The DemocraticnCrusadenby Paul GottfriednThe Hollow Men: Politics andnCorruption in Higher Educationnby Charles ]. SykesnWashington: Regnery Gateway;n356 pp., $19.95nIn The Hollow Men Charles J. Sykesnresumes the brief against Americannhigher education that he began in hisnwidely publicized Profscam, publishednin 1988. Sykes argues in both booksnthat our best universities, most conspicuouslynin their humanities faculties,nhave betrayed their true educationalnmission: instead of challenging studentsnto think, professors parrot prescribednslogans about minorities and trynto impose their views on the rest ofnsociety. Sykes illustrates the extremesnto which politically correct speech andngestures have been carried on Americanncampuses, and he examines thencoded languages about “diversity”nthrough which the thought processesnof control operate.nThe Hollow Men focuses on PresidentnJames O. Freedman of DartmouthnCollege to show how thisnunprincipled administration has capitulatednto the self-appointed “spokespersons”nfor designated “minority victims.”nSykes makes much of the opportunisticngroveling and righteousnposturing of the Dartmouth administration,nbut he could easily have multipliednhis cases by citing the equallyncowardly and arrogant behavior ofnother university presidents past andnpresent, like Kingman Brewster ofnYale, who fell opportunely in love withnthe Black Panthers. What is particularlynstriking about Sykes’ eloquent indictmentnis the unexceptional nature ofnhis story. What Sykes describes is unimpeachablyntrue and inexpressiblynodious, but also unremarkable: readingnhim is like being told that concentrationncamp guards bullied their starvingnvictims. To which the response mustnREVIEWSnbe, that disgusting people behave disgustingly.nMore interesting is trying to figurenhow the sociopaths described in ThenHollow Men advance in our universities.nThe people whom Sykes depictsnoften express violent hatred toward anworld that they imagine represses homosexuals,nlesbians, and blacks; yetnSykes never explains how Americannsociety could bestow on such humannbeings the supremely important task ofntransmitting culture to its young. Partnof the answer may be the cynicism ofnthose who perceive growing culturalnand political similarities between universitiesnand other sections of Americannsociety. When I asked why mynneighbors were sending their son tonYale in view of its policy of recruitingnhomosexuals, they looked at me innsurprise before explaining: “It’s nonworse than Montgomery County,nMaryland!” To which my own involuntarynresponse was: “Yale still isn’tnthat bad!”nDespite his compelling account ofnthe attack on the humanities and Westernncivilization course at Dartmouthnand the “startling triumph of unreason”nin America’s elite universities,nthere are two weaknesses in Sykes’nanalysis that should in all fairness benmentioned. The first is the tendency tonraise up Martin Luther King as thenidealized opposite of whatever Sykes isncastigating. In contrast to America’snculturally illiterate youth. East Germannstudents are shown in Christiannchurches reading “the words of MartinnLuther King, Jr., who in turn hadndrawn his own inspiration from thenphilosophical tradition he traced fromnPlato and Aristotle to Rousseau, JohnnStuart Mill and Locke, as well as theneloquent poetry of the Old Testament.”nThe point of this quotation isnnot to demonstrate that Sykes providesnan inaccurate picture of Martin LuthernKing. Nor is it to scold him for misrepresentingnan indifferently educated plagiarist,nwhose speeches were full of popnliberation theology and demands fornreparations to blacks and other minorities.nnnAlthough Sykes claims to be defendingnthe Western Great Books, thenwitnesses he calls in their defense arenKing and those who might make it intonthe first edition of the neocon Who’snWho. The editor oi Milwaukee Magazine,nSykes seems most comfortablenwhen quoting other journalists andnpolitical celebrities, particularly thosenwho share his own Cold War liberalnsympathies; his strengths and weaknessesnboth reflect his own background.nHe writes gracefully, but exhibitsnlittle understanding of thosenforces that his own heroes, RobertnHutchins and Mark Van Doren, wereninstrumental in supplanting; he treatsnscornfully “the rigid hegemony” ofnclassical studies at Columbia University,nwhich President Nicholas MurraynButler worked against in doing his partnfor America’s Crusade for Democracy.nThe Columbia curriculum got overhaulednin 1917 when it was given an”War Issues” focus, and the humanitiesncurriculum that emerged from thenwar went on to stress “peace issues,”nbeing “personified in the figure ofnMark Van Doren who combined brilliantnscholarship with inspired teaching.”nSykes is quick to point out thatnthough Van Doren worked to instillndemocratic values, he assigned in hisnclasses the “criticism of liberal capitalism”nproduced by Marx and Lenin.nHe fails to note, however, that VannDoren was a notorious apologist fornStalin, and fairly attacked by SidneynHook (whom Sykes venerates) for thatnreason. More importantly, Sykes seemsnnot to realize that the humanities curricula—nwhich he identifies withneverything noble and civilized — wasnfrom the beginning a political football.nIt placed emphasis on teaching values,nnot on a close study of classical texts;nand it placed at the heart of the curriculumnthe kind of civics lessons thatninspired advocates of “DemocraticnCivilization” (Van Doren’s perennialncourse) are the most eager to provide.nBecause of his narrowly partisan interest,nSykes repeats the standard butnoften contradictory defenses for thenhumanities curriculum now under as-nMAY 1991/31n