Book of the Month

Back to November 2012 Ed Reporter

Book of the Month

The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, by Bruce Bawer, HarperCollins, 2012, $25.99


The Victims’ Revolution is a history of the people and events that fractured American society into subgroups, and the imposition of the resulting divisive culture onto college campuses. Bruce Bawer describes a gradual deterioration of critical thought and intellectual pursuit as the field of humanities at universities has become a morass of identity studies, offering indoctrination rather than education to students.

Bawer’s descriptions of conferences he attended and of college course offerings are sometimes amusing, but this is not an amusing book. Rather it is a startling assessment of the depths to which academia has fallen.

The unifying factor among identity studies programs is that they all rely heavily on dogma lifted from Marxist doctrine, focusing on the evils of Western imperialism, colonialism and capitalism.

According to Bawer, Women’s Studies programs’ anti-Western sentiment runs so deep that students can’t address the issues of genital mutilation, honor killings and the subjugation of women in Muslim societies, because to do so would assert Western ideology upon another culture.

Black Studies programs evolved from black superiority and separatist movements of the 1960s, notably the radical Black Panthers. Bawer claims Black Studies is today, as it was then, first and foremost about power. Famous professors like Maulana Karenga, the author of the most widely used introductory text in Black Studies, and Michael Eric Dyson thrive on controversy from which they derive power. When Dyson participated in the University of Pennsylvania’s “Great Religious Thinkers of the West” series, he presented the thoughts of Tupak Shakur. Karenga holds that African Americans are descendants of ancient Egyptians and that anyone disputing this is a racist.

Queer Studies is the new name for Gay and Lesbian studies. Based on “Queer Theory,” it isn’t about sexual orientation, but is about the political choices of marginality and radicalism. To be “queer” is to choose to be outside of society and its norms.

Bawer believes the prospects for a comeback of the rich humanities education American universities once offered is bleak. At a Chicano Studies conference, professors bemoaned young Chicano students’ focus on future careers and their accomplishments rather than on being concerned about their supposed oppression. Bawer encourages parents to thoroughly investigate universities their child may consider attending and alumni to keep a close watch on their former campuses.