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(This broadcast is reprinted through the courtesy of America's Future, Inc., Its sponsor. It was released to radio stations for the first week in April.)
SLATER: This is Bill Slater reminding you that it's a good old American custom--and a priceless American privilege--to speak your mind. We have as our guest this week a senior at Yale University who is eminently qualified to speak up for straight-thinking young America. Bill Buckley was on the Yale team that 'won from Oxford the debate on Socialism. He served as Chairman of the "Yale Daily News"--and he has a mind of his own about what is being taught, and what is not being taught, in American colleges. After you hear him I'm sure that you, too, will want to SPEAK UP, AMERICANS . . . for America . . .
Now, friends, it's a pleasure to welcome Mr. William Frank Buckley, Jr., a senior at Yale University.
BUCKLEY: Thank You, Mr. Slater. I do have serious misgivings about present-day trends in American education--because my generation is going to bear the consequences of educational policies which you of the older generation have permitted to go unchallenged--or at least unchanged.
SLATER: Then I take it, Mr. Buckley, that you, have been observing pretty closely the conservative movement in the colleges.
BUCKLEY: I have been observing it at Yale--and Yale is probably more conservative than a lot of colleges.
SLATER: Then you think that what you have seen at Yale is a better-than-average sample of how American youth is being taught? Now won't you tell us, do you find a lot of support for your position which upholds free enterprise, on the part of the faculty of Yale?
BUCKLEY: No, Mr. Slater, I do not. The faculty of Yale is of course very large, and the great majority teach subjects unrelated to economics or political science. Therefore, unless a teacher happens to feel very strongly, you never know just what he believes about the capitalist position.
SLATER: Well, what about those members of the faculty who teach economics?
BUCKLEY: Among these there is a definite division. Two or three of the older members of the Department are strong champions of the cause of free enterprise. A good number of the young ones are "pragmatists"--which is to say--they think a little touch of Socialism here and a little touch of free enterprise there is what is needed. Many of them believe in what they call a redistribution of wealth; they uphold the "welfare a state," and generally speaking, uphold the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the Labor Government in Great Britain.
SLATER: Surely the Department of Economics of the University takes some sort of the a stand on these vital questions, doesn't it?
BUCKLEY: No, it doesn't. It takes no stands whatsoever; and you're coming close, Mr. Slater, to the riddle of modern private education: Why is it that Universities do not take stands on any of the major issues that America and World face today?
SLATER: Well, how do you account for that?
BUCKLEY: As you know, Mr. Slater, the members of the Corporation of Yale include men of varying political principles. But none, so far as I know, is a Socialist. The Corporation includes such men as Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Senator Robert Taft, Pan American Airlines President Juan Trippe, U. S. Steel President Irving Olds, and Henry Sherrill, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
SLATER: Surely a group such as this is in favor of keeping America free, and turning down overtures to Socialism?
BUCKLEY: So far as I know, you're correct, Mr. Slater. But what keeps them from acting? What prevents them from outlining some sort of a policy that will guide their economics department?
SLATER: Well, Bill Buckley, can you answer that one?
BUCKLEY: It seems to me obvious that university trustees thought the country have been so badgered that many of them become convinced that it's not the job of an educational institution to have a policy about any basic issue. Instead, they allow the student to be taught everything, and then left to decide for himself what is the best course.
SLATER: That doesn't exactly fit in with the educational ideals we used to consider American; the student was supposed to be guided. . .
BUCKLEY: Exactly. But for some reason, the trustees of a university seem to assume that a student grows up a overnight between high school and college; that the student no longer needs to be guided, but should be taught everything? As at Yale, he should be taught pro-capitalism and anti-capitalism, Christianity and anti-Christianity, absolute ethics and ethical relativism--and then left to make his own choice. The University doesn't even take the elementary precaution to make sure that the most effective faculty members defend capitalism or Christianity.
SLATER: Let me ask you, Mr. Buckley, do you think that a student should be forced to believe in free enterprise, and the conservative position?
BUCKLEY: Of course not. To begin with, this is impossible. You can't force anybody to think anything, but I do believe that the administrators and trustees of a university should give themselves the same credit that we give them: they should have the courage and straightforwardness to insist that since they have earned positions of responsibility, and are nominally, at least, in charge of the University, they should do everything they can to persuade students of the rightness of those ideals. They don't have to sacrifice scholarship to do this. Conflicting opinions--socialism, Marxism, atheism--all should be explained, and they should be explained by teachers who are primarily interested in pointing out the errors of such positions.
SLATER: Then you think that university has a right to do this?
BUCKLEY: Unquestionably it has that right. The policies of a private University are entirely governed by its trustees. Setting up a curriculum and hiring and firing faculty members is ultimately their responsibility. They not only have the right to guide students; they have the responsibility to guide students. I can't understand the position of a man who sincerely believes that a certain attitude towards certain issues is necessary for the well-being of America for the preservation of individual freedom, and yet will allow completely conflicting doctrines to be preached--notice I say preached--to student where educational earners are his responsibility. He not only allows the teaching of doctrines which he considers allen to the best interest of his country but be subsidizes them. This is what is happening today. Trustees who as citizens are fighting socialism, nevertheless are responsible for proceeding thousands of undergraduates who--let me be the first to admit--are not leaving Yale and Socialists, but are leaving Yale without first a proper understanding of the benefits of free enterprise, and secondly and especially without having been taught the educational and moral necessity of adhering to certain basic American principles.
SLATER: May I ask right there, Bill, where do you think such lack of direction is leading American youth?
BUCKLEY: The graduates of Yale and other universities which follow similar policies will be easy prey to the propagandists who insist that collectivization and various degrees of Socialism are all we need to make our economy stronger. These unguided men will be useful men to the leftist cause.
SLATER: Now what, in your opinion, is the general attitude of university alumni on this question?
BUCKLEY: You've hit on a vital point, Mr. Slater-Without the active help of the alumni, most private universities would go bankrupt. Now the need of money is something that brings real unanimity of action. A university administration can't run without money, and they want to run. There are two sources they can tap: one is the government, the other the alumni.
SLATER: What keeps them from going to the government for help?
BUCKLEY: Simply this: they realize that there are government strings on government money. Yale and most other private institutions still cherish their freedom.
SLATER: So the university's alternative, as you see it, so to go to the alumni? Now tell me this, Bill, what have you observed is the attitude of the graduates in regard to a university's failure to guide students towards what the alumni consider proper goals? Is this reflected in their contributions to Yale?
BUCKLEY: It certainly is, to some degree. If a Yale professor writes a radical book, or makes a radical speech, the Administration is besieged with letters from alumni demanding to know if this is the sort of stuff their children are being taught. Not infrequently, an alumnus will state that he is through giving until such and such and so and so are fired.
SLATER: That means that the "old grads" are speaking up. Does this make a university administration stop and think?
BUCKLEY: It does. I would say their most serious moments are spent trying to raise money. Of course, when complaints come in, they tell the alumnus that what this particular professor said was misinterpreted, or not typical of what is being taught; that the university is presenting every point of view; that of course Mr. X knows that his Alma Mater is, by and large, a congregating place for conservative Intellectuals, and that the best way he can strengthen the conservative position is by continuing and in fact increasing his contributions!
SLATER: Well, this works, I take it?
BUCKLEY: Yes, it works--because one alumnus complains about this teacher, another about this other teacher, and the University can't fire a teacher every time it gets a telephone call from an angry graduate.
SLATER: What, then should be done?
BUCKLEY: The alumni should get together and persuade the trustees that the university must have a mission--definite goals which the trustees shall specify, and toward which the institution must guide her students; that to teach them to think is not enough. The student must be encouraged to think and to act along the lines and towards the goals which their educational leaders believe in--and that they believe will best fortify them as Christians and as intelligent and educated men to guard over the destiny of the United States.
SLATER: After the trustees have established such a teaching policy, what then?
BUCKLEY: The administrators of the University can be given the task of carrying it out. Then there will be some definite purpose in education. And in return, the University should tell the alumni that if they are sincerely interested in the mission of the University, the staggering coast of such a mission must be met, and theirs is the duty to provide for this cost. Alumni have given evidence of their generously time and time again. And, in my opinion, contributions would be increased tenfold if parents believed that students were being encouraged to align themselves against the forces of socialism and atheism in our country.
SLATER: Thank you, Bill Buckley, Friends, whether you are a student, a teacher, a parent, or a university trustee, you will want to read and think about what you've just heard, so please stay tuned in. . . Friends, our guest, William Frank Buckley, Jr., member of the Yale University debating team that bowled over Oxford on Socialism, has certainly given the rest of us something to think about--about the responsibilities of university and college trustees for purposeless policies in education. For free printed copies of this interview just drop a postcard to AMERICA'S FUTURE in care of the station to which you are now listening. . . Ask for "Buckley of Yale." . . . Now this is Bill Slater, saying goodbye--and reminding you, wherever you are, whatever you do, SPEAK UP AMERICANS . . . for America.
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