Western Civ at Providence College

From Robert Whitcomb's Nov. 10 "Digital Diary'' in GoLocal24.

Prof. Anthony Esolen, who teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College,  a Catholic institution, has questioned the college being a "committedly and forthrightly Catholic school" and has been denounced for his remarks.


"Is not diversity, as currently promoted, at odds with the foundational diversity built into the nature of the human race, the diversity of male and female, to be resolved most dynamically and creatively in the union of man and woman in marriage?" wrote  Mr. Esolen for Crisis Magazine. "Is not that same call for diversity, when Catholics are doing the calling, a surrender of the Church to a political movement which is, for all its talk, a push for homogeneity, so that all the world will look not like the many-cultured Church, but rather like the monotone non-culture of western cities that have lost their faith in the transcendent and unifying God?’’

Inevitably, he was denounced  for his remarks by some PC faculty members. What they should have criticized – maybe -- is the seeming opaqueness of some of his phrasing.  In any event, a faculty letter against him reads, in part:

“As PC Faculty, we pledge to break the silence around systemic racism and discrimination on Providence College’s campus. While we vigorously support free expression, recent publications on the part of PC faculty have involved racist, xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic, and religiously chauvinist statements. The use of this type of language by people with power over students runs counter to the Catholic mission of Providence College, which aims ‘to reflect the rich diversity’ of our world, and ‘extend a loving embrace to all."’

“As a diverse coalition of students have consistently highlighted, such statements are part of a broader pattern of racism, sexism and other forms of hate that are all too common not only on campus, but in the broader public culture. As professors who care deeply about the well being, safety, and growth of our students, we are committed to combating racism and overcoming the hostile learning environment for too many of our students, while creating spaces where all of our students can engage in meaningful ways.’’


Oh, come on! The statement, which sounds  like a call for censorship by the college or at least self-censorship by the likes of Mr. Esolen, makes mild-mannered PC sound like a 24/7 Ku Klux Klan meeting!

Note such empty words as “meaningful’’ and “diversity’’ (of what?).  And of course they treat the poor little lambkins students as if they’re far too fragile to hear an opinion that might lower their comfort levels or make them reconsider the received wisdom that now rules on most American campuses. And, as usual in such cases, they accuse Professor Esolen of writing things he never wrote. Their rhetoric recalls the rhetorical dreck of dictatorships such as Stalin’s Soviet Union in which “class enemies’’ are singled out in language contorted to fit the political lies needed to help the likes of Stalin stay in power.

The response from the Rev. Brian Shanley, PC’s president, was the usual stuff you get from college presidents these days, many of whom lack intellectual and cultural self-confidence:

Father Shanley wrote:

“He {Mr. Esolen} certainly does not speak for me, my administration, and for many others at Providence College who understand and value diversity in a very different sense from him.’’

So what precisely does “diversity’’ mean to the PC administration? Is it just about skin color, varieties of sexual desire, surname, ethnic cuisine….? Are  intellectual and political diversity also encouraged?

Meanwhile, let’s put in a good word for Western Civilization, which Professor Esolen reveres and his  presumed preference for which over other cultures is presented as making him an enemy of “diversity’’.

It’s a civilization that has permitted students and faculty at colleges in the West to speak freely and pursue their dreams as in no other place in the world. Refugees want to flee to the West because of its freedom of expression and of inquiry, and how it protects what Jefferson memorably called “the pursuit of happiness.’’  Those freedoms are key drivers in creating the prosperity that also leads people to flee to the West. If it is so awful, why is the flight one way? And where are things more “diverse’’ than in nations within what many of usstill call Western Civilization?

The complainants can easily resolve their issues by transferring to a non-Catholic college. Since we’re in Western Civilization (or what’s left of it), they have the freedom to move.