Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Academic "Professionals" ?

David Horowitz writes about his experience giving a talk at the University of Hawaii and the boorish and hostile reception he received at the Department of Political Science, one of the supposed "sponsors" of the talk. I recommend you read the entire article. The part that struck me the most was the following:

The first thing I noticed was that the Chairman's office door was adorned with a large Anti-Iraq War poster. I have made a personal campaign against such political statements on professorial offices. Students go to theste offices for counseling. Such partisan statements create a wall between the professor and the student who it is his or her professional responsibility to help. They serve no purpose but to vent the spleen of these tenured individuals who are apparently so frustrated as to be unable to maintain minimal self-discipline in the presence of a captive audience students who -- if they disagree with the statements -- have no choice but to suffer them. I asked Jamie, who is a senior and whose father served this country in the military, if he had ever taken a course with Professor Hiller. When he said no, I asked him why. He pointed at the sign.

When we go to our doctors' offices we don't expect to see signs on their office doors making political statements attacking the war in Iraq or attacking those who oppose it. That's because doctors are professionals and have taken an oath to minister to all their patients regardless of their political beliefs. Why can't we expect the same professionalism and decency from our professors?

I've wondered the same thing. If I saw a political poster like that up in a doctor's waiting room, I'd leave that office as fast as my feet could take me. How could I entrust my life to someone who felt compelled to spew his political beliefs to helpless patients coming to him (or her) for relief of their suffering?

Likewise, how can we entrust the vulnerable minds of our young people to the rabid emotions of professors who want to indoctrinate, rather than teach those minds? Sometimes, whether you are young or old, it is hard to tell the difference between the two, but permitting a student the freedom to make up his or her own mind when presented with the facts, is a clue that being taught to think is the goal; as opposed to being forced to regurgitate a professor's thoughts.

True respect for the developing mind means you don't have to pressure them to think a certain way, nor would respect entail putting up posters to make sure they know what they are supposed to think in your department. Even the dimmest bulb is going to eventually wonder why anyone who thinks differently is automatically labeled a Fascist.

The definition of Fascism is "a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of all opposition." This is exactly the behavior in academia that Horowitz and many others are speaking out against.

The protestor signs that said "No Academic Freedom for Fascists" is undoubtedly a rather blatant psychological projection on the part of a dictatorial academic regime whose leaders wish to completely control all ideas and suppress anything and anyone they don't like.

You might say that a psychological corollary to Godwin's Law is that whoever first brings up the whole Hitler/Fascism thing is conveying the structure of his own psychological defensive processes; more than saying anything of particular value about someone else.

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