Friday, May 31, 2019

The War on Competence in American Colleges and Universities

Perhaps this could better be titled "The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization" because that's what we're really talking about.  It isn't some sort of natural process that comes as a result of Western Civilization being old; it comes as the result of planning and deliberate actions by Marxists and other groups bent on destroying the west so that they can plunder the wealth of those nations for themselves. 

None of this should surprise you; I've talked about it here and plenty of others have talked about it on other blogs (for example).  The reason for tonight's little rant is an article in PJ Media "The Death of Merit and the Race to Mediocrity in our Increasingly Marxist Universities" by Philip Carl Salzman.  It's worth your time to RTWT.  Salzman begins with some numbers to help readers see the problem.  Recently, there has been a TV series called "The Enemy Within" that talked about 100,000 foreign agents - spies - here in the US from China and other adversaries.
There are 756,900 teachers and professors in Canada, and 5.2 million in the U.S. Almost all of these professors and teachers are daily resolutely and relentlessly attacking Western culture, rejecting American culture, and advocating cultural Marxism.

How did this come about? During the 1960s and 1970s, two converging social movements transformed the culture of education. One was the adoption of Marxism by a wide range of North American university professors in the social sciences and humanities. The other was the widespread adoption of feminist theory. Together, Marxism and feminism redefined North American society as a hierarchy of oppression, with white, patriarchal capitalists at the top, and poor lesbians of color at the bottom. All citizens were redefined as members of racial, economic, gender, sexual, and ethnic classes, with people of white oppressing people of color, males oppressing females, rich oppressing poor, heterosexuals oppressing LGBTQ++, Christians and Jews oppressing Muslims, and so on. This approach is called “social justice” theory.
When normal folks reply we don't care about that; we care that the people who design and build our bridges are competent, their answer is that ideas such as “merit” and “achievement” are male, white supremacist ideas, used to ensure the unfair dominance of white men.  Conveniently, no one mentions little details like the pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University in Miami last year.  It doesn't matter if the contracting company knows how to build a bridge as long as they identify as being able to.  It's the case all over in education:
McGill University, in its “Open Call” for Canada Research Chair applications, claims that “Chairholders are nationally recognized as exceptional researchers and innovators in their discipline.” But, “for the purpose of a nomination for a Canada Research Chair in the October 2019 round, preference will be given to qualified applicants who self-identify as a person with a disability or as an Indigenous person.” In actual choices, for McGill, disability and ethnicity count more than achievement, merit, and potential. And note that you do not actually have to be disabled or Indigenous, but merely to “self-identify” as disabled or Indigenous. Even in our top universities, identity is regarded as more important than facts.
Get that?  They say their "Chairholders are nationally recognized as exceptional researchers and innovators" and without skipping a breath saying “... preference will be given to qualified applicants who self-identify as a person with a disability or as an Indigenous person.”  If those chair holders really are "nationally recognized", it won't be for long if academic standards are no longer used to determine who holds the chairs.

That's right, "academic standards" are "male, white supremacist ideas, used to ensure the unfair dominance of white men."  The dirty little secret is that students who get into University based on affirmative action score and other programs (like the SAT's new adversity score) are hurt by the experience of finding themselves in over their heads.  They realize that they don't belong there. 
The reality is that, while minority students with strong backgrounds do reasonably well in university, students with weak backgrounds and levels of achievement, admitted to university for “social justice” reasons, do poorly, and are harmed by being put into a position that they are ill prepared for. But the overall effect of “social justice” admissions and hiring is the dumbing down of universities and of the U.S. and Canada. Just as world competitors, such as China, ramp up their academic and research achievement, North American universities are catering to  “identities,” and raising subjectivity—“everyone has their own truth”—above objectivity, truth, and reality. This is a deep dive into decadence.
The target of this attack, though, is western civilization itself.  This goes beyond just preferred “equity, diversity, and inclusion” admissions and hiring.  They aim to discredit Western Civilization and particularly American and Canadian society because they were founded and built by white men. The great literary and philosophical works of Western Civilization are no longer read because they are the creations of “dead white men.”  Today's Social Justice Warriors insist on judging anyone from any era in the past by today's ethical system - their ethical system because they tolerate no diversity of opinions.
It was white men in Europe who made slavery redundant by inventing science, modern agriculture, and the industrial revolution, raising productivity through the work of machines, so that slave labor was no longer desirable. Furthermore, anti-slavery movements among white Europeans and white Americans led to the banning of the North Atlantic slave trade, policed by the Royal Navy, and the emancipation of the slaves in the Caribbean and the American South. Estimates are that at least 360,000 Union soldiers, almost all white, died in the Civil War that led to emancipation.
Until retiring, I regularly had the chance to work with young engineers in their first years out of college.  As a "Fortune 500" employer with a big name, we got to choose from the tops of the engineering classes and the best are as good as they've ever been.  We haven't seen many signs of social justice indoctrination; they realized that if they did their jobs wrong people could die and they took it seriously.  The problem is that I don't know how long the sciences and engineering can hold out in modern academia.  There are many, many jobs that not just anyone can do.  Do you want the doctor doing your surgery chosen because they identified as a certain protected class, or do you want them to be the best surgeon in the area (if not the best on earth)?  If you're in this car, do you want to be sitting under a bridge designed and built by people chosen for their diversity points or by people who do the math and sweat the details? 



  1. it comes as the result of planning and deliberate actions by Marxists and other groups bent on destroying the west so that they can plunder the wealth of those nations for themselves.

    That's a natural process. Normal folks being unable to imagine the mindset of sociopaths, and then obeying those sociopaths like their great ape instincts tell them too, is also a natural process.

    Instead of WW3, imagine libertarians running everyone through a functional MRI to discover if they are a predator, sociopath, or other parasite.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. It doesn't seem to occur to these scum that life after Western Civ will be "nasty, brutish, and short" (Thomas Hobbes, 1651, back in the beginnings when what "Western Civilization" actually implied was being actually debated by people with actual brains).

    1. I suspect that's viewed as a feature by them, not a bug. They anticipate being unaffected by the "nasty, brutish and short", but being the ones dispensing it.

  4. The heavy machinery manufacturer I worked for in the 90's hired engineers right out of college and assigned them to an older engineer for at least one year before they were given large assignments on their own. Some chaffed at this but but it cut down on a lot of problems.

  5. I noticed that you tagged this post as "culture_war" but the fact is that it is only war on the side of the Left. Our side just tutt-tutts about the situation without pushing back.

    We need to assess the Left's weak points and attack them. A glaring weakness is the out of control cost of college. See this article by a comp-sci student who did a bottom line analysis and decided to drop out and educate himself with online resources.

    I think a good way to fight back is to provide resources for students who want to educate themselves in engineering.

    I am also a retired engineer and one of my hobbies is writing ebooks. I just post them on academic websites like ResearchGate but Amazon will publish and distribute ebooks. My field is really esoteric so I am thinking of expanding beyond it to general topics like statistical signal processing applied to imaging.

    I think with your practical and theoretical knowledge and ability to write you should try this. I really enjoyed your radio series and would like to see more detailed descriptions of methods you used on the job. Maybe provide youtube lectures along with your book? If you do, I would be a customer :-)

    1. I too could write books on many subjects (including image processing) but can't find the time. Your idea is a very good one, if we can a) provide the resources, and b) motivate kids to learn on their own.

      May I suggest that rather than using Amazon publishing you should put together your own blog with a free or low-cost service (like the one you are reading now) and build up the site with categories and resources? If your work becomes popular, you could monetize the site also.

    2. Thanks for the feedback. I've actually been thinking along the lines of some technical ebooks. I guess I would say "stay tuned" but that implies something is likely to break Any Day Now and it's more likely to be months.

  6. Oddly enough, I have just read this about postmodernism. It is from a British perspective but complements and supplements your article:

    Phil B

    1. Thanks. I've had this on my "ought to read" list for months but haven't gotten around to it.

  7. Competence is the enemy of the Revolution. People chosen for roles of power and authority were *incompetent* - why? Because they would then be beholden to the Party for their position, not their own competence.

    Weakening standards and having incompetent graduates is a feature, not a bug.

  8. What is the state of investigation into FIU bridge collapse