Before beginning the next chapter in my long series on the educational decline inside this country, I finished a book this weekend that also discusses this topic more from a psychological and cultural perspective. Written by Lebanese Jew Gad Saad (Who is a citizen of Canada), it focuses on the psychology of the mind and how radical ideas based on lies and theories can destroy the knowledge and truths that allow our society to move forward collectively. His focus in this book is on the higher education system and the creation of a generation of radical ‘leftists’ who believe very strongly in their social justice causes without even entertaining the possibility that their personal beliefs maybe flawed. These “idea pathogens” are destroying our culture, educational research and increasingly, our politics. The radicalization of this generation with their binary “good versus evil” thinking has led to censorship, intolerance to diverse opinions, and career destruction for individuals who question these tactics. This will be a short review on a book that should be read by everyone if they want to understand some of the craziness that is increasingly coming out of our educational system. Despite this, the book also has one significant flaw that harms his arguments at the end due to the author’s own intrinsic bias.
After his introduction where the author dives into his own personal experience and professional career, he discusses why he defends the “freedom of ideas” so prominently important to the educational institutions. He breaks the book down into six chapters that analyzes a particular problem inside of our culture. Chapter Two on “Thinking vs. Feeling – Truth vs. Hurtful Feelings” is a good introduction to many of the problems inside the educational system. So much of the problems of present-day debate inside our society revolves around having to respect people’s personal experiences and opinions without causing any harm to their fragile egos. Human beings can hold radical viewpoints that are not based in any form of logic. It is important for alternative viewpoints to be expressed so individuals can evolve and find the truth. In our post-modern society, the educational system celebrates this lack of reason and allows people’s fragile egos to be protected from the oppositional viewpoint. If you personally feel that your strongly held belief is true, then it absolutely must be. Damn the evidence!
Chapter Three on “Non-Negotiable Elements of a Free Society” is the most vital chapter in this novel. The author lays out the important societal factors that impact personal freedom for everyone on the planet. He then evaluates all the various elements attacking this freedom. He focuses on tech censorship, identity politics, attacks on free speech and satire, and the forced conformity being promoted through diversity, inclusion, and equity. This leads into his next chapter about how authoritarian governments thrive inside cultures that reject reason, logic, and science. This freedom from reality allows institutions to attack basic cultural principles and stew the pot towards creating a world that the people in power can control and create their own vision of reality. His attack on post-modernism is spot on (Due to my own personal hatred of Michel Foucault) and how the educational system has turned everyone (Except “White Men”) into victims of “their” society. This led into the creation of the social justice warrior (Chapter Five) who has spread his wings outside the classroom and begun impacting our political system, our corporate boards, and other public institutions. This movement appears to have no particular purpose other than to destroy the First World’s most trusted institutions while creating a “collective” system that will hand technocratic control of your life over to corporations and governments.
The passion that the author has for exposing these problems is vital to the success of this novel. Even though he holds viewpoints that are distinctly conservative, he treats the subject matter in a non-biased manner using research, critical thinking, and logic to break down these “idea pathogens” and the terrible impact they are having on our present-day culture. Giving a background on how this originated and tying this into the current educational problems lays out a historical roadmap for how we have reached this current era under Joe Biden where the United States Government seems to be taking advantage of post-modernism in our culture and using this philosophy to crack down on our personal freedoms and pushing us towards an authoritarian collectivism. As he emphasizes throughout the book, as these changes continue to occur, there is no institution that is more responsible for these cancerous changes than our colleges.
His solutions to these problems explained in the Final Chapter are interesting ideas. First, his insistence on never apologizing for holding an opinion outside the mainstream struck me as an important principle. Plus, it is important for every individual to act and educate people who do not fully understand the cultural changes that are going on whether through an email to a small group of people, a post on social media, or writing an entire book on the subject.
I would be remiss if the flaws of this novel were not mentioned. Chapter Six and Seven stood out quite noticeably. Since this book emphasizes the changes inside our culture based on what has occurred with the educational establishment, his vent towards Islam (Which is a consistent theme throughout the novel) seems particularly misguided. While almost everything he says about Islam maybe true and he warns readers multiple times not to judge individual Muslims despite the teachings they honor, his attack on their religion seems like a grievance that a Jewish man has towards that religion. He did escape Lebanon with his life in the 1980s due to radical Islamic groups. But, when you are talking about the education system, the inclusion of this anti-Islamic rhetoric (While letting the Jews and Christians mostly off the hook) was ill informed and pointless. Save this topic for a book about the Islamic religion. But if you want to add a sense of logic to any foundational religious principles which are strictly built on the idea of faith, your argument will fall on deaf eyes to the true believers. Also, using United States government terrorist watchlists is another tool that should have been avoided. One country’s terrorists is another country’s freedom fighters. It is too bad he decided to go down this route as the book was perfect until this unfortunate diversion.
If you are interested in the novel, please purchase it here. Other than a misguided diversion towards the end, Saad’s novel will teach you plenty about what is occurring in our present-day culture.
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