Professor Gerhard Falk's "My View" on colleges suppressing freedom of expression addressed one trend in higher education today, but glossed over another one entirely.
It is a common criticism from conservatives that academia has become a type of liberal indoctrination. Most professors I've encountered are indeed social and political liberals, and the prevailing liberalism of college students undoubtedly emboldens them in the classroom to present their views as near fact. To varying degrees, conservatives -- both professors and students -- tend to be treated as neat pets to have around, so long as they don't make a mess. Intellectual diversity is scarce on today's college campuses.
But Falk missed the bigger and more ominous trend in higher education, which is the reorientation of the curriculum toward trendy topics. Once respectable disciplines, such as history and sociology, have morphed into narrowly defined themes flowing from modern academia's pillars. Calls for a return to the traditional liberal arts, based on a study of Western principles and institutions, are met with skepticism if not outright hostility. Given this, the threat of any one brash "liberal" professor pales in comparison to the greater risk: that today's students are graduating without a decent working knowledge of the Western world and its traditions. It is frightening to think that the war on terror might be lost in our classrooms, not on the ground in Iraq.