Tag Archives: activist

The Education of Rachel Corrie

To predictable outrage among anti-Israel activists worldwide, a
Haifa court ruled Tuesday that former U.S. college student Rachel Corrie’s 2003
death was an accident. Corrie, a member of the fanatic International Solidarity
Movement, was in Gaza at the time, trying to obstruct the work of the Israeli
Defense Force; she was killed as she tried to act as a “human shield” by an IDF
bulldozer whose driver couldn’t see her. The judge used common sense, noting
that as the bulldozer moved toward her, “she did not move away as any
reasonable person would have done. But she chose to endanger herself . . . and
thus found her death.”

Corrie’s story subsequently became lionized by those eager to
demonize Israel; see Jamie Kirchick’s scathing review of the
one-person play based on Corrie’s writings as both a little girl and as a
college student. As Kirchick noted, the play’s attempt to tug at the audience’s
heartstrings unwittingly undermined its argument, since it showed that “Corrie never outgrew the naïve little schoolgirl. Corrie at
23 was just like Corrie at ten.”

This simple-mindedness was reflected in Corrie’s e-mails to her
family. A note that she sent to her mother at the time confirmed her ignorance
of international affairs; after accusing Israel of genocide, she wrote home to ask her mother to “look up the definition of
genocide according to international law,” whose meaning she admitted that she
could not recall. (“I really value words,” she added–though apparently not
enough to worry about whether what she said about Israel was accurate.)

If nothing else, sending such a poorly-trained student into a war
zone would constitute an indictment of the education that Corrie received,
especially since she was in Gaza while on break from Evergreen College. Evergreen,
however, seems to revel in the fact that its students will receive (at best) a
one-sided education on matters relating to Middle East international relations.
The college sponsors a “Rachel
Corrie Memorial Scholarship”
(to memorialize Corrie, the “community
activist”), which awards $2000 to an Evergreen
student “dedicated to gaining a better understanding of the Middle East and to
working locally or internationally to further Middle East peace.” Applicants,
according to the college, “must show how they will use their studies to promote
human rights and social justice through community activism and/or political

What academic training does a Corrie Scholarship applicant
need? Work in such “areas of interest related to the Middle East” as “Arab
culture and Arabic language, US Policy in the Middle East, and peace, justice
and conflict resolution studies.” At Evergreen, learning about Israel
apparently isn’t essential to gain “a better understanding of the Middle East.”

Given what Evergreen does teach
about the Middle East, perhaps it’s better for its students simply to remain
ignorant about Israel. While she was at the college, Corrie could learn about Israel
through such one-sided offerings as “Seeking Justice:
Reclamation, Equality, and Restitution,” which contrasted Palestinian sources
with what the syllabus termed “Zionist/Israeli” documents; Israel, in this
sense, was recognized not as a sovereign state but merely a “Zionist” entity.
after her death, an Evergreen professor who had worked with Corrie named
Steve Niva published an op-ed
charging that his former student was “killed” as a foreseeable result of
Israeli security policies (in this instance, building a security barrier to
guard against Gaza smugglers). Niva, who shortly before Corrie’s death penned a
Counterpunch article implying
that former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon bore responsibility for the
Palestinians’ embrace of suicide-murder tactics, has made something of a career
in Corrie Studies; the Evergreen website notes that he served as a featured
at Oregon State during a “week-long run of the play ‘My Name is
Rachel Corrie,’ where he gave a talk entitled ‘Unlikely Icons: Rachel Corrie,
Palestine and the New Internationalism.'”

This past semester, Niva taught a course
on U.S. foreign policy
and the roots of terrorism, which purported to
ensure that students would “obtain a thorough
knowledge of current events” and “develop a thorough understanding of the
history of United States foreign policy in the Middle East.”

Evergreen, alas, has stopped
putting course syllabi on-line, so outsiders have to trust that Niva’s reading
list and course topics are fair.

The NEA: Union “Activists” as Diversicrats

Both of my
parents were public school teachers, and through them I gained an appreciation
of the value of teachers’ unions. Though the NEA and AFT can sometimes
frustrate public education reforms, they play a critical role in giving
teachers a seat at the table in setting education policies. Indeed, perhaps the
most objectionable aspect of Wisconsin
governor Scott Walker’s union law came in his decision to apply its provisions
to teachers’ unions even as he shielded unions that represent similarly
situated police and firefighters.

Continue reading The NEA: Union “Activists” as Diversicrats

Tell Me Again—Why Is He at Princeton?

Van Jones, the Oakland, Calif.-based radical activist and author who was forced to resign his post as the Obama administration’s “green jobs czar” in September after it was revealed that he had signed a “truther” petition in 2004 calling for an investigation of President George W. Bush’s supposed collusion in the massacres of Sept. 11, 2001, now has a new post: on the faculty of Princeton University.
Jones will be a visiting fellow at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public International Affairs for the 2010-2011 academic year, where he will be teaching a graduate seminar on environmental politics—quite a coup for someone who put his name onto a “9/11 Truth Statement” that aired zany government cover-up conspiracy theories worthy of the UFO festival in Roswell, N.M,–if not of a Michael Moore movie. The statement declared that the Bush administration “may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war,” and included such queries as: “Why did the Secret Service allow Bush to complete his elementary school visit [on 9/11], apparently unconcerned about his safety or that of the schoolchildren?” “Why haven’t authorities in the U.S. and abroad published the results of multiple investigations into trading that strongly suggested foreknowledge of specific details of the 9/11 attacks, resulting in tens of millions of dollars of traceable gains?”
Jones’s fringe-left career, which began with his arrest in one of the riots over the 1992 acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers for beating Rodney King (the riots left 53 people dead and wreaked more than $1 billion in property damage after six days of looting, arson, and assaults) has led critics to blast Princeton for welcoming onto its faculty someone almost as “nutty” (in the words of an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily) as Ward Churchill, the former University of Colorado ethnic studies professor (since fired for plagiarizing from other scholars) who famously called the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns.” Jones once boasted that the Rodney King riots had made a “communist” out of him. He says he has since repudiated his youthful Marxism—but not enough to prevent him from issuing a thundering call, in a speech given just two weeks before he started his White House job last March, for forced redistribution of capitalist profits to minorities and Native Americans: “Give them the wealth!…No justice on stolen land!”

Continue reading Tell Me Again—Why Is He at Princeton?

The Latest PC Fad – “Disability Studies”

This past February about 50 disability activists, many of them in wheelchairs, held a demonstration at the Beverly Hills headquarters of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The object of the protest was the humanitarian award to be given at the Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 22 to comedian Jerry Lewis for his 42 years of Labor Day fund-raising telethons on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The protesters sang satirical songs denigrating the “pity” for the disabled they claimed the telethons represent, waved posters bearing such slogans as “Jerry Lewis—No Oscar,” and bantered with the receptionists, security guards, and Beverly Hills police officers who tried to persuade them to leave the premises without any bad publicity-generating arrests.
The protest—along with similar nano-scale demonstrations in other U.S. cities—barely registered on the frontal cortexes of most Americans. The 82-year-old Lewis got his award, and the entertainment press devoted most of its attention to the possibility of a catfight between Brad Pitt’s serial consorts Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie, both of whom were present in dishy evening gowns at the ceremony. Those who did catch the protests on television might have asked themselves, “Huh? Why are these guys protesting against a guy who raises millions of dollars to cure what they’ve got?” Nonetheless, “The Trouble With Jerry,” as the movement’s advocates call it, is currently being touted as a public-relations triumph for the field of “disability studies,” an academic discipline that is less than 20 years old but has already generated hundreds of college courses, dozens of textbooks, doctoral programs at Syracuse University and elsewhere, and its own scholarly journal, the Disability Studies Quarterly.
At the Conference on College Composition and Communication in mid-March, Margaret Price, an assistant professor of English and disability-studies specialist at Spelman College, pointed out (according to Inside Higher Education) that disabilities-studies scholars, at universities and elsewhere, had helped full-time disability-rights activists put together the Lewis protests in Beverly Hills and elsewhere. “[I]if we are not willing to get a little messier in the ways that we engage with our potential audiences in national arenas, what we say may end up smelling of bulls—t,” Price declared in language not usually associated with academia.

Continue reading The Latest PC Fad – “Disability Studies”

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.”

Continue reading Creating Activists At Ed School

Schooling Activists

NAS today released an excellent report on the state of social work education at American colleges, “The Scandal of Social Work Education”. Talk of social activism pervades these schools from the very point of accreditation – listen to the report on this point:

“The Council on Social Work Education, the national accreditor of social work education programs, considers preparation for political advocacy an essential component of professional training, its Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards declaring that one of the purposes of social work is: “to pursue policies, services, and resources through advocacy and social or political actions [italics added] that promote social and economic justice.”

The report goes into considerable revealing detail about individual school mission statements, course descriptions, and case histories.

But I won’t belabor your attentions when you should instead:

1. Look directly to “The Scandal of Social Work Education” through our Must Reads reports.

2. And read John Leo’s column from above today, on that very topic.