Saturday, April 18, 2009

Review noted

In City Journal, Anthony Palletta's review of David Horowitz and Jacob Laskin's One Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy begins, naturally enough, with the Churchill verdict:

To some extent, the recent jury verdict holding that the University of Colorado had wrongly fired Ward Churchill was correct: political pressures did inspire the investigation leading to his termination for academic misconduct. It doesn’t follow, though, that Churchill was fired for his political views, which notoriously included comparing 9/11 victims to “Little Eichmanns.” Plagiarism and falsification of evidence aren’t covered under any definition of academic freedom.

The authors note that several of the fraud charges against Churchill “had apparently been well known by scholars in the field, although perhaps not by responsible University personnel, for years before the University took any action whatsoever concerning them, and it did so only after the controversy over Professor Churchill’s essays became national news.” Churchill was an academic provocateur who made his career in the politicized world of ethnic-studies departments, where he was easily hired, promoted, and tenured despite not having a doctorate and the growing doubts about the veracity of his work. His peers even voted him department chair.

Ethnic- and gender-studies departments have provided fertile soil for the growth of academic radicalism. One-Party Classroom examines such departments at 12 universities. The selection doesn’t appear scientific—all are large universities, but little unites them otherwise. Some have strong radical reputations; it’s little surprise to read again about Duke, or Columbia, or U.C. Santa Cruz. It’s perhaps more useful to find detailed profiles of radical programs at universities without much political reputation. Who knew of a burgeoning women’s studies department at Penn State, or the School of Social Justice and Inquiry at Arizona State University? Each features heavily politicized professors, mission statements, and course offerings. All they lack is a Ward Churchill to make them famous.

The Duke Lacrosse case and the vile "Group of 88" come up, as well as a couple of "peace studies" programs, one of which defines "peace" as “providing the basic necessities of life for every human being.” CU's ethnic studies department, minus Ward, is also mentioned:
For the uninitiated, One-Party Classroom provides an invaluably detailed profile of academic radicalism—and a decisive rejoinder to claims that explicitly politicized instruction is isolated or marginal. Apart from the courses that Churchill taught, for example, the University of Colorado’s curriculum is still peppered with offerings such as “Queer Rhetorics: Program for Writing and Rhetoric 3020-026,” which requires volunteer work for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) organizations, and “The Civil Rights Movement in America: Black Studies 4650,” whose instructor frankly declares that “it is my contention that the Black Civil Rights Movement in America is a kind of domestic war created and sustained by white people (or their surrogates), whose origins may be found in the involuntary transportation of Africans to the New World.”
Couldn't find that last course in CU's ethnic studies offerings for this spring, but I did notice "Fight the Power" ("Ethn 3671"): "People of color the world over are struggling for sovereignty, independence, civil and human rights, food security, decent wages and working conditions, healthy housing, and freedom from environmental racism and other forms of imperialism. Course analyzes and brings alive these struggles."

Palleta liked the book, by the way, as you can probably tell.

Update: Horowitz recounts a recent campus visit in the Wall Street Journal.

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