A review of Brutal Minds: The Dark World of Left-Wing Brainwashing in Our Universities
by Stanley Ridgley (Humanix, 290 pages, $29.99)

Lifting the Mask of the Antiracist Cult

People far removed from the insular world of academia sense there is something hostile brewing in the ivory tower, but today’s “woke” ideologues dismiss these suspicions with a wave of the hand. The disconcerted layman, they say, is too dumb to understand critical race theory much less criticize it. The unflattering truth is that critical race theory is not complex. It may be too generous even to call it an ideology. Regular people understand it is a form of race prejudice, in the words of author Stanley Ridgley, a “psychopathic” and paranoid “conspiracy theory” that makes white people into a demonic, omnipresent enemy.

It’s uncommon to see the issue framed in terms so direct and disparaging to the enlightened ones who control our national “conversation” on race, which is more of a one-sided interrogation. Ridgley, a professor at Drexel University, has done a great service lifting the mask of sophistication in his book, Brutal Minds: The Dark World of Left-Wing Brainwashing in Our Universities. Ridgley doesn’t waste time conceding respectability to pseudointellectuals peddling the equivalent of Radio Rwanda propaganda. Rather, he heaps scorn on the cultists and discredits them in their own words. 

The evidence in Brutal Minds is drawn from the horse’s mouth: the journals, training manuals, and conference speeches of “antiracist educators,” and the forced confessions of their victims, demonstrating the methodical process by which they are broken down and reconstructed. The valuable material Ridgley has gathered together puts meat on the bones of abstractions like “indoctrination,” which have been vitiated in a culture war driven largely by cable news soundbites.

At its core, “antiracist education” is shown to be a dehumanizing, and strangely casual, form of psychological torture. Ridgely draws a straight line from Mao’s Cultural Revolution to the contemporary American university, where deranged, underqualified careerists in “student affairs” harangue white students in creepy games and “discussion groups.” 

We are treated to a detailed investigation of the deceitful, unscrupulous techniques that are deployed to target, disarm, and re-educate students. Recruits are groomed with false “empathy” and encouraged to surrender sensitive information about their personal lives. We are reminded that “brainwashing” is more about subtraction than addition: not so much filling minds with ideas, but removing personality and deforming the soul.

While the details of anti-white “thought reform” are worth reviewing, the author’s chief concern is in exposing the anonymous bureaucracy that is turning academia into a gravy train for “diversity, equity, and inclusion” consultants. At its core, Brutal Minds is about the corruption of the university by busybodies who inhabit an incestuous, constantly growing administrative behemoth.

Ridgley ventures a coinage for this monster, which he calls Cerberus, referring to university education schools, where ambitious, low-caliber functionaries are formally enlisted in the cause of “antiracist pedagogy,” student affairs departments, where they are pipelined into plum sinecures and find opportunities to harass and corner students, and the obscure, politburo-like professional lobbies that advocate their takeover of academic life, like the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA.) Ridgley vigorously protests the outsized influence of interlopers whose real jobs are to “make sure the sound system works and the pizza’s hot.” These are the “DoctorJill Bidens of the world, the petty administrators who tell themselves, “I finally get to use my master’s degree!”

The author’s lively contempt makes for easy and gratifying reading, but Brutal Minds isn’t another rant about the Left’s dominance of the university, which has long been an obvious fact. Ridgley has unearthed a legitimate scandal: the secretive psychological targeting of white students by a largely unknown cadre within higher education, one that has quietly taken over the college campus and, to an alarming degree, the K-12 classroom. The argument is nuanced and thoroughly researched, so it cannot be dismissed as provincial “far-right” alarmism. Brutal Minds puts to rest such lies as “critical race theory isn’t taught in schools.” To the contrary, the madrasas of the education world are saturated with the stuff.

On the other hand, outsiders, especially on the Right, will likely find the author’s depiction of the embattled faculty too favorable. Ridgely dedicates a chapter to bashing professors who engage in “antiracist” indoctrination, whom he describes as a distinguishable minority, but he is otherwise quick to overlook the moral cowardice of his rational peers. Ridgley belongs to a courageous few in his profession who are willing to upset the apple cart, and he exhorts students to “resist,” which raises the question: If there is no will for reform within academia, why should the students risk their necks?

The author cites anticommunist hero Václav Havel for inspiration, hardly an extravagance, given the stifling dominance of the “antiracist” Left, which has made it very costly to say the emperor has no clothes. One need not share the author’s sympathy for the academic world to find troubling the prospect of indefinite rule by a hostile, quasi-genocidal elite, which is likely to be the result if the Right succumbs to the temptation to cede the intellectual sphere, and the access to power and influence that goes with it, to the “antiracists.” One already sees this taking shape with the sharp leftward drift of law and medicine and the decline in competent whites accepted to elite schools (and in white males pursuing higher education at all.) In any event, “anti-racism” will not remain confined to the campus, as many a disgruntled parent is coming to learn. 

The author does not leave us with much hope the situation is salvageable. While he advocates enforcing legal sanctions, which is certainly a step in the right direction, at present there is no institutional momentum or political will to address racism against whites, and there is even less public awareness of the true, malicious nature of “anti-racism.” Most people who work in corporate America and have kids in school have a misleading, palatable notion. They are kept in the dark by obscurantists on the Left, who uphold a Potemkin façade of benign phrases like “implicit bias,” and culture warriors on the Right who often cloud the issue in platitudes of their own.

Brutal Minds exposes “antiracism” in its hateful, undiluted form. While it may not sketch a clear path forward, the book is a valuable piece of journalism on a matter of great public interest, the consequences of which can hardly be overstated.

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About Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a Mt. Vernon fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a staff writer and weekly columnist at the Conservative Institute. His writing has also appeared in the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter @matt_boose. ‏

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