Does Harvard Still Hate America? [OPINION]
From The Hill:
Forty years ago - Oct. 1, 1978 - my first book, Harvard Hates America, was published. I was 25 years old, had graduated from Harvard College and was in my second year at Harvard Business School.
The book caused a firestorm, more for the title than the substance. Then, as now, few people bothered to read a book before criticizing it, or they reviewed the author more than the book itself.
The message of Harvard Hates America was that I encountered at Harvard a sense of inbred superiority where many people — teachers, administrators, and students — thought they were smarter and therefore better than “regular” American people. These people were condescending and often demeaning in their views of traditional Main Street Americans. The thinking was, “I am so damn smart that I am here at Harvard while most Americans can’t hold a candle to my brains.”
I detailed how I saw this in class, where some left-wing teachers used the power of the grade to influence students to parrot their liberal views, and in many dining rooms or dormitory conversations.
During my undergraduate years, 1972 to 1976, the prevailing view was hard left. But I soon learned I could handle left-wing views, provided the person truly believed them and lived them. Instead, I witnessed wholesale hypocrisy — so-called liberals advocating “redistribution of wealth” and “no one should be born poor and others born rich,” and then jumping into their Mercedes and heading off for lunch.
Those of us who were put off by it were in a distinct minority. But it forced me to think for myself and to arrive at my own way of thinking about liberals.
And conservatives, too.
I learned that conservatism is an intellectual framework of thinking about the role of the state and the individual. It is not an emotional vehicle for venting frustration, resentment, and anger. That is not conservatism; that is populism.
As I did the obligatory book tour around the country, I had dozens of people approach me to say that they, too, at whatever school they attended, had encountered similar instances of liberal teachers using their positions not to educate but to “indoctrinate.”
As time went on, I came to see that this condescending, “I am smarter than you; therefore, I know better how you should live your life” attitude is exactly how the political left uses government. Ivy League grads populate government bureaucracies and impose their views through government spending and administrative programs. ObamaCare is the perfect example of eggheads — with good but misguided intentions — creating something that had so many unintended consequences. For example, millions of Main Street workers were moved from full-time to part-time work so that employers could escape the responsibility of providing insurance coverage for these people. And that fostered the resentment that ultimately contributed to the election of Donald Trump.
It also caused the Democratic Party to get wiped out in 2010 in the House and in state legislatures; in 2014 they lost the Senate.
Harvard Hates America launched me on my own path to Congress; just two years later, I was elected to the U.S. House as the youngest member of Congress. While there I saw and learned so much about intellectual corruption. I didn’t see financial corruption or bribery or the stuff of novels and movies. What I did see was how power can and does corrupt how one thinks and behaves. And, in D.C., the very same condescension and disdain for traditional American values predominate to this day.
Perhaps America’s biggest problem today is the state of our educational system. What I saw at Harvard 40-plus years ago now has crept down from colleges into high schools and even elementary schools. The use of the classroom for indoctrination is widespread. Teachers often are protected by unions and tenure — and the result is several generations of poorly educated American adults who are deficient in the skills necessary to prosper in modern society.
Does Harvard still hate America? I don’t know; I am obviously not there anymore. I only go back for reunions. Harvard has done immense good throughout our country’s history; its alumni have served our country with distinction. Most of the students are fantastic, despite the political obstacles they may face along the way.
The one thing we all need to focus on is the ever-widening gap between the “Leadership Class” and the American people. From politics to business, education to religion, medicine to the media, there is a growing chasm between leaders and those they are supposed to lead.
Unless and until this underlying problem of cynicism and doubt is repaired, we will continue heading in the wrong direction.
Harvard, the leading American university, and its graduates must lead the way in repairing this leadership gap.
John LeBoutillier, a former Republican congressman from New York, co-hosts “Revolution — The Podcast,” available on Soundcloud and iTunes. The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of 1420 WBSM.