Have you ever wondered whether there is a correlation between what we might call a government’s “indoctrination” of its people and what we might call historical tragedy? Of course there is a correlation, and it’s dramatic. That’s because God created the world and reality, so any time something as extremely powerful as a nation-state pushes against truth, it will inevitably end up smashing into God’s reality particularly hard. We might also call “government indoctrination” by its other name, “propaganda,” which was made especially infamous by the ghoulish Nazi genius Joseph Goebbels. We could also simply call it “state-sponsored lying.”
There are many examples of secular or atheist regimes that devalued truth and ended up massacring thousands and millions of their own citizens. What the Chinese communists have done over the decades — most horribly during their “Cultural Revolution” — grew out of their desire to crush truth. And in doing so, they crushed millions of human beings who were created in the image of the One who is “truth.” To lash out against truth and against human beings is to strike a blow against the God who is the Author of both.
The question is always: How do these historical evils happen?
And the short answer is that people allow them to happen. Of course, those particular people in positions of power — in places other than the government itself — bear a particularly heavy burden. At the heart of any free society are institutions that support freedom and protect us from government tendencies toward tyranny. We beyond the government — in the case of the United States, “We the People” — are inevitably responsible for seeing that the government does not begin to serve itself instead of the people who have elected it.
So, the people in a free society have a serious obligation to “keep the republic,” to paraphrase Ben Franklin. We are responsible for living out our freedoms — and for exercising them. But usually, we do that best through institutions.
Without the need of a microscope, we can see tangible ways this is happening in recent history here on our beloved American soil.
In 1968, the administration of Columbia University in New York failed to stand against the radical students on campus and stood by when they took over the university president’s office. It was the abdication of that generation of leaders — not merely in universities but also in other cultural institutions — that opened the door to the last five decades of departure from the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.
Many in the universities had somehow come to imbibe a Rousseauian idea of the world. Suddenly “feelings” were accorded greater value than facts and logic and truth. And very tellingly, youth was regarded as having some inherent moral authority, as though Original Sin did not exist and as though wisdom was not something one developed over time, but rather something one was born with and which eroded over time.
So, to the extent universities have surrendered to these corrosive forces and are increasingly unable to countenance ideas or voices or opinions that might push against the increasingly propagandistic shouting of the secular left, we should expect the same fruit as we have seen grow every time this has happened before. If ideas they consider “conservative” or “faith-based” are categorically and cavalierly demonized as “racist” or “bigoted” and disallowed, truth has already left the building, and murder and general tragedy cannot help but follow. If those of us in universities especially — but everywhere in our culture — do not fight heroically this minute against the culturally Marxist stormtroopers around us, we will certainly not have the opportunity to fight tomorrow.
Those who do not believe in truth or in the sanctity of human life have never been so foolish as to give their enemies the benefit of the doubt, or the chance to make their case. So, silencing them brutally now is only the first step toward silencing them forever.