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CAMPUS ‘RELIGION’

MACALESTER,
Authentic examples of
inequality and unfair treatment
are in egregiously short supply

THROUGH
at Macalester. The result is
an often-amusing spectacle:
an Alice-in-Wonderland
world of “implicit biases” and
“micro-aggressions,” where

THE LOOKING
students conjure up and inflate
oppression as they scramble
to position themselves at the
bottom of the hierarchy-of-
power heap.

GLASS
How Macalester College indoctrinates its
students into a militant new secular faith.

T his new religion lacks one thing: It has no God.


Puritan theology divided human beings into two groups:
Saved and Damned, saints and sinners, sheep and goats. The
letin boards, extra-curricular activities, student clubs, course
descriptions—all reflect a cardboard cut-out world of hackneyed,
ideologically charged platitudes. Tolerance, though often invoked,
“Elect” were redeemed through a predestined grace. Macales- seems in strikingly short supply.
ter’s secular religion also divides human beings into two groups: We’ve come to expect this sort of thing at American institu-
oppressors and victims. Its “Saved” are the sinless victims tions of higher education, of course. But after decades, it remains
of white supremacy and the patriarchal power structure. Its puzzling why the most privileged generation in American history
“Damned” are oppressors—first and foremost straight, white should be so cramped and one-dimensional in its thinking, and
males—along with members of other groups who victimize those so hostile to the priceless heritage its forebears have bequeathed.
below them in the “intersectional” hierarchy of power. Macalester provides a fascinating perspective on the answer to this
Macalester College in St. Paul, with its classic Georgian build- question. Though its students may fancy themselves free-thinkers,
ings and leafy quad, is one of the nation’s elite liberal arts colleges. most appear in thrall to a new lockstep orthodoxy that, while gen-
The total cost of a Macalester education is more than $70,000 a erally traced to the 1960s, has links to movements in America’s
year, according to U.S. News & World Report. The college prom- past that would likely appall and astonish them.
ises students an education that will expand their horizons, cultivate The ideology that undergirds life at Macalester is grounded in
“intellectual breadth and depth” and “logical thinking,” and ensure a simplistic, but fervently held, article of faith: Life is a power
tolerance for “many perspectives.” struggle between oppressors and their victims. A hierarchy—a
But a stroll through the campus, and a ladder of “intersectionality” based on
scroll through the course catalog, reveal
a starkly different reality. Flyers on bul-
By Katherine Kersten group identity (the familiar trinity of
race, class and gender)—explains all

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social relations and outcomes. the beginning of a broader and inflate oppression as they scramble to Not surprisingly, during the 2019-20
At the top are powerful, institutional effort” to “make position themselves at the bottom of the school year, the most powerful student at
straight white males. At the amends for [Macalester’s] hierarchy-of-power heap. Macalester was student body president
bottom are oppressed trans role in the historic and Take the “Naming Hate” campaign of Blair Cha, a “woman of color.” In her
“people of color.” continuous displacement of February 2020, organized after “racist campaign, Cha traded on her alleged
In this binary universe, indigenous people.” The col- graffiti” appeared on campus. The Mac underdog status, telling the Mac Weekly
students who want to align lege’s president and trustees Weekly described it as “a three-day series she was driven to run by her “passion”
with the angels go through a overwhelmingly approved the of lectures, panels and workshops on the to “empower students” by “speaking up
kind of conversion that “wakes name change, without serious nature of hate and how to respond to man- about her experiences” as someone with a
them up” to the injustice debate. ifestations of hate on and off campus.” “marginalized” identity. She trounced her
and inequality that allegedly One month later, Macal- Here’s what passed for guilt-inducing white male opponent with 60 percent of
pervade society. They become ester’s creed was on display “hate”: four of the college’s seven aca- the vote.
“woke”—and so, driven to again, as The College Fix demic buildings and six of its eight dorms After her victory, Cha made a play The Rev. Edward Duffield Neill,
denounce and resist it. interviewed students before are named after white men, and only two to upgrade her victim status. At a fac- the Presbyterian minister who
Recent events at Macales- Thanksgiving about whether of these buildings after white women. ulty meeting in March 2020, she stood founded Macalester in 1874,
was one of early St. Paul’s most
ter reveal this new creed in The College Fix interviewed Americans should celebrate “We don’t look up to the figures that up—surrounded by sign-waving female
eminent and public-spirited
action. In October 2019, for example, the students before Thanksgiving the holiday. In a video entitled “No are important in Macalester [history] as students—and accused one of her profes- citizens. Not only an outspoken
Macalester Weekly newspaper devoted about whether Americans Thanks at Thanksgiving,” many students anyone but white men, and that’s a big sors of discrimination on the basis of abolitionist who served three
should celebrate the holiday. In
an entire issue to exposing the social a video entitled “No Thanks at said no, citing what one called the “really deal,” one of the event’s organizers com- “gender, race, ethnicity and national origin U.S. Presidents, he was Min-
nesota’s first superintendent
evil from which all others are presumed Thanksgiving,” many students awful oppression of indigenous peoples.” plained. It is “a way to keep people out of in the classroom.” During the nine-month
of public education, the first
to flow: “the white supremacy endemic said no, citing what one called Another rejected Thanksgiving as “capi- spaces…by making them uncomfortable Title IX investigation that had followed chancellor of the University of
to Macalester and Minnesota’s past and the “really awful oppression of talist bullsh*t.” her original accusation in Spring 2019, she Minnesota, and a founder of the
indigenous peoples.” Another
present.” rejected Thanksgiving as It’s difficult to exaggerate the power- said, “I struggled every day with extreme Minnesota Historical Society. But
the Mac Weekly contemptuously
The issue, titled “Colonial Macalester,” “capitalist bullsh*t.” ful allure of victim status at Macalester. anxiety to the point where I could not
brushed aside Neill’s remarkable
impugned the white male benefactors— Much of campus life seems to revolve stand the pain.” accomplishments. He was, it
“the men Macalester immortalized”— around the quest to secure and exhibit it. The professor, who had already been declared, a “white supremacist,”
whose efforts and fortunes helped make U.S. Presidents, he was Minnesota’s first The process is marked by extensive moral officially exonerated, responded that Cha a “misogynist” who opposed
co-education, and a “settler-
the college the elite institution it is today. superintendent of public education, the preening. Victimhood confers power, had breached a confidentiality agreement
colonialist who advocated the
They included DeWitt Wallace, the first chancellor of the University of Min- the cloak of moral righteousness, and an by discussing the matter publicly. He char- genocide of the Dakota” Indians
founder of Reader’s Digest, business- nesota, and a founder of the Minnesota automatic right to special treatment. But acterized her conduct as “totally beyond and built Macalester on land
man Franklin Olin and lumber magnate Historical Society. there is a way out for students (and fac- the pale.” stolen from them.
Frederick Weyerhaeuser. All, it seems, fell But the Mac Weekly contemptuously ulty) whose Y chromosome or skin color Cha’s inability to highlight real injustice
far short of contemporary Macalester stu- brushed aside Neill’s remarkable ac- doesn’t qualify them for victim status—in during her run for office reveals how slim
dents’ lofty moral standards: Wallace was complishments. He was, it declared, a particular, straight white males. They can the pickings really are at Macalester. In an we have free tampons, but why don’t we
“fiercely anti-communist,” Olin manufac- “white supremacist,” a “misogynist” who still display their “woke” credentials by interview with the Mac Weekly, here’s the have free menstrual cups, too?” Eide said
tured ammunition, and Weyerhaeuser’s opposed co-education, and a “settler- denouncing “oppressors” like Neill and Frederick Weyerhaeuser best she could do: “On the whole campus, in a Mac Weekly interview in November
family supported compulsory attendance colonialist who advocated the genocide of becoming “allies” to women, “people of it still feels uncomfortable to talk about 2019. She decided to use menstrual cups
at weekly chapel services. the Dakota” Indians and built Macalester color” and sexual minorities. intersectional topics such as menstrua- from OrganiCup, a “sustainability focused
But the man truly in the crosshairs was on land stolen from them. His crimes Yet here’s the irony. Today, authentic and by saying, ‘Our priority is to honor tion, being queer, being a POC, etc., at company,” noting “they had a lot less
Macalester’s first president: the Rev. Ed- demonstrated that Macalester College was examples of inequality and unfair treat- this bad person.’… It’s essentially saying, Macalester.” As a result, she said, she had waste in their packaging.” She dubbed the
ward Duffield Neill. Neill, a Presbyterian morally corrupt from the outset. ment are in egregiously short supply at ‘We don’t want you here.’” “Macalester,” become a leader in initiatives like “Better project “SustainaCup.”
minister who founded the college in 1874, The paper intoned the charge against Macalester. The result is an often-amusing the organizers charged, “must drastically Sex at Mac” (Title IX, “sexual violence”) “OrganiCups are reusable, vegan and
was one of early St. Paul’s most eminent Neill: “His sins are legion, and they are spectacle: an Alice-in-Wonderland change its priorities,” as the Mac Weekly and “the Menstrual Hygiene Project” (free cruelty-free, and they are made complete-
and public-spirited citizens. Not only an unforgivable.” Stripping his name from world of “implicit biases” and “micro- put it. menstrual supplies as a human right). ly out of hypo-allergenic, medical-grade
outspoken abolitionist who served three the humanities building, it said, “must be aggressions,” where students conjure up The claim that women and POCs Incidentally, “menstrual health”— or silicone,” according to the Mac Weekly.
(people of color) are unwelcome at Macal- “menstrual equity”—is now one of the (You can’t make this up.) “Health and
ester is, of course, absurd. The college’s hottest social justice issues on American inclusivity are also very important parts
Katherine Kersten, a writer and attorney, is a Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. student body is 60 percent women, and campuses. Its appeal may arise from its of the program,” the paper noted, adding
She was a founding director of the Center and served as its chair from 1996 to 1998. Katherine has written in 2019-20, four of the student govern- combination of two intersecting “woke” that according to Eide, “a lot of people
on cultural and policy issues for a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly ment executive board’s five members causes: feminism and Green activism. struggle with the chemicals in tampons.”
Standard, Christianity Today, Policy Review, and First Things. For two years, she served as a regular were “women of color.” “Diversity, equity At Macalester, student Miriam Eide, a By the way, the word “woman” does
commentator for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” She earned a B.A. from Notre Dame, and inclusion” permeate every aspect of “Zero Waste Project Coordinator” in the not appear in the Mac Weekly article about
an M.A. from Yale, and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. college life. But where zealotry rules, facts college’s Sustainability Office, was a lead- SustainaCup. These menstrual products, it
are of no importance. er in the menstrual equity project. “I know seems, are not for women, but for “people

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that have periods.” Presumably, it’s impor- sual Culture: Critical Prison Studies,” and Macalester abolished compulsory cha- two groups: oppressors practice of what Morrow has
tant not to exclude “trans women.” “Latinx in the Midwest.” pel decades ago. But today, it’s back—in and victims. Its “Saved” called making “a sacrament of
Where do Macalester students get But the same blinkered ideology ap- a perverse and twisted form—in class- are the sinless victims national self-accusation.”
the preposterous ideas just described? pears to dominate mainstream disciplines rooms, public events, publications and of white supremacy and The end-game is clear: If
They come from the top. President Brian such as history. student activities. Presumably, Macalester the patriarchal power “the entire American project
Rosenberg, who recently retired, appeared In the History department, the survey students, most of whom seem to know structure. Its “Damned” was depraved from the begin-
fully on-board. The college’s trustees courses necessary to understand history’s little of history and religion, don’t realize are oppressors—first ning—Columbus was a louse,
have named Dr. Suzanne Rivera as his fundamental events are lacking, or are they are being indoctrinated into what and foremost straight, the Constitution countenanced
successor. Rivera will be the school’s “first haphazard and skewed. In general, course- amounts to a militant new secular faith. white males—along with slavery, and Washington and
female President and first Latinx presi- work is organized around the holy trinity This faith is enshrined in the college’s members of other groups Jefferson owned slaves—then
dent,” according to a press release. Rivera curriculum and controls terms of discourse who victimize those below the whole thing may be, with-
told the Mac Weekly she was “drawn to and frames of reference. It has its own them in the “intersection- out qualms, damned absolute-
Macalester” by its “deep commitments to dogma, rituals, saints and heretics. Intoler- al” hierarchy of power. ly and dismantled at will,” in
social justice,” and highlighted her “pas- ance is its very essence. Its adherents are Puritans believed those Morrow’s words. At Macalester,
sion around the importance of equity and convinced they possess a Higher Truth who profess false doctrine Students go through a by pronouncing anathema on the
inclusion.” and are zealously committed to imposing pose a danger to the larger community. kind of conversion that college’s founder and benefactors, stu-
Most of Macalester’s faculty—at least their vision of virtue on others. This new They often shunned, punished or drove dents declare their intent to wipe out the
in humanities and social science depart- religion lacks one thing: It has no God. out dissenters who might mislead the “wakes them up” to the institution’s tainted heritage and construct
ments—appear to be prodigiously “woke” But “the left has grown comfortable in Saved, for whom avoiding the occasion injustice and inequality their own utopian City on a Hill.
themselves, to judge by the course catalog. practicing theology without benefit of of sin was imperative. Today, “‘bigot’ and Macalester’s new secular religion offers
That’s no surprise in “oppression stud- God,” according to Lance Morrow of the ‘hater’ are the new ‘wizard’ and ‘witch,’”
that allegedly pervade “some of the same psychic rewards” that a
ies” departments, such as Women’s, Gen- Washington, D.C.-based Ethics and Public as commentator Mary Eberstadt has society. They become “real religion would do,” to use Zmirak’s
der, and Sexuality Studies (WGS), whose Policy Center. observed. Salem, Massachusetts had its “woke”—and so, driven phrase. For fervent adherents like Blair
mission is to advance an activist, not an Macalester students would probably witch trials. Macalester has its “Colonial Cha, the rewards are many. As a certified
academic, agenda. The jargon that satu- indignantly reject a comparison of their Macalester” campaign, intended to brand to denounce and resist it. victim, she receives the “blessed assur-
rates these departments is mind-numbing. Tolerance, though new faith with that of our nation’s earliest white male benefactors like Wallace ance” that she belongs to the Elect. She
In WGS, topics examined include “key often invoked, seems in religious zealots: the Puritans. Yet the and Olin with Hester Prynne’s red “A” also receives gratifying confirmation that
questions raised within feminist and queer parallels are striking, as a number of think- of shame, and to erase Edward Duff- beyond.” A Mac Weekly writer made the “she should feel virtuous for wallowing in
theories and the fields of women’s, trans- strikingly short supply. ers have noted. “Puritanism in its negative ield Neill’s polluting presence from the same point: “[E]veryone, even those who anger and resentment,” as Zmirak puts it.
gender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay studies.” sense is now less common among the campus. may think they don’t, must conduct some The new faith also offers a path to
Students “examine interlocking systems Protestant faithful than among Progres- Yet in the new secular Puritan creed, level of self-inventory to root out internal power. For students like Cha, it provides a
of cultural and political difference based of race, class and gender. The “array of sives, who carry on the Puritan tradition sinners can in fact join the Righteous. To microaggressions and attitudes (emphasis head start in the contest for campus influ-
on gender, sexuality, race, nation, class, fields” featured on the homepage are unconsciously,” wrote English journalist be saved, “you need first to confess, i.e., in original).” ence. For faculty, it offers the opportu-
ethnicity, and ability.” Courses bear titles “the history of the Environment; Gender; A.N. Wilson. Commentator John Zmirak ‘check your privilege,’ and subsequently Other rituals are designed to atone nity—and the budget—to promote their
like “Comparative Feminisms: Whiteness Colonization and Empire; Law and Social put it succinctly: “Woke is the new saved.” live your life…in a way that keeps this for the college’s institutional sins. For own activist agenda in place of serious
and Postcolonialisms” and “Constructions Justice; Race and Indigeneity; and Public A core tenet of Puritan theology is “in- sin at bay,” writes Zmirak. “The price is example, the “Colonial Macalester” academics. And of course, it underwrites
of a Female Killer.” History.” nate depravity”—the doctrine that human steep: a life of self-denial and penance,” campaign included a “land acknowledge- a phalanx of diversity coordinators,
Macalester’s “Courses in the City” in- Course listings include offerings with beings are inherently wicked as a result he notes. But those who choose to walk ment,” and called for renaming Neill Hall equity specialists and gender and sexuality
clude “Energy Justice,” which “builds on” names like “Sex, Love and Gender in of original sin. Innate depravity has been this path “can attain justification.” Not by as part of “a broader institutional effort” counselors.
the concept of “climate justice,” focusing History”; “History of U.S. Feminisms, “reborn in the 21st century and adapted to “your own efforts,” he adds, to “make amends for [the college’s] role Macalester’s new, secular faith has
on “visible and invisible infrastructures” Gender and Sexuality in Colonial America the Left’s insistence on the innate deprav- but by the righteousness that suffering, in the historic and continuous displace- all the vices and none of the virtues of
including pipelines, Yucca Mountain and the Early Republic”; “Narrating Black ity of the ruling class: the wickedness innocent victims (non-straights, non- ment of indigenous people.” The History historic Puritanism. Unrestrained by
nuclear storage and “issues around the Women’s Resistance”; “U.S. Environmen- of the patriarchy, of white privilege and whites, non-males) can impute to you. department, too, contritely acknowledged Christian belief, “It replaces worship with
fracking (sic).” tal History”; “Captives, Cannibals, and supremacy and of the nation’s entire past,” As an ‘ally’ of the less privileged, you “the role that academic history has played protest. Spirituality with unhinged histri-
The American Studies department’s Capitalists in the Early Modern Atlantic according to Morrow. Recall the Mac earn the same right to despise the mass and continues to play in silence, oppres- onics. Examination of conscience with the
home page features a photo of an artwork World” and “U.S. Imperialism from the Weekly’s words in consigning Edward of oppressors. sion, and cultural genocide,” and promised scapegoating of others conveniently dead
entitled, “The [American] Flag is Bleed- Philippines to Viet Nam.” Duffield Neill to perdition: “His sins were At Macalester, confession and penance to “restore and honor” native cultures or out of power,” as Zmirak observes.
ing.” The department describes race as legion, and they were unforgivable.” are every-day occurrences. At the “Nam- going forward. Prospective students and parents
“the central dimension of U.S. social, What’s really going Puritan theology divided human beings ing Hate” event, for example, students The “Colonial Macalester” campaign is considering Macalester may recognize
cultural, political, and economic life,” and on at Macalester into two groups: Saved and Damned, were instructed to acknowledge their guilt Macalester’s homegrown version of The they will be signing up for a heavy dose
proclaims that “we put the knowledge and Yet at the deepest level, something more saints and sinners, sheep and goats. and reject future sin, i.e., “to write and New York Times’ notorious “1619 Proj- of Leftist ideology. They would likely be
experiences of marginalized people at the profound is amiss at Macalester, and its The “Elect” were redeemed through a sign their own, individualized pledges ect,” which asserts that “nearly everything surprised to learn, however, that entering
center of our curriculum.” Courses include historical roots go back much farther than predestined grace. Macalester’s secular to continue educating themselves and that made America exceptional grew out freshmen may well graduate as Puritan-
“Bruce Lee: His Life and Legacy,” “Vi- the 1960s. religion also divides human beings into actively tackling hate in Macalester and of slavery.” Both exemplify the Left’s influenced “true believers.”

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