Modern academia is downright shameful. Is this nothing more than exaggerated hyperbole? No, I mean this full stop. Academia has abandoned an entire generation and geared them towards disaster. What used to be the marketplace of ideas is now a nursery of anti-intellectualism. Academia was once known as a place for a young adult to develop his own thoughts by hearing new ideas and contending his ideas with others. It was not established to be a home. Its purpose was to be an intellectual arena, a boot camp for the mind.
The decline of academia came when relativism took over. Relativism is the idea that knowledge and morality are all subjective. Which is why you hear the phrase, “Everyone has a right to their own opinion,” uttered so frequently, and while most certainly might be true, it does not mean that everyone has a right their own facts or truth. When you make every argument relative, when moral standards become subjective, you begin to erode our society. Because when nothing is true the winner of an argument is the one who uses the most force, not the one with the most sound position.
This, in essence, conditions the young mind to accept his views (although not entirely his due to indoctrination) as objectively right. This is why it’s not only “my opinion,” but also,”my truth,” to then, “the truth.” Couple this with the fact that any position, countering data, or idea that goes against the prevailing view is not only wrong but unacceptable. Given time in isolation, this begins to grow like bacteria in a petri dish. In this isolation, a narrative is formed, unchecked. Anyone that rejects these standards is now not only bad, but evil.
The consequence of all of this is that these young minds then become moral nihilists. Moral nihilism claims that there is no moral truth which is different from relativism because instead of making everything true, the truth then disappears. There is no moral truth because anything is subject to change based on several variables like cultures and times and the moral zeitgeist (moral spirit of the times). Therefore relativism begets moral nihilism. This shifts the idea that a truth is unattainable and that any information must be indoctrinated – everything is propaganda.
As a consequence, moral nihilism creates a divide between us vs. them. This further expands the divide between groups and creates what the moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls “hyperpolarization.” Different groups are becoming purified in their ideology and this creates a homogeneity in opinions and classifies others as unallowable and contemptible. Once you have an enemy you begin to dehumanize people which disagree with you. The problem with dehumanizing others might seem obvious but it’s important to relay the message: dehumanizing others allows for violent retaliation to any opposition.
If you create individuals who don’t view others with differing opinions as decent human beings, and have a propensity towards anger and violence, you’ve given these college students the moral scope of a psychopath. The administrators and professors on campus should be held accountable to the young adults and a generation of students who they have betrayed.