Sunday, February 20, 2005

Festering Bias

As a voracious reader of both fiction and non-fiction, I found this profoundly disturbing:

In exceptional cases, we find that a lone tale of egregious political correctness opens a window onto the pervasive, often carefully hidden, bias festering in today's academy. Last October, in an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal, I exposed what seemed but a single case of political correctness at Harvard University — the rejection by Harvard University Press of Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher's superb new book, The Case for Marriage. Four months later, it now looks like dislodging one great obscuring rock at Harvard Press allowed the sun to shine in on all manner of squirming, scampering mischief-makers.

When Harvard University Press, under highly unusual circumstances, rejected The Case for Marriage, it claimed that the book wasn't up to scholarly snuff. But the real sin of Waite and Gallagher was to debunk feminist orthodoxy by showing that marriage is not just another lifestyle choice, but the best available family arrangement.

Let me make it very clear that I am not interested one way or another in the particular subject of Kurtz' piece. The so-called "plight" of gays in this society who want to get "married" leaves me unmoved. And that pretty much goes for the rabid anti-gay types, too. In my opinion, the former are just another group of professional victims, and the latter are just another group of legislative thugs.

But the idea of one group or another controlling a university press is appalling. Academia should be the bastion of intellectual inquiry on all sides of a question, whatever that question may be, and no matter how controversial to the Left or the Right. The issue should not be the political correctness of the topic, but the scientific rigor of the discussion. Not the political persuasion of the author, but the intellectual quality of his or her thought.

Kurtz presents a catalog of the thought control exerted by the Harvard University Press editors, who, along with a majority of the Harvard University faculty, have turned what was once a great institution into an intellectual den of second-rate hacks. These guys and gals wouldn't get the point of "free intellectual inquiry" even if it were a baseball bat whacking them on the side of the head. Too bad it isn't.

Read Kurtz' entire dismaying piece. Think about the hundreds (if not thousands) of Ward Churchills on campuses across the US; puzzle over the unbelievable anti-free speech attacks on Larry Summers; consider the current goings-on at Columbia; the campus attacks on military recruiters; the attitudes expressed by academics here; or visit the FIRE website--and you will begin to get an idea of the festering bias that is rotting the intellectual institutions of our country.
Remember, these are the institutions that are supposedly teaching our children to think.

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