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Curriculum Mortae: Sometimes Indoctrination Is a Matter of Life and Death

Karen Swallow Prior

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Curriculum Mortae

In 2005, according to an annual survey of college freshmen by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, “only” 54.5 percent of first-year students agreed that “abortion should be legal.” What this tells us is that when college kids first arrive on campus, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with idealism, they exhibit a relative enthusiasm for life— that is, until the leftists and secularists who overwhelm academia dig their claws into them. Once this happens, research indicates that even the sizable minority who go so far as to actually count themselves pro-life is doomed to diminish. (And this surely can’t be the result of learning per se, since virtually all of history’s great thinkers— from Hippocrates to Maimonides to Mary Wollstonecraft— have opposed elective abortion.)

A 1996 Gallup poll of women’s attitudes toward abortion showed that women with only a high-school education are more pro-life (47 percent) than pro-choice (37 percent). Among women who attend college without completing a four-year degree, the percentage who are pro-choice jumps to 59 percent. And among those who complete a four-year degree, the percentage identifying themselves as pro-choice skyrockets to 73 percent. You can imagine what happens in graduate school. Actually, you don’t need to imagine what happens to pro-life attitudes in graduate school because I can tell you.

Signs of Life

Having undergone a rather abrupt and atypical shift to the pro-life view the summer after completing college, I entered my PhD program with all the enthusiasm of the newly converted. Noticing the posters, stickers, and flyers promoting various causes that adorned the other office doors in my department, I engaged in some interior decorating of my own. Soon, half of the door to the office I shared with another graduate student was gilded with my cleverest pro-life propaganda. I had to admit that it looked a bit odd next to the gay-themed flyers on the other half of the door, but hey, I thought, this is grad school, land of tolerance and diversity.

Unfortunately, my officemate didn’t agree. The pro-life signs were “embarrassing,” she said. She didn’t want her students— or worse, her professors— to think that she was “anti-choice.” (“So should I be worried about everyone thinking I was a lesbian?” I wondered.) My colleague resolved the problem the way all good liberals solve the problem of differing points of view: by silencing them. We “agreed” to denude the door and use only the space above our own desks for personal expression. Such was my welcome as an out-of-the-closet pro-lifer at a bastion of liberal learning. But this was merely a foreboding of even worse things to come.

Read the entire article on the Salvo Magazine website (new window will open).

Posted: 06-Jul-08

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