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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Wolves are Howling for Professor Anthony Esolen!

I consider Anthony Esolen one of the finest Catholic writers today. So when I saw Matthew Archbold's headline this morning, Faithful Catholic Professor Anthony Esolen Under Attack at Providence College, I immediately went to his site to read the article. Of course, in today's politically correct world where most Catholic colleges joined the zeitgeist decades ago, persecuting a solid Catholic teacher is no surprise. What's more surprising is to see any of the good guys avoiding persecution, especially in view of the "bias response protocol" which assures us that, "To be clear, this process is in no way intended to curb the free expression of opinions or ideas." Yeah, right! How exactly will the current persecution of Professor Esolen affect other professors who see the collapse of Catholicism on their campuses? Anybody think they'll write an article questioning diversity?

What I find particularly distressing about all this is that a Dominican university would join the persecution of a truth seeker/truth teller in their midst. If anyone illustrates the spirit of St. Dominic, a consummate defender of the faith and warrior against heresy, it's this Catholic layman. What has Esolen in hot water with a few dozen students marching around campus and fellow professors calling for blood is an article he wrote challenging the "diversity" policy on campus which includes anti-bias police with the power to discipline offenders. (The policy is a paragon of political correctness complete with target quotas that they pretend aren't quotas.) Esolen quoted a colleague who described it as a "star chamber." The witch hunt ensuing from Esolen's article illustrates exactly how accurate this epithet is, star chamber indeed.

No doubt Professor Esolen will get first hand experience of the "tolerance" touted in the "diversity" policies which claim to "respect the essential dignity of every person." Except, of course, those who dare to suggest ideas that send the "diverse" student population to their safe places to suck their thumbs or out on campus chanting their demands to cut off an offender's head. They don't want diversity of ideas; they demand leftist liberalism. Welcome to the world of Big Brother and Black Lives Matter.

Sad to say, the President of the college, Rev. Brian Shanley, O.P. published a letter disavowing Esolen and finding him guilty of using offensive and hurtful words like "narcissist," a description that accurately describes the behavior of a legion of today's college students. But the truth cannot be stated because some little darling will feel offended and object. And after all, with the economy being what it is, the school needs the bucks and paying customers.

When schools are hiring counselors to protect students against chalk slogans ("Trump 2016") and offering safe spaces where ideas are controlled, well, frankly, close the universities.They are pointless. As a parent, I would certainly eliminate Providence College from the list of schools for which I'd be willing to fork out tens of thousands a year. For what? The privilege of my kids being indoctrinated in a diversity more accurately described as groupthink and facing a bastion of liberal professors undermining their faith? Hell (literally) no!

I particularly recommend that readers study the interview of Esolen by Rod Dreher and note his response to Dreher's question about parents considering colleges for their children:
What advice would you give to young Christian academics? To Christian parents preparing to send their kids to college? 
It’s long past the time for administrators at Christian colleges to abandon the hiring policies that got us in this fix to begin with. We KNOW that there are plenty of excellent young Christian scholars who have to struggle to find a job. Well, let’s get them and get them right away. WE should be establishing a network for that purpose — so that if a Benedictine College needs a professor of literature, they can get on the phone to Ralph Wood at Baylor or me at Providence or Glenn Arbery at Wyoming Catholic, and say, “Do you have anybody?” 
Christian parents — please do not suppose that your child will retain his or her faith after four years of battering at a secular college. Oh, many do — and many colleges have Christian groups that are terrific. But understand that it is going to be a dark time; and that everything on campus will be inimical to the faith, from the blockheaded assumptions of their professors, to the hook-ups, to the ignorance of their fellow students and their unconscious but massive bigotry. Be advised.
And finally, I suggest you write a polite letter or make a phone call to Fr. Shanley defending Professor Esolen. What little Catholic identity the college retains is due to professors like him.

Contact information:

Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. '80

  • President
  • Phone: (401) 865-2153
  • Ann Manchester-Molak '75

    • Assistant to the President and Executive Vice President/Treasurer
    • Phone: (401) 865-2406


  1. Via email

    Catholics don't require persecutors any more. We have decided to martyr ourselves.


  2. Dear Fr Shanley and Ms Manchester-Molak,

    I attended St Anselm College in 1980-82. I was attracted to the college for its strong Catholic identity and its two year multidisciplinary, Humanities program which the Boston Globe had compared favorably to Harvard, because, they wrote, 'while it was possible to obtain such an education at Harvard, it took great personal effort to assemble the courses, and St Anselm required it for all its incoming freshman through sophomores'. It provided the core of my knowledge which I have used as an educator for the past 30 years, and enabled me to discuss issues in the culture intelligently. I have published two books and numerous articles, and my humanities education again provided me with the basis for explaining trends in society, giving context to stories of personal conversion, discussing attitudes toward the disabled, and the increasing threat of the resurgence of eugenics. I often say that St Anselm's Humanities program is the apex of my seven years of university education.

    I understand that Providence College was a sister school to St Anselm, and for this reason, when my oldest daughter Gabriela was interested in attending Providence, I was happy to attend an Open House. We were attracted to the core program, the Dominican culture and beautiful chapel. Of particular interest to us was the presence of professors like Dr Anthony Esolen. I have read his articles in Crisis, and Magnificat, and admired his breadth of knowledge of Western Civilization, his elegant turn of phrase, as well as his ability to make history come alive. That is why I was stunned when I learned that because he wrote an article in favor of the study of Western Civilization, and against the narcissistic culture of identity politics, that he has been under fire from his fellow professors and students. As an educator in a public college, I have often decried the same trend.

    I see absolutely no reason why minorities cannot benefit from exposure to the beauty and power of Christendom, its our common heritage in history, literature, art and music and lifts the heart and soul to God. There was never a moment while studying at St Anselm that I felt excluded, belittled or unimportant. I knew I was there to expand my horizons, not study my family heritage.

    We have to move beyond identity politics to forming a common understanding of God's imprint on human history left by His Chosen People, and His Son Jesus Christ.We must overcome whatever sense of shame was imposed on us by a culture hostile to Christianity. Society today and in particular academia, tends to make us belittle this amazing Catholic heritage which formed the university, the hospital, the orphanage. Catholicism literally built Western Civilization as Dr Thomas Woods argues in his book by the same name, and for that we owe it to our students to share its wealth. That is what it means to be a Catholic institution of higher learning.

    Please do not allow this outstanding professor to suffer from those who do not understand this.

    Dr Esolen should be the example which other professors follow, with his voluminous publications including a translation of Dante, and friendships with student and faculty alike. He has been overlooked for decades and this current persecution is beneath the dignity of an Institution which follows in the Dominican tradition. I am praying that this situation may serve as a touchstone to ignite a discussion about Providence College's return to its roots as a Catholic Institution of Higher Learning.

    Ad Jesum per Mariam,

    Leticia Velasquez, MA
    Co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome)
    author of "A Special Mother is Born".