The marketplace works! It works even when you think it’s failing. The marketplace supplies human demands expressed in a variety of ways and contexts. Got that? On to Dr. Tony Esolen and Providence College, Rhode Island, where he taught English for 25 years.
This summer, Esolen, Dante translator and well-published author, takes up residence at tiny Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, N.H. And what’s the big deal? The big deal is that Providence’s faculty ran him off last school year by maligning him and freezing him out due to several-times-voiced heresies on “diversity.”
“Diversity,” at Providence (once rated “a highly attractive choice” in “Choosing the Right College” by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute) has apparently come to mean “non-diversity.”
Diversity, as Esolen’s colleagues demonstrated in their rhetorical assaults on him, definitely doesn’t mean, “We good faculty left-wingers are going to let a conservative challenge us.” Esolen made bold to raise some logical–logical to normal people, diminishing numbers of whom apparently teach at Providence any more–objections to university policy that works to undermine the college’s Catholic attachment and its commitment to Western Civilization. He argued for the hiring of more faithful Catholic faculty members. This didn’t go over big in our conflicted time.
Esolen tends to speak and write more directly than is said to be suitable in dialogue on diversity. His left-wing detractors accused him of insufficient zeal for the putting down of bias. He’d say things like “There is very little that is collegial about the modern college…To what beyond himself is each professor devoted? It is a hall of mirror, everyone looking at himself and eyeing everyone else askance.” Bad boy! Shouldn’t talk so!
And, well, he won’t any more – not at Providence, whose dust, in Gospel fashion, he has shaken from his feet. St. Thomas More College couldn’t be more delighted. Its president says, “Dr. Esolen’s coming to TMC is a sign of the attractiveness and vitality of institutions robustly faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
See – the marketplace works. You can get by for a while with teaching nonsense, but the habit is a bad one. Nonsense doesn’t work. Sense works. Teach the latter and people catch on. Teach the former, and if you succeed, your grads struggle to parse the fast food employment ads. Providence won’t dwindle to ashes with Esolen’s departure, but his case sets an awful academic precedent. Tony Esolen will do just fine at Thomas More, and so, conspicuously, will his students – every one of whom the college plans to seat at his feet.
We get depressed, and reasonably so, about the triumph of mischief in academia. But other factors need factoring in. Magna est veritas, et praevalet. Truth wins out in the end. Esolen used to pour such verities into Providence students’ open ears. No more of that. He’s moved his franchise.
And the marketplace works! Pass it on.