Driving Occasionally on the Right

Chances are you’ve seen commercials on television as part of the University of Minnesota’s long-running “Driven to Discover” campaign.  Typical ones have faculty members standing in front of Northrop Auditorium saying things such as “I am driven to end world hunger.”  Or “I am driven to grow more food with fewer resources.”  Or “I am driven to end addiction.”  Goals like these are as noble as noble gets, free of politically correct skewing.

At least a portion, though, of the campaign’s print component has a different flavor, with one ad in particular saying: “I am driven to train activists to develop new policies for social change.”

And then there are ads in which students express further flavored dreams such as: “Together, we can create a world where we are aware of our privileges and inclusive and respectful of each other’s social identities.”

As for the piece about activists, it’s possible that more than one or maybe two of them are fond of Betsy DeVos, though probably not.

And while words such as “respectful” fit just as neatly in right-leaning vocabularies as in left-leaning ones, somehow I don’t think it was imagined that way by the young person who spoke in near-perfect cant.

Given that I wanted the Rouser played as the Recessional at my wedding, feel free in instances like these to color me Maroon, Gold, and Jaundiced.  But in saying and implying what I do, it’s important to make clear that I’m not singling out the University of Minnesota for having dispositions that people on the right see as instinctually biased but those on the left see as fair and evenhanded.  My affection for the institution is too strong and longstanding to dwell exclusively on it in any dyspeptic way.  Rather, I start from the premise that much of American higher education is equally culpable.  (My wife, by the way, said “Heaven’s No” to my musical request, albeit in more theologically dogmatic terms than that.)

Presuming the Driven to Discover campaign continues, permit me to propose an elaboration that might please, not just ideologically off-put alumni, but broader audiences too.  Here are ten more diverse goals that scholars might offer for loftily fueling the University’s drive forward.

  • “I am driven to enable more low-income families to send their children to schools that might work best for them, including private ones.”
  • “I am driven to prevent teacher unions from stunting educational freedom for inner-city families.”
  • “I am driven to radically increase the number of children growing up with both their parents.”
  • “I am driven to reduce mission creep in Washington.”
  • “I am driven to constrain taxes at all levels of government.”
  • “I am driven to reduce rules and regulations at all levels of government.”
  • “I am driven to stop colleges and universities from disinviting conservative speakers.”
  • “I am driven to stop supposedly grown-up college students from moaning about ‘micro-aggressions’ and demanding ‘trigger warnings’ and ‘safe places’ on campuses.”
  • “I am driven to discover why professors and other college leaders talk all the time about ‘justice’ as progressives do but rarely about ‘freedom’ as conservatives do.”
  • “And I am driven to assure that more Americans recognize how fair and self-sacrificing the overwhelming majority of police officers are, and the degree to which we endanger ourselves unless we respect and appreciate them appropriately.”

Drive On!  Right On!

A former police reporter, Mitch Pearlstein is Founder of Center of the American Experiment.