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Jordan Peterson
Jordan Peterson. Courtesy | Google Commons.

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.