In TAC, Jack Howard Burke revisits the continued poignancy of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987).
Bloom’s point on the university is fully brought home when he recounts his experiences as a faculty member during the Cornell rebellion, perhaps the most infamous student protest of the entire 1960s. On April 18, 1969, in an episode burned into the memories of all those who witnessed it, contingents of racially aggrieved student radicals descended on the Cornell campus—shotguns and rifles in hand—to hold the university hostage for 36 hours. The event was reported in news across the world, as numerous professors received death threats and the insurgents actually opened fire on the Cornell engineering building. In the eyes of many, including Bloom, it was—as Thomas Sowell described it in 1999— “The Day Cornell Died.” When the liberal humanities professors blithely, almost eagerly, surrendered to the students’ list of demands—which centered upon the perceived racism directed against black people on campus—Bloom tendered his resignation in disgust. As numerous historians of Cornell have stated, the college was never truly the same afterwards.
How soon before we see a repeat of this?