Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Academia Under Siege

My, what a ruckus that Ward Churchill has caused. His antics at the University Colorado are only the tip of the iceberg as many who follow the exploits of the left on American’s college and university campuses. Not only is Churchill himself under fire for his extreme views on the cause of the 9/11 attacks, but across the nation other professors who share his theories are feeling the heat as well.

This professor in upstate NY experienced such a backlash about an invitation that was extended to Churchill to speak at Hamilton College. If one digs a little deeper it turns out that Professor Rabinowitz is quite the radical herself, having once offered a teaching position to convicted leftist terrorist Susan Rosenberg. Hmmm, that’s the kind of college I want to send my kids to while paying the inflated costs associated with a private school. Of the nearly 160 responses from parents and alumni and the nearly 500 responses from the general public, very few supported the kind of hated that at the very least is tolerated on the campus of Hamilton College. Quite the tribute to Alexander Hamilton for which the school is named, I am sure he would be very proud as well as the college’s founder Samuel Kirkland since it was a foundation bearing his name that extended the invitation. Needless to say the college canceled the invitation and Professor Rabinowitz has stepped down from her role in the Kirkland Foundation.

Down the road at the University of Pennsylvania another professor is under fire from his agreement with Churchill’s core argument and his assertion that 9/11 was an “inside job”. Professor Francisco Gil-White is crying that his contract at the university maybe not be extended because of his views about 9/11 and the website that he serves as deputy editor for. I hesitantly link to his site, but as you will see for yourself the views are so far out there as to be simply unbelievable. Maybe not that far out there when you consider that one of the courses that Gil-White teaches is the Psychology of Ethnicity. Now if any of my faithful readers has a clue what that course covers by all means please enlighten me because I have no frigging idea.

Now it seems to me that if the University of Pennsylvania has been willing to tolerant Gil-White’s political views for the past four years why try to push him out now? It turns out their complaint and reason given for only offering a one-year contract was that “questions emerged" about the quality of his research and teaching according to Penn psychology chair Robert DeRubeis in a written response to Gil-White’s accusations. That seems entirely plausible if you even read his material for 5 minutes, no I think that Gil-White is trying to capitalize on the Churchill incident and crying fire where there is none. The full story is here for your review.

There is some debate as to whether publicly funded professors enjoy the same freedom of speech as the general public. The Colorado legislature does not seem to think so and are proposing a law that would require new rules for reaching tenure and maintaining here at the university level. The article describing their efforts can be found here. The bill was already being debated before the Churchill madness erupted and according to authors is an attempt to protect conservative students from leftist professors who outright penalize or intimidate students in to not expressing ideas or raising topics that are in opposition to the professors own views. I am not sure what chance it has of passing, but if there is in fact "academic bullying" going on in the Colorado University system then they have a larger issue of hiring the wrong people to teach America’s youth. One of the greatest failures of primary schools is not teaching our children to express their opinions and stand up for what they believe in, I personally blame rampant political correctness but that is another topic for another time.

In my mind there is no debate about whether professors should speak their minds, as deplorable their views might be, the gift of freedom to speak one’s mind has been bought and paid for by the blood and sacrifice of many men and women over the history of this great nation. While parents and the public might cry outrage at what is being taught in universities and colleges today the simple fact is that this countries higher education system is a business and with any business we the public have a decision to spend our money at that vendor of education or move on to another college or university that more matches our own views and opinions.

If we do our jobs as parents and prepare our children to take in all opposing viewpoints and opinions with a grain of salt and not accept things on blind faith then all the Churchill’s in the world will not make a difference and will be discarded to the ash heap of history upon further examination of their opinions. Children are amazing in that regard, when they are growing up they question everything and anything and that’s how they learn. As they grow up and mature the insane curiosity they possess is lost as they become lazy and more accepting of “popular opinion” or what they are told.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t advocate a nation of cynics or skeptics but it seems that we for the most part have lost our desire to question for the sake of gaining knowledge. Knowledge that has not been earned has no value to the one who simply gained it by walking on the shoulders of others. But knowledge that is earned has greater value then gold to the recipient, maybe that explains why Americans value education so greatly.

So in the end it is the laziness of students, faculty, administrators, and parents, even the public that people with “Churchill” opinions are allowed to continue and even flourish. These professors must be challenged at every turn without regard for the consequences of questioning the absurd. If they are not challenged and exposed then sadly when over time their views become the majority we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Well I think that’s enough for one day about the various professors and their “crazy talk” but I will make a prediction about the next one to be exposed. Take a gander at this article and let me know what you think. Have a wonderful day.

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