Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Someday They Will Overcome...Something

Bruce Thornton at VDH Private Papers discusses the "Smoking Gun" at Columbia University investigation into faculty accused by students of anti-semitism:

The smoking gun, however, is the inclusion in the committee of people who signed the divestiture petition, for that sorry document expresses the bizarre, ideologically driven bias against Israel characterizing too many academics, as can be seen in the initiative's preamble: "We, the undersigned, are appalled by the human rights abuses against Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government, the continual military occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers, the forcible eviction of Palestinians from their homes, and the demolition of Palestinian dwellings, neighborhoods and towns." Not a word about terrorism and Islamikaze homicide bombers, not a word about Palestinian Authority corruption and abuses against their own people, not a word about Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, not a word about the Arab nations' three attempts to destroy the state of Israel. Even more offensive is the implied analogy with apartheid South Africa, the last nation to face the tactic of divestiture. This vicious analogy is utterly false, but it reflects the U.N. sanctioned slander that Zionism is a racist ideology. That academics, presumably trained to think critically and to respect truth, should publicly associate themselves with such an ideologically driven distortion of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab crisis bespeaks the extent of the political and intellectual corruption of higher education.

However, it is important to understand just how embedded this corruption is in every level of the academic institution, from its administrative structure to the kinds of scholarship it now rewards, for the politics and bias in the classroom ultimately are just one aspect of a larger set of assumptions and ideologies dominating higher education. Take, for example, committee member Jean E. Howard, a professor of English who signed the divestiture petition. Howard's approach to literature is a mixture of feminism and "new historicism," a fancy phrase for an old-fashioned marxiste determinist reduction of literature and ideas to material causes, particularly the social and political distribution of power.

For a flavor of Howard's kind of analysis and its jargonish prose, consider the following: "Materialist feminism is . . . [a] situated project of knowing, opposed to the class reductionism and economic determinism of classical Marxism but committed to the materialist position that oppression, whether by gender, race or class, involves more than 'prejudice', but is instantiated in exploitative divisions of labor, in unequal access to cultural resources (money, birth control, technical training, leisure)." In other words, literature is really about politics, and politics is about oppression and exclusion in much wider terms than "classical Marxism['s]" limited ones of class and economics. But oppression and exclusion require oppressors and excluders, and who do you think those villains are? What do you bet they're white males and capitalists and conservatives? This approach to literature is necessarily biased politically, and it grinds its ideological ax with the aim of changing students' minds to conform to the professor's ideology. Yet Howard was considered objective enough to judge fairly whether political bias exists in MEALAC courses.
Read the entire post. And then read this article in the Washington Post by an educational consultant who gently suggests that University professors "come back down to earth":

With faculty and administrations leading the way, political correctness and posturing -- from both the left and right -- is reaching dizzying heights in the land of the ivory tower. And rising right along with it is the frustration of middle-class parents, who are growing increasingly resentful of paying sky-high tuition for colleges they see offering their kids a menu of questionable courses and politically absurd campus climates that detract from the quality of a university education.

Duke University found itself in a crossfire after voluntarily hosting an anti-Israel group's annual national conference. The president of Columbia University had to appoint a commission to look into student charges that certain professors, with whose views on the Middle East conflict the students disagreed, were attempting to indoctrinate and intimidate them. Hamilton College issued a speaking invitation to a University of Colorado professor who had written an essay arguing that the 9/11 attacks were a justified reaction to U.S. policies abroad. And locally, a ruckus broke out at George Mason University after it invited filmmaker Michael Moore to campus -- and then disinvited him after receiving political pressure from Virginia lawmakers to cancel the speech.

Colleges have long been hotbeds of political agitation, of course. But where it was once students who did the acting out, as they spread their intellectual and philosophical wings, now the professors and administrators are more likely to be playing politics -- and more and more Americans with college-age kids are getting fed up with it. In 18 years of in-the-trenches experience counseling kids on their college choices, I've never seen the unhappiness as widespread as it is today. If colleges don't tone down the politics, and figure out how to control ballooning costs, they run the risk of turning off enough American consumers that many campuses could marginalize themselves right out of existence.

Thirty plus years ago those who are the current professors were just students acting out during the Vietnam war. Their legacy continues to infect our college campuses. I won't bother to detail the entire insanity of that time (those of us who lived through it can remember it well enough), which was driven by the love affair of the so-called intellectuals with Marxism.

Those students are the intellectual elites of today's campus. Since Marxism and its social experiments have been consigned to the dustbin of history, the object of their infatuation has changed somewhat. Nowadays they don't much care what they believe, as long as they are anti-American; anti-Israeli; anti-Freedom; anti-Capitalism. They cling tightly to the old formulas that seemed to work in the 60's and 70's, even chanting the same slogans and singing the same songs --which might have had real meaning in the past. Someday maybe they will overcome...the delusion that they stand for something.

Why should we care? Let those famous (and not so famous) Universities fail. Let those ivory towers collapse under the weight of their ideology. Most parents are intelligent enough to conclude that universities who employ and encourage such sophistry are not the kind of place they want to send their children or their money.

Other colleges and universities will replace them in the marketplace of ideas; and we will all be better off for it.

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