Monday, August 20, 2007

Demise of a "Boot Camp for the Revolution"

Ralph Keyes, an alumnus of Antioch College, describes its downfall:

The Antioch Muriel and I returned to [in the 80s] did not emphasize . . . open inquiry. The assumed endpoint was always to one’s left. As a result, Antioch’s emphasis had gone from searching for the truth to propagating the truth, from asking questions to teaching answers. One alum told me of asking a women’s-studies professor at Antioch if she ever assigned Camille Paglia. The professor recoiled, saying “I wouldn’t!” Why not? “Because she’s the enemy.”

In promotional pieces, Antioch billed itself as a “progressive” institution. Accepted applicants were invited to share notes on an online message board called “Radical Chat.” Inevitably Antioch’s appeal narrowed to an increasingly esoteric group of progressive-alternative students. When a longtime history professor reminded colleagues that Antioch was a college, not a “boot camp for the revolution,” students began wearing Boot Camp for the Revolution T-shirts. Eventually this became a campus credo. . . .

Antioch’s indifference to outside concerns could be seen in the commencement speakers invited by graduating seniors. Those speakers included the convicted police murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal (attracting hundreds of demonstrators, including current and former police officers, as well as widows of slain officers), the former Black Panther Bobby Seale, and — until the interim president intervened — the poseur-professor Ward Churchill. Antioch’s commencement speaker this year was Cynthia McKinney, the former congresswoman best known for wondering aloud if members of the Bush administration had advance knowledge of 9/11 and for slugging a U.S. Capitol police officer.

Read whole thing.

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