Quoting George Orwell, Professor Robert Newman decries “the stupid ideas” of intellectuals. He doesn’t specify those ideas but his mention of “indoctrination and an all-out assault on the ideals and traditions of Western civilization” echoes President Donald Trump’s warning of education where students are taught to “hate America.” We get it: Those who protest historic inequalities are wrong.

But since the topic is stupid ideas, let me point out the unwisdom of enlisting Orwell in this conservative cause. He was a lifelong advocate for democratic socialism, always eager to take the part of the common man against the privileged.

His "Road to Wigan Pier," written for the Left Book Club, passionately condemns economic inequality. A youthful participant in British colonialism, Orwell became a constant critic of empire and its racialist underpinnings.

Nor were words his only weapons. As a volunteer for the leftist Republican government during the Spanish Civil War, he fought against the fascists, those self-styled guardians of civilization, and was seriously wounded.

And since the topic is also the subverting of foundational ideas, let me point out the anti-American, anti-democratic nature of dismissing as illegitimate “indoctrination” the political views of a large swath of the American citizenry. If the ideas of the left are wrong, show us how by engaging those ideas themselves. This is the rational basis of the entire American democracy.


retired professor

Baton Rouge

Letters: Sad! Some stupid ideas have escaped the college campuses