For decades, the lament from American schools was that “Johnny can’t read.” Now we know that’s not entirely true. Johnny might be able to read, but given the garbage he is assigned, not reading might be the intellectual choice.
A new study (does anybody ever write about old studies?) by the National Association of Scholars showed that more than two out of three books assigned to college freshmen are both liberal and unchallenging. You are already stunned that they weren’t 100 percent liberal and useless, I know. Give the schools time.
The report covered 290 colleges and 180 separate books, most of which you could shoplift and bookstore employees would chase you to take more. Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Hemingway, Einstein – have been excised like a cavity-filled tooth. Only five books assigned even count as classics – “Frankenstein,” “Walden,” “The Communist Manifesto” and two uses of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The reading list for some of these schools would make Faber College look like an Ivy Leaguer.
By comparison, nine colleges are telling their incoming freshmen to read graphic novels – the high-brow term for expensive comic books.
That should be bad enough, but it isn’t.
Most of the rest ooze liberal guilt. Many dwell on “multiculturalism, immigration and racism” or present the perspective of Africa, Asia and pretty much any place that wasn’t Europe. One of my favorite was “Blonde Roots,” which the study authors described as “a re‐imagining of history in which Africans enslave Europeans and ship them to America.”
Want to know about life as an illegal Honduran immigrant, there are 10 colleges telling you to read “Enrique’s Journey” by Sonia Nazario. If Enrique is lucky, hopefully his journey didn’t include higher education.
Want to know about the founders of our nation or the books that inspired them (hint, many of them are Greek) and they are nowhere to be found. The Bible, of course, couldn’t be found anywhere on the list. But 27 colleges included books about the Islamic world.
Want lefty propaganda bashing business, whining about the environment or just being insipid, and you have plenty of choices. Four colleges are even telling you to read about “No Impact Man,” the idiot who tried to have no impact on the environment for a year including cutting out toilet paper. He then wrote a book that was printed on (drum roll please) paper. Perhaps he could have sped up the process and just used some of his future books.
That’s higher learning.
If you’re a parent, this is what you are writing your checks for. If you are a taxpayer, this exercise in brainwashing is being supported by your hard-earned cash. And if you are unlucky enough to be a high school student, then I will remind you summer has just begun and there is still time to apply to real college. But there aren’t many around.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently for the Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.
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