How Anthropology Was Corrupted and Killed

The knock against anthropologists used to be that they were all relativists.  Not anymore.  Many anthropologists today are hardcore moral absolutists.  The members of the American Anthropological Association are busy voting (until May 31) on a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The proposed resolution jumps off in its first sentence in universalist language, claiming that … Continue reading How Anthropology Was Corrupted and Killed

BDS and the Rise of Post-Factual Anthropology

By David M. Rosen Four anthropology professors stood at the entrance of the ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver last November, where members of the American Anthropological Association would soon vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions, organized by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement (BDS). Each professor held up one of a … Continue reading BDS and the Rise of Post-Factual Anthropology

Ferguson and the Decline in Anthropology

As examples of what my academic field, anthropology, has sunk to, here are four responses to the shooting and riots in Ferguson appearing in the current issue of Anthropology News. Each is  a retelling of what might be called the left’s canonical myth of Ferguson: facts submerged in a sea of fiction. Pem Davidson Buck, … Continue reading Ferguson and the Decline in Anthropology

The Long PC Battle in Anthropology

My sorry academic discipline, anthropology, has been in the news the last few weeks. Napoleon Chagnon broke his long silence by publishing a memoir, Noble Savages, about his work among the South American Yanomamo Indians and the long nightmare of politically correct recrimination that greeted his work. Chagnon was infamously accused of infamy by a … Continue reading The Long PC Battle in Anthropology

A Footnote to the Anthropology Debate

As noted in my December 1 essay here, Rigoberta’s Revenge, the American Anthropological Association stuck a stick in a hornet’s nest with its recent decision to remove the word “science” from its long range planning document. Stung by the resulting swarm of criticism, the AAA’s four officer’s have now issued a statement claiming the entire … Continue reading A Footnote to the Anthropology Debate

Rigoberta’s Revenge: The Implosion Of Anthropology

One of my professors in college defined an anthropologist as “a sociologist in a tent.” His comment was not a compliment — he was a sociologist — but it was true in ways that he did not have in mind. Anthropology has always been a big tent, including as it does what one anthropologist calls … Continue reading Rigoberta’s Revenge: The Implosion Of Anthropology

Anthropology’s Holy Trinity

Karl Marx did everyone a huge favor when he announced that all history was the history of class struggle because then it was simple to analyze anything and everything confidently and crisply. But in Anthropology a new holy explanatory trinity has emerged to replace the good old simple one: Race/Class/Gender. You can barely refer to … Continue reading Anthropology’s Holy Trinity

Protecting Academic Freedom Through All the Campus Smoke

Once many years ago I spoke to an Army recruiter who tried to convince me that I would learn many valuable skills in the military, including how to jump from helicopters. I was puzzled. How exactly was learning to jump from a helicopter a valuable skill? He explained that I could then qualify for a … Continue reading Protecting Academic Freedom Through All the Campus Smoke

When Universities Go Out of Control

Edgar Rice Burroughs foresaw the situation at Evergreen State and other campuses. He described it in Tarzan Untamed, a 1919 novel in which the hero finds himself in the lost city of Xuja. Xuja, hidden in a secret valley, cut off from the rest of the world, resembles the typical American campus today in that … Continue reading When Universities Go Out of Control

The Feds Make a Mess of Sex and Gender

The never-resting Office for Civil Rights (OCR) U.S. Department of Education and the equally insomnolent Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department have just issued their latest “Dear Colleague” letter advising the stewards of the nation’s schools of their newest responsibility. The “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students” consists of five pages of text, … Continue reading The Feds Make a Mess of Sex and Gender

Pollyannas on the Right: Conservatives OK on Campus

“Forget what the right says,” the title of a recent Washington Post OpEd proclaims, “Academia isn’t so bad for conservative professors.” The sub-title, “Right-leaning professors do face challenges on campus, but we can still thrive,” both reveals that the authors — Jon A. Shields, associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, and Joshua M. … Continue reading Pollyannas on the Right: Conservatives OK on Campus

BDS: Jew-Hating Propagandists on the March

The anti-Semitic Boycott-Divest-Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel keeps reaching for—and finding—new depths of indecency.  Among the deepest descenders into this abyss is Jasbir Puar, an associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers.  Professor Puar recently garnered national attention for her address at Vassar, February 3, “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters.”  The talk has … Continue reading BDS: Jew-Hating Propagandists on the March

A Conversation with Jonathan Haidt

On January 11, John Leo, editor of “Minding the Campus,” interviewed social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, one of the editors of the five-month-old site, “Heterodox Academy,” and perhaps the most prominent academic pushing hard for more intellectual diversity on our campuses. Haidt, 52, who specializes in the psychology of morality and the moral emotions, is Professor … Continue reading A Conversation with Jonathan Haidt

America’s ‘Soft Civil War’ Is Here

By Fred Siegel Twenty-five years ago, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.—premier historian of twentieth-century American liberalism, highbrow courtier to the Kennedys, and grey eminence for the Kennedy’s would-be successors—published The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. The Schlesinger of the 1950s idolized Adlai Stevenson, whose professorial demeanor endeared him to academia. Academic expertise was, as … Continue reading America’s ‘Soft Civil War’ Is Here

The Pressure of Group Thought

Academic “consensus” is in the news. Stetson University professor of psychology Christopher Ferguson, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education,recently gave a run-down on how the American Psychological Association supposedly compromised itself by manipulating a task force into endorsing harsh interrogations of prisoners.  Ferguson says the APA “crafted a corrupted ‘consensus’ by excluding those who … Continue reading The Pressure of Group Thought

CAMILLE PAGLIA IS UNHAPPY WITH OUR COLLEGES

Reason has released a March, 2015 Nick Gillespie interview with cultural critic Camille Paglia, who as usual has many lively opinions. Here are a few: journalism today (bad), Hillary (a disaster), the ideal first female president (Dianne Feinstein), what kids learn in high school (don’t bully), college now (summer camp, Club Med), what campus leftists should … Continue reading CAMILLE PAGLIA IS UNHAPPY WITH OUR COLLEGES

COLLEGE SHOULDN’T BE JOB TRAINING, BUT…

Like many commentators and candidates, Fareed Zakaria, the eloquent host of CNN’s GPS, has turned out a new book on higher education. In Defense of a Liberal Education laments that today’s students are pressured into thinking of college as a time to prepare for the global marketplace, discouraged from dreaming big, and told to acquire … Continue reading COLLEGE SHOULDN’T BE JOB TRAINING, BUT…

The University of Michigan Vindicates Chris Rock

One of the most revealing statements of 2014 was made by comedian Chris Rock, who told interviewer Frank Rich that he no longer appears on college campuses because “everything offends students these days.” (Read about that here.) In case you think Rock was exaggerating, a recent incident at the University of Michigan shows how correct … Continue reading The University of Michigan Vindicates Chris Rock

Jackie’s Story and UVA’s Stalinist Rules

The collapse of the Rolling Stone rape story had an important byproduct—it showed the stunning unfairness of UVA’s proposed new sexual assault policies.  UVA’s proposed guidelines, like those of many colleges, are heavily pitched toward accusers, minimize due process and all but ensure that key evidence will not come before the university, especially if that … Continue reading Jackie’s Story and UVA’s Stalinist Rules

Looking for Teachers Qualified to Teach

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday a new set of rules designed to stimulate greater effectiveness in America’s teacher training programs. States will now be required to report to the federal government statistics such as job placement rates and student performance. Favorable student outcomes, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan suggested, could also be … Continue reading Looking for Teachers Qualified to Teach

Wow—Three Academic Groups Dislike Israel

“As employees in institutions of higher learning, we have a particular responsibility to oppose Israel’s widespread and systematic violations of the right to higher education of Palestinians… As anthropologists, we feel compelled to join academics around the world who support the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. In responding to the Palestinian call, we … Continue reading Wow—Three Academic Groups Dislike Israel

Campus Activism: the Fight for Imaginary Victories

This article is third in a series on “the year that was” in higher education. The first two articles are here and here.  Campus activism is, by and large, the world of make-believe.  Whenever students occupy a president’s office, Tinkerbell is not far away.  Whenever faculty demand a boycott, Professor Dumbledore winks at Professor Snape.

Goodbye to English Departments

English departments have pretty much given up on their mission of preserving a literary canon or teaching poetic form and rhetorical strategies.  Decades ago, politics of race, class, and gender overtook any concern for preserving and perpetuating poetic art.  In fact, to claim that there is such a thing as Literature was to align oneself … Continue reading Goodbye to English Departments

Can Philology Save the Humanities?

In his new book, Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, James Turner has written a rich intellectual history of what many American scholars would describe as the long lost art and science of philology.  A rebirth of philology is also long overdue, says Turner, who is the Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities at the University of Notre … Continue reading Can Philology Save the Humanities?

The Higher-Ed Bubble Starts to Pop

Everything created by humanity is subject to a cycle of creation and destruction. Humans live 70-80 or sometimes even 100 years; their business enterprises rarely last that long. A generation ago, there was no Facebook or Google, but Enron and Eastman Kodak were going strong. Even buildings seldom last more than 200-300 years. Until recently, … Continue reading The Higher-Ed Bubble Starts to Pop