In the fall of 2016, New York University professor Michael Rectenwald created an anonymous Twitter account to critique the alarming spread across campuses of an “anti-education and anti-intellectual” social justice ideology. Before long he was outed as the man behind the controversial account, and despite being a leftist himself, became the target of shunning and harassment from his colleagues and the NYU administration. But instead of caving in to the campus totalitarians as so many academics do, Rectenwald declared himself done with the Left, and though still not a conservative, began appearing often in right-wing media to defend free speech and academic freedom, and to expose the “bilious animosity and unrestrained cruelty” he endured from his former compatriots.
I previously interviewed Prof. Rectenwald for FrontPage Mag back in January. At the close of that interview he mentioned a book he was working on about the experience, and it is now available in and on : . Short but dense with insights about postmodern theory, social justice ideology, and academic conformity, the book is a must-read for understanding the intellectual collapse of the American university under the weight of a totalitarian ideology.
Rectenwald begins the book by relating his experience of “becoming deplorable” and being pushed toward apostasy, which forced him to reexamine the political herd with which he had formerly run. “I didn’t leave the left,” he writes. “The left left me,” echoing Ronald Reagan’s famous declaration, “I didn't leave the Democratic party. The Democratic Party left me.” “In trying to correct me,” Rectenwald writes about his fellow academics, “they did indeed correct me – but not as they’d hoped. They corrected my vision by forcibly dislodging the scales of their ideology from my eyes.” He realized that the “institutions of North American higher education have taken a hairpin turn, and a wrong turn at that. They have surrendered moral and political authority to some of the most virulent, self-righteous, and authoritarian activists among the contemporary left.”