Intellectual Intolerance - Stunning Speech From Stanford University Provost Exposes "The Threat From Within"

Tyler Durden's picture

In a remarkable - for its honesty and frankness - statement on the intellectual rot within America's Ivory Towers, Stanford University Provost John Etchemendy lay bare the challenges that higher education face in the coming, increasingly divisive, years.

The Threat From Within

Universities are a fundamental force of good in the world. At their best, they mine knowledge and understanding, wisdom and insight, and then freely distribute these treasures to society at large. Theirs is not a monopoly on this undertaking, but in the concentration of effort and single-mindedness of purpose, they are truly unique institutions. If Aristotle is right that what defines a human is rationality, then they are the most distinctive, perhaps the pinnacle, of human endeavors.


I share this thought to remind us all why we do what we do – why we care so much about Stanford and what it represents. But I also say it to voice a concern. Universities are under attack, both from outside and from within.


The threat from outside is apparent. Potential cuts in federal funding would diminish our research enterprise and our ability to fund graduate education. Taxing endowments would limit the support we can give to faculty and the services we can provide our students. Indiscriminate travel restrictions would impede the free exchange of ideas and scholars. All of these threats have intensified in recent years – and recent months have given them a reality that is hard to ignore.


But I’m actually more worried about the threat from within. Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.


This results in a kind of intellectual blindness that will, in the long run, be more damaging to universities than cuts in federal funding or ill-conceived constraints on immigration. It will be more damaging because we won’t even see it: We will write off those with opposing views as evil or ignorant or stupid, rather than as interlocutors worthy of consideration. We succumb to the all-purpose ad hominem because it is easier and more comforting than rational argument. But when we do, we abandon what is great about this institution we serve.


It will not be easy to resist this current. As an institution, we are continually pressed by faculty and students to take political stands, and any failure to do so is perceived as a lack of courage. But at universities today, the easiest thing to do is to succumb to that pressure. What requires real courage is to resist it. Yet when those making the demands can only imagine ignorance and stupidity on the other side, any resistance will be similarly impugned.


The university is not a megaphone to amplify this or that political view, and when it does it violates a core mission. Universities must remain open forums for contentious debate, and they cannot do so while officially espousing one side of that debate.


But we must do more. We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.


I fear that the next few years will be difficult to navigate. We need to resist the external threats to our mission, but in this, we have many friends outside the university willing and able to help. But to stem or dial back our academic parochialism, we are pretty much on our own. The first step is to remind our students and colleagues that those who hold views contrary to one’s own are rarely evil or stupid, and may know or understand things that we do not. It is only when we start with this assumption that rational discourse can begin, and that the winds of freedom can blow.

We wish John well in his future endeavors as we are sure there will be a groundswell of hurt feelings demanding his resignation for dropping another truth bomb on their safe space.

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skinwalker's picture

I don't understand the point of college. It costs a fortune and makes you dumber.

This might not be true in all cases and probably wasn't back in the day, but it sure is today.

Stuck on Zero's picture

College present both points of view for you to choose from: left wing or communist.

strannick's picture

Taking on unpayable student loans to be indoctrinated in safe spaces for Progressivist intolerance, where you learn that transgender bathrooms and hating Trump are more consequential than Plato and Socrates. Welcome to University

Now the boys from Porkys just say they are gender dysphoric, and no need for a peephole, just march right in.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

Our educational institutions have been hijacked and are now in no mans land!

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

Adolf HitlerMein Kampf

Welcome to the new America. Parents, your Children no longer belong to you, but they belong to the state!

Caesar is now their GOD!

CheapBastard's picture

Just as an aside, Trump is getting wild positive applause from the audience and governors at the Governor's Ball tonight, Sunday.

Go Trump!

O C Sure's picture

"Aristotle is right"

His path to a Perfect Union:

1 - Demote the Laws of Confiscation.

2 - Demote the ability to make money from public offices.

3 - Promote education and excellence.

SWRichmond's picture

Guy must be a racist Nazi islamopjoboc mysoginist cis. Occupy and burn his office on 3...2...1

SumTing Wong's picture

Oh, man, do I deal with what this guy is saying...from both sides.

I do some work that exposes what certain taxation structures actually accomplish. And I report the facts. I do the econometrics to prove the point. And I get absolutely nailed from both ends of the political spectrum. At academic conferences I've told people to argue with the numbers and not with their opinions. I've really heard, from other academics, "I don't like the numbers. I know how I feel about this." And all I can do is tell them that we then understand one another and have to walk away. Stupid, pseudointellectual charlatans.

Life of Illusion's picture

Stanford University’s endowment rose in value by 0.8 percent over the past year to $22.4 billion as of August 31, 2016, the last day of Stanford’s fiscal year. The change in endowment value results from investment gains and losses

MisterMousePotato's picture

Amazing, isn't it? That a single sentece of truth is now newsworthy.

And, no, not some profound new truth. But just the obvious.

Stop the presses! Someone in academia just said something that wasn't a laughable lie.

techies-r-us's picture
techies-r-us (not verified) MisterMousePotato Feb 26, 2017 10:40 PM

That kind of INTOLERANCE towards telling the truth has been around for years, under a different wrapper.

NiggaPleeze's picture

He stepped down from his post on January 31.  The article is dated Feb. 21 but it refers to a "recent speech".  His replacement was apponted last November so it is unlikely he was forced to step down tue to the speech.

Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) Life of Illusion Feb 27, 2017 6:57 AM

They won't listen to him, they only listen to the echo.

"Mic check"

NoDebt's picture

I can only assume he accidentailly left off the last paragraph of this letter which was his resignation.  


SafelyGraze's picture

go ahead, ye brave stanford professor hypothesized to exist.

take the bait.

speak up. in public. or at faculty meetings. or committee meetings.

and speak up in your publications.

go ahead.

express the opposing view.

give it a try.

because all is forgiven. 

everything is open now. accepting.

the Party welcomes you.

let a hundred flowers bloom.



NoDebt's picture

Who needs to hear opposing viewpoints when you already know you're right?  It's all "settled science" like global warming or the Earth being the center of the universe.  Everyone knows these things are true, so opposing viewpoints are to be crushed and eliminated, not allowed to spread like a cancer of misinformation.


Sparkey's picture

You are correct NODEBT, shut this fellow's mouth if he can't shut it himself, guys like this get the kids thinking about the things they were told not to think about, it is dangerous when the children start to try to thik, if you have a Kid that wants to think and ask questions, you don't even know the answers to, set him down in front of the TV for a few hours a day, problem solved, after a while they just sit and stare and drool, problem solved!

NoDebt's picture

Satire is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence (go argue with Oscar Wilde if you disagree).  I thank God at least one other person on the planet still gets what I write or we'd all be in deep, DEEP shit.

I set a low bar, but it's a bar nonetheless.


philipat's picture

Gee ND, it must be very difficult to live with yourself and your superior intellect, having constantly to make allowances and reduce the content of everything you want to convey to a level which can be understood by us morons here on ZH? Sounds a bit like "the white man's burden"? Still such is the way with satire, it can bite both ways..;-)

NoDebt's picture

It's the best I can do, Phil.  I got no other tricks in my bag.

Is-Be's picture

 Earth being the center of the universe.

It is not the center of the Universe, but it is close.

My granddaughter is.

philipat's picture

Very eloquently put and long overdue. Yet his words still, if sifted carefully, smell of Libtard Political Correctness which has resulted in the "Affirmative action, must be open to all, everyone must succeed" culture which in turn has resulted in the dumbing down of University standards and the graduation of students who can barely read or write, let alone make any meaningful contribution to broader society.

Still, it's a start and he is correct to say there is a lot wrong....

GUS100CORRINA's picture

CheapBastard ...

I will make sure to watch TRUMP at Governors Ball. I am sure it will be posted on youtube or other venue.

As a side note regarding my comment about educational institutions, I stated that our children now belong to Caesar.

I wonder if everyone knows that HRC wrote a book titled: "IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD"

If HRC was POTUS, parents could have REALLY kissed their children GOODBYE. 

HRC is evil to the core and part of this messed up educational system.

I really like TRUMPS PICK for Secretary of Education, Nancy Devos.

i am very hopeful that Nancy with the help of TRUMP's team can bring educational standards back up to where they belong.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

Educational Statistics ...

Our nation’s education assessment is largely based on graduation rate. In 2012, Black students had only a 69% graduation rate and Hispanic students had a 73% rate, while Asian students had a 88% graduation rate and Caucasian students had an 86% rate. Demand high-speed Internet at your school with a badass photo. Sign up for School Standstill!

30 years ago, America was the leader in quantity and quality of high school diplomas. Today, our nation is ranked 36th in the world.

1.3 million high school students don't graduate on time yearly. States with highest rates (80-89%) are Wisconsin, Iowa, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. States with lowest (less than 60%) are Nevada, New Mexico, Louisiana, Georgia and S. Carolina.

97% of low-income students rely on school for internet access, but 40 million students do not have high-speed Internet in school.

If the 1.3 million dropouts from the Class of 2010 had graduated, the nation would have seen $337 billion more in earnings over the course of the students’ lifetimes.


wee-weed up's picture

He will be fired in 3... 2... 1...

Croesus's picture

"In times of universal deceipt, telling the Truth becomes a revolutionary act".

Laddie's picture

That is the absolute truth.
Well let's face it Trump is PRETTY MILD yet look at the riots on college campuses, the mainstream media bashing and all of that.

This is nothing really all that new:

TRUMP is getting the Charles Lindbergh treatment:

See also:
September 11, 1941, Col. Lindbergh gave perhaps his most provocative speech to an America First Committee rally in Des Moines, Iowa

Duc888's picture



Like TV, they call it "programming" for a reason.

Mr. Universe's picture

It'$ ea$y to under$tand the point of college. When you gradute from a college like $tanford it $how$ that you are part of the team ready to take your place among the leader$ of $ociety. That i$ the point of college.

T-NUTZ's picture

The evil corrupter of youth is going to take him from Step One, which is a mere high-school diploma stuffed with a gym sock, to Step Two, which is a college-degree stuffed with absolutely nothing at all. Smoke that and it'll really get you out there!


licutis's picture

That's exactly the point 

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

This man has failed to grasp the fundamentals of his argument. His point of internal attack has clearly indicated that withdrawal of funding is the correct approach. Why should we fund a university if it has become an indoctrination camp without the freedom to exchange ideas? How does this " service the needs of students"? To become indoctrinated baristas or equivalent when the refugees get that job?

In its present state, college is irrelevant and because of where his paycheck comes from, he can't admit that fact.


techpriest's picture

IMO, I think it's a case that he is now starting to see just how hosed the universities are, and how parents are starting to have kids abandon ship. In reality, the alarms should have been going off decades ago.

Now, long after the horse has left the barn, he's suggesting that maybe they should stop acting so ruinously if they hope to have a paycheck in 10 years?

Cigar Smoker's picture

I can only hope that I had something to do with it, as a mid 50s graduate I have gone from just refusing to donate to telling the constant money solicitors why: I was not donating to an institution that was letting the students tell it what to do as opposed to educating the students, I was not donating to a school with a racist admissions policy that gave huge SAT point advantages to certain races punishing others, I was not donating to a school that gave free tuition to the poor, I worked my way through and they damn well can too, I am not donating to a school with activist professors that set up boys with trumped up rape charges to comply with the feminist agenda, I was not donating to a school that had become a trade school and not a school conveying the history of western civilization, I was also not donating to a school without curve grading and at least a 33% flunk out rate so only the best and brightest could hold the degrees, they have devalued all of our degrees, all to get federal grant monies, a kid might just as well go to Cal because by taking government monies they had plunged to the level of a state school, there is no difference anymore, so why should I donate?  And most of all I am not donating to a school that doesn't refute this global warming scam that even the head of the United Nations IPCC¹ has admitted has nothing to do with the environment but everything to do with destroying the capitalist system and redistributing the wealth of the first world to the third world, in effect an egalitarian agenda that destroys our meritocracy.



Yog Soggoth's picture

Mc Carthy tried to stop this crap. They said he was a bad man in school when I was growing up. He was proven right by a relatively short timeframe.

techpriest's picture

I don't understand the point of college. It costs a fortune and makes you dumber.

This might not be true in all cases and probably wasn't back in the day, but it sure is today.

At one time, the university was a place where you more or less left the normal world behind for four years, and you spent time learning from the brightest minds of the day. Imagine if you could have the best man in your field of interest, sit down with you for an entire year to help you navigate a library of knowledge you would have trouble finding, even through Google.

This also heralds back to the Garden of Akademos (where we get the word academia), where Plato literally just met and talked with students in a garden.

Nowadays, however, the Left got this idea that college education = money, so they thought they could make everyone equal by turning universities into diploma factories. In reality, they stuffed academia with their apparatchiks, and said purveyors of indoctrination are gorging themselves on student loan money while destroying future generations.

Cigar Smoker's picture

It's more than that, they took the simple fact that college graduates, particularly elite college graduates, made more money than non-college graduates and implied that graduating from college made you more money.  The fact is that more intelligent people made more money than less intelligent people, colleges cherry picked only the brightest kids so they would have made more money whether they went to college or not.  People went to college to advance in the socioeconomic spectra, that meant teaching Mozart and Shakespeare not rock & roll and movies or TV.

insanelysane's picture

All of your posts have been spot on regarding college.  In the old days only smart kids and rich kids went to college so being a college graduate was an easy indication that a person was smart or rich.  Nowadays being a college graduate indicates nothing about an individual other than they didn't want to learn a trade.  It creates a bit more work for HR departments but I am sure that 30 seconds into an interview reveals what type of college graduate the interviewy is.

buzzsaw99's picture

libtard fag :vomits:

European American's picture


 "Universities are a fundamental force of good in the world."

Not in America.

MuffDiver69's picture

3-2-1 poof....enjoy your retirement.....

littlemilton's picture

He resigned before he wrote this.  He knew better.  

Ms No's picture

Yeah, we have had a lot of late calls where people try to absolve themselves by making a nearly meaningless gesture when it's not going to make any difference.  He likely knew our education system was falling to Marxism all along.  He was in the belly of the beast.  What did he do about it?  Now after the entire system has fallen he says that the playing field isn't entirely fair and is super delicate about it.  He has no problem with picking winners to be chosen out of various races or sexes? 

Just another Marxist cuck who wants to appear as if he resisted something.  He knows enough that he doesn't want to be associated with it, when he was.   

nmewn's picture

Intellectual monoculture is a fancy way of saying you're being bigoted toward any other viewpoint besides the "collective hive".

For the intellectually inferior special snowflakes out there.


The truth offends a special snowflake? Well good.

It was meant to ;-)

Yog Soggoth's picture

Losers. How to keep actual honeybees from dying for 300$

Bumpo's picture

Freshman should be forced to take Logic 101, exploring the math of sylogisms and false sylogisms. Maybe then they would see the studipity of circular reasoning, and calling out others who disagree as racist homophobes when all logic breaks down.


"All ceilings are attached to walls. All doors are attached to walls. Therefore, all doors are ceilings .. and Trump is literally Hitler"

yovatti's picture
yovatti (not verified) Feb 26, 2017 8:03 PM

Stanford rocks