Last year’s critical race theory freakout in Idaho, which resulted in a defund-the-academy movement in the state Legislature, was sustained in part by a single professor at Boise State University.
This political science prof, Scott Yenor, has been yoked to the wagon of Idaho’s anti-CRT project like a determined miniature donkey, serving as the project’s supposed intellectual heft and celebrated as a truth-teller of Copernican proportions.
It was a silly, nonsensical charade. It was also something more pernicious: An attack on academic freedom in favor of political indoctrination, such as we’re seeing all over the country.
One deep irony embedded in that charade was revealed starkly again last week: The same academic freedom that protects the teaching of accurate American history on racism – or should, anyway – protects Yenor’s expression of bigoted, Neanderthalic views about women.
At the National Conservatism Conference in Florida, Yenor gave a speech about the “evils” of feminism and independent women that has, to put it mildly, stirred the pot. Most of the news reports on his speech briefly quote one or two of his most reprehensible comments, but it’s worth going further, so you can get the full flavor of what he dished up – and so you might better understand the level of “thinking” that underlies efforts to destroy public schools, as Yenor and his fellow travelers in the Idaho Freedom Foundation wish to do.
Yenor conducted a jeremiad against his arch-nemesis – “the independent woman” – while celebrating his hero – the beleaguered manly man – all in service of the idea that women should get out of the classroom and back in the nursery.
“America is destroying family life,” he said. “How? Feminism and sexual liberation theories, above all.”
Yenor is troubled that we tell boys and girls they can seek and succeed in the same pursuits. We should instead prepare them for different fates – for boys to have successful, career-oriented public lives, and for girls to become bountifully reproductive in private at home.
Instead, “girls are told to become as independent as boys are said to be,” he said.
This, Yenor assures us, is bad.
“Our independent women seek their purpose in life in mid-level bureaucratic jobs like human resource management, environmental protection and marketing,” he said. “They are more medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome than women need to be.”
By not marrying and reproducing as soon as possible, young women are destroying their chances for happiness in this life and, Yenor suggests, salvation in the next.
“Without connections to eternity, delivered through their family, such medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome women gain their meaning through the seeming participation in the global project,” he said. “They are agents of the new world, but not new life. Such women are now the backbone of every left-wing cosmopolitan party in the Western world, from the Greens in Germany to the Democratic Party in America.”
This has been simply terrible news for men, who require nice, quiet, fruitful women to “call them forth” to their manly duties as fathers. Yenor faults liberals for this, naturally, but also conservatives, who have bought into the whole equality shtick – or at least pretended to.
Conservative support for “family values,” he said, is a disastrously gender-neutral approach, for it does not forcefully lay out what is most important: “manly leadership.”
“Just as Republicans often ignore their own voters in the never-ending search for the Black vote, they ignore mothers and wives in their efforts to close the gender gap,” he said. “It’s kind of laughable.”
Men, meanwhile, are insufficiently venerated.
“Male achievement in our country is not celebrated, though males continue to be among the highest achievers,” he said. “In fact, we go out of our way to stop celebrating it. Our feminist culture leads us to want less male achievement. Their excellence, after all, creates inequities. That’s a shame. That denial of reality has to stop.”
And one way to stop denying this reality, this actual college professor tells us, is to stop educating women.
“Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers,” he said. “Ditto for med school and the law and every trade. Efforts should be redoubled to encourage more men to enter the medical field, space exploration, mining endeavors and every other high-end and even low-end profession. If every Nobel Prize winner is a man, that’s not a failure. It’s kind of a cause for celebration.”
These are, it should go without saying, terrible ideas. But Yenor is protected by tenure at BSU. He has the academic freedom to hold and express the worst ideas possible, a limit he has chosen to test – perhaps in an effort to attract a consequence that he can parley into a cancel-culture grift.
So far, BSU’s line on the Yenor affair is to defend academic freedom, as calls for his firing grow. The school is in a tricky position, because any freedom that doesn’t include the freedom to be an utter moron is a very limited freedom, indeed.
But BSU has a duty to its students and staff, as well. It cannot responsibly expect women – or men – to be educated well in his classes, and it is beholden under federal law not to discriminate. It cannot reasonably expect his bigotry to stay hidden under a bushel, and not peep out in discriminatory ways. It cannot expect him to be even a minimally decent colleague to the women who have meddled their way into his department.
He’s a cancer. If he can’t be cut out, perhaps Boise State could treat the disease with the equivalent of a no-show job – one with a nice, dark basement office under the steam plant, a professional calendar without a single departmental appointment, and a teaching load of zero, so he never has the chance to grade or instruct or influence or even encounter those quarrelsome students he believes should be at home having babies.