejection of human nature is catching on slowly in our wider popular culture, and could ultimately bring the ruin of our civilization.

As a college student I have a lot of politically indifferent but impressionable peers. How should I share my conservative values with them without sounding preachy? —Christopher Kohl, University of Colorado– Boulder

There’s a certain art to reaching politically indifferent but impressionable peers. Your instinct to avoid “preachiness” is sound. In many areas I like the “less is more” approach. More effective than trying an extended argument is offering short, Socratic-style questions or observations that induce your peers to stop and think about something. One specific example: on the minimum wage, you can ask your fellow students in economics why we should think that the supply-and-demand curve doesn’t operate in labor markets as it does for everything else. Or, if fifteen dollars is a good minimum wage, why not twenty-five or fifty dollars? And why not have a minimum grade standard for our classes? It can also be worth sharing short articles by Thomas Sowell, Charles Krauthammer, and other leading conservative thinkers.






f Grover Cleveland is remembered at all today, it is usually as the answer to a trivia question: Who was the only president to serve non­ consecutive terms in office? But if that is all you know about Cleveland, you are missing out on a model of character, courage, and commitment to principle. Biographer John Pafford rightly calls Grover Cleveland “The Forgotten Conservative.” We should heed Cleveland’s example today. That is why I include Cleveland among the exemplary leaders I profile in my book Conservative Heroes. It may surprise people familiar only with today’s political scene that this conservative president was a Democrat. With the Civil War came unparalleled centralization of power in Washington and a long period during which limited government and separation of powers were


pushed aside. In a backlash against big government and Republican corruption, Cleveland was elected president in 1884. His rise was meteoric: he entered

the White House only three years after becoming mayor of Buffalo, New York. Cleveland did not waste any time letting the American people know

where he stood. Even before his inauguration, he acted boldly to support sound money, defend free markets, and reform the government spoils system. Throughout his time in office he held fast to his constitutional principles. He vetoed 584 bills (mostly spending measures), still a record for any eight-year presidency. Cleveland served two (nonconsecutive) terms as president but ultimately lost control of the Democratic Party to the progressives. The country has suffered ever since. We would do well to recall the commonsense leadership and commitment to principle Grover Cleveland brought to political life. As you read these statements, ask yourself: could you imagine any president today, of either party, taking so seriously the oath to defend the Constitution?



n the discharge of my official duty I shall endeavor to be guided by a just and unstrained construction of the Constitution, a careful observance of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people, and by a cautious appreciation of those functions which by the Constitution and laws have been especially assigned to the executive branch.”



can find no warrant for [this] appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted.” —Veto of the Texas Seed Bill, 1887

—First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1885



hat is the use of being elected or reelected unless you stand for something?”

—On his refusal to compromise on tariff reform, 1887



he lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned and the better lesson taught that while the people should patriotically and cheerfully support their Government, its functions do not include the support of the people.” —Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1893

GARLAND S. TUCKER III is the author of Conservative Heroes: Fourteen

Leaders Who Shaped America, from Jefferson to Reagan, available at







f you’re an orthodox believer at a mainstream college, you don’t need me to tell you that you feel like an oddball, maybe even besieged. Your professors and most of your peers would treat your most deeply held beliefs with condescension and probably horror, if they knew about them. So what should you do about it?

If you had asked my advice even a few years ago, I would have told you to be the turd in the l­ iberals’ punchbowl. When I was an undergraduate in the 1980s, I did everything in my power to challenge leftist orthodoxies. I saw offending liberals as a key public service, which I dubbed “insensitivity training.” I relied on, and fought for, the principle of free speech. That’s long gone on campuses now. My advice today? Grit your teeth, do your reading, make some friends, get your degree, and then make like Lot fleeing Sodom: never look back. Sounds depressing, right? Well, I do have some good news, as you’ll see.

Big Mother Is Watching You Colleges are much less tolerant than they were even back when I was in school. Instead of welcoming free, 32 INTERCOLLEGIATE REVIEW · Fall 2015

vigorous debate designed to prepare people for adulthood, many campuses are turning the classroom into a “safe space” where infantilized pseudo-victims can wallow in their phantom pains for four long, pricey years before the college dumps them into the real world and sends the bill. The tenets of your faith, if you stood up for them, might count as “microaggressions,” “trigger words,” or even “harassment.” Citing free speech won’t get you far on most campuses nowadays. If your creed is anything like mine, it is by any contemporary secular standard “homophobic,” “transphobic,” “patriarchal,” “sexually repressive,” and opposed to “abortion rights.” There is no way to airbrush any orthodox mono­ theist religion, especially biblical or ecclesial Christianity, to make it acceptable to secular progressives. It would take full-on plastic surgery, and you saw what that did to the Episcopal Church, Bruce Jenner, and every Jesuit college. As someone who delighted in debating professors and

right, and your students in and out of the classpeers and profesroom, it pains me to recommend sors are wrong. They a “covert-ops” approach. But the may condescend battlefield has shifted, and you are to your faith and now deep behind enemy lines. condemn your views, It is not just campuses that have but they are probecome increasingly intolerant of foundly deluded. religious faith; the whole society is The modern moving in this direction. Look at secular mind-set what happened to Mozilla cofounder is nakedly self-­ Brendan Eich, who was forced out contradictory. On as CEO for a political contribution one hand, it acts as if he had made years earlier in supeach human life, and port of a ballot proposition in favor each vagary of every eighteen-yearseventy years, since he/she melts into of natural marriage. Now imagine old, is profoundly significant. Every nothingness, like any snowflake. taking a bold stand for positions that aspiration, trauma, or sensitivity any Modern secular liberals are like are in line with the tenets of your faith student expresses must be honored post-apocalyptic primitives, who but that don’t comply with liberal and respected. The choices of each rely on leftover technology whose orthodoxy. If you’re writing articles human being are so important that we workings they don’t understand. or even posting on social media, that must reshape our culture and creeds So they worship machines as gods. all becomes part of your “permato remove any obstacles to the full The “machine” that survived the nent record” and will follow you to unfolding of each precious, unique apocalypse was the Christian respect potential employers down the road. human snowflake. This post-Kantian for human dignity, the very idea of So keep your head down, and keep creed is an exaggeration and distorhuman rights. You didn’t find that in your faith. That last part can be diftion of the Christian idea of the person ancient Rome or Confucian China. ficult when peers and professors attack And if we keep your religious beliefs as regressing to primi“retrograde” or “reacTHERE IS NO WAY TO AIRBRUSH AN tivism, you soon won’t tionary.” But you can do find it here. Bereft it. You can do it even if of an energy source, your campus ministry the machine will stop soft-pedals any superTO MAKE IT ACCEPTABLE TO working altogether. natural aspect of your But for now, it’s still religion, privileging . generating a warm instead some social jusglow of importance tice activism. If that’s around human beings, the case, go find a local with an immortal soul, of infinite so the liberals gather and pray to it. church and pray with the grown-ups at dignity and value in the eyes of God. You know why it works and how it a faithful congregation. You may spot On the other hand, all those premight stop. They don’t. They might fellow students there. Befriend them. cious snowflakes in chinos and Pink not appreciate your telling them—but You can also find like-minded sweatpants learn in biology class that you should feel some responsibility students in organizations like the the human species is just another costo take people aside, now and then, ISI-affiliated group on campus, mic error, a random genetic mutation and share the truth. But do it kindly. Young Americans for Liberty, College that survived because it was fittest. In Imagine them as denizens of a Mad Republicans, or your campus pro-life physics class they learn that our every Max world who pray to an ATM. And club. Maybe even a Greek organizathought and feeling is the side effect of you’re a banker. So share the wealth. tion, if those haven’t been banned deterministic subatomic inter­actions from your campus. Their meetings in the neurons of our brains. And could be a “safe space” for you. so on, in virtually every other class. John Zmirak is a senior editor at It turns out that human beings are He is author of The Bad The Good News nothing special, and what happens Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism and Now that you’re good and paranoid, to any one of them is moot within coauthor of The Race to Save Our Century. let me give you the good news: you’re





Why You Should Read “The Worst Books” LITERATURE



Dear Friend, It’s great that you love the Great Books. But now it’s time to read some bad books.


And I don’t mean just any bad books. I mean the Big Bad Books. I mean the Worst Books: the books that you’re convinced are the undoers of civilization, the creators of destruction, the tellers of the most dangerous lies. I want you to pick up the book that makes you most want to gag just to think about it—Marx and Engels’s Communist Mani­ festo? Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble? George Fitzhugh’s Soci­ ology for the South? If no book comes to mind, go read ISI’s list of “The Fifty Worst Books of the Twentieth Century” or the Human Events list of “The Top Ten Most Harmful Books of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries” and get some ideas. Then hold your nose and read that book as slowly and carefully as you would read Shakespeare. Read it with respect. When you’re done, think of the next book you most love to hate, and read that one, too. Then read another bad book. And another. Lather, rinse, repeat. I know that no self-respecting student of the Great Books wants to hear this advice, especially at first, when you’ve just started diving into what you’ve gathered to be the written wonders of Western civilization. Why would you want to put down a flute of the finest

champagne to drink what you’re sure is a flask full of turpentine? But the no-fooling, noholds-barred, no-two-waysabout-it truth of the matter is: if you really want to love the Great Books, and you want to be faithful to them in spirit and style, you must fill your mind (and your bookshelves) with the words of those you least want to read.

them. If your ideas are correct, they won’t suffer by coming into contact with opposing claims. But if they’re not, in part or in full, then engaging with serious critique will help you refine and recraft your convictions. Avoid groupthink. In Democ­ racy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville worries that even the smartest of us in a mass modern democratic state defer too easily to the so-called wisdom of groups (which is rarely wisdom in any real sense). Just because other people—even if they’re people you trust—have led you to believe that a book is “the worst” doesn’t mean that

room for internal intellectual diversity. To serve the cause of liberty in modern civilization means having an appreciation for the full range of histories and possibilities within modern civilization. Don’t make the mistake that the French revolutionaries made and act as if there is only one right set of beliefs. Your antagonists’ intellectual traditions are tied up in yours.

Learn from them. In his Confessions, Saint Augustine says that the moment of great revelation in his life came when he sat down one day to reflect and heard Learning from the Worst an unknown voice chanting, over and You probably don’t want to over, “Tolle lege, tolle lege, tolle lege.” take my word on this—and you “Take up and read.” Augustine heard don’t have to. That’s because those words as an omen, and they the Great Books themselves changed everything. In his case, he picked make the case for reading the up the Bible: a book that terrified AugusWorst Books in more ways than tine half to death for I can count. half his life. In the For example, the Great THE THEMSELVES end, the book that scared him was the Books tell you MAKE THE CASE FOR READING THE book that saved him. to read the Or remember what Worst Books . Socrates told the so you can: Athenian Assembly (as Plato tells it in his Apology): Win arguments. In book 1 they’re right, or that you should that he became the Socrates we revere of Plato’s Republic, Socrates believe them without checktoday because he always searched for out argues Thrasymachus so ing things out for yourself. wisdom, even among people who he well that he makes that well(You can also rely on Ralph thought would prove not to be wise. He known teacher of rhetoric blush. Waldo Emerson here. Think of asked questions. He listened, even to Socrates succeeds because he those terrific words in “Selfthe lowest of the low. And that activsees Thrasymachus’s arguReliance” when Emerson says, ity, he said, showed his “devotion to the ment to its core; he knows what “He who would gather immortal god”—his devotion to wisdom itself. Thrasymachus is likely to say palms must not be hindered before he says it. It’s as true now by the name of goodness, but The greatness of the Great Books has as it was then: the best debatmust explore if it be goodness. at least something to do with the fact ers are people who know their Nothing is at last sacred but the that they point you beyond their covopponents’ arguments better integrity of your own mind.”) ers. To love the Great Books in full is than their opponents do. to let them teach you to seek wisdom. Get a fuller sense of the And wisdom does not offer itself up cultural, intellectual, and Hone your own beliefs. John to you effortlessly. It hides in phrases political traditions you have Stuart Mill spends a good chunk and pages that you must dare to examinherited. Edmund Burke’s of On Liberty talking about ine. So read the best and the rest, argument in Reflections on the how any idea, if it goes untested my friend; just take up and read. Revolution in France—that long enough, becomes a “dead book we now regard as the dogma.” True intellectuals, Mill ultimate conservative c­ lassic— argues, regularly test their ideas Susan McWilliams is associate professor turns in part on the claim that by confronting the hardest and of politics at Pomona College in Claremont, the healthiest polities make most dangerous objections to California.










watched Cinderella, and it was awesome, and leftists hated it, because it was awesome.


Disney’s live-action treatment of the famous fairy tale presents the heroine as a good woman, not just hot (although Lily James is, ahem, distractingly beautiful—especially in those Pride and Prejudice dresses she wears all through the movie). And it’s her goodness that ultimately wins the heart of the prince, who is also good, not just rich and powerful. See the theme here? Basically, good looks, power, and wealth take a backseat to good character and morals. Remember that point—it’s important later. The movie begins with little Cinderella living happily in the lap of luxury, with loving parents, an enormous mansion, great food, leisure time, and even servants. Father teaches Cinderella to dance and to speak fluent French, and Mother teaches her a catechism: “Have courage, and be kind.”


An enviable life. A decade after Mother tragically dies, Father hears of a woman whose husband has just died and left her and her two daughters destitute. In his goodness, he opts to marry the widow and provide for her and the girls, who are about Cinderella’s age. When Father dies on a business trip, the three new women of the house show their true colors. They grieve—not for his loss but for the loss of his wealth.

They hadn’t been grateful for it; it was their right! And now that they’ve lost it, they’re outraged. Cinderella, by contrast, is heartbroken at her parents’ deaths. Her stepmother (played by Cate Blanchett) forces her to dismiss the well-paid household servants and take on all their work, essentially as a slave. The stepmother doesn’t even let Cinderella eat with the family, and her stepsisters taunt her mercilessly. But the kind Cinderella honors the


punishment, her stepmother “because it was enjoyable and pleassmashes the glass slipper ant.” “What would Marx think?” she and locks Cinderella away in the attic. Despite those A ADMITTED SHE efforts, the prince finds COULDN’T STAND A Cinderella, and the two PRECISELY BECAUSE IT WAS live happily ever after, but AND not before Cinderella offers forgiveness to her stepmother. told Cabrita. “It’s advocating a distraction for the masses, so they can forget The Moral of the Story about the oppression of capitalism.” And what’s the moral of this Perhaps some feminists are angry profoundly moral story? at Cinderella because it’s a distraction According to many liberals, from the “oppression of patriarchy.” it’s that Lily James’s slender How could they possibly endure a young waist was probably digitally female character who honors the prinaltered by patriarchal males. ciple “Have courage, and be kind”? Feminist writer and comeI’m reminded of a central snippet of dian Gaby Dunn wrote, “I’m dialogue from the movie. Cinderella’s gonna CGI myself giving this stepmother is about to lock her in the movie a big middle finger.” attic for refusing to hand over the kingOther liberals shot back, dom when the girl finally confronts her. calling the backlash a case of “thin-shaming.” (Incidentally, Cinderella: Why are you so cruel? I think Lily James responded Nobody deserves to be treated as perfectly: with a shrug. “I’ve you’ve treated me. Why do you do it? got hips and boobs and a bum Stepmother: Because you are young, and a small waist,” she said and beautiful, and good. And I’m . . . matter-of-factly, calling the whole controversy “boring.”) Morally defeated and visibly shaken, the What about the moral substepmother turns and locks the attic door stance of the movie? Dr. Rosie behind her. Campbell of the University of I like to think she was going to use the London spoke for many liber“B word” but director Kenneth Branagh als when she called the story thought better of it and censored the “appalling,” citing Cinderella’s script. This is a kids’ movie, after all. reliance on a man to protect But maybe it would be more accurate her from abuse. “No wonder to reimagine the scene this way: we are struggling to get young women engaged with politics.” Cinderella: . . . Why do you do it? In praising Cinderella, Stepmother: Because you are young, conservative-friendly movie and beautiful, and good. And I’m . . . reviewer Josh Cabrita a leftist! recalled debating a MarxStephen Herreid is a regional director of student ist who admitted she couldn’t programs and outreach at ISI. stand a good movie precisely






final request her father had made of her: to take care of her stepmother and stepsisters. One day, Cinderella goes into the nearby woods and encounters the kingdom’s prince while he’s hunting. The two fall in love without her realizing that he is a prince (he tells her only that he’s an “apprentice”) or his realizing that she is a servant. When the prince invites all the ladies in the kingdom to a ball in hopes of meeting the mysterious girl again, the stepmother and stepsisters see it as a chance to snare another wealthy provider. They leave for the ball and order the equally excited Cinderella (who hopes to see that nice “apprentice” again) to stay home and do the laundry. Cinderella finally loses her cool, and cries (prays?) bitterly, “I can’t be courageous any longer! How can I be kind to them?” Immediately, the Fairy Godmother appears, at first as a scary old crone who wants a glass of milk—which Cinderella kindly fetches. And bibbidi-bobbidi-boo! Cinderella’s persevering virtue wins her a dress, glass slippers, and a giant pumpkin Uber-ride to the ball, where she meets the prince and discovers his true identity. But her identity remains a mystery to the prince, who launches a kingdom-wide search for the girl with Lily James’s shoe size. The wicked stepmother finds a glass slipper Cinderella has hidden and insists on being made head of the royal household once her stepdaughter marries the prince. Cinderella refuses, protecting the prince and the kingdom from the envious clutches of the stepmother. As




“You Don’t Have to Try,” and Other Smash Hit Lies




f you’re doing it right, college is hard. Between classes, homework, and mapping out your future career goals, you probably have a lot on your mind. And you should.

You might envy the lucky ones who skipped the hard work and became superstars. If only you knew the secrets of their success, maybe you could follow your dreams and live the high life like them. But if you get to know the singers behind these five hits, you’ll be surprised. They work just as hard as you do . . . even if they won’t admit it.

by 1.“Imagine” John Lennon

In this utopian anthem from 1971, John Lennon encouraged us to hope for a lazy, dreamy Marxist paradise where there is “nothing to kill or die for.” In the song, Lennon presents himself as an easygoing “dreamer” who just wants to live in peace, perhaps sharing his wealth with “the brotherhood of man.” But in fact, Lennon was a multimillionaire capitalist. He had a talent for negotiating the very highest



music royalties possible, and he left the Beatles in part over a money dispute. Though an atheist, Lennon couldn’t really claim he had “nothing to kill or die for.” He was shot dead by a delusional conservative Christian who couldn’t stand to see a “communist” become “more popular than Jesus.” Lennon died for his beliefs and, in a way, for his success.

she married. Her work ethic and business savvy placed her at #1 in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list by the age of thirty-three. Far from a “Naughty Girl,” Beyoncé was more true to herself in the ’90s hit “Bills, Bills, Bills,” in which she berates her man for being a “good-for-nothing type of brother,” neglecting to pay the bills and spending all his money on fun.

Girl” 2.“Naughty by Beyoncé

For this hit song, the Queen Bey acts the part of a bubbly girl (literally—in the music video she sloshes around in a giant, sudsy glass of champagne) who goes out clubbing and brings a random stranger home for a one-night stand. A registered Republican, the real Beyoncé is widely criticized for her conservative lifestyle. To the outrage of “liberated” feminists, she insisted on taking the name “Mrs. Carter” when


Lazy Song” 4.“The by Bruno Mars

Judging from this song, you’d expect Ke$ha to be a drugaddled nitwit. “Tik Tok” describes her life as one neverending party. Even if she passes out, it isn’t long before she comes to again, brushes her teeth “with a bottle of Jack,” and parties on. Studious and unpopular in high school (she recalls scoring in the ninetieth percentile on the SAT), Ke$ha spent years as a humble backup singer before she became a star. She waited tables to make ends meet. Soon after she hit the bigtime, she entered a rehabilitation program. Most of us thought she had partied herself out, but in fact she had developed an eating disorder. The reason? Being skinny “was part of my job,” she later wrote. “My dirty little secret is that I’m actually incredibly responsible.” If the life of this supposed party animal is a case of “too much of a good thing,” then that good thing is work, not partying.

5.“Try” by Colbie Caillat

The refrain “You don’t have to try” just about sums up this song. “You don’t need to change a single thing” about yourself. How did Colbie Caillat become a superb singer? Well, she’s been “trying” since the age of six. When she first told her father she wanted to sing, he didn’t respond with hugs and compliments about her voice. Instead, he arranged voice lessons. Today she’s not only an incredible (and professionally trained) singer but also an athlete who’s regularly featured in health magazines for her grueling daily workout routine. Next time you find yourself wishing you could live like a superstar, don’t be discouraged. Just work hard at what you do, whether you’re studying to become a lawyer, a statesman, an academic, a journalist, or even a singer/songwriter. The secrets to these celebrities’ success aren’t secret at all. They’re the time-tested customs that were once handed down from generation to generation in the average American home. Despite the nonsense these pop stars sing about, they probably have more in common with your great-grandparents than they do with their own immature stage personas. And you should too.


Tok” 3.“Tik by Ke$ha

In this song, the moronic protagonist spends his time “loungin’ on the couch just chillin’ in my snuggie” and somehow feels justified in declaring “I’m the freakin’ man!” while putting off work. If you close your eyes, “The Lazy Song” sounds like it’s coming from a soft, entitled kid like the “Pajama Boy” of Obamacare infamy. But Bruno Mars doesn’t fit that description at all. He was performing onstage in his native Hawaii by the age of three. When he moved to Los Angeles he worked as a writer and producer for numerous other artists before he finally established himself as a front man. Mars is best known for his energetic, painstakingly rehearsed live performances, which he can pull off without the aid of studio recordings.

Stephen Herreid is a regional director of student programs and outreach at ISI.



FROM LEVIATHAN UNIVERSITY’S Student Modification Guidebook, 2015–16


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