Monday, October 08, 2007

A University or College Near You?

One of America’s greatest pundits, Michael Barone, says:

I am old enough to remember when America's colleges and universities seemed to be the most open-minded and intellectually rigorous institutions in our society.

Today, something very much like the opposite is true: America's colleges and universities have become, and have been for some decades, the most closed-minded and intellectually dishonest institutions in our society.

Colleges and universities today almost universally have speech codes, which prohibit speech deemed hurtful by others, particularly those who are deemed to be minorities (including women, who are a majority on most campuses these days).

They are enforced unequally, so that no one gets punished when students take copies of conservative alternative campus newspapers left for free distribution and dump them in the trash. But should a conservative student call some female students "water buffaloes," he is sentenced to take sensitivity training -- the campus version of communist re-education camps. The message comes through loud and clear. Some kinds of speech are protected, while others are punished.
The “water buffaloes” persecution occurred at the University of Pennsylvania. The Penn administrator who served as Grand Inquisitor and Re-education Director, Larry Moneta, was soon hired away by Duke University.

Duke’s trustees thought Moneta was the right person to serve as the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs.

In that capacity, Moneta helped develop and implement Duke’s disgraceful abandonment of its students as then Durham DA Mike Nifong and the Durham Police attempted to frame the students for gang rape as part of what MSM then called “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal.”

Moneta wasn’t alone in “throwing the students under the bus.” For many months Duke’s President, Richard Brodhead, its trustees and almost all Duke’s faculty either did nothing to help the students or actually acted to encourage an obvious attempt to railroad three innocent students into the penitentiary.

Barone continues:
Where did speech codes come from? There certainly weren't many when I was in college or law school. So far as I can tell, they originated after college and university administrators began using racial quotas and preferences to admit students -- starting with blacks, now including Hispanics and perhaps others -- who did not meet ordinary standards.

They were instituted, it seems, to prevent those students from feeling insulted and to free administrators from criticism for preferential treatment -- treatment that arguably violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (although Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the swing vote in the 2003 Supreme Court case on the subject, said they could continue another 25 years).

Racial quotas and preferences continue to be employed, as a recent article on UCLA makes clear, in spite of state laws forbidding them, and university administrators seem to derive much of their psychic income from their supposed generosity in employing them.

This, even though evidence compiled by UCLA Professor Richard Sander suggests they produce worse educational outcomes for their intended beneficiaries and even though Justice Clarence Thomas makes a persuasive case in his book "My Grandfather's Son" that they cast a stigma of inferiority on them.[…]
Stigma of inferiority?

I’ll pass on that and just say this: I’m a Duke alum who’s lived close to Duke’s campus for more than 30 years. I don’t know one sensible adult familiar with Duke’s trustees, administration and faculty who believes they would’ve reacted the same way they did to the Duke Hoax had the false accuser been white and the students black, instead of the other way around.

Barone goes on to say:
The students who were exempted from serving their country during the Vietnam War condemned not themselves but their country, and many sought tenured positions in academe to undermine what they considered a militaristic, imperialist, racist, exploitative, sexist, homophobic -- the list of complaints grew as the years went on -- country.

English departments have been packed by deconstructionists who insist that Shakespeare is no better than rap music, and history departments with multiculturalists who insist that all societies are morally equal except our own, which is morally inferior.

Economics departments and the hard sciences have mostly resisted such deterioration. But when Lawrence Summers, first-class economist and president of Harvard, suggested that more men than women may have the capacity to be first-rate scientists -- which is what the hard data showed -- then, off with his head.

This regnant campus culture helps to explain why Columbia University, which bars ROTC from campus on the ground that the military bars open homosexuals from service, welcomed Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose government publicly executes homosexuals.

It explains why Hofstra's law school invites to speak on legal ethics Lynn Stewart, a lawyer convicted of aiding and abetting a terrorist client and sentenced to 28 months in jail.

What it doesn't explain is why the rest of society is willing to support such institutions by paying huge tuitions, providing tax exemptions and making generous gifts. Suppression of campus speech has been admirably documented by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The promotion of bogus scholarship and idea-free propagandizing has been admirably documented by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. It's too bad the rest of America is not paying more attention.
It sure is.

Barone’s entire column is here.


Anonymous said...

When I was at (ahem) several universities in the 80's there was no speech code *and* the honor code about cheating was rigidly enforced.

I have read enough about the first to understand it, but I haven't heard much about the erosion of the second.

I wonder if they are connected?


Insuffficiently Sensitive said...

"But when Lawrence Summers, first-class economist and president of Harvard, suggested that more men than women may have the capacity to be first-rate scientists -- which is what the hard data showed -- then, off with his head."

Summers himself was too close to the post-modern 'progressive' mindset. He acted as Stalin's old Politburo buddies did, when placed in the dock at the show trials: he apologized and self-criticised to the feminist hyenas, and chucked in some University funds as a hopeful bribe.

That was not just a mistake and a useless gesture. He had the best chance any prominent administrator has had for years to provide some real leadership toward reasserting a University's locus as the place where ideas were defended and weighed.

He had sufficient status to stand on his hind legs and fire back publicly at those accusing him of heresy, to pull a Voltaire and point out that said hyenas obviously disagreed with what he said but would only defend to the death their own vicious prejudices, and that such behavior was NOT WHAT HARVARD UNIVERSITY WAS IN BUSINESS FOR.

Others who'd suffered from PC since the 60s might have joined such efforts to turn the tide of intellectual pollution. But no, he slunk away and surrendered his leadership and his position to one of the hyenas. Like Stalin's old buddies, it was the last shot he could fire for the cause.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't the hyena feminists alone that took down Summers. He had already alienated African-American Studies by daring to suggest that Professor Cornel West do serious scholarship, rather than writing rap and politiking.

Too bad that Summers caved in and didn't stand up for academic freedom and integrity in the face of howling hyenas. He lost the presidency anyway.

Brodhead took great care not to offend the vociferous Gang of 88 and ilk during the rape hoax and didn't stand up for presumption of innocence. In the long run his bowing to the ideologues, slinking away from confrontation with the PC crowd that used and abused students, may serve him as poorly as not standing on principle served Summers. He may lose his presidency anyway through non-renewal of contract.

Duke alum

Ralph Phelan said...

"What it doesn't explain is why the rest of society is willing to support such institutions by paying huge tuitions, providing tax exemptions and making generous gifts. "

If you want to start withdrawing your support, please write your Congressthieves[*] in support of HR 3675.

* In the interest of nonsexist terminology I needed an alternative to the generic "Congressmen."