This is no small milestone. For the better part of the last half century, liberal elites have instructed Americans and Europeans that all values are “relative,” or, in essence, equally right. Professors in our colleges and universities have uniformly drilled this moral relativism into their students. Students or faculty who dissent from this orthodoxy are ostracized or worse. Not surprisingly, these lessons have stuck.
Those taught moral relativism—including, most notably and obviously, prominent products of higher education such as Barack Obama—find it jarring and incomprehensible that there is real, unrestrained evil at work in the world. ISIS makes no sense to them.
ISIS and the diabolical acts it sponsors do not square with the idea that all values are relative and equally valid. In fact, it is a contradiction to believe at the same time (1) there are no absolute truths and (2) it is an absolute truth that ISIS is evil. Yet there we are—our leaders struggling to comprehend the situation because their tutors have handed them such ideological implosions while depriving them of the necessary understanding.
All of this was foretold. Thirty years ago, an obscure philosophy professor named Allan Bloom published an unlikely bestseller titled The Closing of the American Mind. The book warned that higher education was betraying the nation by inculcating moral relativism in college students.
Conservatives toasted Bloom as a hero. But because liberal bias in higher education was a thorny problem to solve, his warnings were ignored. Now, the intellectual rot he predicted has changed the country. Studies show the more college degrees a person receives, the more liberal that person becomes. Voting patterns reflect this reality. These social trends ensure that every year America drifts steadily to the left, becoming in the process less able and willing to defend itself against barbarism.
Passionately at the heart of modern liberalism is a relativism that compromises on everything but one nonsensical principle: The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. The West’s tepid response to ISIS reflects this uncertainty of ethical purpose.
The leaders of ISIS recognize and prey upon this muddle. Instead of preparing the nation’s future leaders to condemn and battle the evils of ISIS, our colleges and universities are paralyzed today with squabbles over whether vague and boorish behavior constitutes hate speech, and who is to blame. Meanwhile, the followers of ISIS have no problem figuring out what values they believe in—and showing they are willing to fight for them in the most bloodthirsty and disciplined manner. The confusion sown by American higher education could not have come at a worse time.