All posts by John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding The Campus, dedicated to chronicling developments within higher education in an effort to restore balance and intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years, and was syndicated to 140 newspapers through the Universal Press Syndicate.

Not Evil, Just Woeful

Dartmouth trustee Todd Zywicki made several clumsy remarks in an otherwise good speech about campus orthodoxy. Speaking at a conference at the John William Pope Center, Zywicki compared faculty pressure to oust Harvard president Lawrence Summers to the Spanish Inquisition, called former Dartmouth president James Freedman a “truly evil man,” and said those who control the universities don’t care about God or country.

The howls of protest that greeted the speech focused mostly on the over-the-top remark about the late president Freedman, who was indeed not evil, merely another time-serving college president who worshipped non-stop at the altar of political correctness. Freedman first came to my attention when a couple of his administrators urged Dartmouth students to steal or destroy copies of the Dartmouth Review because that famously conservative newspaper was “just litter.”

At the time that kind of contempt for free speech was new to me. I hadn’t been aware that tolerating or urging the destruction of newspapers that dissented from campus orthodoxy was becoming the default position of many administrators from coast to coast. Later the president of Cornell drew almost no criticism when he delivered a commencement speech that included praise for students who had seized and burned copies of the Cornell conservative paper. This raised the possibility that Cornell had somehow morphed into the University of Heidelberg at Ithaca, circa 1936.

Freedman, who was Jewish, was extremely sensitive to anti-Semitism, both real and imagined. I once asked the late Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, a friend who was teaching at Dartmouth at the time, why Freedman was so hell-bent to eliminate the college’s fraternities. “Because these are the people who wouldn’t let him in when he was an undergraduate,” Hertzberg replied. It’s true that Dartmouth had an appalling record of anti-Semitism in the old days, but the modern frats didn’t, and why they should be punished for what happened decades before to Freedman and other Jews was unclear.

Freedman notoriously botched his response to the Mein Kampf affair. A disgruntled insider at the Dartmouth Review had inserted a quote from Hitler’s book into a long quotation from Teddy Roosevelt that always appeared in the Review masthead. When the editor-in-chief discovered the quote, he cancelled campus distribution, stopped the mailing to subscribers, apologized and had a clean issue printed and distributed. “What more he could have done, I can’t imagine,” Dartmouth professor Jeffrey Hart wrote.

But without asking the Review for an explanation or calling for an investigation, Freedman repeatedly attacked the Review for anti-Semitism. When the Wall Street Journal asked him how he would feel if it turned out that a saboteur had inserted the Hitler words, (this is in fact what had happened), he replied, “I just haven’t thought about that.” At an administration-sponsored Rally Against Hate, he announced that “For ten years the Dartmouth Review has attacked blacks because they are blacks, women because they are women, homosexuals because they are homosexuals and Jews because they are Jews.” Not true, but the temptation to depict resistance to the spread of PC culture at Dartmouth as bigotry was just too strong. So was the hair-trigger response to the supposed presence of anti-Semitism.

In his speech, Zywicki argued that Freedman stood for “political correctness in all forms -speech codes, censorship, the whole multicultural apparatus.” Yes, he did. And it’s useful for a Dartmouth trustee to say so plainly.

Contest Winner

Readers of this web site were challenged to translate into English an incomprehensible call by the Society for Cultural Anthropology for papers to be delivered at the society’s convention next May in California. The winner of our translation contest is Tom Kerrigan of Bethpage, New York. Here is his winning entry:

Pseudo-intellectual gibberish pontificated by the prophets of moral relativism in sparsely read and poorly edited “scholarly” journals and published by their higher-education enablers has created a cottage industry for clownish frauds that lack any critical reasoning skills to get their mugs on cable TV. Speaking in rambling non-sequiturs, these self-proclaimed elites, who despise Western Civilization for being ethnocentric and racist, seek to deconstruct our society in order to liberate the ignorant masses from their pre-conceived stereotypes regarding gender, class and race creating a new ruling class with a thoroughly modern, monolithic, diverse utopian societal worldview. The advent of internet blogospheres, the abysmal failure of public education, the persistent demonization of the Boy Scouts as a hate group, the incessant castigations of Fundamentalist Christians as theocratic zealots and the widely-accepted view that Republicans are mean-spirited demagogues challenge formally accepted “truths”. This constant drumbeat bombards our consciousness forcing us to question formerly accepted quaint notions of equality and individual rights that were simply figments of the collective imagination of an oppressive intellectual cartel made up of privileged white misogynistic slave owners. Cloaked with the imprimatur of scholarly legitimacy by institutes of higher learning, brimming with self-esteem and fiercely nonjudgmental, we the self-anointed high priests of post-modern liberal orthodoxy (i.e. racial hucksters, man-hating feminists, assorted conspiracy theorists, left wing fanatics and other brethren (Note: Term “brethren” deleted by PC police as an expression of latent sexism – suggested gender neutral replacement term: comrades) have been given a unique platform to spew our hatred with impunity and what better place to do so than sunny California. The SCA annual meeting will offer an opportunity for enlightened like-minded individuals to socialize, validate our feelings, pick up free stuff, ponder hard questions in a really nuanced way and maybe even get laid while on someone else’s dime….

Columbia Buys Off a Strike

Five students drinking Gatorade and water for a week are apparently all it takes to bring a major university to its knees. Columbia has had more than its share of lunatic events this year – the noose, the cancellation of the Minuteman speakers for the second time, inviting and then abusing the Iranian madman, and last week another controversy over a biased comment someone had scrawled into a library book. But the collapse of the university in the face of five student hunger strikers – the number was reduced to two students before the university folded – makes all the previous lunacies seem sane.

The strikers got most of their scattershot agenda. New faculty will now have to endure diversity indoctrination as part of their hiring. Columbia’s core curriculum, much too “Eurocentric” for the strikers, will now feature more more required courses on Asia, Africa, and Latin America. More money and staff will be added for ethnic studies. The Office of Multicultural Affairs will be expanded and another high-ranking diversicrat will be named to the administration. The collapse will cost Columbia at least $50 million.

But the university’s reputation for weakness and cowardice in the face of PC-mongering is not the key to this story. Columbia has been working for years to expand north into Harlem. It wants to add to its campus four large blocks from 129th Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue as well as three properties east of Broadway. Columbia must run the gantlet of many hearings and approvals, including those of the City Council, which is unusually sensitive to racial complaints about the curriculum and behavior of a historically white institution about to annex a chunk of Harlem. The strikers played the race card by denouncing Columbia’s “institutional racism.”

Columbia may have feared that one or more of the hunger strikerrs would become seriously ill or die. One abandoned the strike after fainting in the library and two others quit to get medical help. But the real aim was to protect the expansion program. One professor told me it was “a brilliant move” by President Lee Bollinger to buy off the protesters for only $50 million, while at the same time demonstrating some politically useful concern for racial and ethnic studies.

But it’s only a brilliant move if it doesn’t teach future strikers how easy it is to get concessions from Columbia. Protestors are still trying to kill the expansion into Harlem. Bollinger’s decision to buy off the strikers may lead to more protesters and larger demands.

National Arts And Humanities Medals Awarded

Good friends of the Manhattan Institute were among the winners of the 2007 National Arts and Humanities Medals bestowed today at the White House by President Bush. Among them were Roger Hertog, chairman emeritus of the Institute’s board of trustees, Stephen H. Balch, founder and longtime president of the National Association of Scholars, and author Victor Davis Hanson.

Here is the complete list of winners:

Continue reading National Arts And Humanities Medals Awarded

Aestheticization of Relationality? Really?

The following is a call for papers to be delivered at the Society for Cultural Anthropology meeting next May aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Frankly, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to us, so as we struggle to understand, we ask you readers for help. This passage, we can all agree, is intensely felt and may well be packed with meaning. But what would that meaning turn out to be if the text is successfully rendered into English? To enlist your help, we are making this a contest. The author of the best (or most original) English-language translation of this passage will receive a prize, to be described at the end of this post. Ready? Here is the call for papers:

“Recent work in the human sciences has made questions of ethics and aesthetics central to the analysis of politics once again. Part of the impetus for this work comes from dissatisfaction with older paradigms that have often treated ethics and aesthetics as an ideological byproduct of the workings of capital and power politics. Recent developments within domains as disparate as the media, the bio-sciences, religion, and finance have forced the human sciences to rethink this older logic of cause and effect, content and form. Scholarly explorations have increasingly focused on how ethical concerns have at times helped spawn new forms of governance (such as truth and reconciliation commissions, novel auditing practices, social networks) and at other moments been the basis of imagining new forms of intimacy, publicity, secrecy, and relationality. Similarly, emergent aesthetic forms have given rise to unique communication regimes, sensory experiences, and politics of deliberation, critique, and persuasion. It is not surprising that anthropologists are at the center of such explorations given our discipline’s focus on existing and emergent forms of human action. The 2008 SCA annual meeting will focus on recent work produced around the thematics of ethics, aesthetics, and politics. Some of the questions and issues we want to explore are: What are the forms of critique implicit within contemporary ethical and aesthetic formations? How do these emergent practices reconfigure the classical schism between form and content so germane to the human sciences? How does the concept of “the political” needs to be rethought in light of the ethicization and aestheticization of contemporary politics? What, if anything, is left of culture in this debate? How do we rethink the notion of ‘practice’ in this moment beyond the dual axis of structure and effect? How might reflection on contemporary stagings of deliberation and debate help us rethink the relationship between affect and reason?”

The contest deadline is 6 p.m. November 25, eastern standard time. The prize will be a copy of The Location of Culture by Harvard’s hard-hitting but indecipherable post-colonial scholar, Homi K. Bhabha. The book contains this argument by Bhabha, which no one has even attempted to refute:

If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to ‘normalize’ formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.

Where Are The News Media?

Stuart Taylor’s brilliant rant in this week’s National Journal (“Academia’s Pervasive PC Rot”) says “the cancerous spread of ideologically eccentric, intellectually shoddy, phony-diversity-obsessed fanaticism among university faculties and administrators is far, far worse and more inexorable than most alumni, parents, and trustees suspect.”

There’s an obvious explanation of why so many university watchers don’t seem to know what’s going on: the news media are extremely reluctant to report on what the increasingly coercive diversity lobby is doing to the campuses.

The brainwashing and indoctrination at the University of Delaware (and anyone who has read the voluminous documents in the case knows that use of these words is surely fair) has been pervasively reported on conservative blogs and right-wing radio. But the left has been silent and the mainstream media have almost universally avoided telling alumni, parents and trustees what is going on. Only a few news outlets covered the story. The Wilmington News Journal ran a piece headlined “Some Made Uneasy by UD Diversity Training”, thus reducing indoctrination to discomfort. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a similarly soft report that used the headline word “unsettled” instead of “uneasy.” The story’s lead: “When University of Delaware freshmen showed up at their dorms this semester, their orientation included an exercise aimed at bridging cultural

Continue reading Where Are The News Media?

Duke’s Failed Presidency

KC Johnson’s remarkable blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, has generated 90,000 reader comments since it emerged as the most reliable source of information and analysis on the Duke/Nifong non-rape scandal. The following is an excerpt from a November 6 reader comment on Duke’s president Richard Brodhead and the book, “Until Proven Innocent” by Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr. The “Group Profiles” in the comment refer to Johnson’s devastating accounts of what some intellectually bankrupt members of the “Group of 88” Duke faculty members said and wrote before and after they launched their campaign against the lacrosse players. So far 87 of the 88 faculty members have not yet apologized for their role in stirring up the campus against the players.

A good deal has changed because of this Rape Hoax.
1. Richard Brodhead’s is a failed presidency. Everybody in higher education knows that, which is why practically nobody in higher education will say it. He will not disappear immediately, but he will disappear. And I mean disappear – not reappear as the president of some other institution. This may not be fair to Brodhead, who is an able person, and his successor is unlikely to be better. But nobody who has presided over such a genuine ‘social disaster’ can recover. And people will in the future reflect on why and how he failed.

2. Another development on the local Duke scene is the ‘raised consciousness’ of sensible alumni and institutional friends. There is a large effort from various sources trying to blunt the effect of this blog and what it has represented. To paint Duke’s critics as neocon, reactionary, racist ‘blog hooligans’ will now work for only a very diminished audience. There now is a very detailed, circumstantial, well researched and well written book that needs to be answered… Any intelligent Duke alumnus of whatever age should now realize that he or she probably has more sensible and constructive ideas than many prominent Duke faculty.

3. Do not underestimate the power of the derision and opprobrium heaped on various faculty members through various posting and especially the ‘Group Profiles’. These were particularly effective, because they were not name-calling but intelligently collected anthologies of the individuals’ own written opinions. It is one thing to shout out that ‘the Emperor has no clothes.’ It is another to present the Emperor in the buff before our own horrified eyes.

Brainwashing 101

More on indoctrination at the University Of Delaware.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent Patrick Harker, the president of the University, a voluminous set of papers on how their residence life program was run. “Hundreds of pages, without exception, are about how to indoctrinate students,” school of education professor Jan Blits told the campus student paper, the Review. “What’s surprising is how open they are about it.” Blits acquired the papers from the residence life program by simply asking for them. Kathleen Kerr, the director of residential life for the university “was so proud of the program she just handed them over,” he said. Blits, head of the university’s chapter of the National Association of Scholars, and another professor at the school of education, Linda Gottfredson, have been cooperating with FIRE to get the story out. Gottfredson said: “Residential Life has the whole person and they try to change beliefs – the heart and soul of a person – which is exactly what totalitarian institutions do. This is a national issue and FIRE is not finished.”

Kerr is currently chair of the American College Personnel Association’s commission for housing and residential life. ACPA’s site lists 28 residential life officers from colleges and universities across the country, including the University of Texas, Oberlin, the University of Maryland, Rutgers, Brandeis and Michigan State, though it is not clear that these institutions are engaged in any indoctrination. The national group’s ethical code says that “respecting the rights of persons to hold different perspectives” is essential.

Continue reading Brainwashing 101

By The Way, Somebody Turned You In

William and Mary’s new and anonymous bias reporting system is so wrong-headed that it’s hard to know where to begin protesting it. Some anonymous reports are legitimate, as Eugene Volokh argues at the Volokh Conspiracy, but calling for a college’s entire student body to watch out for bias, and then turn in their fellow students or professors, is not a good idea. This is particularly so in an era when campuses are busy fostering victimology and minority-group identities based on the allegedly permanent hostililty of majority groups. Under these circumstances, it makes much more sense to avoid placing full-time bias awareness front and center in the minds of students. Hearsay and marginal or ambiguous incidents are bound to be reported, probably with sensitivities, suspicions and resentments increased. Legitimate protests will increasingly be reported as intolerable provocations. And the anonymity is bound to rankle. A web site opposing the new bias reporting opens with the comment “Let’s disband William and Mary’s new schoolyard tattletale system before the lawsuits commence and William and Mary again becomes the subject of national jokes.” Surely there is a better way to encourage civility and respect than setting up a formal program for snitches.

Indoctrination At Delaware

Many universities try to indoctrinate students, but the all-time champion in this category is surely the University of Delaware. With no guile at all the university has laid out a brutally specific program for “treatment” of incorrect attitudes of the 7,000 students in its residence halls. The program is close enough to North Korean brainwashing that students and professors have been making “made in North Korea” jokes about the plan. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called for the program to be dismantled.

Residential assistants charged with imposing the “treatments” have undergone intensive training from the university. The training makes clear that white people are to be considered racists – at least those who have not yet undergone training and confessed their racism. The RAs have been taught that a “racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality.”

Continue reading Indoctrination At Delaware

Ed School Politics – Still A Problem

Beware the words “social justice” and “dispositions” when used by schools of education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). These apparently harmless terms lay the groundwork for politicizing the training of teachers and giving the ed schools an excuse to eliminate conservatives from their programs. The news this week is that NCATE is backing down a bit from its use of “dispositions” and “social justice” while denying the political use of these words and calling its new policy a “clarification.”

“Dispositions” refers to the correct mindset that would-be teachers must have. “Social justice” is the most controversial of the dispositions sought. In its benign sense, “social justice” means a sense of fairness, honesty and a belief that all children can learn. In its politicized sense, it can refer to endorsement of affirmative action and a formal (often written) endorsement of policies favored by the political and cultural left.

“NCATE never required a ‘social justice’ disposition”, NCATE said on its web site. True, but the statement is a slippery one. In fact, the group had ruled that education departments could “include some measure of a candidate’s commitment to social justice” – in effect ruling that public school teachers could be evaluated on their perceptions of what social justice requires. So the ed schools, basically a liberal monoculture, could rule that a student flunked “social justice” by displaying a negative view of multicultural theory and other policies of the left. At Washington State University, where the college of education tried to expel a conservative student for flunking “dispositions,” the dean was asked whether Justice Antonin Scalia could pass a dispositions test at her school. “I don’t know how to answer that,” she replied.

As NCATE tells it, “the term ‘social justice,’ though well understood by NCATE’s institutions, was widely and wildy misinterpreted by commentators not familiar with the working of NCATE.” The group now defines professional dispositions as “professional attitudes, values and beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. The two professional dispositions that NCATE expects institutions to assess are fairness and the belief that all students can learn. Based on their missions and conceptual framework, professional education units can identify, define and operationalize additional professional dispositions.”

This is a mild improvement. Still, one wonders about those “non-verbal behaviors” and how they will be judged. The word “fairness” remains a linguistic sinkhole and the phrase “additional professional dispositions” keeps the door open for more politicization. NCATE’s “clarification” doesn’t clarify much.

Who Will Stand Up For Campus Free Speech?

Troy Scheffler, a graduate student at Hamline University in Minnesota, thinks that the Virginia Tech massacre might have been avoided if students had been allowed to carry concealed weapons. After e-mailing this opinion to the university president, he was suspended and ordered to undergo “mental health evaluation” before being allowed to return to school.

Punishment for expressing an opinion is not unusual on the modern campus. Neither is the lack of protest among faculty and students for the kind of treatment Scheffler got. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is defending the student, reports that it has failed to find a single Hamline student or faculty member who has spoken out in favor of Scheffler’s right to free speech. So far, no protest from has been reported in the student newspaper or in outside internet outlets such as Myspace.

Scheffler, it should be said, is something of a campus gadfly, with disdain for campus diversity programs and other policies. The university said Scheffler’s e-mails were threatening, but those messages, available on the FIRE web site, contain no semblance of a threat. Free speech was the core issue and still is.

Continue reading Who Will Stand Up For Campus Free Speech?

Who Will Stand Up For Campus Free Speech?

Troy Scheffler, a graduate student at Hamline University in Minnesota, thinks that the Virginia Tech massacre might have been avoided if students had been allowed to carry concealed weapons. After e-mailing this opinion to the university president, he was suspended and ordered to undergo “mental health evaluation” before being allowed to return to school.

Punishment for expressing an opinion is not unusual on the modern campus. Neither is the lack of protest among faculty and students for the kind of treatment Scheffler got. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is defending the student, reports that it has failed to find a single Hamline student or faculty member who has spoken out in favor of Scheffler’s right to free speech. So far, no protest from has been reported in the student newspaper or in outside internet outlets such as Myspace.

Scheffler, it should be said, is something of a campus gadfly, with disdain for campus diversity programs and other policies. The university said Scheffler’s e-mails were threatening, but those messages, available on the FIRE web site, contain no semblance of a threat. Free speech was the core issue and still is.

Continue reading Who Will Stand Up For Campus Free Speech?

Distressingly Few Conservative Profs

Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed has a long and excellent article on the Gross-Simmons study on the political and social views of professors, as well as on the Harvard symposium last Saturday that discussed the findings. The study concluded that the professoriate is more moderate than many believe, with younger instructors less activist and less liberal than older ones, though there has been no rise in the percentage of conservatives (I discussed this study here on October 10th.)

If you are pressed for time and have already read an account of the Gross-Simmons conclusions, skip down to the second half of the Jaschik report, which features comments by Harvard’s former president Lawrence Summers and other faculty members. Summers says the percentage of conservative professors is distressingly small, but thinks it would be “extraordinarily unwise and dangerous” to try forcing more balance in hiring.

Jonathan Zimmerman, a historian at New York University, said the experience of growing up in the 80s and 90s amid the rise of the political right has had a profound effect on professors, including an “erosion of faith in citizens.” He said, “the story we need to tell is about the alienation of professors from the publics.” At the end of the Jaschik report is a collection of unusually interesting reader comments on Gross-Simmons and the issues it raises.

Are Conservatives Like Black Major Leaguers?

At the Saturday conference on the Gross-Simmons study, Lawrence Summers compared the meager number of conservative professors to the startling decline in the number of black players in major league baseball (now down to 8.4 percent). Blacks are well-represented among the best players, “but it appeared that there were not any African-American .250 hitters.” Alas, the implication here – that baseball deliberately cuts the percentage of blacks by discriminating against all but the best African-Americans – is wrong. The main reason for black decline is the structure of the amateur draft. Since the draft does not apply to foreign-born players, teams can circumvent the draft by aggressively seeking promising players outside the U.S., most commonly in Caribbean countries. Every major league team now has a training camp in the Dominican Republic. Vince Gennaro, a consultant to many major league teams, says the international market “is the place where the high-revenue teams can leverage their economic advantage.” Another factor is that the draft has shifted sharply toward players in college, where there are fewer blacks and a dwindling number of athletic scholarships. Polls also show that black youths are much less interested in baseball than they are in basketball and football. One reason may be that black culture puts a high premium on improvisation (jazz, hip hop, the transformation of modern basketball). Baseball may be the sport most resistant to improvisation.

Professors: Just As Liberal, Or More Moderate?

The Chronicle of Higher Education, the voice of liberal academia, says that an important new study shows that liberal dominance among professors is much less than commonly believed. Not really. The study, by sociologists Neil Gross of Harvard and Solon Simmons of George Mason University, found that in 2004, 78 percent of faculty voted for John Kerry (77percent) or Ralph Nader (1 percent), while only 20.4 percent voted for President Bush. Among social science professors, Ralph Nader and “other” received a percentage of the 2004 vote as large as that of President Bush.

Other findings:

* Liberals outnumber conservatives by 11-1 among social scientists and 13-1 among humanities professors.

* 25.5 percent of those who teach sociology identify themselves as Marxist. Self-identified radicals accounted for 19 percent of humanities professors and 24 percent of social scientists.

* Although business school professors are believed to be predominantly conservative, professors of business voted 2-1 for Kerry. These professors were barely more conservative than liberal.

* Only 19.7 percent of respondents identify themselves as any type of conservative, compared to 62.2 percent who say they are any type of liberal.

* At elite, Ph.D-granting schools in general, 60.4 percent of faculty members are Democrats, 30.1 percent are independents and 9.5 percent are Republicans.

* Gross and Simmons believe that liberals are losing ground to moderates among faculty, though conservatives are not gaining at all. Faculty members who are 35 or younger are less likely that their elders to be left-wing, and less likely to be conservative as well.

Continue reading Professors: Just As Liberal, Or More Moderate?

No Free Speech, Please – This is Columbia

Ann Coulter seems to be the first writer to guffaw over Lee Bollinger’s statement that Columbia University has a “long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate…” There is no such tradition, and very little debate at Columbia, particularly if one of the proposed debaters or speakers happens to be conservative.
Last October, Columbia radicals stormed a campus stage, knocking over furniture, creating pandemonium and preventing speeches by Minutemen leader Jim Gilchrist and a colleague. Nobody seemed very upset about this, least of all Lee Bollinger, who issued a tiny bleat about free speech before referring the issue to a committee where it languished for three months. Awakening briefly on Christmas weekend, the committee administered an undescribed slap on the wrist to an unknown number of unidentified members of the censoring rabble and there the matter ended.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), now the most powerful free-speech watchdog in the country, dismissed Bollinger’s “say-one-thing-do-another-act” and noted that Columbia “has a long and distinguished record of suppression of free speech.” Mayor Bloomberg echoed the thought, urging Bollinger to get his arms around the problem, because “There are too many incidents at the same school where people get censored.”

Several people, myself included, suggested that if Bollinger is as interested in free speech as he keeps saying he is, then he should reschedule the Minutemen and introduce them himself, with enough security around to discourage the reappearance of last year’s stormtroopers in training.

A few weeks ago, it looked as though Columbia was about to make a rare lurch in the direction of free speech. Students re-invited the two Minutemen, but after these proposed speakers bought plane tickets, Columbia’s pro-censorship DNA re-asserted itself and the two men were once again disinvited. Not a peep out of Bollinger.

One of Columbia’s favorite tricks is to cancel a speaker, or reduce the size of the audience, on grounds that violence might break out. Last fall most of a large crowd that gathered to hear former PLO terrorist-turned-anti-Jihadist Walid Shoebat was turned away over securities worries. Only Columbia students and 20 guests got in. The same thing happened to Dinesh D’Souza, myself and several other speakers in 1999. A large crowd, including many from other New York campuses, had tickets, but the administration (this was a pre-Bollinger year) ruled that only Columbia students could attend. This was not the deal that had been agreed on, but Columbia was adamant. Rather than speak to a tiny remnant on campus, the speakers withdrew to a park nearby. As I spoke, one student shouted “Ha-ha. We’re inside. You’re out here,” an excellent six-word explanation of how Columbia’s robust free-speech tradition actually works.

The 32 Worst

K C Johnson, on his web site Durham-in-Wonderland, has written about 850,000 words over the past 18 months on the Duke lacrosse scandal. It has been an astonishing, brilliant effort -graceful, accurate, penetrating and fair. Because of the terrible performance of the mainstream press, Johnson’s blogging quickly became the gold standard of reporting on the case. As one blogger said last January, nobody would think of writing about the subject without checking with KC first. If bloggers were eligible for the Pulitzer Prize, Johnson would have won hands down. (Asterisk here: of course those voting for the Pulitzers represent the papers that failed so miserably in covering the non-rape case.)

Every now and then, Johnson supplies a list of worst performances, such as the ten worst columns or the ten worst editorials on the case. Now he has produced, over three days, his list of the 32 worst statements made by anyone.

Wendy Murphy, an adjunct law professor and an unsually appalling talking head for MSNBC, surprised many of us by making the list only twice, getting as high an Number 11 for saying “I bet one or more of the players was, you know, molested or something as a child.” (Several winners assumed guilt and speculated on why the accused were such monsters.) Another surprise is that New York Times writers achieved only two listings – one by sports columnist Selena Roberts, the other by the worst of all reporters to cover the case, sportswriter Duff Wilson.

Rabid professor Grant Farred (Number 5) argued that white Duke students who registered to vote in Durham were engaged in “secret racism,” because the X made by voters on the ballot is “the sign of the white male franchise, itself overridden with the mark of privilege, oppression, slavery, racism, utter contempt for black and native bodies.”

Michael Nifong accounted for 8 of the 32 listings., including Number 1: “If I were one of those (defense) attorneys, I wouldn’t really want to try a case against me either.” Johnson may have been unfair to include Nifong in the competition. Expecting amateur quotemongers to compete with a pro like Nifong is like telling a Little Leaguer to go strike out Babe Ruth.

Number 2 was the always-wrong Duke president Richard Brodhead, who said a month after the story broke: “If (Finnerty and Seligmann) did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough.” Johnson comments: “We know now that ‘whatever’ Finnerty and Seligmann did: they attended a party they had no role in organizing and they drank some beer.”

Johnson is, of course, co-author of the brilliant new book on the case, Until Proven Innocent co-written with Stuart Taylor, Jr., one of the best columnists and legal writers in the country. To order the book, go to Amazon and be patient – the publisher has been slow in supplying more copies.

Give Everyone A “D”

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute released its second annual survey of civic awareness among American college students, and the results are just as depressing as last year’s. “The average college senior know astoundingly little about America’s history, government, international relations and market economy,” according to the ISI report, “Failing Our Students, Failing America.”

Harvard seniors scored a “D+” average on a 60-question multiple choice exam. That was the highest school score among seniors at 50 colleges surveyed – 25 elite universities and 25 other randomly selected schools. Some 14,000 freshmen and seniors took the test.

Among the questions were these:

The line “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal..” is from
A. the Federalist
B. the preamble to the Constitution
C. the Communist Manifesto
D. the Declaration of Independence
E. an inscription on the Statue of Liberty
The dominant theme of the Lincoln-Douglas debates was:
A. treatment of Native Americans,
B. westward expansion
C. whether Illinois should become a state
D. Prohibition
E. slavery and its expansion
The Constitution of the United States established what form of government:
A. direct democracy
B. populism
C. indirect democracy
D. oligarchy
E. aristocracy

The survey, conducted by the University of Connecticut’s department of public policy, generally found that the higher a college was listed in US. News & World Report rankings, the lower it ranked in civic learning. At the eight worst-performing colleges-including Cornell, Yale, Duke, Berkeley and Princeton, the average senior did worse than the average freshmen, an example of what the report calls “negative learning.” The worst-performing college, Cornell, the report said, “works like a giant amnesia machine, where students forget what they once knew.” Only 28 percent of Cornell seniors knew or guessed that the Monroe Doctrine discouraged new colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

The ten colleges where civic knowledge increased from freshman to senior year were mostly lesser-known institutions: Eastern Connecticut State, Marian College, Murray State, Concordia, St. Cloud State, Mississippi State, Pfeiffer, Illinois State, Iowa State and the University of Mississippi.

Surveyed colleges ranked by Barron’s imparted only about one-third the civic learning of colleges overlooked by Barron’s.
One reason why civic knowledge lags is the trend away from teaching dates and factors in general, in favor of analysis, trends and a student’s personalized take on the past. And with the rise of postmodern theory and cultural relativism, many students have been taught to scorn the traditional values of the west – equality, freedom, democracy, human rights – as masks for the self-interest of the rich and powerful. If follows from this view that history, particularly American history, is mostly propaganda inflicted on the young.

ISI asks: “Is American higher education doing its duty to prepare the next generation to maintain our legacy of liberty?” The answer in the report is no. In 1896, at Princeton’s 150th anniversary, Woodrow Wilson argued that a central purpose of higher education is to develop citizens capable of steering the nation into the future because they have a steady grip on the past. “The college should serve the state as its organ of recollection, its seat of vital memory,” he said. But in the survey, Princeton ranked as the fifth-worst school for civic learning. And most of the other 49 schools weren’t much better.

After Summers Comes The Fall

So former Harvard president Lawrence Summers is once again paying for his sins, this time having a dinner speech canceled by the board of regents of the University of California. The regents caved because feminists circulated a petition announcing that Summers “has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia.”

This is the most devastating charge that can be leveled in a university setting, since the modern campus is deeply obsessed by race and gender, and not much else, apart from canceling speakers who think improper thoughts about race and gender.

“None of us go looking for a fight,” said University of California (Davis) professor Maureen Stanton, a leader in the effort to get Summers banned. “We were just deeply offended.” This is a sensitive person’s veto – if you are likely to hurt our feelings, why should we let you speak?

Stanton, an evolutionary ecologist, must understand what happens when politics intrudes on science. But intrusion sometimes comes from the left, as it did when feminists denounced Summers for his brief reference to research on sexual differences in the famous Harvard controversy of 2005.

Columnist Stuart Taylor, Jr, wrote at the time, “Until his disgraceful capitulation to the power of political correctness, Summers was making a much-needed effort to break the self-serving feminist-careerist stranglehold on honest discussion of gender imbalances.”
For three decades, researchers have shown that the bell curve for male math skill is much flatter than the curve for females, meaning that males account for more off-the-chart high achievement at one end of the curve and an equal amount of unusual non-achievement at the other.

Most girls do as well as most boys in math and science, but among the extraordinarily gifted, boys prevail. Vanderbilt’s Camilla Benbow, a commanding researcher in the field for years, reports sex differences in mathematical precocity before kindergarten, differences among mathematical reasoning ability among intellectually gifted boys and girls as early as the second grade and pronounced sexual differences among intellectually talented 12- to 14-year-olds. Yet Summers, in capitulating to feminist anger, announced that “the human potential to excel in science” has nothing to do with gender. That isn’t true. At the very top of the profession, where the geniuses reside, there will be more males than females – absent political pressure and arguments about “underrepresentation,” that is.

Research on sexual differences is still the elephant in the room that no one who cares about academic advancement is supposed to notice. Meanwhile the successful banning of Summers by the board of regents raises the possibility that ordinary McCarthyism may now escalate into a one-man blacklist. If he can be banned as a racist-sexist by the board that oversees the entire University of California system, other colleges around the country may take the hint and ban him too.

Things You Might Not Know About The Duke Case

Things you might not know about the Duke non-rape case if you haven’t read the new book “Until Proven Innocent” by Stuart Taylor, Jr, and KC Johnson:

* Collin Finnerty did not beat up a gay man in a homophobic rage outside a Georgetown bar in 2005, as much of the news media reported. Finnerty was one of several males involved in a beery confrontation. He pushed one of his antagonists but he did not hit anyone, gay or straight.

* Duke administrators were outraged that the lacrosse team had held a stripper party, but no such outrage greeted the more than 20 such parties held at Duke during the 2005-2006 academic year. Duke’s famous basketball team held one two weeks before, drawing no apparent criticism.

* Tara Levicy, the nurse who reported on the condition of Crystal Mangum after the alleged rape, shrugged off the absence of physical evidence of assault and the lack of lacrosse-player DNA with a feminist slogan: “Rape is about power, not passion.”

* Michael Nifong, whose parents had gone to Duke, was known for his hatred of Duke University and its students. According to Patsy McDonald, a law school classmate, he also had a “deep-seated antipathy to lacrosse players.”

* Sergeant Mark Gottlieb, who took over the case for the Durham police “hated Dukies and had an ugly history of abusing them, according to allegations by Duke students who dealt with him before the lacrosse case surfaced.” Gottlieb had jailed three times as many Duke students as the three other police supervisors in the area combined. In one case he jailed a female Duke student and a female friend and put them in a cell with a blood-covered, drug-addled woman who said she had stabbed someone. The charge against the two women was that they had failed to prevent a 19-year-old from taking a can of beer from a cooler during a party at their home.
* The news media churned out negative opinions of lacrosse players at Duke and other elite schools (Newsweek: “strutting lacrosse players are a distinctive and familiar breed on elite campuses… the players tend to be at once macho and entitled (and) sometimes behave like thugs.”) In fact, the authors write, the Duke players had no record of racism, sexism, violence or bullying. They studied hard, got good grades, and showed respect and consideration for minorities, women and workers who served the team. They also had a good record of community service, especially with a reading program that targeted black and Hispanic children.

* The notably fair and accurate journalists who covered the case (a short list) included Dan Abrams of MSNBC, Chris Cuomo of Good Morning America, Kurt Anderson of New York Magazine, Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes and the first New York Times reporter, Joe Drape, who was taken off the story shortly after concluding that the alleged rape looked like a hoax.

Creating Activists At Ed School

In 1997, the National Association of Social Work (NASW) altered its ethics code, ruling that all social workers must promote social justice “from local to global level.” This call for mandatory advocacy raised the question: what kind of political action did the highly liberal field of social work have in mind? The answer wasn’t long in coming. The Council on Social Work Education, the national accreditor of social work education programs, says candidates must fight “oppression,” and sees American society as pervaded by the “global interconnections of oppression.” Now aspiring social workers must commit themselves, usually in writing, to a culturally left agenda, often including diversity programs, state-sponsored redistribution of income, and a readiness to combat heterosexism, ableism, and classism.

This was all too much for the National Association of Scholars. The NAS has just released a six-month study of social work education, examining the ten largest programs at public universities for which information was available. The report, “The Scandal of Social Work,” says these programs “have lost sight of the difference between instruction and indoctrination to a scandalous extent. They have, for the most part, adopted an official ideological line, closing off debate on many questions that serious students of public policy would admit to be open to the play of contending viewpoints.”

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A Political Target

Erwin Chemerinsky, a noted constitutional scholar and law professor at Duke for 21 years, has just been hired and then fired as the first dean of the University of California, Irvine, Law School, which opens in 2009. Irvine’s chancellor, Michael Drake, explained the firing by saying “he had not been aware of how Chemerinsky’s political views would make him a target for criticism from conservatives,” according to Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports, a blog on legal academia.
If the blog report is accurate, the treatment of Chemerinsky is a test case for conservatives who support free speech and argue vehemently against political tests for faculty and administration appointments. Do these principles apply only to conservatives, or do they protect liberals as well?

Chemerinsky is indeed very liberal and very outspoken. He particularly irritated many religious conservatives by lumping Christian fundamentalists with Islamic fundamentalists as threats to democratic principles. So argue with him, but don’t try to get him fired.

For one thing, the chancellor had plenty of time to think about the impact of hiring Chermerinsky, and to reject him if he chose. But it’s disgraceful to hire the man, fire him immediately and then explain that you are doing so to cave into political pressure. The chancellor, the school and Chemerinsky all suffer from this sort of amateurish behavior. And if the chancellor does not reverse course and accept Chemerinsky, he puts the next choice for dean in an untenable position – he will inevitably be seen as a safe nominee, so harmless that no political pressure group will try to oust him. The reputation of the law school would decline two years before opening.

“I’ve been a liberal law professor for 28 years,” Chemerinsky said. I write lots of op-eds and articles, I argue high-profile cases and I expected there would be some concern about me. My hope was that I’d address it by making the law school open to all viewpoints. He said he has begun to assemble a board of advisors that would have included conservatives such as Viet Dinh, a law professor at Georgetown, and Deanell Reece Tacha, a judge on the 10th Circuit Court.

Writing anonymously on the Wall Street Journal site, different Duke law students offered both praise and criticism for Chemerinsky. A pro-Chemerinsky opinion said: “To respond to allegations of anti-conservative bias – these cannot be further from the truth. Equal air time was always given to both sides during class, and with regard to his Con Law final, I wrote a final exam that could only be described as ‘Scalia-esque’ and received a 4.0.”

Do the right thing, chancellor, and re-hire Chemerinsky.

Bong Hits For Temple

The Supreme Court’s Morse v. Frederick decision was questionable on several grounds. In upholding a high school’s right to regulate student speech “reasonably regarded as encouraging illegal drug use,” the justices took the student banner “Bong Hits for Jesus” much too seriously. Was it an argument for student access to drugs or a jokey stunt that never should have gotten to the court? Besides the student was displaying the banner off campus, across the street from his school during a school-sponsored welcome for an Olympic procession.

Then there is the issue of general damage to free speech rights. Several free-speech advocates, including David French, then president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and now director of the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom, warned that censorship-minded universities would cite the Frederick decision as justification for campus speech codes. That has now happened. Temple University points to Morse v. Frederick as backing for its egregious speech code that prohibits “generalized sexist remarks and behavior.” The goal is to erode the wall between high school youngsters and adults at college, who traditionally enjoy greater free speech rights.

Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund filed the case against Temple, now before the court of appeals for the third circuit. FIRE’s amicus brief has been joined by an array of allies, including the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Christian Legal Society, collegefreedom.org, Feminists for Free Expression, Students for Academic Freedom and the Student Press Law Center. It’s an unusually broad coalition for a college free-speech case.

Honoring Criminals On Campus

Some universities are nervous about the Ralph Papitto controversy . Papitto, 80 years old and very wealthy, used the N-word in a discussion of diversity at a trustees meeting of the Roger Williams law school, which bears his name. After protests, Papitto requested that his name be removed. But that appears to be in response to heavy pressure from protesters and the university. Papitto said that the N-word “just kinda slipped out” and that the word, which he said has never been in his vocabulary, may have come to mind after he listened to rap music. Those unconvincing explanations made it seem that he very much wanted to be excused so that Ralph A. Papitto Law School could retain its name.

The removal of a donor’s name from a university school or building in the wake of a racial slur is very unusual. But universities are on alert because naming battles are now fairly common, mostly over buildings named for felon-donors from Kenneth Lay to Alfred Taubman.
While debate over naming raged, Seton Hall University students went to classes at Dennis Kozlowski Hall, passed through the Dennis Kozlowski rotunda on their way to the Frank Walsh Library or perhaps to the (Robert) Brennan Recreation Center. Kozlowski, former chief executive officer of Tyco, was convicted of 22 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, grand larceny and falsifying records. Tyco board member Frank Walsh pleaded guilty to concealing a $20 million bonus and First Jersey Securities founder Robert Brennan is serving time for bankruptcy, fraud, and money laundering. The Kozlowski name was removed from the hall and the rotunda at his request and the university regents changed the name of the Brennan Center. Seton Hall kept Walsh’s name on the library on rounds that his offense was milder and that he pleaded guilty.

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