Thursday, May 29, 2003

Commissioner's homework assignment 

OK, so what about this memo? James Lileks says it's not surprising, that journalists have a lot of unexamined biases and that editors tire of the battle after a bit. I think that's probably right, and makes journalists really no different from professors (and I suspect anyone else, but I'll stick to what I pretend to know.) There are literally hundreds of examples of faculty that don't understand how their words are seen as containing bias, as a cursory visit to will tell you. It sometimes goes further; for example, this particular comment in a rebuttal on NoIndoctrination.
I sometimes get such glib, knee-jerk patriotic "you hurt my feelings" reactions to my lectures. For many of my students, I am their first encounter with the stark reality of the world at large. I expect to be attacked by people whose reality has been largely formed thorough indoctrination into unchallenged patriotism, unexamined Christianity, and a general absence of understanding of world history, especially the role of multinational corporations and the U.S. military in neocolonial ventures. Yes, I do occasionally "soapbox" on topics involving our species' headlong plunge into self-destruction (after all, I do teach anthropology, the study of people). I am guilty of placing the Earth, all its living systems, and human well-being above corporate greed, national policy, hegemonic religion, and the "comfort level" of students in my class. For every "griper" like the one I am responding to on your site, I can furnish dozens of students whose lives have been empowered by my influence.
No, on second thought, perhaps it's worse in the professoriate.

To show it further, Mr. Commissioner, we should connect this to Mike Adams. Prof. Adams teaches at UNC-Wilmington, a place quite similar to SCSU. He performed an "experiment on diversity" by alternatively placing Clinton/Gore and Bush4Prez bumperstickers on his office door. Guess which one drew protest?

Lileks' shrug reminded me of Erin O'Connor's observation in the Adams case

A recurring question posted by commenters on this site centers on the problem of what, if anything, can be done to rescue American higher education from its rapid descent into politicized vacuity. Some say abolish tenure, some say abolish second- and third-rate colleges, some say abolish racial and gender preferences, some say defend the First Amendment. All are, in my opinion, necessary; none, in my opinion, addresses more than a tiny corner of the larger mess. I don't have answers, but I have long noted with frustration that those who do, or think they do, ... don't seem to be able to attract the sort of audience the issue ought to attract. ...they are either hysterically shrill and humorless or ploddingly dull and humorless. Either way, the writing isn't terribly lively; either way, the authors miss the opportunity to use the galvanizing power of humor to reach readers and to bring those readers together in a shared, ultimately non-partisan, sense of purpose.
I don't know about this; perhaps it's because he's preaching to the choir, but I wouldn't call Thomas Sowell either shrill or dull. And when you attempt to be humorous in direct debate with those with whom you disagree, they try to shut down debate or institute other ridiculous rules. As our own Jack has observed, for every Mike Adams, there are several hundred others whispering behind closed doors, in fear of being found out to disagree with the collectivist paradigm that grips our campuses.

It would come as no surprise to me if we found out somehow that dozens of editors have the same thoughts John Carroll expressed but lived in fear of having a memo published as his has now been. It would also be no surprise if he's now vilified "to discourage the others." (See Eric Alterman on Bernard Goldberg, e.g.)