Author: Peter Wood

Peter Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars and author of “Diversity: the Invention of a Concept.”

Should We Abandon the Concept of Merit?

Here we go again—yet another book denouncing merit and meritocracy. Merit is such a useful idea that it is hard to think that a society could do without it, and probably none does. That, however, hasn’t restrained a burgeoning industry of people who are fed up with the whole idea. “Abolish merit!” they thunder. “It […]

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Has Harvard Lost Its Taste for Western Civilization?

The official greeting of Harvard president Larry Bacow to the members of the Harvard Community — a typical welcome to new students, faculty, and parents — has touched a political nerve. Stina Chang, writing on the Asian-American news site AsAmNews picked up Bacow’s pitch to legislators to ease restrictions on international students who want to […]

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Teaching That America Is Hopelessly Racist

Many more college students have read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ anti-white screed Between the World and Me (2015) than have read, say, works by the Nobel economist Robert Fogel, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Slavery (1974) or Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (1989). I can say that with […]

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The Assault on Free Thought

The academic left’s efforts to suppress opposing views is fierce, agile, and determined. It can summon an angry mob at a moment’s notice, get the undivided attention of a busy college president, or turn on the tears over the anguish a student feels when oppressed. Whether the goal is to bar a speaker, deface a […]

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As Alaska Slashes Funds to Higher Education, Will Other States Follow?

The state of Alaska has unleashed a grizzly bear of a problem for the lower forty-eight. By slashing public spending on the University of Alaska by 41 percent, the governor and the legislature have defied one of the settled rules of American politics: Thou shalt not threaten public higher education. What if other states follow […]

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How Oberlin Played the Race Card and Lost

Are Oberlin College officials serious when they say they were defending students’ free speech? That remains the college’s defense even after a jury found the college guilty of libel and interference with business in its dealings with Gibson’s Food Mart and Bakery. Gibson’s Bakery felt defamed by Oberlin College’s involvement in a campaign accusing the […]

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The Final Corruption of the SAT’s

The College Board, ever alert to cultural signals, has decided the SATs can be improved by adopting what might be called McNeil methods. In the 1930s, Charles K. McNeil, a math teacher at Riverdale Country School in New York, indulged a not very respectable hobby of gambling on the side. Growing bored with picking winners […]

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Google, Facebook Censorship ‘A Mistake’

Last week Google told the Claremont Institute that the Institute’s advertisements for its annual conference were banned. This act of censorship by the internet giant followed Facebook’s announcement that it was banning Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan, and Paul Watson. Ryan P. Williams, the president of the Claremont Institute, posted his account of what […]

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How Nine Universities Pander to Campus Radicals

In higher education, disgraceful scandals and major embarrassments once arrived one by one. Now, they appear in clusters, like epidemics we should have been expecting. Take the University of Tulsa, suddenly in the grip of a “strategic plan” aimed at marketing the university to students who are career-oriented and lured by the idea of fighting […]

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Would a New Conservative University Level the Field?

Should conservatives establish a new university of, by, and for conservatives? The idea has been relaunched about as many times as the Starship Enterprise. I first heard it in the 1990s, but doubtless, it is older. Most recently Frederick Hess and Brendan Bell at the American Enterprise Institute cast the vision in “An Ivory Tower […]

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Are Colleges Turning Out Our Most Self-Absorbed and Fragile Generation?

Towards the end of Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Coddling of the American Mind, the authors declare that it is “a good time for us to lay our cards on the table, politically speaking.” Lukianoff confesses he is “a liberal with some sympathy for libertarian perspectives.” Haidt declares he “is a centrist […]

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How a Social Justice Mob Fired a Tenured Professor

The fall semester is off to a fiery start. We have Brown University’s decision to distance itself from Professor Lisa Littman’s research paper; the decision by the New York Journal of Mathematics journal to un-publish Professor Theodore Hill’s study; the University of Chicago’s refusal to defend Professor Rachel Fulton Brown from scurrilous attack led by […]

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Girl Giving Cheat Sheet To Boy During Examination

The University That Lets Teachers Cheat

A university that does nothing when faced with clear evidence of academic misconduct deserves some public scrutiny. Case in point: The University of Houston, Texas’s third largest university, is having some trouble with academic standards. Since early this year, the University has been stonewalling allegations that a school superintendent plagiarized the doctoral dissertation he submitted […]

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A Tide Flowing Toward Free Speech on Campus

Freedom of expression is making a comeback. That might not be immediately obvious in the age of disinvitations, shout downs, trigger warnings, speech codes, “bias response teams,” and the other components of leftist suppression of ideas and speech on campus. Nor if we look beyond campus to the assaults on public officials, the doxing of […]

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The $1.5 Trillion Student Loan Debacle Hits a Tipping Point

What’s to be done about the large and growing number of Americans who cannot repay their student loans? There are two new developments. The New York Times reports, “Senators Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill on Thursday that would prevent states from suspending residents’ driver’s licenses and professional licenses over unpaid federal student […]

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Defending a Debased Version of the Liberal Arts

Two college associations are purporting to defend the liberal arts, the areas of study that undergird higher education in Western history and educate society about universal principles essential for a free person to know to participate in civic life. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) […]

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College for Everyone? Even the Left Has Doubts

“College May Not Be Worth It Anymore” warns a headline in The New York Times. It has been a sacred dogma to the American left since the 1960s that “Everyone should go to college.” But the NYT headline is no fluke. Many on the left are now wondering out loud whether mass higher education is […]

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Jordan Peterson Provokes the Angry SJWs

I didn’t really want Jordan Peterson to provide me with 12 Rules for Life. It was enough that Professor Peterson defied the transgender advocates at the University of Toronto who wanted him to adopt nonsense pronouns to address his students. It was heartening to see Professor Peterson stand his ground against that obnoxious guardian of […]

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Why a Penn Professor Was Vilified for Telling the Truth About Race

Professor Amy Wax at the University of Pennsylvania Law School is once again the target of students and faculty members who have ginned up a racial grievance against her. The issue is that she said something that is apparently true that her critics would rather remain unsaid. The immediate consequence is that Penn Law Dean […]

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Another Incoherent Protest This Time by Law Students

Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and member of the National Association of Scholars Board of Advisors, was the target of a disruptive protest, Monday, March 5, at the Lewis and Clark Law School. Sommers had been invited to speak by the Law School’s chapter of The Federalist Society. In […]

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The Real Fallout from High School Walkouts

On February 21, many high school students across the country staged a brief walkout from their classes to protest school shootings. Grieving students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Forest are also helping to organize even larger national student walkouts—hashtags #Enough and #NeverAgain— on March 14 and 24 to protest lenient gun […]

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Yes, the Weird Campus Culture Pollutes the Whole Nation Now

Several correspondents send me links to “must read” articles every few days. High up on the list since February 9, has been Andrew Sullivan’s New York Magazine article, “We All Live on Campus Now.” Like most “must reads,” Sullivan’s article is a blazing reassertion of what most people already know. Its claim, as Pope defined […]

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The New Campus Anti-Americanism

I have a cabin in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. The woods– lovely, dark and deep–weren’t always woods. About 150 years ago the hills in central Vermont were stripped bare of trees and mostly turned over to sheep farms. The wool industry, however, soon moved west, and these days Vermont is completely re-forested. […]

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Did the Right ‘Weaponize’ Free Speech?

Joan Scott, professor emerita in the School of Social Science at Princeton, has been arguing that the great threat on academic freedom comes not from the smothering blanket of political correctness or the violence-laced actions of left-wing protesters, but from the anti-intellectual right. Scott’s interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “How the Right Weaponized […]

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Why Is a College of Criminal Justice Celebrating Art By Guantanamo Jihadists?

In the sunken lobby of John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Tenth Avenue in New York City, a somber Memorial Hall is dedicated to the “Bravery and Sacrifice” of “NYPD Heroes 9-11 and Beyond.”  Surrounded by photographs of the attack and the recovery, a twisted metal chunk of one of the Twin Towers rests […]

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What the Tax-Reform Law Could Do to Higher Education

Exceptional athletes are often called game changers, but the real game changers in sports are the committees that set the rules.  Changing the height of the pitcher’s mound changes the game.  So too with expenses in higher education.  The rules are changing. The House of Representatives has passed a tax reform bill that includes several […]

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Harvey Weinstein and Higher Ed

Harvey Weinstein—priapic, smug, and richly honored—has been losing his degrees. The University of Buffalo is rescinding his 2000 honorary degree. Harvard is revoking his Du Bois Medal, awarded in 2014 for his contributions to black culture. France is rescinding his Legion of Honor. These take-backs come despite Mr. Weinstein’s long record of standing up for […]

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Disrupting Campus Speakers Is Not Just A Free-Speech Problem

From kneeling football players to campus shout-downs to professors and a president Tweeting out malignancies, America now has a new problem. Taken out of its Christian context, to witness is to make an emphatic assertion to someone else who doesn’t share your view that your view is right. That assertion, moreover, doesn’t aim to persuade […]

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Protecting Academic Freedom Through All the Campus Smoke

Once many years ago I spoke to an Army recruiter who tried to convince me that I would learn many valuable skills in the military, including how to jump from helicopters. I was puzzled. How exactly was learning to jump from a helicopter a valuable skill? He explained that I could then qualify for a […]

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David Horowitz: Battlefield Notes from a War Gone Unnoticed

I have been reading essays by David Horowitz for nearly fifty years, starting when he became an editor of the radical new-left magazine, Ramparts, in 1968, and I was a high school student prepping for debates about the Vietnam war. David famously moved beyond his red diaper origins, his Marxist enthusiasms, and his admiration of […]

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