Today is Ronald Reagan’s 112th birthday, and with the growing controversy about wokeness and the rot inside our conformist East German colleges and universities, it is worth recalling that Reagan, practically alone among prominent politicians at the end of the 1960s, directly took on his generation of woke activists. At one point he said “the university can dispose of the threat [radicals] represent in a week if they will take a stand.”
In testimony to the House Committee on Education and Labor in 1969, Reagan attacked what he called the “mythologies” of the student left, which sounded like a mere warm up act for today’s wokesters and their appeasers, such as
the well-meaning apologists for anti-social behavior . . . who seek to make their excuses acceptable through sheer repetition. . . To rationalize their permissiveness and appeasement, administrators themselves often promote myths which confuse those both on campus and off. They speak disparagingly of a “generation gap” at a time when too many parents are in awe of, and tend to imitate, their own children. They speak of a “new breed with wisdom and conscience” at a time when research has clearly indicated a social and emotional immaturity of youth to a degree previously unknown. . .
We have been picked at, sworn at, rioted against and downgraded until we have a built-in guilt complex, and this has been compounded by the accusations of our sons and daughters who pride themselves on “telling it like it is.” Well, I have news for them—in a thousand social science courses they have been informed “the way it is not” . . . As for our generation I will make no apology. No people in all history paid a higher price for freedom. And no people have done so much to advance the dignity of man. . . We are called materialistic. Maybe so. . . But our materialism has made our children the biggest, tallest, most handsome and intelligent generation of Americans yet. They will live longer with fewer illnesses, learn more, see more of the world and have more successes and realizing their personal dreams and ambitions than any other people in any other period of our history—because of our “materialism.”
Naturally the media called Reagan “anti-intellectual.” We could use a few more such so-called “anti-intellectual” leaders again.