Abdication of Authority by University Admins?
Or something worse?
I received the following comment in September of 2017 by someone in the trenches of academe:
I wonder if it's true as you say that "the authorities abdicate." When I read things like this — they seem to come up about once a week now, or once a day — I don't think there are authorities just abdicating. No, it looks much more like the authorities are fully on board with whatever new moronic and evil thing the leftists want to do. They seem to be using their authority to legitimate and promote everything sick and evil, from trans-genderist ideology to open violent hatred of white people. They stop just short of explicitly saying that these things are true and mandatory, because (I assume) they want some veil of plausible deniability. But I don't think they're abdicating anything. I think the situation is even worse than you think it is. If only they were just lazy or incompetent or weak.
Here is what I said in response in 2017:
It may well be worse than I think it is. You are closer to the action than I am.
First the word. Apart from monarchical applications, to abdicate is to fail to fulfill a responsibility or duty.
My line has been the following. The university administrators and faculty who tolerate the shouting down of conservative speakers, the rescinding of invitations to speak, attacks on people and property, and the rest of Antifa-type barbarism, are essentially cowards who love their high salaries, perquisites, and privileges. They are mostly unprincipled careerists who bend whichever way the wind blows. They are not, in the main, out to destroy the universities; they simply lack the courage to take a stand in defense of the traditional values of the university and accept the consequences of so doing. They fear being called 'racists' and the rest of the names. They are squishy liberals who hope the storm passes leaving them well-ensconced in their capacious and well-appointed offices. They understand that the Left eats its own and that if they make common cause with the destructive elements, they too may be destroyed in good old commie fashion.
To sum up your view: What is going on is not abdication of authority, but misuse of authority. I am willing to change my view, but I will need some solid evidence. You need to name names.
Events in the interim have convinced me that my correspondent had a better sense of our dire predicament than I did. It is now clear to me that while abdication plays a role, and for the reasons I gave, misuse of authority is the major threat. And it is not just a threat to the universities, but to all of our institutions.
Thanks for reading Philosophy in Progress! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.