The senior class should invite Jordan Peterson to deliver the college’s commencement address in May.
For a school that studies the classic tradition while fighting for freedom in modern politics, Peterson is an excellent fit.
A public intellectual and clinical psychologist, he speaks on eternal truths and classic texts, and applies their lessons to today’s controversies. A New Yorker article called Peterson the “most influential — and polarizing — public intellectuals in the English-speaking world.”
Peterson came to public attention in 2016 when he opposed an amendment to Canada’s criminal code that added gender identity as a protected category. Peterson argued that the change would criminalize a person’s refusal to use they/them pronouns and ultimately push Canada toward tyranny — a concept he has studied for years.
“I’ve studied authoritarianism for a very long time — for 40 years — and they’re started by people’s attempts to control the ideological and linguistic territory,” he told the BBC in 2016.
He stands strongly against cultural insanity while not becoming an ordinary talking head on a nightly shout show. He has spoken out against the sexual revolution and transgender radicalism while defending family values and tradition.
Since entering the spotlight, Peterson has captivated audiences everywhere. He has written two best-selling books on life improvement and traveled across the world speaking to thousands of people on ideas like responsibility and discipline.
“Adopt responsibility for your own well-being,” Peterson said in a video. “Try to put your family together, try to serve your community, try to seek for eternal truth… that’s the sort of thing that can ground you in your life, enough so that you can withstand the difficulty of life.”
Self-responsibility is a core theme of Peterson’s message — practically identical to the principle of self-government this college holds closely.
“Almost all the meaning that you will need to get you through the hard times of your life is going to be a consequence of adopting responsibility,” he said in one lecture.
But there’s another reason to invite Peterson to campus. We have the unique opportunity to teach one of the world’s leading intellectuals a lesson.
Peterson has spoken out about the decline of the university countless times. The crackdowns on free speech, the decreased diversity of thought, and increased reliance on feelings and identity are among his complaints.
At a 2019 Heritage Foundation event, Peterson said what universities “fundamentally manage to achieve” is leaving students defeated.
“What people are being taught,” Peterson said referring to the modern university, “is of no utility as a guiding light to anyone. And it’s a catastrophe to take young people in their formative years…and to tear the substructure out from underneath them.”
Peterson spends hours on podcasts lamenting the failure of modern education. On his Aug. 2 podcast he talks to seven guests about their experiences on American campuses, including a North Korean defector who said her time at Columbia University made her “very pessimistic about the Western world.”
Hillsdale College should show him an example of a successful college — one that pursues truth, encourages diversity of thought, and stands firmly against the race-obsessed and emotionally-charged curriculums ruining most institutions.
He will see, in Hillsdale, an example of education done right. He will finally have an example to point to of an intellectually serious and open-minded college.
What he says matters and when he talks, millions listen.
In a time of disillusionment and turmoil, Peterson speaks to the sanity and truth we crave. We should invite him to send us off into the world.