I remember this cartoon from my college days. My first exposure to those on the left came in college. Growing up I may have encountered one here and there, but I never paid them any attention. However, when I went to college, I found that not only did I have to pay attention to them, they held my fate in their hands when it came to grades.
I went to what many consider a conservative school, Ouachita Baptist University. By some standards, OBU was very conservative. However, on the sliding scale between “Reactionary” and “Radical,” it still ranked somewhat to the left of center. Most all of my professors were “Jimma Carter Democrats.” Most all of them were prochoice and most considered themselves somewhat morally and intellectually superior to those who were not. The most reviled names on campus were Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. Reagan was considered dangerous and would get us into a war with the Soviets.
Ouachita, being an institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention also struggled somewhat. Theologically, it was left of center, at least as far as Southern Baptists were concerned. Within the larger context of the protestant theological world, it was probably to the right. Our Religion professors did not like to use words like “inerrancy” when it came to the Bible. I remember one professor telling me that he believed in “the inerrant truth” of the Bible. When pressed as to what this actually meant, it simply meant that the things that were in the Bible that were true, were inerrant. This was Baptist theology tainted with Neo-Orthodoxy.
Growing tired of the battle within the Southern Baptist Convention, I graduated from OBU and journeyed south to Texas where I enrolled at what later became Criswell College. It was the total opposite from OBU. The girls were not as pretty or as numerous as OBU and the campus was shared Sunday School space in a downtown office tower. Manicured lawns were replaced with traffic lights and concrete. Campus security was enforced by a traffic cop who would write you a ticket as you were crossing the street against the light on your way to chapel. At Criswell, the professors proclaimed belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. Evangelism was not only taught and encouraged, but also modeled for the students by the faculty. It was a school on the front lines for the control of the SBC. Academically, it was the hardest school that I ever attended. I read more left wing theology and philosophy at Criswell than I ever did at OBU. Each class required us to turn out lengthy Turabian formatted research papers long before the world had ever heard of Microsoft Office. The difference was that in addition to all of the left wing stuff we had to read, we also had to read the stuff on the right, something that OBU often failed to require.
After graduating from Criswell with my first masters degree, I then enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. At the time, SWBTS was undergoing a theological shift of their own. The school had traditionally been conservative. In recent years they had added several moderate professors and administrators. However, control for the institution was soon to take a turn to the right. Within a couple of years of my graduation, the old moderate administration was gone and a new conservative one was in place. Because I was a commuter student, I really did not get too much involved in the student or academic life of Southwestern. I came, I graduated, and I left. No runs, hits, or errors.
Upon graduation from Southwestern and Criswell College, I considered several institutions for my doctorate. I settled on the University of North Texas. It was respected, affordable, convenient, and different. After almost 10 years of attending chapel services at all three of my former schools, the thought of being instructed by professing agnostics, atheists, socialists, and liberals somehow seemed appealing. At UNT I found many of the professors interesting, challenging, entertaining, fun, and liberal. Many of them were liberals in the truest sense of the world. They did not care what I believed as long as I could do the work. I was often the odd man out in my doctoral seminars being the only conservative and often the only Christian in the room. I was treated fairly by most all of my professors and while there was a lot of discussion and debate, it never became acrimonious or uncivil. The time that I shared with my professors was interesting, respectful, and enjoyable. Whether it was a vigorous debate in the coffee shop, over lunch, or in the classroom, I felt free to express my opinions as long as I did the same to them. I graduated with my PhD in December of 1991. I was even allowed to pursue a dissertation topic that was religious in nature. “The History and Development of the Criswell College: 1970-1990” was not a best seller by any stretch of the imagination, but it got me my degree.
After being in the world outside of academia for the past 20 years or so, I have observed a paradigm shift when it comes to liberalism. This repositioning of thought is far different than the liberalism of my youth. The universal exchange of ideas has been changed to conformity of thought. The free expression of opinion has now been replaced by suppression of dialog. The old liberal dogma regarding the goodness of man has been replaced with a profound suspicion of motive when it comes to a conservative. Revisionist history has replaced historical fact. Intellectual debate and respect has been exchanged for disdain for the racist, homophobic, subpar intelligence of the conservative.
Because my undergraduate degree was in the college of liberal arts, I was required to take a wide variety of courses. In addition to my Religion major and my History minor, I also had to take courses in philosophy, literature, communications, art, music, and a host of courses that were designed to prepare us for graduation. Upon a summer I found myself in a class on Modern Art. The teacher was a non-tenured, non-doctored abrasive fellow by the name of Ted Barnes. The class itself was beyond boring. The classroom was in the basement of the Fine Arts building, and even though it was 100 degrees outside, the temperature in the darkened, windowless room was about 2. The shivering masses of humanity huddled together. Assistant Professor Barnes would turn off the lights and then show us dozens and dozens of slides of great works of modern art. I took this as an invitation to sleep. After a while and after viewing hundreds of slides, everything started to look the same. To relieve the tedium of the class, my friends and I would sit back and offer running color commentary for each slide, usually in a sarcastic manner. A slide of some of the drippings of Jackson Pollock (Jack the Dripper) was shown as Assistant Professor Barnes extolled its virtues. He told how Pollock studied at the prestigious Arts Students League in New York. At that point I spoke up and said “You mean he went to college to learn to do that?”
Assistant Professor Barnes turned on the lights. He came over to where I was setting in a semi reclining position; took his finger, put it in my face and informed me that Pollock was a genius and that he did more with his life than I would ever accomplish. How dare I speak of such an artistic master in such a manner! “Get out!” “Get out of my class!” Then in a fit of Tourette’s like ill composure, he dismissed the class and left the room in a fit of rage. One of my friends leaned over to me and said “You just flunked.”
The next day I showed up for the final exam. I completed the exam and felt that I earned a solid grade of “B.” Later when I checked my grade, my friend’s prophecy was fulfilled. I flunked! I failed a class on free expression by expressing myself freely. Assistant Professor Barnes would become for me, a prototypical example of the modern liberal; intolerant of all ideas but his own and no sense of humor.
Modern liberals are an unhappy lot. The peace and love movement from the 60s has been radicalized by its naive proponents and has morphed into a “Grumpy Cat” view of the world. Their own particular self loathing has been projected on anyone who disagrees with them. They require neither debate or discussion. Disagree, and you are automatically labeled as a racist, sexist, homophobic symbol of intolerance and oppression.
To combat the growing perceived intolerance by those on the right, so called “Free Speech” zones have been placed on the college campus. Recently, a “First Amendment” zone was erected at the protest in Nevada over land usage. All this time, I thought that America was a First Amendment zone.
Now we are seeing the results of unrepentant disagreement in our midst. Recently the top executive of Mozilla was forced to resign because he gave $1,000 to support traditional marriage several years ago. Such opinions are not tolerated in this era of tolerance. Off with his head! Or at least, dispatch him from the company that he founded. When this happened, conservatives remarked that he had held the exact same position as President Obama did at the time. Maybe so, but at least BHO is repentant of such beliefs. Unrepentant disagreement is met with dismissal of livelihood and trashing of reputation.
The liberal thought police are on patrol. They and their willing accomplices in the media search the internet for examples of perceived intolerance by those on the right. Once an example is discovered, the unindicted coconspirators on the left arrange a public trial and swift hanging. In order to liberate, oppression must be used. The Marxist dictum of dialectical materialism is at play in the public arena for all to see! “Have you now, or ever been a part of an organization that believed in traditional marriage?”
I recently had a Facebook discussion with a friend who teaches at a state university. I had stated that it is next to impossible for a conservative to be hired these days and even more rare that he/she would receive tenure. She immediately shot back in protest that I was wrong and that the modern university is a place for exchange of thoughts and ideas. I asked her to name anyone in her department who was conservative and had tenure. She feigned ignorance of such things claiming that no one in her department ever talks politics or religion or anything else. Right.
Liberals see our country as a place of injustice, intolerance, and repression. This is why our President promised to remake America once he got into office. He is doing a good job of this. Armed with the power of the IRS, the thought police are more than capable of rooting out those who might want to exercise their First Amendment rights to disagree. The militarization of local police departments serves as back up federal storm troopers who might need a little help in getting the local yokels back into their places. Look at the number of local sheriff departments who now have armored trucks!
What happened to the happy and high flower child of the 60s? Most of them grew up, took a bath, married, got a mortgage and began their quest for the American dream. Others went into academia where they were able to train modern radicals to go out and carry out their radicalized socialist agenda.
So this begs a question: Where are we headed? Sadly, the end result of liberalism, both on an individualized scale as well as a global scale is not good. Freedom of thought is punished if it digresses from the new establishment. Freedom of conscience is punished if it seeks to hold on to tradition. Freedom of religion becomes freedom FROM religion. Religious expression and opinion is allowed, but only if it is done outside the public square and within the four walls of the church or synagog (which need to be taxed by the way.) Liberals tell us that we are free to worship any way we want; as long as we keep it to ourselves. Socialistic models such as the Cultural Revolution in China, the famines in Ukraine, the gulag structure of the former Soviet Union; the daily repression of North Korea, the curtailing of basic human rights in Honduras and a thousand other examples from history will become the new society if this continues. One of the few places where such things did not happen is here in America. Read the Declaration of Independence sometime. It reads like a modern day diatribe against a modern would-be king who refuses to abide by the rule of law. Sound familiar?
America stood up to the divine rite of kings and instead placed the hope and confidence of governance in the hands of “We the people.” We became the greatest society that this tiny blue dot in the vastness of space has ever seen. Even poor people on food stamps have basic cable and Obamaphones! Our greatness will soon be our undoing.