by Bruce Frohnen –
More than twenty-five years ago, in The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom pointed out that college students in the United States had become very “nice.” Students in general did not want to offend anyone and there was a constant concern to protect one another’s feelings. Bloom meant this as a half-hearted, even backhanded compliment at the time. It should not be seen as any kind of compliment any longer. In fact, niceness has become the enemy of excellence in our universities, and its pervasive role is setting up our young people and our society for failure and an especially venal form of soft despotism.
“Niceness” is a rather shallow set of habits and attitudes more concerned with comfort than engagement, ease than excellence, contentment than striving to do one’s best. It was and is the perfect complement to our contemporary liberal insistence on “tolerance” as the chief virtue. Tolerance, after all, means simply allowing others to do and/or say what we may not like. [Read more…]