HH: When I’m not in Colorado, I’m at the Kirby Center, Hillsdale’s center in Washington, D.C. where Dr. Larry Arnn has installed this amazing equipment. He joins me now from California where he’s been lazing about in the sun while the rest of us freeze on the East Coast. And Dr. Arnn, welcome, good to talk to you.
LA: I decided I’d be spoiled a little bit like you are.
HH: Well, I’m very jealous of you being in California. What took you out there? Were you doing Hillsdale meet and greet fundraisers?
LA: We had a reception last night in Costa Mesa, and we had 900 people here. It was ridiculous.
HH: But I wasn’t there. That’s not possible.
HH: You only get those numbers when I’m there.
LA: Well, the numbers that we drew in Phoenix were higher than that with you. They were about 80 people or 100 people higher…
HH: Only because my people want…
LA: …which means that’s what you’re worth.
HH: Yeah, that’s what people want, is the free food. So what did you talk about to the Costa Mesa people?
LA: I talked about the college eruptions and the terror war, and their connection.
HH: And that is exactly why we’re going to postpone our consideration of Dr. Arnn’s brand new book, Churchill’s Trial. Chapter four is scheduled for the Hillsdale Dialogue this week, but between the college disruptions, the attack in Paris, the subsequent arrests later in the week, the other threats around the world, I thought we’d spend this Hillsdale Dialogue talking about the here and the now, the present as opposed to 2,000, 2,500, or even 50 years ago, Dr. Arnn. So let’s just, I want to turn the floor over to you. What to make of what is going on, on college campuses across America before we turn to what’s going on in the diseased minds of terrorists?
LA: Well, it’s a collapse, that if it continues, it will mean a collapse in civilization itself. Colleges began a kind of nihilistic turn in the late 19th Century, early 20th Century, and I’ll give a quote that’ll explain it. Frank Goodnow, founder of the American Political Science Association, president of Johns Hopkins, wrote in an essay that you can read in our Constitution reader, “We professors take ourselves too seriously sometimes, because really, what our students will eventually think will be dictated by the economic and other circumstances that prevail in the future.” Now if you think about that, first of all, that’s a horrifying thing for a teacher to say. What is the value of his life? But second, it impugns the learning enterprise, right? It doesn’t matter what you learn. In the end, you’ll just be affected by your environment.
HH: Right, right.
LA: And that is connected, of course, to the great effort in modern historicism and liberalism to try to dictate or govern or administer everything in the environment. If you really want to have an impact, change all the conditions of society. And so government becomes a vast engineering project. And so what are these groups saying, right? First of all, there are these micro-aggressions, and that means somebody, an example is somebody wore, two girls wore a sombrero and some mustaches to a party on Halloween. And so this is an atmosphere of hate and racism against all marginalized groups. A Claremont McKenna College, and my dear friend and yours, Charles Kessler, has a really great essay in the Wall Street Journal this morning about what’s going on there. You know, the president there organized his own sit-in, in his own office.
HH: That’s remarkable.
LA: It is. I mean, you can’t believe it. And there are like 20 groups that are marginalized and require changes in the curriculum so courses everyone has to take, general education courses in all this gender and race study, ethnicity study and culture study, so they want to remake the university, and they want to have a say in hiring more people who are sympathetic to that. And that’s raging across the campus. And in my opinion, that connects to the terror war in this reason. What is this ISIS thing – Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. And sometimes, it’s called ISIL. Obama started calling it that, and that means Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is a wider area than Iraq and Syria.
HH: Yup. That’s why Lindsey Graham insists on using ISIL. He wants people to understand they want it all.
LA: Yeah, and you know, that means, you know, it means the seaboard, the land near the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. And so what is this thing? Well, first of all, there’s a guy named Scott Atran, who happens to be known to an old friend of mine from Pocahontas, Arkansas. And I got on to him by this. But he’s a very serious figure, and he’s got a long article recently in the New York Review of Books you can read. What’s going on with these people? How are they recruiting? Western, especially Westerners are flocking to these, to the cause of ISIS. And the thing is, it’s a grand and glorious cause that wants to remake the world and give meaning to life. And it’s part of the emptiness that came into the American intellectual life with historicism. And that’s this Frank Goodnow, right? After all, if you believe what he believes, what would you ever mean by a great book? What would be the use of me and you, Hugh, talking about great books and great events of the past?
HH: It would be a circus act. It would be a carnival.
LA: It leaves you empty, see? And so there’s a kind of emptiness in the West, and ISIS is filling it.
HH: Now your friend and mine, not mine, I’ve only met him, Francis Fukuyama, but I’m sure he’s your friend, wrote a book, The End Of History, in which he said no, no, no, look, we’ve won now, and the world will fill up with the good things of the West. Is it that the cupboard was bare when we won?
LA: Well, I mean, you know, I, like you, have only met him. I respect him. He’s a very serious guy. But isn’t that a foolish thing to say? You know, Churchill, in one of his books, quotes a great British statesman at the end of the 19th Century, and he says my boy, he says, nothing ever really happens. And Churchill’s response to that was since then, nothing has ceased to happen.
HH: When was that from? (laughing) Because that’s what we’re living in right now, right? That’s why I’m looking at Jake Tapper in Paris, because nothing ceases to happen.
LA: Yeah, I’m telling you, you know, things are going on now, right? And in Europe, they have to have immigration. Their populations will decline without it, and yet the immigrants that are coming are, many of them, at least, out of sympathy with the great institutions and thoughts of the West. Many of them, at least, right? And so the point is, this is to be seen as a crisis in our civilization, and we have to fight, and we have to recover our understanding and belief in order to do it. And that’s what’s going on.
HH: Now I want to talk about our commander-in-chief here in a moment, but preface it by saying on Wednesday of this week, five alleged Syrians were detained in Honduras carrying Greek passports headed our way. That’s the backdrop to these three statements by President Obama. I want to play them all for you, Dr. Arnn, cut number 13:
BO: What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership, or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people, and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and to protect our allies and the people like France. I’m too busy for that.
HH: I’ll come back to the other two after the break. I wanted to give you a minute and a half to that. Posing and postures, slogans, mocking people who declare America should lead or that America should win, Dr. Arnn, what do you make of that?
LA: Well, it’s, you know, first of all, it’s a fight, and it’s coming to us. And you know, it has come to us, right? And the fight is very dangerous to us for a variety of reasons. But the key one is we’ve been at war for a long time now. And continuous war is a threat to liberal society, because everything gets regimented, right? And like right now, the debate has shifted this morning. I was watching the news in order to get ready to talk to Hugh Hewitt, who commands so much of my time. And now, you know, we’re going to unlock the cell phones, because we can’t track these guys, and the government, senior officials and the FBI and other places find people, I’m confident, I mean it, these people are, and they just need access, right? They need to know about our phone calls, about phone calls of suspected people. And so we’re locking up our cell phones, and that’s very popular. People love cell phones that don’t get tracked all the time, because they’re being tracked all the time by commercial companies and maybe the government. So the point is, the capacity exists to watch everything today. And that means liberalism, the room to move around and do what you want, is in danger. This is a major theme of Winston Churchill’s life. So we need two things. We need to fight this war in a way that has a maximum economy behind it. And it won’t be economical, but the maximum economy, and we need to get it over with.
HH: I’ll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn. I’m calling this the white ant hour of the Hugh Hewitt Show. I’ll explain why when we return.
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HH: I’m calling this the white ant hour of the Hugh Hewitt Show, because as Churchill predicted, there are forces at work in the West that want to turn us into white ants, and there are forces at work throughout the world in the form of radical Islamists who want to find out how best to eradicate all the white ants, Dr. Arnn, that we are in a problem here.
LA: Well, what Churchill meant by that was he applies that, he says there’s no, and this is a paraphrase, it’s in an essay called Mass Effects In Modern Life that Churchill wrote in 1931. He says the Bolshevik system has invented no economic or political principle that has not been carried into effect and perfected through evolution by the society of the white ant. And he later says not bees, because they can’t make any honey. It’s just termites, right? And then he says that this is only an extreme form of a tendency that’s happening in the Western countries, too. And so what is this tendency? It is the idea, see, that everything can be managed by scientific administration from a central source. And that’s, you know, that is the combat, right?
LA: Are we going to have a centralized, bureaucratic administrative state? Or are we going to have a de-centralized Constitutional government? And that’s the great question, right? And Churchill thought that our strength in the West comes from our Constitutional nature, that is each person is an agent of his own care, and as a citizen, of the care of his neighborhood and his community and his country. And so just look at this. You know, one part of the terror war is the terror war coming here. And the problem with it is the strategic problem it represents. You know, in France or in Washington, or in New York, wherever it happens, is that 7 or 8 people with a machine gun can kill 150. And they could pop up anywhere and do it. And you know, are you going to have SWAT cops everywhere and in sufficient force to stop this from happening? And the answer is you’re not. You can’t. It’s the reason, it’s very hard to defend a long frontier, because the aggressor can attack anywhere, and for you to cover everywhere, you can’t have much force anywhere. So the answer is something natively American, right? The militia.
HH: The militia, yeah.
LA: We have a lot of people with concealed carry weapons, permits, and most of those have been trained in some way or another. Well, what if you made that training more serious, and you deputed people, you deputized them, you know? Maybe it’s time to organize a posse, and it reminds me of that great Larson Far Side cartoon. There’s the sheriff who’s looking outside, and there’s a big gaggle of horses and men all piled up, and he says no, no, you have to organize a posse.
HH: (laughing) Now I have to tell you, organizing any posse, though, is that presumes coherence in the West.
HH: There was a statement put out by the president of Yale on Wednesday. I want to read two paragraphs to our audience. “Educating our community about race, ethnicity, diversity and inclusion begins with the university’s leadership. I, along with the vice president, deans, provost and other members of the administration will receive training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination in the academy. Similar programs will be provided to department chairs, directors of graduate and undergraduate studies, masters and deans, student affairs staff all across the university.” That’s cut number one. We’ve got show trials underway, and the appropriate self-recrimination. But he goes on say, “Finally, many of you have asked with renewed interest about the names of the new residential colleges that are coming to Yale, as well as the name of Calhoun College. In the next year, the Yale corporation will be deciding the names of the two new colleges that will open in August, 2017. I have asked the corporation’s senior fellows to organize meetings with several other fellows at which community members can express their views both about the names for the new colleges and about Calhoun. Corporation fellows value and will continue to hold in person making other discussions as they move forward.” Now Dr. Arnn, because of these programs, in fact, I wouldn’t mind if they buried the name Calhoun. But I greatly fear the process underway Yale is one that will be repeated everywhere. And if there is a stock exchange on colleges, I would only be buying Hillsdale, Colorado Christian, Biola, you know, William Jessup, small places with defensible boundaries.
LA: Yeah, well, you know, first of all, I don’t like John Calhoun. That guy was a nut.
LA: And a dangerous nut. And he was one of the apostles of the rise of the idea that slavery is a good thing in America.
LA: So that’s one thing, right? But it’s also true that the way that the Civil War was settled, to the extent it was settled successfully, was the way of forgiveness. And also, we’re to be fellow citizens with each other. Think of the end of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. And so now an activity to go back and obliterate all that history? I mean, if there was a building named Calhoun Building at Hillsdale College named after John C. Calhoun, which is an impossibility, by the way, because we were enemies of John Calhoun back then…
HH: Every single male student in the college, correct?
LA: Yeah, that’s right.
LA: That’s right. Well, first of all, I’d be embarrassed about it.
LA: And at a minimum, I wouldn’t talk much about it. But, and you know, I’d be looking for a way to get rid of it. So I don’t mind if they get rid of it. But I also think what is the temper in which we get rid of it, that you can draw one of two lessons from the example of John C. Calhoun, you know, who was, by the way, John C. Calhoun was a very important man, and in many senses, a great man.
HH: A vice president, a secretary of State. Unfortunately, his political theory is reprehensible.
LA: Very much, yeah. But you know, parts of him, like he was for building a great nation. He was for the Union. He was for internal improvements. You know, he wanted all that stuff. Later, people than him who led the Confederacy were against a lot of that stuff, of course, especially the Union. But, so there’s a lot of good in Calhoun, at least in his policies. But gracious, he was a scientific, evolutionary utopian, and that makes him, by the way, one of the predecessors of the evolutionary thought that dominates the intellectual world today.
HH: But do you think they’ll ever get to that at Yale? They will not get there.
LA: Yeah, I don’t know.
HH: They will sit around in a circle and do show trials.
LA: It would be really great if they’d change that building’s name to Abraham Lincoln or…
HH: Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing?
LA: Yeah, but they won’t do that.
HH: Or Ronald Reagan College.
LA: Yeah, that’d be good. And, but they, you know, you see, remember that the reason this stuff is particularly disastrous, in my opinion, in a college, is that the word college means partnership. It’s supposed to be two steps. It takes two steps. One is you agree to study in order to build your character to a state of virtue, and your intellect to a state of wisdom. That’s the goal. And there’s certain practices that you have to have to do that. That’s the first step, agree all of that as one, all us human beings with the God-given capacity to undertake that, right? Step two is, now…
HH: Wait, step two’s got to wait until after the break. Talking to Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College. Hillsdale is Latin for lifeboat, America.
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HH: When we went to break, Dr. Arnn, you were going to say the second thing we need to do?
LA: After you establish the unity that makes a college possible, and remember the word college and the word university are both words that indicate a common project among all. Then the second thing you do is you get to arguing, but you argue toward the building of a friendship. And so what we’re doing today is we are playing out this doctrine that started with the, with, you know, Hegel and the 19th Century historicist movement, comes to America through Frank Goodnow and John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson. And that idea is that our understanding is compromised by our experiences, and among, and the experiences that are red hot today, we’ve gone from, the left has gone from a focus on property, which it retains, to a focus on race, which it retains, and now a focus on sex. And so that’s about all three things, right? And so the great, you know, the gender identity list of evils is very long, right? There’s a hundred ways to discriminate against somebody’s sexual identity, because there are many of those now, right?
LA: And so there’s these things that are to be eradicated, but also respected, you see? What they do is they break the university into a diversity. And I invite the listeners to just look up those two words. The etymologies are roots of university and diversity, and see if they think they are compatible.
HH: Even at the same time that the President pretends to care about unity, let me play for you cut number 15, Dr. Arnn.
BO: When I hear folks say that well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution? That’s shameful. That’s not American. It’s not who we are.
HH: Dr. Arnn, he is saying that he’s for unity, but in fact, he’s pressuring diversity in its worst ideal.
LA: Well, the main thing is nobody has a right to come to the United States of America. Every legal community has a right to control its own borders. And so today, Paul Ryan, who’s by the way very refreshing the last couple of days, I’m not surprised about that, he’s saying we should have a pause, that we should not have a religious test, we should have a security test.
LA: He said that on the floor of the House this morning. And he said that, and he said that the executive branch should certify that somebody is safe before they let them in. And you know, they don’t have any means of doing that right now. And so it would be for the executive branch, it would be for the president of the United States to get off his duff with the great power that he’s got and figure out a way to help these people safely to the American people. And instead, they say well, we’re looking as hard as we can, which means not looking very hard, it sounds like.
HH: Not looking very hard, yeah.
LA: And you know, last night, there was a meeting between, Ryan has put together this task force of several heads of committees in Congress that deal with security, internal and external, and they met with some guys from the Homeland Security Department and the FBI, I think, and they asked them a lot of questions, and they didn’t like the answers they got. Now this would be the specific function of Congress in overseeing the executive branch to figure out if what they’re doing makes sense. And that way, that is how we have a government that has checks and balances. And so the President, of course, lashes out at him. It’s his business, right? He’s fighting his political battles. Let him fight them. But he’s lashing out at them saying that, he’s calling them every kind of bad thing. And he’s saying let them in, right? Well, should we let them in? If the question is should we help them to the limit of our ability, we should surely do that. We should do that. And it would be for the most powerful man in America, the president, to figure out a way to do that, that answers all the questions. That makes his job harder.
HH: And to, in fact, advance, to advance doing that, he would have to say my Republican friends have many legitimate concerns which I will address in the following ways. That’s how you would, that’s how Lincoln would do it. And I mean, that’s how he tried to do it in the Second Inaugural. I’ll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn. I’ve got to play for him the most amazing President Obama quote of a terrible week. Don’t go anywhere, America, it’s the Hillsdale Dialogue.
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HH: Dr. Arnn, I had extended conversations this week with Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, both of whom bristled at the idea that the President is attributing to them anti-American, as did Ted Cruz. He said you know, I’m glad that he can insult me, as did any, you know, principled person who’s concerned about security. My question actually goes to motive, because the President, you know, if Lincoln wanted to heal, he would invite healing with candor as to why there could not be healing. Contrast that with President Obama in the Philippines on Tuesday, cut number 18:
BO: These are the same folks often times who suggest that they’re so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL, or using some additional rhetoric somehow is going to solve the problems out there. But apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. Now first, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates. Now, they’re worried about three year old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me. They’ve been playing on fear in order to try to score political points, or to advance their campaigns. And it’s irresponsible. And it’s contrary to who we are. And it needs to stop, because the world is watching.
HH: Larry Arnn, he is referencing a conversation on this show that I had with Governor Christie where I asked hypothetically, would you allow in three year old orphans, and maybe I said five year old orphans, and Chris Christie said no, look, Hugh, there are 18 million hypotheticals, and right now, we have to stop and figure out what we’re doing. And then, after he made that speech, Marco Rubio said this is a president for whom everything always focuses on the petty. And you know, I thought Rubio hit a home run with that. That’s exactly what he is. He’s petty.
LA: Yeah, well, I’ll add something to that, and that is back in the day when we had a unified country, and we had public officials who respected that above their own career, the president of the United States, presidents of the United States did not go abroad and launch partisan attacks on their opponents in front of people abroad, especially in time of war.
HH: Oh, it’s the reverse. We used to have a rule that when the President was abroad, no one would criticize him here. Now, the new rule is when the President is abroad, he will criticize everyone here.
LA: Yeah, and see, that’s just, you know, the sin of Woodrow Wilson in the Paris talks that ended World War I was that he didn’t consult with the Republicans. But he didn’t go over there and upbraid them. And so, and you know, Franklin Roosevelt, by the way, and better, Harry Truman, built the American structure of international security through consultation with the Republicans mostly in the minority in Congress. And so this is wrong-headed in a big way. And you know, what you say about that? I mean, I could go show you how Franklin Roosevelt talked about things like that, was of course, we have a free country. We’re having debates about everything. But I can assure you that America’s going to play a great part in all this, and a leading part. If he’d say that and shut up, that’d be enough.
HH: So the question becomes how to respond to this rhetoric, and how to respond to the outbursts at Yale and Missouri and other places where people are quite frankly afraid for their jobs. Thank God for tenure at some of these institutions, but I do wonder whether or not this can be sustained either with a president who is so feckless, or a university elite that is so clueless?
LA: Well, it’s, you know, you’ve got to, people have to ask themselves how they want their kids to grow up. And you know, you, this is the opposite way that education has been carried on for centuries, what we’re doing now. And it’s, you know, Roger Kimball wrote in the Wall Street Journal a very good article that refers to Cry Bullies, you know, and micro-aggressions, right?
HH: Cry Bullies, so people can understand.
LA: Yeah, Cry Bullies.
HH: You did that in your Arkansas accent, so it went over the head of many people, like Tom Cotton frequently does.
LA: Yeah, so they’re crying all the time, right, but they’re bullies, too, because they’re not, you know, they’re complaining about micro-aggressions, but you know, they’re getting people fired, and ending their careers, and calling them the worst names.
HH: People whose lives have been dedicated to the good, people whose lives have been invested in the improvement of young people, people who are unquestionably public servants are being ruined by 18-22 year olds who do not really understand what they’re doing.
LA: Yeah, and see, I don’t, some of those guys, I think they’re just doing, they’re not doing a good job by my lights. But never mind. You know, one of the things about a college campus is at Hillsdale College, we don’t have rules against racial slurs or gay slurs. We have rules against slurs, you know? You’re supposed to be civil with each other. And we don’t really have rules about that. If somebody is uncivil with somebody, we call them in and say what’s that about, are we supposed to be doing that? And you know, the reaction, in 99.9% of the cases is sorry about that, won’t do it again. And so you need latitude to argue, but you’re supposed to be respecting each other while you do it. And these places are, you know, it’s just a kind of a combat for control of the place, is what’s going on. And that disrupts the work of the place, and that’s what’s so sad about this.
HH: Now last, with our two minutes left, that is sad. That might be remedied, because I think the American people are with you, Larry Arnn, and with Hillsdale, and with others who stand with you, but that’s an internal issue. About this war which is metastasizing, what do you think is happening here? What’s the near term and the intermediate term?
LA: We need to get ourselves organized to fight these guys, because there are a lot of them, and they’re taking over a part of the world that gives them a base to spread assassination and death all over the world. And so we need, and as I say, first of all, identify the enemy, right? These people are tyrants, and they are murderers. And so, and then the second thing is figure out where they are weak and hit them there. And another thing is these steps, you know, I would get the American people involved, large numbers of them, involved in the defense of the homeland of the United States.
HH: You know what’s interesting? Ted Koppel’s new book, Lights Out, is about his father, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany as a Jew being part of the home defense. Hold on, Dr. Arnn, we’re going to go an extra three minutes, because I want to finish this thought, and how important it was, even though his father had a trash can and a broom, that he was part of the effort to fight the Nazis. Don’t go anywhere.
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HH: Dr. Arnn, you were mentioning involving large parts of the American people. I mentioned I interviewed Ted Koppel on Wednesday about his new book, Lights Out, terrific book. But I did not realize both of his parents were German Jews who fled. They met in England. He was born in 1940. He remembers the War, and he remembers his father going out in the Civilian Defense. And though he was old and not much use, he had a trash can lid and a broom for when the incendiaries fell.
HH: That meant a lot to Ted Koppel. It meant a lot to his father.
LA: They had, in Britain, Churchill makes a lot of this. They had close to two million men in the Home Guard, never went abroad, right? My wife’s father was a leftenant colonel of a territory army regiment which was activated and sent to war to very hard places in all the big wars. But they lived their lives as civilians. And so we need to look, remember, these people are after us, and their strategy is to use the fact that everything, we have great wealth, but everything we do in war is very expensive. So why don’t we counter that, see, because it’s the character of our society that we own it, each individual one of us, and we have a motive to defend it. And so it should be cheap and easy to organize the American people to repel these threats. And that, you know, there’s all kinds of complications in that, but this way, we’re losing this war, and we should get ahead and start winning it.
HH: And that is why although we have not talked about Churchill’s Trial, if you want to know what that means, go get a copy of Churchill’s Trial, Dr. Larry Arnn’s brand new book. It’s available at www.hillsdsale.edu. It’s available at Amazon. It’s linked over at Hughhewitt.com. And it is all that you need to solve for a very collectively tortured soul. Dr. Arnn, safe travel to you from California or wherever you’re headed. I hope you’re going somewhere cold.
LA: (laughing) Not yet.
HH: Not yet. I knew it. You’re probably going to Hawaii.
HH: Whenever you do the Hawaii Hillsdale friendraiser, they never ask for money at a Hillsdale event, by the way, do you?
LA: We do not. We do not.
HH: You do not.
LA: And people give us money because they like it. And if they don’t like it, they don’t give us money. And then that means we don’t have to quarrel with them later.
HH: And I’m telling you right now, Hillsdale is Latin for lifeboat. You ought to sign up to get Imprimis at www.hillsdale.edu. It’s a free speech digest. All of these dialogues available at www.hughforhillsdale.com. Each and every one of them, and all of the online courses, including the online course that is currently wrapping up about Churchill, and the one that is about to begin about C.S. Lewis, they are all available for the asking, for free, for your home schooling, for your own edification, at www.hillsdale.edu, and of course, www.hughforhillsdale.com.
End of interview.