We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A strong case can be made for a core curriculum for college undergraduates to serve as a corrective to the excesses of cafeteria-style elective systems and politicized identity politics. But the genre of triumphalist Western history, beginning with Homer and Athens and culminating in liberal democracy and free enterprise, of the kind represented a generation or two ago by popularizers like Will and Ariel Durant and Daniel Boorstin, was always crude presentist propaganda. We do not need a Western Civ 2.0 in which the ancient Greeks and Romans and Hebrews and medieval Christendom are part of a grand historical narrative that concludes with the triumphant technolibertarianism of Silicon Valley.
I understand Michael Lind's critique, but I feel it is a trivial one. If people do not know the foundational origins and concepts from the Bible and Aristotle through John Locke and Adam Smith, it seems to me that there is very little that you can read with understanding. It is no "triumphalist narrative," but just the story of how we got where we are. At's a map.
I don't get why anybody would want to pay for higher ed without this. I was the fortunate beneficiary of 2 years of it.
Your mistake is in assuming that the current professoriate is dedicated to preserving our civilization As a matter of fact, they are dedicated to quite the opposite.
Besides that, it is absurd to thing that Silicon Valley is "the culmination" of anything other than Press Releases and Marketing. "Social Media" and gadgets are most trivial and meaningless expresseions of the modern age. That being said, Silicon Valley would not exist but for the long struggle of Western civilization. Those indian programmers are just that, programmers, they are not paid to teach Buddhism.
People that think digital tech is some sort of ultimate expression of the west are ill educated and vainglorious buffoons; those who preach cultural relevancy are either the enemies of the West or the useful idiots of such. Moreover, those that set themselves up in judgement against that great heritage are arrogant in the extreme, and made all the more so by the paucity of their own accomplishments and contributions.
I can guarantee that the crowd signing this fall in to one of these groups.
They shall soon be forgotten--let us hope that our civilization survives them
It's incomprehensible that today's "scholars" are so self absorbed that they consider no pre-Elvis accomplishment worth noting. There's a reason the West produced Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, the steam engine, electricity, the elevator and all the other accoutrements of modern life. Christianity and the understanding there's a logic to the universe that paganism couldn't recognize led to these advancdments. Perhaps we should ask those against Western Civilization to quit appropriating all these cultural edifices and live a natural Cro-Magnon life. I dont' see these hypocrites doing so.
I don't disagree with the importance of understanding the Bible, ancient Israel, and the New Testament. But, that isn't Western Civilization. The Bible shaped the west, but it's Eastern Civilization. .
It is easily and often stated here that this supposedly despised Western Civ is emulated by others worldwide, presumably with histories of their own that they could choose instead. They do not choose 100% of what the West has brought, of course, nor should they. There's nothing wrong with preferring the customs of one's own ancestors.
But western civ in the broadest sense is what everyone now shares, at least in part, because of what has grown out of it that we all like. We in the west have integrated parts of other places ourselves; and, we have picked and chosen even from our own store. We learn Greek, Roman, and Judaic/Christian civilisation. We add in some Nordic, some Arab, and some New World. We do not teach Bulgarian, Saami, and Azeri history - they didn't provide much that is lasting.
To teach Ancient Civilisation that leans deeper into Asia than the version I was taught in school, which stopped at Persia - well and good. We in the West did not know as much about that as we should, nor give it credit.
But learning where this good stuff that is now being universally adopted comes from is the discipline which might give us some understanding of ourselves as a shared modern culture. To deny this seems to require a sort of renunciation of one's own measuring sticks.
Assistant Village Idiot
1. What is wrong with a triumphalist history? We won, didn't we? And everybody else is better off for it.
2. The real problem with asking for Western Civilization, or any other course in the humanities, to be taught these days is that no one, save some very old farts, is capable of teaching them. The faculty are experts in pop culture, political correctness, and post colonial queer theory. They are so ignorant of culture and civilization that they have no idea of how ignorant they are.
3. Henry VIII knew what to do with institutions like the modern American University. We should follow his example.
We should abolish the college's tax exemptions, tax their endowments, require them to admit students by lottery, abolish tenure, abolish accreditation, abolish federal student loans and grants, fire at least 80% of the administrators and cut the salaries of the survivors dramatically. Burn the buildings down, plow them under, and sow the land with salt.