What does Allan Bloom mean when he says that the American mind is closing? His point is that, in the late twentieth century, students have difficulty grappling with complex ideas. Students are not being taught to ask hard questions about the concepts their culture cherishes and inculcates. The notion of equality, for example, has become, in Bloom’s view, virtually meaningless. Who would now dare oppose the principle of equality? Yet the easy acceptance of the term has resulted in an unwillingness to examine differences. Why is it, for example, that in Bloom’s experience white students quickly acknowledge the rights of black students and yet there is very little contact or understanding between the races? Why do blacks tend to associate only with one another? Why, Bloom asks, is there so little real integration on American campuses at the very time the idea of integration has triumphed? The answer, he argues, is that universities have fudged a whole range of issues involving equality. In order to promote “equal opportunity,” universities have rationalized different admissions standards for whites and blacks. The irony, as Bloom sees it, is that there can be no equality so long as black and white students are not admitted under the same rules. Preferential treatment, in other words, gives the lie to the very concept of equality that institutions of higher education profess to uphold.
Bloom believes that what is true for the concept of equality is...
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