The truth is an essential element to every person’s outlook of the world. Without truth, we would descend into anarchical chaos. However, this most foundational building block of civilization is being challenged by the students at Pomona College.
Here is the background:
- Heather Mac Donald, a conservative journalist, was invited to speak at Pomona College.
- The students protested because she was a conservative citing “hate speech” violations.
- The president of the college, David Oxtoby, issued a statement backing free speech and the idea of sharing opposing opinions in the public square, a constitutional right.
- A group of students, identifying themselves only as “black students,” issued a response to the statement made by Oxtoby bemoaning his point of view, and free speech altogether. It can be read here.
- An ultimatum was made for the president to apologize for his outdated ideas.
These are the facts of the case so to speak. These are not necessarily the issue. The issue is the students’ claim that objective truth is “racist.”
From the letter:
“Your statement contains unnuanced views surrounding the academy and a belief in searching for some venerated truth. Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth–’the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”
So, just to recap, if you believe in objective truth, you are a white supremacist. Who knew? But, in all seriousness, what is the danger of a statement like this? The danger is that, if this rhetoric were to be adopted by a large number of people, as seems not unlikely in today’s America, there would be no law. Their argument hinges on the idea of objective truth.
This is the problem with secularism. When a world without God is embraced, our view of the world implodes. The secular person says, “I don’t need God; he’s never done anything for me,” as he breathes air. Effectively, these students are denying the existence of the air they are breathing. When they make these claims, they do so with the obvious assumption that all readers of the letter will understand the evil of racism. Why is racism wrong? If there is no objective truth, and we cannot say a thing should or should not be, we cannot say a person should not be racist. These students are disarming themselves of the very weapon they attempt to use against the speaker.
However, Christians with biblical worldviews may well say that things are good or bad, nice or mean, right or wrong, and have no problem doing so. We can do so because of the nature of God. He is objectively Truth. We may appeal to him in all matters of morality. The secularist students have nothing to which they may appeal. This is the culture we must evangelize. Soli Deo Gloria.