“In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles wrecked its English major. Such a development may seem insignificant, compared with, say, the federal takeover of health care. It is not. What happened at UCLA is part of a momentous shift that bears on our relationship to the past—and to civilization itself,” claims Heather MacDonald in article titled “The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity” in the Wall Street Journal.
Why is the demise of UCLA’s English major significant? Heather argues that “The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics.” She mourns for past days when “colleges still reflected the humanist tradition, which was founded not on narcissism but on the all-consuming desire to engage with the genius and radical difference of the past.” This engaging with past led to an era, which would inspire “such philosophers of republicanism as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.”