Bruce Gilley on enlightenment values:
Another benefit: Watching this latest boxcar roll by in the sorry train of cancel culture may finally convince my center-left friends that the situation is dire. In recent years, many well-meaning bipartisan initiatives, like Heterodox Academy, have been launched to try to reinvigorate political diversity in the academy and more broadly in elite culture. But these are Enlightenment solutions to a totalitarian problem. Appeals to democratic principles won’t move those who believe, like Lenin, that liberal fair play is a tool of oppression.
I attribute the ease and suddenness of my latest cancellation to this year’s Black Lives Matter moral panic. It has taken cultural totalitarianism to new levels, challenging the U.S. ethic of freedom—one reason I am running a free reading group for college students on critiques of the movement. The putrefaction of the university, and of elite American and European culture more generally, has made the task of rebuilding liberal institutions an urgent one. Gentlemanly appeals to open-minded debate are no longer enough. Concrete steps must be taken in law and university policy. For instance, federal funds should be withheld from colleges that force students to learn grievance studies and maintain offices of diversity, equity and inclusion.
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