Dictatorship of Virtue, by Richard Bernstein
Sometimes—mercifully—the kids are hard to fool. At our son’s graduation in May, several of his classmates briefed us on which departments of their well-regarded liberal-arts college were intellectually flaccid, politically correct, or beset by grade inflation, and which had clung to openness, balance, and rigor. They were matter-of-fact about the distinction, probably because they could not readily imagine—most likely had never experienced—an educational institution wholly devoted to high standards and free inquiry. They assumed that both sorts of academic departments would naturally exist on campus. But they were clear about the difference, and keenly aware that in some subjects an “A” signified serious accomplishment, while in others it served primarily to denote attendance or, at best, effort.
That vignette does not turn up in Richard Bernstein’s estimable look at educational (and other) abominations committed in the name of “multiculturalism”—a doctrine that preaches the inclusion of “underrepresented minorities” yet practices a rigid and exclusionary orthodoxy of its own. But plenty of other stories do. Their vividness and realism are major virtues of this book, which the veteran New York Times reporter based on an extended tour that carried him across the land from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Brookline, Massachusetts, to Boulder, Colorado, in search of multiculturalism in action.
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