Renowned American writer, publicist, and Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald spoke about the diminishing freedom of speech at Western universities while attending the MCC International Summit in Budapest, Hungary, organized by the Mathias Corvinus College. Mac Donald agreed to sit down with Hungarian news outlet Magyar Hirlap and speak about the current situation in Western universities and where she believes the progressive takeover of education is headed.
Universities have transformed from institutions of knowledge into institutions of justice. The danger is, without the element of knowledge and understanding, justice is becoming a tool of self-serving manipulation. How can knowledge prevail again over self-pity?
Professors have to be willing to speak the truth. I do not agree that they have transformed into institutions of justice, they are the antithesis of justice. On the broader issue of social justice, they think of themselves as fighting racism, and that they are righting historical wrongs. That is a lie, a deception, and professors have to be willing to speak the truth that every single faculty search is a desperate effort to find qualified females and minorities to hire. That the student admission process is driven by race, Whites are discriminated against, Blacks and Hispanics are discriminated in favor of. If professors do not tell the truth, and they allow the lie to prevail that the university is shot through with racism, then the justice crusade make a little more sense.
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Should we not be more understanding with these people because in a way these might be survival instincts that kick in in an environment where the only way to survive without harm or bullying is to join a victim group?
If there is a reality to this feeling of being unsafe, and being vulnerable, then that is the reality of racial preferences. That every college in America today that is admitting Black and Hispanic students with radically lower academic qualifications than their white and Asian peers. They are brought into academic environments where they are not competitively qualified. Then, they cannot compete, and that does lead to feelings of insecurity and vulnerability. All this leads to the favorite word on our college campuses: diversity. The reality on an American college campus today is the opposite: segregation.
In Hungary, some were convinced that these sorts of distortions are born out of a certain composition of societies, until the woke hysteria started to appear in our universities too – despite the fact that we live in a largely ethnically and culturally homogenous societies. How is this possible?
This is spreading among Hungarian universities because even Hungarian students want to maximize their international job opportunities, In which case they better speak the language of victimhood and oppression. So it becomes a professional norm. If you want to be respected among your peers, if you want to publish in an academic journal, those are the topics that are currently being valued. Having said this, this is a mysterious, deep question and I would say that from the perspective of America, White people have become completely self hating. And this is the paradox you bring out, because in an American context it is about race, about American guilt over slavery. The fear that the academic gap is still not closing, the Blacks still remain behind in academic accomplishment despite decades of effort to close the academic achievement gap. And it’s not changing, and Whites are terrified.
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But then you say that it is not our situation in Hungary, why are students self-hating? I think this is an unprecedented civilizational moment of a culture that is turning on itself, that is determined to see only bad things in its past and is not giving children reasons to be proud. I do not know where that ends. In the [Chinese] Cultural Revolution, you had the masses turning on the elite, and now the elite is turning on the masses and on each other.
The spread of progressive ideologies always happens in an atmosphere of fear. What can happen, when our young generation experience this political type of fear at an early age, what kind of society will they build? And what caused the fact that there are so few among them who have the courage to stand up to this anti-truth apartheid?
Peer conformity is a very strong instinct. To stand out and call out the lies around you knowing that you are going to be attacked as a racist and a sexist is now in the United States the most devastating thing you can say to anybody. So for a young person, it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your peers. So we are fostering a culture of conformity, of unwillingness to speak the truth.
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The concrete danger is that we are destroying the excellence of our institutions. We are using sex and race to decide who to hire rather than qualifications. We are putting our scientific progress at risk because now every academic science department in the country is hiring on the basis of race and sex, not qualifications. So to prevent that here in Hungary you will have to be willing to say that there is beauty in our culture, there is worth in it, we are not going to apologize for speaking the truth.