The promise offered by the Liberal Arts—to expose young minds to the enduring questions and lasting ideals that have made possible society’s greatest achievements—has today been brought into doubt by a generation of students too young even to know what they repudiate. Motivated not by experienced consideration, but by ideologically based social trends, our once-stalwart models of greatness are being deposed and discarded eagerly, angrily, and promiscuously by a student class uninterested in learning from whom and from what kinds of thinking came the very liberties that make possible their freedom to reject them.
As symbols of these jettisoned values, the artworks that honor or memorialize the people and events that brought us what amount to all of Western Civilization are being eradicated from the public sphere, and from the halls and campuses of academia they served to establish.
In a sad irony, what is exalted in their stead is not art at all. It is rather agitprop and idol-making, expressing none of the goodness, truth, or beauty that redeems even the most problematic—because human—of great ideas.
If “interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art,” as Susan Sontag said, the destruction now rampant is a profligate retribution of the incurious upon creativity itself.
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
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