In a writing course that takes its inspiration from left-wing revolutions across the Southern Hemisphere, Washington and Lee University is teaching its students how to properly craft and defend a coup at a time of considerable uncertainty in America. In “How to Overthrow the State,” students are encouraged to envision themselves “at the head of a popular revolutionary movement aiming to overthrow a sitting government and forge a better society.”
“How will you attain power?” the course’s description asks. “How will you communicate with the masses? How do you plan on improving the lives of the people? How will you deal with the past? From Frantz Fanon to Che Guevara to Mohandas Gandhi and others, we explore examples of revolutionary thought and action from across the Global South.”
Among the assignments required of students is a “manifesto” in which they will “write a persuasive essay on rewriting history and confronting memory.”
In an interview with Campus Reform, Will Tanner of the Washington and Lee College Republicans said that the course moves a little too close to leftist indoctrination territory.
“Our opinion is that while the class as an idea is not objectionable, the content is,” Tanner explained. “Our objection is that it is focused purely on leftist revolutionary movements. What could have been a class that focused on W&L’s complex relationship to revolutionary movements and teaches students about the difference between a justified revolution with good ends in mind and an unjust revolution is instead a class that is obviously full of biases from the professor and centered on anti-Western thought and revolutions.”
In remarks to Breitbart, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA was even more pointed in his criticism of the course.
“We must stop brushing aside these egregious examples of campus craziness as isolated incidents,” Kirk said. “The lessons of the past few months prove that these ideas don’t stay on campus, they spill out onto the streets. This is a prime example of the intellectual rot that has infected the academy in America. The Trump administration should investigate and determine if this is the type of scholarship federal funds should be used to subsidize.”
The university, however, has dismissed criticism as mere right-wing agitation.
“It’s been distorted, sensationalized, and turned into political fodder on blogs, television, and social media,” complained WLU President Will Dudley. “We are expressly committed to encouraging all to speak their minds freely and to consider carefully alternative points of view. It is incumbent upon us to treat each other with respect and not perpetuate or tolerate personal attacks.”
We agree. The problem is, there always seem to be certain points of view that never quite make it into the university system. And until there is a concerted effort to change that, we’ll remain very critical of courses like this one.