We learn from this IHE piece that Harvard economist Subramanian Swamy was apparently pretty distressed by last summer's hotel bombing in Mumbai, India by Muslim extremists. Swamy gave full vent to his feelings in a lengthy op ed piece there, arguing that Muslim terrorists were his native land's most pressing security problem. Shortly thereafter, he was in big trouble at Harvard where a group of Muslim students took offense and demanded that the university terminate his employment immediately. That didn't happen, but his faculty colleagues did an end-around by removing Swamy from the two courses he was slated to teach in the summer session for 2012. So: he hasn't been sacked, but he can't teach at Harvard either. His views, as one administrator termed them, are "destructive." I'll certainly grant you that they're controversial, but also well within the limits of controversy that an academic institution ought to be able to tolerate. It's good to see that many commenters in the response thread agree.
The substance of a legal education, especially at top-tier law schools is worse than bad, it's pretty awful. You'll apparently read lots of high theology about critical legal theory, feminist theory, Marxist theory, etc., etc. But it seems that if you want property, contracts or torts you'll have moonlight after you get your very expensive law degree. Law school sure isn't going to do it for you.
In this piece over at Minding the Campus, attorney David French discusses the impact of recent judicial decsions on college campus civil liberties. It's not looking good for evangelical Christian organizations - such as those at San Diego State University - who seem to have run afoul of the "good intentions" of senior administrators.
Recently, my colleague Ashley Thorne reported here on Yale University's abrupt decision to terminate a program devoted to the study of antisemitism. The program was the only one of its kind in the United States and seemed to be flourishing. So why was it terminated? Apparently because a recent conference had included an examination of antisemitism within parts of the comtemporary Islamic world. This prompted a letter from Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO's representative in the US, to Yale president Richard Levin, protesting the university's abettment of "anti-Arab extremism and hate mongering." A short time later, the program was toast.
But word comes today at Inside Higher Education that Yale has reconsidered. A new institute for the study of antisemitism is in the works. You can also read about it here at the CHE.
That's good news, and I'm glad that Yale and president Levin have had a change of heart. I also wish, though, that they hadn't caved in the first place.
In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal quotes Mark Zuckerberg, the kid from Harvard who heads the CEO of a company-not-yet-public. (Goldman-Sachs VIP insiders only, please). What disturbed me about the article is not that another company is breaking into the so-called China market after the Google row over censorship. I'm more disturbed by the mealy-mouth rationalization of Zuckerberg, who seems to have breathed in the multicultural fumes of higher education.
In an excellent Wall Street Journal piece, Andrew Ferguson, author of Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College writes about his visit to one of the schools where his son was accepted. It's a warts-and-all portrait of college life, heavy on the amenities and light on the academics. What little attention was given to academics is troubling: "The professor boasted of his history course, which had transformed merely curious students into 'social activists.' Under his guidance the young scholars read books by Sally Belfrage, author of the Cold War memoir 'UnAmerican Activities' and the socialist historian Howard Zinn, author of 'A People's History of the United States,' and they emerged 'ready to change the world.' So we have that to look forward to. "The professor's speech was just a hint of what was to come: Later my son told me that he had three choices for a mandatory writing class: 'History of the 1960s,' 'TV's Mad men,' and 'Intro to Queer Theory.'" I hope young Mr. Ferguson already knows how to write.
I don't know if the allegations in this piece are true, but if they are, it's a stunning example of the viciousness of the left toward those who challenge their favored politicians. A professor who ran against an incumbent Democrat in Oregon last year states that OSU is taking retribution against his children, who have excellent academic records. This calls for a serious investigation.
In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call Wendy McElroy takes a look at this progression on college campuses. First, Women's Studies programs emerged, followed by a sympathetic offshoot, "Men's Studies." Now there's a movement to create Male Studies. What is it all about? Advancing scholarship into new fields of knowledge? Or is this simply the balkanization of the curriculum, creating niche courses to keep a few professors happy?
You may have read about the latest attempt to make a classic work acceptable to contemporary PC sensibilities, in this case a new edition of Huckleberry Finn from which racial epithets - certainly authentic to the novel's social and historical setting - have been removed. It doesn't stop there, either.
In a series of posts Power Line Blog has been exposing the lurch of the National Endowment for the Humanities under Obama's appointee, Humanities Chairman Jim Leach, toward "political partisanship and rank buffoonery." In the latest of these posts Professor Penelope Blake describes, for example, an egregiously politicized and anti-American conference on the "Legacies of the Pacific War in WWII." Professor Blake rightly urges that Congress not approve the NEH's multi-million-dollar budget for 2011 until the agency eliminates its political agenda, supports objective scholarship, and offers forums which ensure diversity of opinion.
I'd like to share with you my post at American Culture on Christopher Hill's novel. I'm sorry to say I didn't know about this novel until I visited the Alexander Hamilton Institute last summer. Fortunately, I was driving, so I could load up my trunk with books from the bookstore. Hill's novel was one of the gems.
Scott Carlson, a blog author for the Chronicle of Higher Education, has a dogmatic article on college bottled-water bans. Here's the comment I posted on it:
I wrote about the anti-bottled water movement a couple years ago here. It's amazing to me that universities are taking away students' rights to purchase something (very healthy and wholesome) that they are willing to purchase. Yes, tap water is free, and wherever it is clean enough to drink it's a good idea to take advantage of that and save money. But if people want to pay for water, they shouldn't be banned from doing so. The anti-bottled water movement is part of sustainability's "change daily habits" strategy. Sustainability advocates seek to change our attitudes, values, and behavior, so they enact policies that train people to make small, daily adjustments by increments, until we've made it the basis for our moral compass. The campus "trayless dining" movement is also part of this strategy.
This recent race to ban bottled water strikes me as inimical to freedom. It could also turn out to be one of those bans that make the embargoed item even more alluring. There may soon be black market bottled water sales in dark corners of college campuses. Be on the watch for guilty-looking students hiding Evians in their backpacks until they can sneak sips back in their dorm rooms.
Former student “Lamar” transferred to a University of California campus this semester and was surprised to find himself ordered to attend two mandatory “workshops,” one on alcohol abuse and the other on sexual assault. “Lamar,” an adult in his 30s, Iraq War veteran, and parent, bridled at the paternalism/maternalism. “State law,” explained the school, referring him to AB 1088 (a compilation of cooked data, murky definitions, and propaganda which does not mandate "workshops").
What next?” asked “Lamar.” “An anti-tobacco workshop, a recycling workshop, an obesity workshop, a vegetarianism workshop? Already PETA made the college dining halls start a `Meatless Monday.’”
It may come to that. One neighboring community college just took an institutional position condemning the immigration law in another state. Apparently, embedding the progressive agenda in textbooks and curriculum is not enough in our postmodern world. Walter Truett Anderson says, “In education, postmodernism rejects the notion that the purpose of education is primarily to train a child’s cognitive capacity for reason . . . . [Instead, postmodern education] is to take an essentially indeterminate being and give it a social identity.” Mandatory workshops, it seems, are intended to bring that “indeterminate being” into conformance with “the campus culture” and “principles of community.” The sign on this clubhouse reads “No Unprogressives Allowed.” Just yesterday, “Jennifer” came to me desperate to get out of her Women’s History class. “I admit, I thought it would be an easy A,” she said, “but I also wanted to learn about the Enlightenment, and all I heard was how the Enlightenment oppressed women. Help!” Sorry, “Lamar” and “Jennifer;” you might have thought it died with the millennium but the baleful Political Correctness Zombie still stalks the halls of academe.
In April, Hamilton College American history professor Robert Paquette published an NAS article describing how the campus left insulates itself and bullies dissenters. As evidence, he cited the case of his former colleague Chris Hill, a libertarian teacher/scholar who was eliminated early from consideration for a tenure-track position. A few weeks later, Hamilton's Dean of the Faculty Joseph Urgo wrote Paquette a letter reprimanding him, demanding that the article be removed from the NAS website, and denying Paquette the right to serve on faculty search committees. National media took notice of the controversy this summer. Mark Bauerlein has a multi-part series at The Chronicle on questions surrounding the incident, and Scott Jaschik published "When Faculty Aren't Supposed to Talk" at Inside Higher Ed. Yesterday Professor Robert Paquette responded to the controversy in a new article, "Dictatorships and Double Standards, Part II." He gives his side of what happened, sets a few things straight, and provides evidence of further double standards at Hamilton. His story is well worth reading.
Gender equity full timers are at it again - you didn't really think, did you, that they'd run out of things to complain about? The earth-shaking injustice in their minds this time centers on college basketball: whenever double-headers featuring both men's and women's basketball teams are scheduled, the ladies usually play first, followed by the men's squad. Is that a big deal? Evidently the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights thinks so. On the basis of an anonymous complaint it received last March, OCR is now hard at work investigating several collegiate basketball conferences to determine whether, as the complainant alleges, such "sexist" scheduling demeans women's basketball. Inside Higher Education has the details here. But when you've read that, be sure to check out this recent piece by the always-lucid Christina Sommers. Feminist sports advocates, she notes, are in a big lather over the fact that men's sporting events typically draw much larger TV and live audiences than women's do. In this case, though, they aren't dealing with clandestine federal bureacrats or easily cowed college administrators, but with the actual public sports market where fans can freely adjust their TV channels or decide which games they want to attend. On that basis, female basketball teams may well see most of the crowd head for the exits if OCR decides to coerce college sports schedule makers into having the guys play first. I'm all for women playing basketball, needless to say, but if feminists win here, female athletes will likely lose.
Stephen Schwartz demolishes the claim by Georgetown Professor John L. Esposito that criticism of the mosque project amounts to "Islam-bashing charges leveled with no concrete evidence by pundits and politicians." Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs and director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, is the nation's leading apologist for Saudi Wahhabism, the Turkish fundamentalist Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Islamist ideologies in general. "To many," writes Schwartz, he personifies all that's wrong with Middle East studies in America today" -- notably, a gross and systematic denial of inconvenient facts. The same can be said of his blinkered championing of the proposed mosque.
Of interest to law professors, lawyers, and curious individuals, NAS has recently published three articles about law schools: “Conferring Privilege: DOJ, Law Schools, and the New Politics of Race” examines the Association of American Law Schools’ efforts to prevent racial colorblindness. “’They So Despise Her Politics’ - Do Conservative Faculty Candidates Get a Fair Shake?” presents documents in the lawsuit of an unsuccessful faculty candidate for a position at the University of Iowa College of Law who believes she was denied the appointment because of her politics. "Potemkin Admissions: Law Professors Propose to Hide LSAT Data" exposes a movement to persuade law schools to withhold LSAT scores from U.S. News and World Report. The idea is to make it harder for the public to see how much the pursuit of racial preferences drags down the quality of admissions. "They So Despise Her Politics" has received attention from the Daily Iowan, Instapundit, TaxProf Blog, and One Minute Lawyer.
Education needs a manifesto for a new humanism; sadly, Martha Nussbaum’s new book is not that manifesto. I had high hopes for Not for Profit but Dr. Nussbaum’s argument quickly becomes a tangle of faulty logic and ideology and notably stale seventies feminism. Why is she still pumping the wells of female victimization (while referencing the female president of Harvard) and the plight of African American children who lack role models (while noting the African American President of the United States)? At one point, she praises Mr. Obama’s personal values as developed by the progressive education she endorses. Then she indicts him for not supporting such education for others, raising the question of just what sort of person her recommended liberal education actually produces. When Nussbaum pleads for progressive schools (wherein teachers sagely guide students to discover and construct knowledge themselves), I think of Geoffrey Pyke [pictured] and his Malting House School (John Dewey meets William Golding). Although Dr. Nussbaum embraces Socratic self-examination, ideology blinds her to her own biases. She is pedantic when attacking pedantry, and she abhors “the dead hand of authority” yet repeatedly invokes the authority of Nobel Prize credentials. She advocates critical thinking to combat “demeaning stereotypes,” then proceeds to stereotype men, women, whites, and Southerners. Masculinity comes off badly unless it is “maternal” which, she implies, is the true essence of human nature (making masculine behavior an aberration, less than human). In this book, women are saintly and victimized (unless they are named Margaret Thatcher). Nussbaum scorns the image of the self-reliant cowboy, then, on the next page, explains that every child must develop “less need to call on others.” Decrying education that involves mere inculcation of facts (more Seventies flotsam), she later admits to the necessity for “a lot of factual knowledge.” Worse, Dr. Nussbaum extols the individual but avoids any mention of the tribalizing effects of multiculturalism and its diminution of . . . the individual. Among several straw man arguments, she condemns “the facile equation of Islam with terrorism” without mentioning just who ever assumed that equivalence. The values she prizes are particularly Western, giving her desire to spread them globally a whiff of cultural imperialism. And Dr. Nussbaum recommends role-playing to develop sympathy for "the other." I met an eyewitness from one progressive school in Northern California that did just that: to develop sympathy for slaves on a ship, teachers locked students in a Quonset hut, chained to their desks surrounded by rotting fish. In fact, Dr. Nussbaum’s book is a call not for a new humanism but for an old political correctness. She even warns that because artworks are so effective at creating empathy, teachers must exercise “careful selectivity” so that students do not read “defective forms of `literature’” which evoke unsocial feelings and “uneven sympathies.” Yikes! Goodbye Salinger, Twain, Poe, O’Conner, Dostoyevsky, and Kafka. With friends like Dr. Nussbaum, liberal arts education doesn’t need enemies.
I student of mine is applying for a job. Here is some of the verbiage on the job description page: "Strengthened by Diversity GCSU is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative-Action Institution committed to cultural, racial and multi-ethnic communities and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is expected that successful candidates share in this commitment." I note that they don't ask if the candidate is committed to quality scholarship, opposed to smoking, and being committed to rooting out obesity. How lacking in inclusivity!
This week in Frontpage Magazine Michelle Malkin has an article, "Hollywood and Howard Zinn's Marxist Education Project." Here's an excerpt:
Zinn’s objective is not to impart knowledge, but to instigate “change” and nurture a political “counterforce” (an echo of fellow radical academic and Hugo Chavez admirer Bill Ayers’ proclamation of education as the “motor-force of revolution”). Teachers are not supposed to teach facts in the school of Zinn. “There is no such thing as pure fact,” Zinn asserts. Educators are not supposed to emphasize individual academic achievement. They are supposed to “empower” student collectivism by emphasizing “the role of working people, women, people of color and organized social movements.” School officials are not facilitators of intellectual inquiry, but leaders of “social struggle.” Zinn and company have launched a nationwide education project in conjunction with the documentary. “A people’s history requires a people’s pedagogy to match,” Zinn preaches. The project is a collaboration between two “social justice” activist groups, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. [...] No part of the school curriculum is immune from the social justice makeover crew. Zinn’s partners at Rethinking Schools have even issued teaching guides to “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers” — which rejects the traditional white male patriarchal methods of teaching computation and statistics in favor of p.c.-ified number-crunching [see NAS's articles on this, "Social Changelings" and "Mathematical Deceptions"]. [...] Our students will continue to come in dead last in international testing. But no worries. With Howard Zinn and Hollywood leftists in charge, empty-headed young global citizens will have heavier guilt, wider social consciences and more hatred for America than any other students in the world.
In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I review the new AEI book The Politically Correct University. I recommend the book highly. It provides an excellent analysis of the problem of ideological imbalance and politicization that besets our higher education system and the closing chapters explore the prospects for change.
From the student newspaper of the University of Massachusetts is an article by Thomas Moore (the student, not the Utopian) about the new policy for U Mass RAs: Don't call it the "holiday season"; call it the "winter season." I had a hard enough time as it is finding a card to send to extended family that actually read "Merry Christmas" on the front. Most said "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" or "Ho, Ho, Ho!" I thought things were bad enough. Now U Mass will try to erase even the concept of a holiday season in the name of political correctness. Moore encourages the RAs to disregard the policy in the name of liberty and free expression of their beliefs. Let's hope that if they do disregard it, the university does not try to discipline them.
At a northeastern college the chair of a department also chaired a tenure and promotion committee that made a negative decision on an untenured associate professor. The associate professor under consideration had published many books and articles, and his publication record was better than the majority of tenured faculty at the institution. However, he had offended other of the senior faculty politically by outshining them. He was accused of lack of collegiality. The promotion committee rejected the tenure application, and that became news. Ultimately, the university's chancellor rescinded the committee's decision. Fast forward five years. Another professor, this time a full professor, offends the same departmental chair. The chair accuses the full professor of harrassing a female professor. The accusation of harassment is not referred to a personnel or EEO office, but is raised in a public, departmental meeting without investigation or hearing. The charges are discussed publicly. The departmental chair demands that a vote of censure be taken against the full professor. The full professor states that he was helping the untenured female professor and discussing a course with her, and that she does not claim that she was harassed. In other words, he was acting collegially. I deduce a simple conclusion for the politically incorrect: if you are collegial, you will be called a harasser. If you are a talented hard worker, you will be said to lack collegiality.
I have been reading Karl Popper's Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume I and am awestruck with Popper's scholarship and its relevance to currently percolating issues such as social justice education, political correctness and climate change research. Popper shows that Plato is at the root of totalitarianism. Plato re-defined justice to mean the individual's existence for the good of the state; conceived of a ruling elite given politically correct indoctrination; and advocated total social control of day-to-day life. Popper argues that Plato bases all of this on his tribalist and naturalist morality, that is, his belief that morals are rooted in nature. Much like today's environmentalists, Plato favored a return to primitive olden times before the innovation that had occurred in Athens. Plato defined justice just as social justice educators do, namely, that the just is what is socially good. The guardians, the ruling elite, were to receive a social justice-based education. Plato intensely disliked Athenian democracy and the steps that Pericles and others had made to define justice as equality before the law. Rather, public morality would be defined by the politically correct guardian class. Morality, moderation and justice would mean adherence to one's place and obedience to authority. Like Plato, today's environmentalists believe that the primitive is best and that human innovation is evil. Much as the cap and trade bill attempts to assert nationally centralized authority over day-day-life, overseen by a Platonic "administrator" or philosopher king, so Plato believed that the greatest virtues were to be obedient or to lead others.
An anonymous reader commenting on the NAS.org article "National Security Threatened by Devotion to Diversity" recently reported:
The diversity doctrine not only harms the quality of higher education and, quite possibly, national security; it can also get in the way of campus crime prevention. The following incident illustrates just that. On Tuesday, November 10, a woman employee at my college answered a knock on her office door. Upon opening the door, she was immediately sexually assaulted. A violent struggle ensued between her and her attacker. Due to her screams, the assailant eventually fled the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital and treated for her injuries. She was able to give a competent description of the man who assaulted her. The crime, committed in broad daylight, was scary enough. However, what followed was even scarier. In the aftermath of the crime, campus police posted a sketch and a description of the suspect. The perpetrator was described as a "stocky, five-foot-five Hispanic male" who wore a white sleeveless T-shirt and black gloves. Students and employees were urged to be aware of their surroundings and to alert campus police of any suspicious individuals fitting the description. So far, so good. Then, within 24 hours of the incident, the campus police chief sent a warning via college e-mail, asking that everyone "refrain from engaging in profiling." According to the chief, the sketch had resulted in a number of calls that had "inordinately focused on race, rather than suspicious behavior." The college president also chimed in, cautioning the campus community to not "stereotype anyone on a visual basis," and a couple of well-known PC devotees on the faculty seconded the president's motion. It was truly laughable -- if it had not been so serious. Considering the possibility that descriptions of criminals by race, gender, color or ethnicity will soon be taboo -- and that estimates of a perpetrator's age, height and weight might also be viewed as politically incorrect -- I can easily envision the PC version of the crime that recently happened on my campus. It would sound something like this: "The victim was a person employed by the college. He/she described his/her attacker as another person. In an effort to avoid profiling, a sketch of the assailant will not be made public. What we can tell you is that the person wore a white sleeveless T-shirt and black gloves. However, we caution against any visual stereotyping, particularly of persons wearing white T-shirts and black gloves. We also urge everyone to focus on suspicious behavior, not on the person him/herself." Unfortunately, Army Chief of Staff George Casey does not have to worry about diversity becoming "a casualty." It looks like it is here to stay.
Sandra Stotsky has an excellent article in City Journal discussing how our education schools are failing to deliver on math education - because they have become over committed to some progressive ideas about math education which really don't work as well as traditional teacher-directed approaches. She notes that:
The heart of the disagreement between progressive math educators and mathematicians is whether students are acquiring a foundation in arithmetic and other aspects of mathematics in the early grades that prepares them for authentic algebra coursework in grades 7, 8, and 9. If not, they then cannot successfully complete the advanced math courses in high school that will prepare them adequately for freshman college courses using mathematics.
In reading a bit about this subject, in seems that although there are many sincere and intelligent people on both sides of the debate, in the end it comes down to building curricula based on the best evidence of what works. As Stotsky suggests, a part of the problem with our ed schools is that they tend to produce only research which supports the researchers' own preconceptions. One supposes that part of the reason for this is that doing large-scale scientific studies has become so expensive. Nonetheless, if our ed schools wish to remain at all relevant they need to begin to hold themselves to higher evidentiary standards.
Economics professor Walter Block doesn't accept the politically correct feminist doctrine that the average earnings differential between men and women is due to employment discrimination and for that he has been pilloried as a "racist" and "sexist" by the administration at Loyola of New Orleans. Then, when he tries to clear his name and defend his position, the administration clams up. Read about it here. Academic liberals used to boast that they spoke "truth to power." Now that they're in power, they turn out to be a bunch of intolerant authoritarians.
As we face more and more threats to free speech and academic freedom from the emboldened left fringe, it is vital that we maintain organizations like the National Association of Scholars, our state affiliates, FIRE, and ACTA to be there for us when we need help. Paying dues in these difficult economic times may be something we consider cutting out, but it would prove to be a false economy if we were to personally face a crisis in our professional placement.
Macalester College president Brian Rosenberg models the new face of political correctness in his convocation speech “What Am I Doing Here?” Peter Wood takes a close look at the speech in "'Collective Certainty' at Work," at NAS.org. He finds that not only does the president's false "openness to views that are different from one’s own" disserve Macalester, it also provides a glimpse into the spirit of campus political correctness:
It seems to us that President Rosenberg’s speech has value beyond Macalester College as an unusually vivid display of the arrogance and hypocrisy of the academic left in full flood. He knows the right things to say, and he says them. And then he reassures his audience that they really don’t matter. Diffidence about expressing political views, considerate attention to disfavored ideas, and wariness toward the tyranny of the majority are all nice—but we needn’t let them get in the way of our main agenda.
We are proud to announce the arrival of a new book, The Politically Correct University, published by the American Enterprise Institute, which features chapters by NAS's president Peter Wood and chairman Steve Balch. Dr. Wood’s chapter, “College Conformity 101: Where the Diversity of Ideas Meets the Idea of Diversity,” teases out the two contrasting meanings of the mysterious word “diversity,” and Dr. Balch's chapter, “The Route to Academic Pluralism,” sets out some practical tactics for reforming higher education. Other authors in The Politically Correct University are friends and partners of NAS, such as Victor Davis Hanson, Anne Neal, and Stanley Rothman. The Politically Correct University is available for purchase here.
It seems that you had better be very very careful of what you say and to whom you say it at the College of William and Mary, where the administration has recently instituted a new "Bias Reporting Team," complete with its own web page. Among the features of this newest academic venture in promoting "tolerance," "diversity," and "respect" on campus is an Orwellian system of anonymous accusation and secret investigations, the maintenance of elaborate data bases, and an extensive administrative mechanism, in which the college president will be directly involved. Although "Bias" is very briefly and vaguely defined, there is an exhaustive elaboration of the ways in which it can be reported to the "Bias Team." Anyone uncertain as to whether an incident constitutes "bias" is strongly encouraged to inform the "team," which will then determine if it's the real thing. The "bias" web page doesn't seem to provide for instances of fraudulent, frivolous, or malicious allegations, and the rights of anyone accused aren't elaborated either. Although a small disclaimer declares, "William and Mary values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas," we aren't at all reassured.