Brief Film Review: “Indoctrinate U: Our Education, Their Politics”

The film, Indoctrinate U: Our Education, Their Politics, has low production values, and appears to have been created entirely by two conservative university students visiting numerous college and university campuses around the United States (one holding a boom mike and speaking, the other behind a camera), but it actually packs quite a wallop. I was troubled by the illiberalism that they documented among liberal campuses, and it needs to be seen.

Aside from the interviews with academics, students, and parents, the film makers do the documentary in a Michael Moore-style. In other words, they walk in on university bureaucrats doing bureaucratic things, and get them to go into bureaucratic mode (obfuscating, refusing to comment, acting paternal and paranoid, and kicking the students off campus through the use of police security). There are shameful demonstrations of a lack of openness—and even intolerance—that the film makers captured, and the students have done freedom of speech a service by documenting it.

I think that there are points in the documentary in which the students who made the film appear themselves impatient with certain forms of expression. There is, for example, a disapproving segment on some student nudity around Berkeley. It appears that the film makers cannot, for the life of them, imagine the value of engaging in public nudity as a form of sociological experimentation or street art. This is clearly a low moment in the film. Most other parts, however, are more intelligent (and even damning), demonstrating vividly how a college bureaucracy can really close in around the expression of diverse opinions on a campus.

One especially noxious moment was hearing a Columbia University representative explain to the film makers how much the University would charge to allow them to film on campus ($1500 an hour, effectively shutting down the documenting of activities on campus). It was a gross example of keeping anyone but the wealthy from ever really being able to document via film what might go on at a public university. Furthermore, it would obviously never hold up in court. But it was clearly a move designed to discourage the film makers’ activities. 

Illiberalism, whether it comes from the left or the right, needs to be resisted by those of us who call ourselves liberals. I, therefore, recommend this conservative documentary without reservation and hope that many people will see it.

Here is the link to the film at Amazon.com.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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