Commentary: The Moral Decline of Elite Universities

December 15, 2023 1 min read

Ben Sasse
The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (originally printed in The Atlantic).

Excerpt: In the spring of 1994, the top executives of the seven largest tobacco companies testified under oath before Congress that nicotine is not addictive. Nearly 30 years later, Americans remember their laughable claims, their callous indifference, their lawyerly inability to speak plainly, and the general sense that they did not regard themselves as part of a shared American community. Those pampered executives, behaving with such Olympian detachment, put the pejorative big in Big Tobacco.

Last week, something similar happened. Thirty years from now, Americans will likely recall a witness table of presidents—representing not top corporations in one single sector, but the nation’s most powerful educational institutions—refusing to speak plainly, defiantly rejecting any sense that they are part of a “we,” and exhibiting smug moralistic certainty even as they embraced bizarrely immoral positions about anti-Semitism and genocide.

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