Faith

Providence Professor Fed to the PC Wolves

An attempt to respect the school's Catholic identity turns into all-out brawl

College campuses are now the front lines of political correctness, safe spaces, and the vilification of conservative principles.

One professor who has felt the condemnation of the Left recently is Anthony Esolen, an English professor at Providence College in Rhode Island, a private, Roman Catholic university. Esolen is a giant in his field — he’s translated such works as Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” Lucretius’ “On the Nature of Things,” and Torquato Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered,” to name a few. He has also written for The Catholic Thing, Touchstone Magazine, Crisis Magazine, and other publications.

“He certainly does not speak for me, my administration, and for many others at Providence College who understand and value diversity in a very different sense from him.”

“Imagine going to Oxford in the ’30s, ’40s, or ’50s, and never hearing that C. S. Lewis taught there. That is what it is like for Dr. Esolen at Providence College,” wrote alumnus Dr. Michael J. Rubin in the Catholic World Report.

“Brilliant, orthodox, and kind, Anthony Esolen is everything one could hope for in a Catholic lay professor,” Rubin continued. “And this is the man that has been accused of racism and a lack of charity.”

Last month, students from Providence marched on the college president’s office demanding Esolen be reprimanded for being against inclusion due to an article he wrote in Crisis Magazine entitled, “My College Succumbed to the Totalitarian Diversity Cult.”

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For those who actually read the article and not simply the title, it is clear Esolen is speaking from the perspective of what diversity should mean at a Catholic college or university — and the concept of the unity of mankind as children of God. It does not attack any political ideology. It simply questions the implementation of political beliefs that are at odds with the Catholic Church’s official stance on those issues at a school that proclaims itself to be Catholic.

Part of his article reads: “Is not that same call for diversity, when Catholics are doing the calling, a surrender of the Church to a political movement which is, for all its talk, a push for homogeneity, so that all the world will look not like the many-cultured Church, but rather like the monotone non-culture of Western cities that have lost their faith in the transcendent and unifying God?”

Related: How to Talk to Atheists About Christ

Despite his attempt to focus on questioning the administration of his college and its leadership, he is now at the center of a student-led protest — sanctioned by the president of his own university.

The college’s president, Rev. Brian J. Shanley, addressed this issue by writing an open letter to the campus. He defended Esolen’s right to write what he chooses, but distanced himself from the professor by saying: “He certainly does not speak for me, my administration, and for many others at Providence College who understand and value diversity in a very different sense from him.”

The letter continued: “When a professor questions the value of diversity, the impact on many students, faculty, and staff of color is to feel that their presence is not valued and that they are not welcome at Providence College. I have heard from many students about the pain that this causes. When student activists are described as ‘narcissists,’ they understandably feel demeaned and dismissed.”

However, his article seeks to not divide but unite — under the definition of “catholic,” the word, not the religion, which means “universal.”

An alumnus of Providence College, Thomas Daly, told LifeZette, “It is disturbing to see the influence the anti-Catholic bigots have gained at Providence College. Professor Esolen is a man of immense intellect, character, and devotion to the Catholic faith. He inspires and mentors young Catholics, at least three of [whom] have gone on to become priests, with two of them becoming Dominican fathers. He has also used his academic clout to bring speakers to campus, including noted Princeton scholar Robert P. George.”

He added, “What is most disturbing is the disgraceful statement by the college’s president, which validates the hateful rhetoric of a small, vocal minority led by anti-Catholic, radical leftist professors. Instead of protecting his flock and defending the Magisterium, Fr. Shanley has instead thrown Professor Esolen to the wolves.”

It is apparent that an academic and honest dialogue — which in generations past were the way at universities around the country — has been thrown out to make way for the ever-present “safe space.” And an attempt to unite a Catholic college with the principles on which it was founded is seen as a scathing, bigoted rant.

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