An eye-opening critique of the identity-based revolution that has transformed American campuses and its effect on politics and society today.
The 1960s and ’70s were a time of dramatic upheaval in American universities as a new generation of scholar-activists rejected traditional humanism in favor of a radical ideology that denied esthetic merit and objective truth. In The Victims’ Revolution, critic and scholar Bruce Bawer provides the first true history of this radical movement and a sweeping assessment of its intellectual and cultural fruits.
Once, Bawer argues, the purpose of higher education had been to introduce students to the legacy of Western civilization—“the best that has been thought and said.” The new generation of radical educators sought instead to unmask the West as the perpetrator of global injustice. Age-old values of goodness, truth, and beauty were disparaged as mere weapons in an ongoing struggle of the powerful against the powerless. Shifting the focus of the humanities to the purported victims of Western colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism, the new politicized approach to the humanities gave rise to a series of identity-based programs, including Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, and Chicano Studies. As a result, the serious and objective study of human civilization and culture was replaced by “theoretical” approaches emphasizing group identity, victimhood, and lockstep “progressive” politics.
What have the advocates of this new anti-Western ideology accomplished?
Twenty-five years ago, Allan Bloom warned against the corruption of the humanities in The Closing of the American Mind. Bawer’s book presents compelling evidence that Bloom and other conservative critics were right to be alarmed. The Victims’ Revolution describes how the new identity-based disciplines came into being, examines their major proponents and texts, and trenchantly critiques their underlying premises. Bawer concludes that the influence of these programs has impoverished our thought, confused our politics, and filled the minds of their impressionable students with politically correct mush. Bawer’s book is must-reading for all those concerned not only about the declining quality of American higher education, but also about the fate of our society at large.
About Bruce Bawer
A native New Yorker who has lived in Norway since 1999, Bruce Bawer has written several influential books on a range of issues. A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society (1993) was named by columnist Dale Carpenter as the most important non-fiction book about homosexuality published in the 1990s; Publishers Weekly called Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity (1997) “a must-read book for anyone concerned with the relationship of Christianity to contemporary American culture”; While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2009) was hailed by Booklist as “immensely important and urgent.” He has also published several collections of literary and film criticism, including Diminishing Fictions and The Aspect of Eternity, and a collection of poetry, Coast to Coast, which was selected by the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook as the best first book of poems published in 1993. He is a frequent contributor to such publications as The Hudson Review, City Journal, The American Scholar, Wilson Quarterly, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and has reviewed books regularly for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and Wall Street Journal.
The author devotes the bulk of his polemic to what he sees as the undesirable academic disciplines of women’s studies, black studies, Chicano studies and queer studies. (Bawer is openly gay but asserts that he is not a mainstream gay man intellectually.) He believes the corruption of entire university campuses derived from liberal/radical movements of the 1960s. The college students who grew up during that era frequently became professors, individuals guided by a belief that oppressed groups should be studied as movements, with little emphasis on individual rights. In Bawer’s version of American higher education, anti-capitalist, anti-American authors such as Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci dominate campus curricula, driving out more moderate scholars who celebrate the current strengths and future possibilities of the United States. Bawer offers copious anecdotes as representative of across-the-board reality on thousands of American college campuses. These anecdotes are purported to prove his already formed hypothesis, rather than allowing a hypothesis to grow organically from hard evidence. Toward the end of the book, Bawer throws in attacks on additional identity study realms, including disability studies, fat studies, men’s studies and whiteness studies. He calls on parents of potential college students to examine curricula carefully and avoid campuses—even the Harvards and the Yales—that he believes have been hopelessly compromised. – Kirkus Reviews
Academic Battleground - ‘The Victims’ Revolution,’ by Bruce Bawer
The New York Times Book Review – August 23, 2012 (Excerpt)
When generals prepare to “fight the last war,” as the saying goes, they’re bound to be surprised by new enemies deploying new tactics over new terrain. On the evidence of Bruce Bawer’s fighting-mad book, “The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind,” this rule holds true for the academic culture wars as well.
Bawer is a refugee from the academy. He earned a Ph.D. in English in the 1980s and made his mark in 1993 with a sensitive and forward-looking book, “A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society.” It was an eloquent call for gay people to stand up against those on the political and religious right who judged them unfit for full citizenship, as well as against those on the academic left who insisted that to be proudly “queer” one must be “transgressive and oppositional” with respect to all cultural norms, and that to be otherwise was to be a sellout and a fraud. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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