Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Scholarship to highest bidder 

Within the Armenian diaspora community there is a well-known story of the attempt to purchase a chair for scholarship of the Turkish version of the story of the Armenian genocide. I don't wish to go into details on this, but Peter Balakian -- whose book, Burning Tigris, was reviewed here during my travels earlier this month -- was instrumental in exposing the hoax that was perpetrated at Princeton (a similar attempt occurred at UCLA).

My NARN colleague Captain Ed has found that something similar is occurring regarding the study of the Vietnamese diaspora -- and found as well the hand of John Kerry.
[T]he Joiner Center failed to follow the protocols outlined in its research grant when selecting candidates for the Rockefeller Foundation fellowships offered for the grant. Among other actions, the Joiner Center allegedly failed to publish notices of the grant's availability until just before the deadline for applications expired, failed to advertise in any of the required scholarly journals which targeted the American Vietnamese community, and in general made it almost impossible for the scholars of that community to know about the paying jobs in time. The effect of this failure is to keep Vietnamese who emigrated to the US as adults in the Diaspora from taking part in the program, as younger members of academia already had some access to the grant information up front.

Why? Because the Joiner Center and UMass already had scholars in mind to study the forced migration of the South Vietnamese people. And half of those scholars came from the People's Republic of Viet Nam -- the same Communists who tortured and massacred the refugees into fleeing Viet Nam in the first place, after the fall of Saigon.
Something very fishy about that, and Ed reproduces a letter of praise for the project from Kerry. We cannot stress enough what the nature of the Vietnamese diaspora (and the democide perpetrated against its people) was like. The local Vietnamese community was furious with the handling of the grant applications. The Center, however, is a creation not for the study of Vietnam itself but of Vietnam veterans; the center's own publication has a decidedly anti-war tilt and doesn't seem to be designed really to look at Vietnam refugees. Small wonder, when the Center announces that it is trying to examine "new histories" of Vietnam and put them into high school classrooms.

Looking over its site for about half an hour as I did this morning, I cannot help but be struck by the leftist nature of the Center, and the fact that it invited PRV scholars to help study their own countries atrocities doesn't seem odd in the context. That Kerry would side with a center like this, given his history, also is unsurprising. I interviewed for a job at UM-B once (it's only about 55 miles from my hometown) and never was I more struck by a leftist campus, even more than the one I work at now. It was then, and seems to be now, a place of comfort for anti-war vets like John Kerry .