Speech delivered at the Council for National Policy by Dr. Everett Piper
San Diego, CA | February 20, 2016
Imagine with me, if you will, that we live in a day where we intentionally sever a man’s arm from his body and then expect him to win a fight, where we pluck out a woman’s eyes and ask her to paint her own portrait, where we surgically remove a child’s frontal lobe and demand that she explain an algebraic formula. Imagine that we live in a world where, as C.S. Lewis warned, the elite among us actually claim it makes sense to geld the stallion and then “bid him be fruitful.” Imagine that we live in a time and place where the wise and learned in our courts and our classrooms and our churches actually work to remove a man’s soul and then expect him to stay out of hell.
Who in here today can deny that such a day is upon us…
Bad ideas will breed bad behavior as surely as an acorn will grow an oak or a hurricane will bring a flood. Why would we expect decades of teaching sexual promiscuity in our schools to result in sexual restraint in our students? Why are we surprised at the selfishness of our culture when we have subjected our children in a curriculum that teaches self-esteem more effectively than it does science and civics? How can we possibly think that teaching values clarification rather than moral absolutes will raise up a virtuous people? Where in the annals of history is there any evidence that the subordination of one person’s right to live to another person’s right to choose ever resulted in the protection of every person’s unalienable right to life? And why would any culture ever think that after decades of diminishing the value of marital fidelity that the same culture would then be able to mount a vigorous defense for the meaning of marriage?
This list could go on and on. The evidence is pretty clear: All we need to do is turn on the nightly news to see the proof. When we separate fact from faith and head from heart, and when we sever belief from behavior and religion from reason, we do not usher in a day of liberty but one of licentiousness.
Today, education has become more about what is common than what is exceptional. Education seems to be more interested in teaching the student how to get a career and use a condom than how to build character and follow Christ. It’s about acquiring more information rather than more ethics. Education has lost its way and consequently our country has lost its soul and our culture has lost its sense.
Richard Weaver told us that ideas have consequences. Hitler said, “Let me control the textbooks and I will control the State.” Huxley and Orwell warned of dystopias where education would be used as a means to total power and total control. Ideas do matter. Yes, ideas clearly have consequences. Good ideas lead to good places and bad ideas lead to bad places. As your grandmother said: “Garbage in garbage out.” She was right. Indeed, education matters!
The contemporary educational establishment is known not for pursuing truth but rather for its celebration of tolerance and in the name of tolerance we are told that our intolerance is intolerable. Education’s elites actually parrot this pabulum: “I can’t tolerate your intolerance.” “I am sure nothing is sure.” “I know nothing can be known.” “It is absolutely true that there are not absolutes.” And they do so with a straight face. It is as if we are watching a dog chase its tail. It would be humorous if this self-refuting duplicity weren’t so sad.
The result of this nonsense is that the rainbow banner of tolerance has become a dark flag of tyranny almost overnight. What was academic freedom just yesterday is ideological fascism today. Rather than celebrating liberty, liberals now demand conformity. We are told, “You must be one of us!” “You must think like we do!” Campuses are now bastions of speech codes rather than free speech. Students are more interested in “trigger warnings” than they are in pursuing truth. Disagreement is now synonymous with hate. Inclinations now equal identity. Progressives think they are right in telling conservatives they are wrong for thinking they’re right! Submit or be silenced. Ben Stein was right; there is “no intelligence is allowed.” If you dare to challenge the party line or the politically correct with anything that smacks of a Christian premise you will be “expelled”.
And yet, in the midst of all this, talking heads in the media continue to argue that there “is no war against Christians!” This is nothing short of stunning. For anyone to contend that there is no ideological war in the academy is either incredibly ignorant or evidence of complete denial. You can disagree with our positions. You can ridicule our faith. You can call us stupid and challenge our scholarship. You can claim we are clinging to our God and our guns. But to deny that Christians are presently being told to shut up and sit in the back of the bus is either ill informed or frankly just a bold-faced lie.
And a side bar: Silence is not golden. It is often cowardly or even a sign of contempt. Where is our President in the midst of this? Where is the leader of the free world? Christians are losing their jobs, losing their businesses, losing their tenure, losing their education and losing their freedom and he says nothing. He lectures us about the crusades rather than defends us in the courts. Christians are being enslaved, burned alive, and beheaded across the Middle East and he is silent. Christians are being threatened, intimidated, sued, and sequestered in the middle of America and mum’s the word. Our President might do well to remember the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act!”
The bottom line is this: Education is in peril. Run by the State and its thought police, colleges across the land have become indoctrination camps more than campuses of open inquiry. Propaganda and power now reign where there used to be a pursuit of truth.
An event this past summer that is now old news is very instructive and should not be forgotten. It was when Howard Dean questioned then candidate Scott Walker’s qualifications to be President because of Walker’s lack of a college degree. “Were (Walker) to become President,” said Dean, “(he) would be the first in many generations that did not have a college degree … The issue is how well-educated is this guy? And that’s a problem.”
For the sake of argument, let’s admit that Dean’s premise has some merit: that one’s education does matter and that, as Richard Weaver wrote in 1948, ideas do have consequences; that it all starts with education; that good ideas lead to good beliefs, good behavior, good culture and good government; and that bad ideas lead to bad beliefs, bad behavior, bad culture and bad government. Let’s assume that education does have a consequence and a predictable outcome. Let’s assume that we, therefore, would be wise to take a look at the ideas our colleges have been teaching over the past several decades and evaluate the results. For the sake of argument, let’s just look at education’s track record for the past 68 years since Weaver’s seminal publication; which was, ironically, the same year of Howard Dean’s birth.
For 68 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under the tutelage of faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis.
For 68 years, we’ve taught our next generation “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it works for you.”
For 68 years, we’ve told our youth that there is a “moral equivalency” between America and its enemies and implied that our nation is bad and the rest of the world is right to hate us and we have instructed our students to laugh at those who warned of Communism and government largesse.
For 68 years, college professors have said that Marxism has its merits and that liberation theology is the only “good religion,” that socialism is better than free enterprise and that capitalism is the cause of crime.
For 68 years, we have fomented class resentment and racial animus.
For 68 years, we’ve diminished excellence while extolling entitlement.
For 68 years, professors have preached that pastors and priests are stupid.
For 68 years, we have fed our kids a diet of moral nihilism and instructed our boys and girls to use a condom rather than obey God’s Commandments.
Why are we surprised in what we see in today’s news? Our judges can’t find the word “marriage” in the dictionary. Our state department thinks the way to stop terrorists is to give them jobs. Our President says he appreciates the “legitimate grievances” of Muslims who stone women, behead journalists, and crucify children. Our congress has lost its consciences, our kids have lost their character, and our culture has lost its soul.
Yes, education is “a problem.” Ideas do have consequences and the lousy ideas we have been teaching in our colleges and universities for the past seven decades are bearing themselves out daily before our eyes. But with all due respect to the good Governor Dean, I would rather have a President who hasn’t been indoctrinated by this vacuous nonsense than one who has. I would rather have a President with no degree who knows he’s not God than one with a degree who thinks he is.
The solution to this absurdity is found in the historical liberal arts academy; in classical “liberalism” and its assumption of freedom, liberty, and liberation; in the foundational narrative of the Bible: that there are ideas that are right and just and true: tested by time, defended by reason, validated by experience and endowed to us by our Creator! As far back as Moses, we are told that only in trusting in such Truths and “teaching them to our children…” will mankind ever be set free.
Education is not about opinions. I don’t pat you on the back when you graduate from OKWU and say, “Congratulations! You now have a degree in opinions!” That would be absurd. I frankly don’t care what your opinion is and you shouldn’t care that much about mine. Opinions are always dangerous. Opinions always lead to slavery and bondage. Pol Pot had an opinion. Robespierre had an opinion. Lenin, Mao, Mussolini, Hitler, Chavez, and Castro – all the despots of history – had opinions and it didn’t end well.
Freedom trusts in Principles rather than people, power, politics or opinions. Freedom honors the debate because it knows there is an Answer – a true north – a measuring rod outside of those things being measured. Freedom trusts in the First Things, in a “holiday at the beach” rather than “mud pies in the back alley”.
G.K. Chesterton has told us, if you get rid of the big Laws of God, you don’t get liberty, but rather thousands of little laws that rush in to fill the vacuum. Without Law, you have no liberty. Without Fences, you have no freedom.
Freedom – true and lasting freedom – is not found in the rules of government but rather in the liberty of God: Not in Caesar but in Christ: “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.”