Thursday, September 01, 2011

Fear And Loathing In Academia

It seems that neocon strategists have been hard at work on a new project: to use the left-leaning political biases of most university faculty members as evidence that liberal indoctrination of students is occurring at these institutions.

As it turns out, graduating from college actually correlates with conservative, not liberal, political affiliation. The entire notion that left-leaning professors need to be replaced by right-leaning ones is a solution in search of a problem – another deliberate, politically motivated deception by those on the far right.

A recent editorial in the (conservative) Wall Street Journal brings the issue into the open:

Apparently, there is something dangerous afoot – but not from an imagined specter of liberal professorial brainwashing. Imagine this: conservative ideologues are now actually creating traction with an idea to ban instructional content that any student claims to be "offensive."

That's right! In order to eliminate a non-existent threat of liberal ideological indoctrination at the nation's colleges and universities, far-right activists want to allow anyone offended by any information presented in any class to have that information stripped from course syllabi. Not taught. Not discussed. Just gone. In true Orwellian tradition, the plan is called the "Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR)."

Let's see ... you find murder offensive, so we can't teach Shakespeare's Hamlet. I'm offended by the notion of public entitlement programs, so we can't talk about Roosevelt's New Deal or compare capitalism to socialism. Someone else takes offense at the notion of evolution, so half the biology courses have to be rewritten to exclude any mention of it. A depressed student is offended by the color blue, so we strip it (along with purple and green) from the color wheel.

Aside from the surreal kookiness and unworkability of such an idea, and the obvious totalitarian implications, what amazes me the most is that this plan is actually gaining support at prestigious institutions such as Princeton and Temple University, which have already adopted versions of the ABOR.

Have we all lost our collective marbles?

Is it just me ... or is this one of the worst ideas ever concocted?

Like many things born on the political fringes, this whole thing would be laughable if it wasn't so scary.

Click here to read an excellent Washington Post article that provides all the details.


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