Fareed Zakaria torched elite American universities, which he said in a monologue on his CNN show are “no longer seen as bastions of excellence, but as partisan outfits.”
Last week the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and M.I.T. drew intense backlash for their answers during a hearing about rising antisemitism on college campuses. Penn president Elizabeth Magill resigned on Saturday, just four days after coming under fire for her testimony before Congress.
Zakaria took the topic head-on during his Sunday program on CNN.
America’s top universities should abandon their long misadventure into politics, retrain their gaze on their core strengths and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning.— Fareed Zakaria (@FareedZakaria) December 10, 2023
My take: pic.twitter.com/smjkQ9fngE
“When one thinks of America’s greatest strengths, the kind of assist the world looks at with admiration and envy, America’s elite universities would one have been at the top of that list, the anchor said. “But the American public had been losing faith in these universities for good reason.”
Zakaria called the university president’s answers “vague and indecisive,” when “asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their institutions’ codes of conduct.”
The CNN anchor dissected the issue even further “To understand their performance, we have to understand the broad shift that has taken place at elite universities, which has gone from being centers of excellence to institutions pushing political agendas.”
According to Zakaria, “American universities have been neglecting a core focus on excellence in order to pursue a variety of agendas, many go them clustered around diversity and inclusion,” which began with “the best of intentions.”
“But those good intentions have morphed into a dogmatic ideology and turned these universities into places where the pervasive goals are political and social engineering, not academic merit,” the CNN anchor continued.
But the importance of diversity on college campuses ignores one crucial part according to Zakaria, political diversity.
“Out of this culture of diversity has grown the collection of ideas and practices that we have now all heard of safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions,” Zakaria continued. However, “In this context, it is understandable that Jewish groups would wonder why do safe spaces and microaggressions and hate speech not apply to us?”
“These presidents could not make the case clearly that at the center of the university is the free expression of ideas,” he said. “And that while harassment and intimidations would not be tolerated, offensive speech would and should be protected.”
Zakaria continued: “What we saw in the House hearing this week was the inevitable result of decades of the politicization of universities. America’s top colleges are no longer seen as bastions of excellence, but partisan outfits, which means they will keep getting buffeted by these political storms as they emerge.”
The CNN anchor urges universities to “abandon this long misadventure into politics, retrain their gaze on their core strengths, and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning.”