This book is divided into three parts: Identity, Inequality and Community. In each section, the author, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, analyzes the reasons for the deterioration of education in our schools and offers some suggestions for improving it. Although he sways decidedly left, as do most educators, he presents a bit more even-handed view of all the subjects he discusses, for most of the book, than many of the authors of the current day. Today, a tremendous divide exists between all groups of people regarding their views on what to expect from government, institutions and each other. Acceptable speech, everywhere, is defined and appropriate apologies for misstatements are suggested. Citizens live in bubbles which often exclude those less fortunate, depressing their opportunities in education, safe neighborhoods and the work place. In our attempt to satisfy all, we are perhaps, only satisfying the few, to the detriment of the many.
It is obvious that Egginton is also trying to explain why we are so divided today and how the electorate put a man like Donald Trump in power since he occasionally highlights a theme that detracts from his accomplishments and points out his failures. I felt that he allowed his bias to come through by presenting theories exhorted by J. D. Vance and others, stating that those who voted for Trump felt disenfranchised because they believed their needs were not being addressed, while those of others were being addressed. He further states that those who did not vote for Obama were not only racially motivated, but they were also angry that they could not be him, speak like him, dress like him, or achieve like Obama! I believe, from his analysis and comments, which sometimes blamed the right for the sins of the left, using progressives like Paul Krugman as sources, promoting the ideas of Obama while mocking those of Trump, wishing to provide education for all regardless of immigration status, overtly leaving out mention of who pays for all of the opportunities he thinks should be provided, that he is decidedly in favor of a more liberal leader.** However, his presentation of facts is both learned and diverse, giving the readers a view of many sides of the issues, thus allowing them to think critically about what he is presenting and enabling them to draw their own conclusions, which as he points out is a skill absent in teaching today. Many topics are often prevented from being discussed critically, either by the specialization of courses, the preference of the professor or the wishes of the students who often dictate the subject matter that is allowed to be covered and who march against those subjects and people they object to and find upsetting.
As he attempts to explain how our universities have been degraded into communities of separate identities made up of students that demand their own space, refusing to share it with others who have different views, and educators who have become accustomed to separate departments of study as personal fiefdoms, he presents a broad set of opinions from many sources to back up his ideas about the lack of teaching which inspires critical thinking and a search for evidence.
Egginton cites a belief of T. S. Eliot, regarding the way we currently assess literature. This quote could just as easily be applied today to our fractured political system and its flaws.
According to Egginton: T. S. Eliot did not think that the “criterion in selecting authors was gender or the color of their skin”. He believed what should be considered was what made a great work great. He believed it was the ability to encourage “communities to embrace new identities”, to explore “differences with as many of his fellows as possible, in the common pursuit of true judgment.”
The author believes that too much emphasis has been placed on administration and reporting and not enough on actual education. Too much competition between professors destroys innovation and limits research and the sharing of new ideas. He refers to it as the “cone of silence”.
|Fear of committing microaggressions on campus which may create a backlash from which one often does not recover, prevents a dialogue from opening up which could encourage an understanding of the reasons for the misunderstandings and the offended feelings. It stifles the growth of students and the curriculum. Speakers with alternative ideas are boycotted or marches are held against them which forces the school to rescind the invitation to them. This, of course, further limits exposure to new ideas. At universities today, there is an effort by some to limit the freedom of speech.
Title 9 is a policy that protects individuals from sexual, racial, religious, etc., discrimination in any institution receiving federal funds. It has been altered or tailored in individual schools to create their own zero tolerance laws which have resulted in false accusations being believed without recourse for the accused. Shouldn’t all individuals be protected? From that policy, others have arisen which protect students from ideas they find stressful. Egginton appears to believe that idea is insanity.
As multiculturalism and Afro centrism invaded the curriculum, other subjects had to be omitted to make way for those in that genre, which Egginton believes was an appropriate course of action. However, those professors who disagreed were ridiculed and attacked and soon their objections disappeared. The formation of groups that did not merge together to discuss ideas, but rather formed exaggerated separate groups according to their race, financial ability, politics, and other beliefs, made the situation on college campuses deteriorate further.
The American philosopher Richard Rorty’s 1999 prediction of what would happen when the non suburban elite felt abandoned by the system has been realized. A non-traditional candidate, a “strongman” named Donald Trump has been elected.*** This displeased half the electorate!
*Like many of the authors of progressive books, he waited until the last 40-50 pages to express his true purpose, to slam President Trump and trash his efforts and his followers. He bemoans the effort to redistribute wealth upward to those who provide the jobs in favor of redistributing it downward in favor of socialism. He seems to be attempting to delegitimize the Trump Presidency in order to support the Progressive agenda of the Clintons, the Obamas and all those who, like him, are on the left. He was not as fair minided or honest in his presentation as I had originally thought or hoped. While he states that “….access to equal education is only part of the problem; what gets taught is equally crucial.”, in the end, he presents his liberal idea of what is crucial, who is right and what he believes will be the results depending on who is in charge.
When on the next to the last page, the author called the President a racist, he lost me. This book was not meant to enlighten, but to spread propaganda for the Progressive arm of the Democrats. He cites people like Van Jones and David Brooks, he points to the white supremacists but ignores antifa. Egginton makes the outrageous claim that Trumpism caters to racists who feel sorrow and rage. If that is the case, those on the left are catering to insanity and hypocrisy.
In the third section of his book Professor Egginton puts forth the premise that “A solid majority of Republicans and virtually all of those who continue as of this writing to make up Trump’s base, believe that whites are today the most discriminated-against group in America.”
This statement sounds racist and biased to me, which is especially egregious coming from someone who is attempting to present an unbiased book, supposedly based on facts and fairness. Personally, I know no one who voted for Trump who feels that way, not one single person, and I know many Trump voters. What they do feel is that the Democrats and their supporters used many illegal and unethical methods to attempt to defeat him, such as providing debate questions to Mrs. Clinton in advance, allowing her to get away with destroying possible evidence that might have proven how she colluded with others to defeat him and arranged for a fake salacious dossier to be prepared and presented without evidence. As more and more is revealed, it becomes obvious that the “moral” left has used immoral means to advance their cause. This alternate appraisal is completely absent from the book.
I won this book from Librarything.com, Early Reviewers, in exchange for a review.