Ed Morrissey: Welcome back. I'm Ed Morrissey from Hotair.com filling in for Drew today, taking your calls at 877-766-3777, that's 877-ROME777. Joining me now on the line is former Congressman Peter Hoekstra. He is now the Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He's the former Chair of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and former member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. His most recent article was in The Daily Caller, and it was entitled 'Students Can't Remember A Past They Never Learned.' Congressman, it's great to have you back on the show.
Pete Hoekstra: Hey, thank you.
Morrissey: Is Western civilization ended at Stanford University? Is that what I'm reading here?
Hoekstra: It ended a number of years ago when they, Stanford, eliminated a requirement that students have a requirement to study the history of Western civilization. And the good thing is now there's a group of students on campus who got a petition signed by, I think it was like roughly 350 of their peers, to have a vote on whether Western civilization should again be part of the requirement now. If this petition or this referendum passes, it's a non-binding referendum, but the students, or excuse me, then the faculty senate would have to consider whether they would reestablish Western civilization as a requirement for graduating from Stanford.
Morrissey: So help me out with this. The idea is that there is no particular requirement to study the history of the culture in which you live. Is that the idea here, because honestly, I didn't realize that until I read your article that Western Civ had been taken off of anybody's requirement for a degree. I mean I went to –
Hoekstra: Basically it's been eliminated, I don't know the exact statistics, but it's been eliminated from most college campuses today. It's politically incorrect to be talking about you know the values and those types of things of Western civilization. Now, you know I'm sure that if it were brought back on campus today it would be in a values-neutral perspective, although there are many of us who believe that there's a lot of good and positive things to say about Western civilization and what we have contributed to development over the last millennium.
Morrissey: Well don't get me wrong, Pete, because I was not a brilliant student at Western Civ when I was in college, and it was a little bit before Stanford University decided to end the requirement for it, but at least I still recognized the need to know about the major philosophies that went behind the development of the culture in the dominant culture in which we live. I mean we can talk about the fact that – well, there shouldn't be a dominant culture, and everything is relative, and I think you could make an intellectual argument about that, but at the very least you should know the culture in which you live before you start making value judgments about the culture in which you live. And where else are you going to, in what other environment other than in college or at university are you going to have the ability to do that, even in a values-neutral comparative civilization type of environment, which actually I think would not necessarily be all bad.
Morrissey: I think it could be a good idea to scrutinize yourself and to think through these things. But you at least have to address them, do you not?
Hoekstra: That's what these young people at Stanford believe. And I was, I heard their arguments. I heard a little bit about what they were doing, and some folks asked me about my opinion, and so I decided to write the piece, and give them support for their petition, and hopefully that in the next few days they will win at the election and the senate, or the faculty senate, at Stanford will seriously consider the grievances or the suggestions that these students have put forward. The interesting thing is these students, from what I'm reading, are being pretty viciously attacked for being racist and all of these types of things. And all they're asking for is a non-binding resolution that the faculty senate actually consider reinstating this as a requirement.
Morrissey: You know and this is leading to a larger discussion, and you know where this is going to go. We're speaking with Pete Hoekstra, who is former U.S. Congressman, former House Intelligence Committee Chair, and former member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is really what's on point right now. And it's this, Pete, you're seeing all these different colleges, all these different students, erupt in hives, I guess, whenever they confront speech that somehow conflicts with their own particular worldview. And probably the most ridiculous example of that is happening over the last couple of weeks in which, I'm not taking any sides here in the Republican primary race, but supporters of Donald Trump have written in chalk on some college campuses some pro-Trump messages, and all of a sudden there is a need for safe spaces and we need to punish the people who put chalk on the sidewalks. I mean this is, it is becoming almost irrelevant. College education is becoming almost irrelevant. There is no sense that you have to encounter new ideas, but instead need to be protected from new ideas. If that's the case, Pete, is there any point in sending your kids to college anymore?
Hoekstra: Well I'll tell you, I experienced this myself, about a month ago, a month, six weeks ago, I was up in Rhode Island, and I was across the street from Brown University. And we were doing a press conference on you know allowing these refugees and immigrants, whatever you want to call them, in from so-called Syria. And as we were having the press conference, we were invaded by roughly 250 primarily students, and some clergy, with ties to Brown University, and for the next 30 to 35 minutes as those of us who were part of the press conference were speaking, we were drowned out by the hollering, the yelling, and the swearing, of you know 200 to 250 people, who were all about free speech as long as it was speech that they agreed with; other than that, they were not going to allow free speech.
Morrissey: And of course we also have these safe spaces that have to be erected whenever anybody with a heterodox opinion shows up to express themselves where they have, and I don't mean to demean this, but coloring books and little toys that people can use to get past their anxiety and their trauma of having listened, or having at least encountered a differing opinion on something. And honestly, this to me when I look at this and I, my son is on the verge of a doctorate, so I am a big believer in education; I'm just not necessarily any longer a big believer in universities, because I don't think that universities are actually, for at least in some part, I don't think they're providing education any longer.
Hoekstra: No, they are not providing education. They are not the environments any more where you go and debate ideas. They have been in many cases become politically correct zones where you're allowed to develop and express your ideas as long as they are consistent with whatever the faculty or the culture on campus has decided it should be, and typically that's very much a leftist, liberal leaning.
Morrissey: You know I seem to recall a culture that developed the ideas of free speech, open intercourse of ideas, both commonality and embracing of the new. It's just a shame that they don't teach about that culture any longer at Stanford University, because that's what Western civilization produced. Now bear in mind, I say this eyes open to all of the different faults that Western civilization had over the centuries in millennia, because there certainly were many of them. But this particular –
Hoekstra: There were, yeah, there were plenty. And as with anything else, Western civilization is aspirational.
Hoekstra: We've outlined where we want to go and what we want to achieve, recognizing that we've made mistakes along the way, but it's aspirational. It's no different than what you will find in hopefully in much of corporate America, their goals and their vision for their corporation, they're aspirational, and you're always trying to get there, recognizing that you may fall short, but that you know where you want to go.
Morrissey: We have a call from Connie in Chicago, wants to come into the conversation. Connie, welcome to the show.
Caller (Connie): Thank you. I'll try to be, so I thank you for taking my call, you know I still like to believe in higher education. And I do believe in it, but just my daughter being the first to go to college in my family, her whole, she went to a university, it was so rough when it came to the classes that she took on religion, on politics, being a what I like to believe a good Catholic, heterosexual young lady. And just in classes were, there were individuals who were homosexual or individuals that were effeminate, I mean it was full force attack on those individuals like my daughter. They couldn't speak, they shut them down, they were called all kinds of crazy names. And what made it worse, in my opinion, I thought – OK, that's fine, that's fine, you know they got to say what they've got to say, but it was the professors encouraging it. It was just such a rough experience. And there were still times when she comes home in tears. And as a Catholic, it really, really broke my heart, because we got to the point where I just said – just stick it out, just go with the flow, let them know what they want to hear, give them what they want on paper. And she shouldn't have to do that. But you know four years, it was really, really tough. And I just, at the end we just you know just, I just told her – give them what they want.
Caller (Connie): Give them what they want to hear. Give them whatever papers, whatever assignments, give them what they want to hear. And I just thought it was so unfortunate. So thank you for taking my call. I'll hang up now. Thank you.
Morrissey: Connie, thank you so much for your call.
Morrissey: And Pete, I mean it's almost what we're talking about basically, is checking the check boxes, just so you can escape the environment that supposedly is going to be good for you.
Hoekstra: Right. And you know I appreciate the comments from Connie, and you know what a sad story. I mean the years that you're in college, whether you're getting a you know your community college, or you're getting an undergraduate degree, or you know going on to a doctorate, or whatever, those should be some of the most thrilling times in your life, where you're exploring ideas and you know you're exchanging ideas back and forth, and you're exploring, and you're growing, and you're learning, and all of a sudden, you get there and you find out – uh oh, you can't do any of that, the agenda's already been set, what we're here to do is we're here to engrain in you a way of looking at the world, rather than providing an environment where you can explore the world and reach your own conclusions and go where you want to go – sorry, you're here, we've got an agenda for you and you know if you don't adhere to the agenda, we're going to make life kind of miserable for you. I you know I wish Connie's daughter would have had an opportunity to like that. I applaud that what's going on with that at Stanford, they have found enough students of like mind to kind of band together and to fight this political correctness that they're finding on campus right now and that they've created a space where they can go and they can challenge the status quo, and saying – this is what we want and this is what we want our university to do.
Morrissey: We could talk about this for hours, Pete. But I want to thank you for coming on today to discuss it today here on Relevant Radio. Peter Hoekstra, again, the Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, always good talking with you, sir.
Hoekstra: Hey, great. Thank you.