Educational Bankruptcy: Progressive Religious Zeal And The Rise Of Victimhood

Columbia says the encampments ... “violated numerous University policies.” What these students did not violate, however, is the religious zeal of a progressive agenda that has permeated their education from the cradle to the cap and gown.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 30: Police arrest protesters during pro-Palestinian demonstrations at The City College Of New York (CUNY) as the NYPD cracks down on protest camps at both Columbia University and CCNY on April 30, 2024 in New York City. A heavy police presence surrounded both campuses on Tuesday as local law enforcement cleared tent encampments set up by pro-Palestinian protesters. Classes at both schools have been moved virtually to online learning in response to the recent campus unrest. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Belligerent mobs of elite college students once again occupy campuses across the country. This week, masked coeds at Columbia shattered windows in an academic building, barricaded themselves inside, and hung an intifada flag out the window. Like the pride, BLM, and trans, flags before it, the message was clear: we want a new regime in charge and it’s not the one reflected in the stars and stripes.

The spokesman for the university, Ben Chang, stated that the encampments, vandalism, and occupation “violated numerous University policies.” What these students did not violate, however, is the religious zeal of a progressive agenda that has permeated their education from the cradle to the cap and gown. When the moral mission passed down to you by your educators is to disrupt, destabilize, and make a mess — violating an establishment policy is an opportunity, not an obstacle.

Despite the millions in endowments funding Higher Ed’s hallowed halls, such institutions are in a freefall of utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy. As Warren Buffet once remarked: “You don’t find out who’s been swimming naked until the tide goes out.”

The craven corruption gambling away our future is not new; it is just exposed. Many in education have been running a con. They leveraged our future for their totalizing political scam that dehumanizes those it is meant to educate. It is an anti-education — not meant to form students in the freedom that comes from intellectual and moral virtues but rather to deform and reengineer them to be programmable pawns of cultural disruption.

You give them your best. They send back students who don’t believe in the moral law but are full of moral outrage.

You send them your brightest. They give back 22-year-olds who do not believe in truth but are certain everyone else is wrong. Especially you, dad.

In a way, students are quite right to be angry. Someone has spent an unseemly amount of money to strip them of their cultural inheritance leaving them with a poverty that is far deeper than a pocketbook. It is a bankrupting of their interior life: a poverty of the life of their mind and soul and a robbing of their capacity to experience reverence and wonder.

Cultural revolutionaries have long understood that investing their power and influence into the school system would seed the ticking time bomb of a destabilizing critical consciousness into the future. The point was not just the obvious divisiveness that results, but also the relocation of the moral impulse from the development of virtue into the adoption of victimhood.

A victim identity appeals to a perennial human temptation to deflect from our faults and failures. Seeing acutely the fault in others is much more enticing than seeing it accurately in ourselves. But success in marriage, friendship, the workplace, or in any sort of community requires persons who develop the muscle to self-examine. If you want someone to flourish in life, you teach them responsibility.

If you want someone to fail — or even an entire society to fail — teach people to develop a grievance mindset. Once they believe that society is defined by division and that the oppressed are always the protagonists, they will seek to maintain their moral stature through the perpetuation of conflict and the unmasking of error in others. Every permanent victim must also be an incessant accuser. Once an accuser identity is internalized it prowls about the world looking for someone to devour. In other words, for the students-turned-foot-soldiers, it matters very little which flag they fly so long as it injects them with some borrowed moral currency.

Sterilizing kids is rightly a grave concern amid the trans madness that flows from this same woke spigot, but this is another sort of sterility that is less obvious but no less grave.

This process of deformation starts much earlier and younger than Higher Ed, as I’ve detailed elsewhere. The personal and social chaos that comes of it will not stop by just shutting down this or that protest. Authorities may finally clear away the encampments and suspend or expel the ring leaders. They can put out statements and assuage donor concerns. But none of this means the needed course correction is happening nor does it heal the hollowed out inner life of a generation that will wait in desperation for the next whiff of outrage so that they might feel that they are alive once again.

Unless we understand how entrenched this ideology is we will continue to ride its cycles and busts. Let’s cheer then for the wins that speak to the source of this present poison in a way that eliminates it root and branch. There are many of them – from the mass exodus out of public schools to the greater and well-deserved attention turning to the many good schools that know what it takes to form the future. The long march through the institutions has finally been less about institutional capture than it has been about the capture of the interior life of the human soul. Building and rebuilding whole human beings is the necessary restoration that is beyond calculation and the one pivotal investment into our future that we cannot fail to make.

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Noelle Mering is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is author of “Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology,” co-author of the “Theology of Home” book series, and editor at TheologyofHome.com. Noelle is a wife and a mother of six children.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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