A rip-roaring exposé by first-time documentary filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney, "Indoctrinate U" presents a searing and often hilarious portrait of campus absurdity, where gender, race, and multi-cultural politics have crowded out learning and the free exchange of ideas.
Thor Halvorssen, founder of the Moving Picture Institute, remembers when Maloney sounded him out about backing the film.
“When Evan Maloney first called and told me he’d never made a film before, I couldn’t get him off the phone fast enough,” Halvorssen said at the recent world premier of the film at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
“But there was something persistent about him.”
Indeed, Maloney made a short film called “Brainwashing 101” on spec, then shot a sequel, “Brainwashing 201 – the Second Semester,” that so impressed Halvorssen that he decided to throw his considerable weight behind the project.
As the first executive director and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which defends students who run afoul of speech codes and political correctness on campus, Halvorssen was no newcomer to the left-wing bias in academia.
But Maloney’s persistence, and his trenchant wit, paid off.
“When we think of college, we think of intellectual freedom,” Maloney said. “We imagine four years of exploring ideas through vigorous debate and critical thinking. But the reality is very far from the idea.”
After training his portable camera on more than 20 campuses across the country, from the Ivy Leagues to large state universities, Maloney said he concluded that “higher education is systematically defrauding students, parents, and taxpayers.”
While that may be a very serious “message,” it’s Maloney’s telling of his story that merits watching this film.
The packed crowd at the Kennedy Center burst into uproarious laughter as Maloney and his cameramen searched campuses in vain for the “Men’s Study Center.”
They howled with knowing delight when Maloney filmed campus free-speech advocates putting on a “diversity bake sale,” to poke fun at so-called affirmative action in college entrance requirements (Hint: each category of cookie sold at different prices, with some going at a steep discount).
One left-wing professor explained with utmost seriousness how “whiteness is oppression.”
Maloney was wise enough to let him go on and on about the useless of studying the U.S. Constitution (written by “dead white men”), and the horrors of modern-day America and capitalism.
One conservative professor read from his college’s academic code book, which instructed all teachers to craft their course syllabus “to develop a sense of race, class, and gender.”
Those requirements were imposed on all subject matter — “even physics . . . and horticulture!” he quipped.
He called this vast left-wing agenda “a social engineering project,” intended to create new generations of Americans with no sense of American history, American exceptionalism, or American freedoms.
The left-wing “academics” portrayed in "Indoctrinate U" have an almost comic-book-like rigidity, and yet they take themselves with the utmost seriousness.
The absurdity of campus life was summed up by conservative professor Michael Munger in a line that had the entire Kennedy Center audience hooting and cheering.
After describing how most university classes — whether it be English, science, or government — tend to begin with a long political harangue by the teachers to condemn the war in Iraq or ridicule George W. Bush, he concluded, “What most faculty want is for students to validate their pathetic life experiences.”
A recent study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute shows the devastating impact the 1960s generation, now in control of most of the nation’s liberal arts campuses, has had on civic literacy.
Called “Failing Our Students, Failing America,” the report found that incoming freshmen at Yale University had a greater knowledge of the basic facts of American history than did Yale seniors.
Four years at a $45,000 per year institution of higher learning actually “stalled” the learning of those students, the study found.
“Higher education is a $325 billion business,” said Josiah Bunting III, chairman of ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board. “Ironically, based on our research, the lowest gains in knowledge in America’s history and institutions are found at many of these elite universities where their presidents are simply not doing enough to help preserve our traditions of freedom and representative government.”
The group put its quiz online at www.americancivicliteracy.org.
Evan Maloney and the Moving Picture Institute’s Thor Halvorssen have launched an unusual marketing experiment to organize local screenings across the country through an inter-active Web site, www.indoctrinateu.com.
“This may be the most important documentary you aren't able to see this year,” they said, because commercial distributors “don’t want you to see it.”
So far, more than 25,000 people had signed up in groups of 500 to organize a screening in their local area.
Parents worried about what their children will face in college — and why they should go so deeply in debt for the experience — should watch this movie.
It is a hilarious yet ultimately sobering portrait of how absurd our universities have become.
As the parent of three children who have already gone through college, and two more who are fast approaching that experience, I have seen the differences between engineering and liberal arts faculties.
The engineers tend to be more conservative — OK, perhaps not openly so, but with a healthy respect for empirical knowledge and objective fact.
The liberal arts faculty tend to be leftist, and are often impervious to the facts.
The engineers laugh. “There’s no politically-correct way to build a bridge. If your calculations are wrong, the bridge falls down.”
But we should hold our liberal arts academies to the same standard. For if our education in American civics is wrong, our society will collapse.
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