Growing up in a conservative town, I always dreamed of attending college with liberals like me. The pandemic changed everything.
This is coming up more and more: progressives discovering that conservatives are not the monsters they've been told they are. This is a huge deal, but is still almost completely under the radar, as it's the last thing the MSM wants to get out.
The non-Prog world is mostly people who are socially liberal, but believe in small government and stable values. They used to be called Centrists, but are now labeled Alt-Right or White Supremacists, on the same level as Nazis. Imagine that--and the NYT and the Atlantic are scratching their heads about why people might be enraged about it...
Your experiences parallel mine. A lifelong atheist, I now live in the buckle of the Bible Belt, only to find that my prejudices about religion have all been wrong. ALL WRONG. When I first accepted a job in this tiny town, I started out by working with a local church on charity projects; the pastor accepted my gifts graciously and never once has challenged my beliefs. To this day, it never comes up in conversation. I have deeply religious friends; because we are comfortable with each other, we discuss such matters but they never try to evangelize me, nor I them. How very different from my liberal atheist acquaintances! I say acquaintances rather than friends because they constantly seek confrontation and to win arguments, but they don't realize they're only winning in their minds. Anyone who disagrees or raises questions is immediately suspect of some moral failing, including their old friend of many decades in some cases.
I haven't changed my philosophy, but I am now the most religion-friendly atheist you will ever meet. Living in this era and in this place has done what I would have considered impossible: convinced me that this country must somehow be saved, and that only the Christians and Jews have the internal strength to get the job done.
As the father of a current Hillsdale sophomore, Jane's lovely essay made me weep with joy, and with sorrow for so many other young people devastated by what we have done to them over the last two years. I am so grateful for the courageous and principled approach taken by Hillsdale's leaders. It was not a narrow-minded, knee-jerk, political response ... it was a response rooted in the values of the institution, which are honestly and firmly held. Jane, it is wonderful to know that Hillsdale has been for you what it has been for my family ... an island of honesty and hope amidst a sea of dishonesty and despair. Best of luck to you.
Over the next couple of decades I predict the collapse of traditional universities, especially the $75,000/yr elite ones. Students are discovering they just aren’t worth it. Community colleges and trade schools will be in great demand.
This is the best Common Sense article/op-ed/guest post since you started your substack. Thank you for running it. I hope it is shared far and wide.
And please, if you ever feel the need to run a David French or Jonah Goldberg authored piece again, resist the urge and run whatever is on Jane Kitchen's mind that day instead.
Funny that the classmates who retreated from The Main Line to the Hamptons and other posh places did not take any steps to purge their white privilege as that they so often lamented. Good luck Jane. Your values are what make you ,so stay true to them. And keep engaging and arguing civilly with those who may have different perspectives. It will make all of you better people and more enlightened.
I graduated UCLA in the 80s and had a great experience but I don’t give to my alma mater; I give to Hillsdale College. I direct my monthly gift there so that young minds like Jane’s can be nurtured and supported no matter what they believe, not indoctrinated into a particular ideology. I’m looking forward to tuning in this evening to hear more. Thank you.
What a brilliant post! I am so happy for you, Jane, that you finally get it. Your eyes have been opened to the realization that only YOU can think for you. This is what freedom — and libertarianism, by extension — are about.
I attended the University of the South (Sewanee) years ago, another small liberal arts college. I still remember the singular moment when my education changed. My chemistry professor, Dr. David Camp, was talking with two of us about Dr. Linus Pauling and vitamin C. Dr. Camp said, quietly and respectfully, “I’m sure Dr. Pauling is a brilliant man. He has two Nobel prizes. But I’m not sure he’s correct with his ideas about vitamin C. Just because something’s published doesn’t make it so.”
Wow. JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS PUBLISHED DOESN’T MAKE IT SO! You mean, I can think for myself? I can disagree with my teachers and with authority? I can decide for myself what I think is right and true??!!
The whole four years of college came down to that one moment. I became a different man.
To me, this is what education is: learning how to think, not what to think.
God bless you, Jane. Keep your eyes and ears and mind open. The truth is out there.
I shared this on FB and know like the last time I shared something from Bari on FB that I lost friends. Which is ironic because of the content about acceptance. I said in my post that there are schools all over the country that are completely normal with no mandates and no obsession with the virus. But for some reason, we don't hear about it -- and Oregon is debating making masks in schools permanent.
Well said. Openminded and independent is a great way to go through life.
"I rejected an ideology and it set me free."
Congratulations Jane, and welcome!
I've just been inducted into the witch trials. A 19-year-old "BIPOC" student accused me of racism because I retained her in a class due to the quality of her work. Never mind that it's a research-skills support class for international students, therefore the students are of all races. When I asked the HR person what evidence the student provided that my holding her back in the class was racial discrimination and not the work I'd just described to them -- the HR person said with a face straight out of Salem: "She doesn't need evidence. What matters is the way you made her feel." Ironically, the student dropped my class because she didn't feel "safe." Well how safe can an instructor feel when FEELINGS are all a student needs to disrupt your livelihood and you were just doing your job? SO MUCH FOR LIBERALISM. We're on the fast track to dystopia and I can't believe this place calls itself a university while simultaneously peddling ad hominem and appeals to emotion as valid arguments for anything.
As for Jane, it's a shame she couldn't push through the online classes in spite of the crowded household and viewing the mansions in other students' boxes. Jane will need that resilience to overcome obstacles. Here was one such obstacle and Jane chose F's over triumph. At the same time, I sympathize with her disillusionment with Bryn Mawr. The most idiotic voices in my social media feed are my college friends. My hometown, working class friends see through all the bullshit. I used to scoff at them -- now I'm ashamed of ever having done so. And one of the most admirable persons is the woman who had a kid out of wedlock at 19, and is now the powerful matriarch of a large family -- kind, stoic, and very much loved.
I gotta admit that I don't normally write comments to online articles. Something about the vitriol that I see on both sides tends to push me away. The recent 60 minutes story on David Isay and his "One Small Step" had this classic line - "no one changed their mind because they were called stupid." (or words to that effect) generally contribute to this aversion. But this story, written by such a young kid, is so revealing and uplifting. I also contrast it with a recent WAPO Opinion Piece by David Moscrop saying "Canada must confront the toxic freedom convoy"...what would the mainstream press say about this young woman? How will she be labeled? All because she dares to point out the hypocrisy of the elite? Wonderful, wonderful article.
Tribal, ignorant and angry is no way to go through life.
"I couldn’t wait to get out. I dreamed of going to Harvard, but was enamored with all of the old, storied New England schools. I loved watching “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and reading The Atlantic. I fantasized about finally feeling like I belonged."
When I was in Chicago public high school, I played drums and football, and dreamed of maybe making either record albums or movies someday. I couldn't conceive of the type of horror Jane describes, so singularly focused on a single message of perpetual smug victimhood.
Glad to see Jane has realized the horrific futility of tribalism.
“I took a poetry class where the professor would sing folk songs to us in the hallway as we made our way into class.”
That job shouldn’t exist and that person is a con artist slash thief.
I did not pay for college. I had a full academic scholarship. I only took STEM courses for 3 years and completed my major. In order to graduate I was told that I needed to take a certain amount of what they called VLPAs. Visual Learning and Performing Arts.
With legitimate frustration on my face I told my advisor that I thought it was beneath me. He laughed. Somewhat humorous, thinking it was beneath me, in hindsight, given that I had just attended a frat party where we kidnapped a duck and threw someone off the top deck of a boat.
College costs $50,000 because it is jam-packed with useless horseshit. The way that we are auto-funding this most wasteful high-end purchase for kids, and then making it non-dischargeable, is truly the crime of the century. I mean if there’s anything that needs to be defunded it’s college.
If you’re actually smart we can send you to work at Walmart at 18 and you will pick apart the flaws in their business operations. Then maybe we give you a $200,000 loan to start a business that addresses those flaws. I’m just spitballing here. Anything is better than what we are currently doing.
Obviously we still need college for people who want to study chemistry, but Ballroom Dancing 101 should not exist. You want to defund something? Defund that bullshit. Anthropology? Just as a discipline? Goodbye. You’re done. This is a knitting circle at best.
At most, 4% of people should attend college. It is a stupid obsession of our society and I don’t know how we back out of this.
(my sister has a PhD in English and she teaches poetry when she’s not doing AI stuff and we have had this discussion
I honestly wonder how many more young liberals there are like you. I hope more than I think.