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Unjust Propagandizing for “Just Societies”

George Mason University, an institution that I dearly love, is on the verge of imposing an unjust, illiberal, and anti-intellectual requirement that new students be indoctrinated in the idiocies of woke ideology. Obviously, the proponents of this initiative – called “Just Societies” – don’t describe themselves as pushing woke ideology; their description of their attempt to give a particular far-left ‘progressive’ bias to the core curriculum is here.

Of course the wording of the University’s proposal is sufficiently loose that anyone unfamiliar with the workings of modern universities and colleges can read it and suppose that the initiative, if adopted, will allow for a broad range of different particular viewpoints to win the designation as “Just.” But everyone who has any familiarity at all with the realities of modern higher education understands that this initiative is an anti-intellectual, dogmatic effort to impose a particular secular religion. That this particular secular religion is, in my view, a swirl of ignorance and intolerance is here beside the point. I would just as vigorously oppose any attempt by a state university to impose through its core curriculum an ideology of laissez faire.

Faculty, students, and staff are invited to submit comments about this proposal. Also welcome to submit comments is the public. You can do so here.

And here’s the comment that I submitted:

My colleague Bryan Caplan is correct: Because the taxpayers who fund state universities have amongst themselves a wide range of different views, almost all arguably legitimate, about the particular characteristics of a just society, any attempt by a state university to impose through its curricula one particular view (or one narrow range of particular views) of the specific features of a just society is illegitimate. Such an attempt is indeed unjust.

But there’s also the matter of academic freedom.

The “Just Societies” flag initiative amounts to the University prodding many of its faculty to express particular views that many of these faculty either do not believe to be valid or believe to be valid but ones that students should come to on their own without being force-fed by their instructors. It is unjust, illiberal, and anti-intellectual to attempt in this manner to restrict debate and discussion in the classroom about the particular features of a just society.

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