George Will loves to use the word “traduce.” It’s one of those words that sounds real smart, but in the end just conceals the absence of actual reasoning:

>In 1943, the Supreme Court, affirming the right of Jehovah’s Witnesses children to refuse to pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag in schools, declared: “No official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” Today that principle is routinely traduced, coast to coast, by officials who are petty in several senses.

>They are teachers at public universities, in schools of social work. A study prepared by the National Association of Scholars, a group that combats political correctness on campuses, reviews social work education programs at 10 major public universities and comes to this conclusion: Such programs mandate an ideological orthodoxy to which students must subscribe concerning “social justice” and “oppression.”

Teachers at public universities are not “officials” in the same sense as those enforcing the saying of the “Pledge of Allegiance.” At best, they are officials enforcing “orthodoxy” in a very extended and analogous sense.

The real presumption of this piece, however, consists in Will’s sneering (always sneering he is) and ironic dismissal of social work. He doesn’t think, so it appears, that social work rises above the level of shallow opinion-mongering–the kind that gets protected by the First Amendment. He writes:

>In 1997, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) adopted a surreptitious political agenda in the form of a new code of ethics, enjoining social workers to advocate for social justice “from local to global levels.” A widely used textbook — “Direct Social Work Practice: Theory and Skill” — declares that promoting “social and economic justice” is especially imperative as a response to “the conservative trends of the past three decades.” Clearly, in the social work profession’s catechism, whatever social and economic justice are, they are the opposite of conservatism.

If it’s so clear, then he wouldn’t need to say clearly. It isn’t clear. And it’s only a textbook. A textbook, as a professor who employs them can attest, isn’t some kind of set of beliefs to which one must subscribe and whose contents one must slavishly and mindlessly repeat. The study of any discipline, as Will seems to think, doesn’t consist in the inculcation of doctrinal maxims–anecdotal evidence (as Will goes on to offer) doesn’t establish that fact.

Besides, social work, on account of its “social” work, stands in marked contrast in its orientation and objective from every single one of George Will’s conservative ideological principles. But that fact alone does not, as Will seems to think, mean its equally unjustified and ideological.