Chronicle of Higher Education Beclowns Itself

A few days back I reported here on the Chronicle of Higher Education symposium to which I contributed on what a “Trump 101” course syllabus might look like, noting that some of the commenters complained that there was  “Not much diversity in the faculty or the authors of the readings,” and adding that “I’m not sure how much more diverse in ideology you can get than [Harvey] Mansfield and Alan Wolfe, or Michael Kazin and Bill McClay. But such is the hothouse of the academic left these days.”

Well, apparently, the Chronicle couldn’t take the heat, because if you look up the original “Trump Syllabus” article now, you will find a note added to the end:

Editor’s Note: We apologize for the absence of works by scholars of color and other marginalized groups. We recognize that these omissions are offensive. Responsibility rests solely with The Chronicle, not the scholars who offered suggestions for the syllabus. We have and will continue to cover issues of race, and we’d like to hear from you. Please write to us at [email protected] or leave a comment.

Where to begin. First, let’s note that Trump has caught on precisely because he speaks to “marginalized groups” that the fashionable, race-obsessed academic left (and much of the GOP establishment—ahem) disdains. So the identity politics set gets a failing grade here for low self-awareness. Second, it is embarrassing but necessary to point out that when inquiring about any subject, any serious list will want to include only the best work that bears on the subject. When Ta Nahesi Coates writes something sensible about Trump, someone will include it on a recommended reading list.

For the record, I usually start the first day of my course on the Constitution with Martin Luther King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” and often move on shortly to the thoughts of Frederick Douglass. This does not sit well with liberals when they come to perceive the conservative themes at the heart of King and Douglass’s thought on America and its principles. But it checks the right boxes. Maybe the Chronicle can satisfy its critics by asking Thomas Sowell next time? I didn’t think so.

The whole academic scene is coming to resemble the Monty Python apology riff that is only available on an album: