The chances they’ll be called upon at the college of their choice to acquaint themselves with serious works of the Western canon have dwindled for a half-century. Ask yourself whether someone turning 18 next fall has better prospects of learning how the world works—and how it ought to work—by going to college and occupying his or her time for four or more years with whatever goes on there, or by skipping that and reading what actual, accomplished people have thought and done.
Until very recently, this was believed to be no choice at all: An American without a college degree was presumed condemned to a bleak future of menial work and social impoverishment. Nobody thought about the genuinely bleak future of a nation without plumbers, or a nation lacking educators with the spine to differentiate wisdom from stupidity, and thus we are becoming both.
Sad to say, the roots lie principally in political alliances; specifically, alliances between multiple, pampered generations unable to cope with challenges to their personal whims, and a sophisticated Left alert to the opportunity inherent in offering the blunt instrument of government to beat down inconvenient questions and people who might ask them.
And so in a fantasy world where open disagreement is the worst thing imaginable, “tolerance” takes the form of an aversion to differences. Proselytizing by means of bumper stickers, the Left celebrate[s] diversity by defaming anyone suspected of harboring nonconformist ideas.
George Will is right, that the institutions have put themselves in their current predicament, but to an embarrassing degree it’s because we as a society have insisted they do so. The way to fix this is to cease supporting what we’ve made of them.