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Summertime, and the College Reading Is Liberal by Richard Bernstein

Remember Rigoberta Menchu? Twenty-five or so years ago, she, and the book “I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala,” were the rage in academia. Menchu had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work advancing the cause of indigenous Guatemalan women, and the book, which she co-wrote with Elizabeth Burgos-Debray, caught on, appearing on mandatory reading lists at schools, colleges, and universities all over the country.

I remember particularly a conference at St. Johns University in New Mexico where the debate topic was which book would have greater educational value, George Orwell’s “Burmese Days” or “I, Rigoberta Menchu.”
‘I, Rigoberta Menchu’ was the hot read of the early ’90’s.

Enough academic traditionalists were present for Orwell to garner a few votes, but the liberals wanted Menchu. She was relevant. She spoke for the oppressed people who had no voice, for diversity, ethnic and racial justice, for political virtue. She was the perfect counterpoint to the dominant white male culture, so slow, so reluctant to yield some place for minorities, women, native peoples.

Is anybody reading Rigoberta Menchu today? The book is ranked around 32,000 on Amazon, which indicates that it still sells, if modestly. But if the summer reading lists being assigned to the current crop of rising college freshmen is any indication, she’s had her time. The culture has moved on to other books of the moment.

Still, as the latest in an annual report on summer reading titles done by the National Association of Scholars shows, the trend represented by Menchu a quarter century ago – the trend favoring social justice, diversity, and immediate relevance – is, if anything, more dominant now. Menchu already represented a turn away from what were called, with a strong element of denigration, the white male classics, a yearning for otherness, for students to be alert to the struggle against racism and oppression, and that trend is ever more reflected in the books college freshmen are being asked to read, and to be ready for visits by the authors and small-group discussions on campus in the fall.

The scholars’ group is made up of politically moderate and conservative professors at numerous institutions of higher education across the country, generally united in their belief that an often-intolerant liberal orthodoxy threatens to wipe out genuine intellectual diversity. Not surprisingly, the group’s 191-page report, “Beach Books, 2016-17: What do Colleges and Universities Want Students to Read Outside Class?” comes to an unfavorable conclusion: that the choice of books is “banal and intellectually unchallenging” even as it mirrors liberal and progressive preferences, to the exclusion of contrary ideas.

Ideological Tribalism: Graduating Stepford Students by Linda Goudsmit

Freedom of speech is foundational. Without freedom of speech there are no other freedoms.

In a stunning new guide to colleges that ranks “a diversity of viewpoints and a culture of free and open discussion” New England colleges and universities are exposed as the most close-minded in a comparison of diversity of political and cultural points of view. Considering that the New England colleges and universities are some of the most prestigious in America and that they graduate future leaders and “authorities,” the study results are particularly disturbing.

Report: New England Colleges Worst in Country for ‘Viewpoint Diversity’

The silencing of Conservative voices on campus is a deliberate strategy to expand the widening echo chamber of left-wing liberal tenets of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism. Parochial schools are very clear in their mission to educate students in the particular tenets, customs, and ceremonies of their chosen religion. Religious schools freely and unapologetically attempt to perpetuate their religions through education. There is informed consent – the parents and students being fully aware of the purpose of their education.

The problem today is in non-parochial schools because parents believe their children are receiving a secular American education not a parochial education. The reality is that American students from pre-school through college are being indoctrinated in left-wing liberalism by their Leftist teachers. Leftism is the new religious orthodoxy of the Democratic Party and the Democrats are busy proselytizing their religion in the classroom. There is no informed consent and no consumer protections. There is only buyer beware.

Slowly parents are beginning to examine the content of the curricula their children are being exposed to and are rightfully alarmed by the anti-American, anti-establishment, anti-democracy lessons being taught. Their children are being propagandized toward anti-American collectivism and socialism every day all day.

Whoever controls the curriculum controls the future. Indoctrination presented as education is an abuse of power.

When liberal professors outnumber their conservative colleagues 28:1 a culture of ideological tribalism is created and freedom of speech ceases to exist. Conservative voices are silenced because the academic and social tyranny of the Left demands conformity. It is an ideological war that demands submission.

Tyranny cannot tolerate freedom of speech because in ideological wars words are the weapons. The Left is engaged in a very undemocratic effort to silence any voices of opposition. The tribal mind focuses on membership in the tribe as the absolute value which explains the malicious shunning and disparaging of anyone who disagrees. To be in the tribe one must demonstrate loyalty to the tribe and adhere to its cultural norms.

Instead of participating in the proud American tradition of open debate the Leftist leadership of the Democratic Party has adopted the tyranny of censorship, intimidation, and intolerance. Instead of encouraging respectful discourse for the merits of ideas to be debated the Left silences its opponents with its tyrannical demand for compliance to its tenets of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism. The Leftist orthodoxy silences any heterodoxy. The Democratic Party has devolved into ideological tribalism where membership in the group is determined by adherence to its orthodoxy.

University of Chicago Professor: Infanticide Is Morally Acceptable But when ‘progress’ equals murder, we should question his logic. By Jeff Cimmino

Jerry Coyne, a professor in the department of ecology and human evolution at the University of Chicago, recently posted a defense of killing disabled infants on his Why Evolution Is True blog:

If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on, then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born?

His argument, which is riddled with flaws and mistaken assumptions, begins with a claim commonly found in the works of pro-infanticide philosophers:

After all, newborn babies aren’t aware of death, aren’t nearly as sentient as an older child or adult, and have no rational faculties to make judgments (and if there’s severe mental disability, would never develop such faculties). It makes little sense to keep alive a suffering child who is doomed to die or suffer life in a vegetative or horribly painful state.

In short, lack of sentience and reason boosts the moral acceptability of killing deformed and handicapped infants. This reasoning makes sense only in a “throwaway culture,” which presumes that it’s right to discard the weakest and most vulnerable simply because they don’t meet an arbitrarily imposed marker of when life is worth saving.

It is the logic of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: eliminate any responsibility to care for the suffering by trying to remove all suffering. The problem, however, is that killing is a poor means of reducing pain and suffering. It fosters a culture that undermines the value of life. And this isn’t merely words on a page. In the Netherlands, for example, some patients have been euthanized because they were “tired of living,” as the Washington Post reported in a recent story on assisted suicide. Promoting death is a recipe for more suffering and loss, not less.

Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, and Patrick Lee, a professor of philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville, have pointed out, in “The Wrong of Abortion,” additional problems with this argument:

This argument is based on a false premise. It implicitly identifies the human person with a consciousness which inhabits (or is somehow associated with) and uses a body; the truth, however, is that we human persons are particular kinds of physical organisms. . . . We are not consciousnesses that possess or inhabit bodies. Rather, we are living bodily entities.

George and Lee continue by arguing that “it makes no sense to say that the human organism came to be at one point but the person — you or I — came to be at some later point,” because “to have destroyed the human organism that you are or I am even at an early stage of our lives would have been to have killed you or me.” Coyne’s primary claim, that lack of sentience or rational faculties significantly bolsters the case for killing disabled newborns, is flawed.

Coyne later tries to put a positive spin on his argument by asserting that changing views about euthanasia are “the result of a tide of increasing morality in our world, a tide described and explained by Steve Pinker in his superb book The Better Angels of Our Nature.”

U.K. University to Replace Portraits of Its Founding Fathers because They’re White It’s common sense that the people who gave a school the ability to be a school deserve to be recognized for that in the most prominent of ways. By Katherine Timpf

King’s College in London has announced that it will replace some of the portraits of its founding fathers from its main entrance because they are “white,” and that that might be “intimidating” to people who are not white.

The portraits will be replaced with those of “BME [black and ethnic minority] scholars,”according to a article in the Telegraph. All portraits of the school’s former deans will also be taken down from the main area and hung in other locations.

The replacement is being implemented by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience. The Institute’s dean of education, Patrick Leman, announced the changes, explaining that the old entrance was “alienating” because it was full of “busts of 1920s bearded men.”

According to the Telegraph, the “bearded men” represented in the busts that Leman is referring to are “believed to be” the British psychiatrist Dr. Henry Maudsley and neurologist Sir Frederick Mott — and the Institute “owes its existence” to these two people.

Yep. According to the Telegraph, there would be no Institute without a donation from Maudsley and 1896 course plans from Mott, and yet, they somehow still may not deserve to be honored in the main hall because they just so happen to be white dudes.

Now, to be fair, the Telegraph is reporting that only “some” of the King’s College founders are being replaced, so it isn’t absolutely certain that these two busts will be among the ones to go — although the fact that Leman brought them up specifically, and the fact that the Telegraph interviewed a descendant of Mott certainly does suggest that they will be, and that is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Professors Want Academia To Stop Citing Straight White Men By Tom Knighton

If you’re writing an academic paper on any given subject, you need to do your research and get your facts straight. No, I don’t mean about the topic you’re writing about. You see, you’re not a good academic if you don’t discover who the authors referenced in your footnotes like to sleep with.

Think I’m making this up? I wish:

Geographers Carrie Mott and Daniel Cockayne argued in a recent paper that [citing the work of straight, white men] perpetuates what they call “white heteromasculinism,” which they defined as a “system of oppression” that benefits only those who are “white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered.” (Cisgendered describes people whose gender identity matches their birth sex.)

Mott, a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Cockayne, who teaches at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, argued that scholars or researchers disproportionately cite the work of white men, thereby unfairly adding credence to the body of knowledge they offer while ignoring the voices of other groups, like women and black male academics. Although citation seems like a mundane practice, the feminist professors argue that citing someone’s work has implications on his or her ability to be hired, get promoted and obtain tenured status, among others.

“This important research has drawn direct attention to the continued underrepresentation and marginalization of women, people of color. … To cite narrowly, to only cite white men … or to only cite established scholars, does a disservice not only to researchers and writers who are othered by white heteromasculinism …,” they wrote in the paper published recently in the journal Gender, Place and Culture.

These two individuals actually want people to count up their citations, and then to calculate if “too many” reference white men who like women.

Yes, Martin Luther King, Jr. would get booted off campus as an oppressor for saying this today:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Of course, academia has most assuredly been trending Left towards this type of authoritarianism for decades, so watching these institutions destroy themselves with their own idiocy is kinda fun for me.

Report: Anti-Israel Textbooks Turning Young Americans Against Israel What does it mean for the U.S.-Israeli alliance long term? By P. David Hornik,

Are American college students turning against Israel? A report on the JNS (Jewish News Service) site says that they are — and “according to some experts,” their high school textbooks are the reason for it.

“According to the Brand Israel Group,” says JNS,

only 54 percent of U.S. college students lean more toward Israel than the Palestinians, down from 73 percent in 2010. The decrease was even sharper among Jewish college students, dropping from 84 percent to 57 percent.

The Brand Israel Group, described by The Times of Israel as a “loose consortium of volunteer marketing and advertising executives,” has been sounding the alarm about the problem.

Dr. Sandra Alfonsi, who runs Curriculum Watch for Hadassah, a Jewish women’s organization, told JNS that:

The problem starts in high school. … There’s no doubt the lack of sympathy for Israel on college campuses today is at least partly the result of several generations of teenagers being educated with textbooks that are slanted against Israel.

Among the most prominent of those textbooks is the Arab World Studies Notebook. It was authored by Audrey Parks Shabbas, a convert to Islam who, according to this site, “often tells her audience that she is both a Muslim and a Mayflower descendant who has lived nearly all her life in the United States.”

“Shabbas,” says JNS, “heads Arab World and Islamic Resources and School Services, a curriculum publisher that seeks to promote a positive image of Arabs and Muslims in U.S. schools.”

And, one might add, a negative image of Israel. Back in 2004, after parents in Anchorage, Alaska, complained about the Arab World Studies Notebook, the American Jewish Committee

found it to be riddled with “overt bias and unabashed propagandizing,” such as depicting Israel as the aggressor in every Arab-Israeli war and praising Muslim conquerors throughout the ages for their “gentle treatment of civilian populations.”

Shabbas has said that the Notebook has gone out to more than 10,000 teachers, and “if each notebook teaches 250 students over 10 years, then you’ve reached 25 million students.”

That’s a lot of students reading that Israel “tortur[es] and murder[s] hundreds of Palestinian women.” In 2011, parents of students at Newton South High School (in the Boston suburb of Newton) complained about a passage from the Notebook that makes that charge. The book was supposedly pulled from the curriculum, but an investigation found it was “still being used in Newton as late as the 2013-2014 school year.”

Harvard Aims to Restrict the Freedom of Association If you’re a Harvard student who joins a sorority, get ready to be hauled in front of a disciplinary board. By Noah Daponte-Smith

Harvard University is one of America’s great institutions. It is a place of scholarship, its name is renowned across the globe, and its prestige adds to American power and influence. Harvard plays a key role in the development of the American elite, where the future titans of industry, politics, and culture intermingle, learning from one another and honing their skills for their illustrious careers to come.

It is also, apparently, a place that has forgotten the virtues of free association.

That is the lesson to be learned from the Report of the Committee on Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations, made public earlier this week. The background: Last year, Drew Faust and Rakesh Khurana, respectively president of the university and dean of the college, announced that any member of an unrecognized single-gender social organization would be barred from holding leadership positions in recognized student organizations — including captaincies on sports teams — and from receiving the university’s endorsement for scholarships such as the Rhodes and the Marshall. Single-gender organizations, the reasoning went, run counter to the Harvard ethos, and the time for their elimination has come. Alumni objected, members of the organizations — the vaunted “final clubs” as well as run-of-the-mill fraternities and sororities — objected, and the student body voted overwhelmingly to repeal the sanctions. A new committee was convened, presumably to tone down the heat of the edicts.

The opposite has occurred. Instead of producing a policy more amenable to the various interest groups, the committee of faculty members and a few students has recommended that the policy take an even more radical direction. If the recommendations are implemented, students will be prohibited from joining or participating in “final clubs, fraternities and sororities, or other private, exclusionary social organizations that are exclusively or predominantly made up of Harvard students.” The purview of the edicts has expanded, from single-gender social organizations to all of them, and the prosecutorial power has increased: Those believed to be in violation of the policy will be hauled before the disciplinary board, not merely banned from the Rhodes scholarship.

That this constitutes an open attack on the freedom of association is obvious. If enacted, the policy will prohibit students from forming private clubs for the sake of discussion and enjoyment, among less salutary things. Doing so will carry the risk of serious censure from the university. The defense to be offered is the classical one, dating back to John Stuart Mill: Insofar as the freedom of association is an outgrowth of and accessory to the freedom of speech, it is a fundamental component of the university’s proper search for truth.

The typical response to the freedom-of-association argument is that the First Amendment, which codifies the principles in our constitutional regime, applies to the government, not to private actors, and that Harvard is free to impose whatever restrictions it likes on the conduct of its students. That is correct, as far as legal analysis goes. It would be fanciful to use the First Amendment as the basis of a legal case against Faust and Khurana. But this does not mean they have not violated one of its core principles, which aims to prescribe the ideal social ethic on the vast tapestry of American life.

Conservatives Are Right To Reject the Worth of Today’s Colleges By Tom Knighton

Growing up, I was told that college wasn’t just where the best and brightest should go, but also anyone who didn’t want to be a massive loser. While colleges tended to foster liberal ideas, conservatives certainly could find their place at many institutions of higher learning. Even most liberal professors would engage in intellectual debate with conservative students without rancor.

Of course, those days are long over. Today, colleges are actively hostile toward right-leaning students. Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle — noting that conservative support for the college experience has cratered from 58 percent to 36 percent in just a few years — addresses the situation:

Looking at this poll, Philip Bump of the Washington Post blames this on the focus “by conservative media on tensions at universities.”

“Conservative media,” he adds, “focused its attention on the idea of ‘safe spaces’ on college campuses, places where students would be sheltered from controversial or upsetting information or viewpoints. This idea quickly spread into a broader critique of left-wing culture, but anecdotal examples from individual universities, such as objections to scheduled speakers and warnings in classrooms, became a focal point.”

It’s the sort of theory that may sound plausible on first read, except … see the first sentence of this column. Conservatives in the media have been complaining about liberals in academia for a very long time — just about as long, in fact, as academia has been trending liberal. After all, William F. Buckley rose to fame, and midwifed the modern conservative movement, after writing “God and Man at Yale.” As the book’s title suggests, it complained that elite educational institutions were excessively secular, collectivist and disposed toward government intervention in the economy. It was first published in 1951.

So what changed?

Well, McArdle argues — and I completely agree — that colleges went from being places with a simple liberal bent to becoming dangerously hostile towards any right-of-center thought. We’ve seen riots because of right-leaning speakers at Berkeley and Middlebury. College campuses have made it clear that conservative and libertarian thinkers are persona non grata.

That’s not all, however:

Indeed, schools’ responses to leftists’ riots have been: to make it maximally inconvenient for conservatives to speak (or be heard); to deliver a slap on the wrist against violent protests; and to allow students to corner, bully and imprecate upon professors.

Academia is a left-wing institution, and I suspect that when the people in charge of it look at left-wing protesters, they see basically good-hearted kids who are overexuberant in their pursuit of the common good. And who wants to wreck the lives of a nice kid who made a bad mistake out of the best possible motives?

Whatever the reason that this has been allowed to happen, the picture that emerges from these events is of an academia where orderly conservatives are unwelcome, but disorderly — even violent — leftists are tolerated. No wonder conservatives’ opinion of academia is falling. CONTINUE AT SITE

An A for Activism on Campus The latest trend in college grade inflation.

Political agitation on campus can be hard work, and its rigors deserve to be recognized when professors are handing out student grades. Believe it or not, that’s a new theme at several schools of supposedly higher education where students have erupted.

Take Evergreen State College, where biology professor Bret Weinstein was harassed and advised by police to stay home after he opposed a racially segregated “Day of Absence” in which whites were told to stay off campus. The student haranguing was extreme enough that Evergreen president George Bridges was “apparently not free to go to the restroom on his own,” as Evergreen facilities engineer Rich Davis put it in an email obtained by these pages through a public records request.

But far from punishing students for such behavior, interim Evergreen provost Kenneth Tabbutt wrote in a May 25 email that “student protestors have diverted time and energy from their academic work to promote institutional change and social justice.” Professors have discretion on student evaluations, he added, so “I am asking that you consider the physical and emotional commitment the students have made and consider accommodations for that effort, including the learning that is going on outside of your program.” This is a novel spin on the old school of hard knocks.

In recent years administrators at Columbia, the New School and elsewhere have also encouraged grading concessions for students who chose protests over mere book learning. At Oberlin some 1,300 students unsuccessfully petitioned the school president for no failing grades for activists. Oberlin’s Black Student Union has also demanded an $8.20-per-hour stipend for student protesters’ “continuous organizing efforts.”

Today’s millennial activists aren’t likely to behave better if the punishment for antisocial or violent behavior is a higher GPA.

They’re Not All Crazy Center-left intellectuals blow the whistle on a Duke professor.

Could we be approaching the end of the Bernie Sanders era in liberal political thought? The pendulum has been swinging so fast and so far in the direction of radical leftism that even mainstream publications have become comfortable dismissing endorsements of western civilization itself as “alt-right” nativism. But a new book from a chaired history professor at Duke University could represent the end of the cycle.

In “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” Duke’s Nancy MacLean argues that Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan was not simply a pioneer in “public choice” theory, which holds that government officials act out of self-interest just like everyone else. In Ms. MacLean’s view, Buchanan was also the author of a plan to subvert democracy and favor rich white people.

Your humble correspondent has not read the book. And some readers of this column will say that a university professor flinging outlandish accusations at a critic of big government is not news. But what is news here is that Ms. MacLean’s book is not finding the public reception she might have expected. Yes, certain far-left pundits have praised the work, but the trade publication Inside Higher Ed writes that the “story keeps unfolding, with MacLean’s critics alleging inaccuracies and other problems with her book,” and “MacLean in turn alleging a coordinated attack against her by libertarian scholars.”

Many libertarian scholars have criticized her book. George Mason law professor David Bernstein is among those who have posted critiques on the Washington Post website.

But it’s not just libertarians who cite problems with the MacLean rendering of history. At Vox of all places, two academics who describe themselves as “on the center left” have written a piece entitled, “Even the intellectual left is drawn to conspiracy theories about the right. Resist them.” The authors write:

In language better suited to a Dan Brown novel than a serious nonfiction book, she describes Buchanan as an “evil genius,” and suggests he had a “diabolical” plan to permanently “shackle” democracy, so that the will of the majority would no longer influence government in core areas of the economy. In MacLean’s account, Buchanan, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on the contractual and constitutional bases of decision-making but is nearly unknown to the public, prepared the plan that the Koch brothers and other conservative funders and activists have been carrying out ever since.

The Vox contributors conclude: “MacLean is not only wrong in detail but mistaken in the fundamentals of her account.” Could it be that progressives have been moving left so quickly that the young adults at Vox have already become—at least in relative terms—the moderate elder statesmen of the movement? Perhaps the pendulum is starting to swing back. Regardless, it’s refreshing to see that at least one progressive website intends to help serve as a reality check on Duke’s history department.