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Partying like it’s 1915

Well, the San Diego gig was pretty fun and anticlimactic all at the same time.  Anne Neal is quite savvy about these things, as I expected she would be, and opened by disavowing the rock-em-sock-em-robots model of debate—after I had gone first and criticized ACTA for publishing pamphlets like this one, which go after what I politely called “a low-information conservative constituency, that is, people who can be counted on to be outraged that there are literature courses that deal with ‘masculinities’ and anthropology courses that deal with ‘the historical foundations of racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.’” This was clever in at least two ways: it effectively announced that Ms. Neal was going to do the Daniel-among-the-lions thing not in the Horowitzian manner of claiming to be the lonely exponent of intellectual diversity in a sea of academic groupthink, but in a post-partisan, “let’s avoid predictable debates and look for solutions” mode; and it therefore forced me to take the tack Obama took in his first debate with McCain, that is, to mark my points of disagreement by saying stuff like “Ms. Neal is right about X; but there’s another point to be made here as well. . . .” Not that I did this with anything like Obama’s poise.  If I could, after all, I would be vice-president-elect right now.

For debate prep, I read this talk, which Ms. Neal had kindly sent me two years ago.  It didn’t come up during our presentations, so on the way out, I took the opportunity to thank her for sending it to me, and asked if I could clear up two little things concerning her remarks about the AAUP.  The first is her remark that the AAUP’s 1915 Statement of Principles “no longer appears on the AAUP website.” She makes the point a bit more polemically here, where she says, “Students’ academic freedom to learn was foundational to the AAUP’s conception of the rights and responsibilities of faculty.  But—tellingly—the 1915 statement no longer appears on the AAUP website.” The clear implication is that we have scrubbed the record. But the fact of the matter, I told Ms. Neal, is that Johns Hopkins UP, the publisher of the AAUP “Redbook” (officially, AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, now in its tenth edition), permits the AAUP to put no more than 30 percent of the book online.  The 1915 statement is still in the print edition, on pages 291-301.

And what’s so important about the 1915 statement?  The passage at issue is this:

The university teacher, in giving instruction upon controversial matters, while he is under no obligation to hide his own opinion under a mountain of equivocal verbiage, should, if he is fit for his position, be a person of fair and judicial mind; he should, in dealing with such subjects, set forth justly, without suppression or innuendo, the divergent opinions of other investigators; he should cause his students to become familiar with the best published expressions of the great historic types of doctrine upon the questions at issue; and he should, above all, remember that his business is not to provide his students with ready-made conclusions, but to train them to think for themselves, and to provide them access to those materials which they need if they are to think intelligently.

It appears to be an article of faith on the right that, as Peter Wood’s rather overheated essay puts it, “the AAUP has long since attempted to distance itself from the 1915 statement” and “when the AAUP speaks on academic freedom today, it is in the awkward spot of invoking the authority of documents and traditions that it has, in substance, repudiated”—all because the 1940 statement and the 1970 interpretive comments don’t reproduce the same language about setting forth justly, without suppression or innuendo, the divergent opinions of other investigators.  This despite the fact that the 1940 statement clearly says that teachers “should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject,” and the 1970 comment explains that

The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster.  The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject.

This isn’t good enough for critics like Wood and Neal, who believe that something important is lost without that “divergent opinions” clause.

Now, you could make a case that the AAUP should go back to insisting that every college professor handle controversial material by setting forth justly without suppression or innuendo the divergent opinions of other investigators—even if you suspect that this gives the right a handy device for declaring climate change to be “controversial” and insisting that the divergent opinions of denialists and cranks be included in college classrooms.  But it’s just a wee bit wingnutty for people like Wood to suggest that the AAUP has distanced itself, or repudiated, the idea of students’ freedom to learn—when in fact the 1967 Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students is much more detailed and robust than the 1915 statement of principles.

Interestingly enough, because I was attending an AAUP meeting before my rendezvous with Anne Neal, I had a chance to ask some of my colleagues about this.  One suggested that the concept of student freedom has evolved over the past hundred years or so partly because the rest of the world has changed somewhat in the interim: in 1915, you couldn’t expect that students had access to “divergent opinions” on controversial matters, especially if they were arriving on campus from the sticks.  In 2008, however, when opinions on every controversial matter are available in an Intertube near you, it seems a bit infantilizing—of students and faculty alike—to specify that (and even how) divergent opinions should be presented in the classroom.  (Indeed, the 1915 statement repeatedly infantilizes students, particularly in the passage about “immature” students whose “character is not yet fully formed” and who must be introduced to scientific truth “with discretion” and “with some consideration for the student’s preconceptions and traditions.” Because, you know, it can be somewhat of a shock to show up to class only to find out you’re descended from monkeys.) Rather, it makes more sense to defend students’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom from capricious evaluation, as the 1967 statement does:

1. Protection of Freedom of Expression.

Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.

2. Protection against Improper Academic Evaluation.

Students should have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation.  At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.

Reasonable people can disagree about this, of course.  But no, the AAUP hasn’t retreated from the idea that students should have the freedom to learn.  On the contrary, we’ve tried to spell out their rights more carefully, and we don’t go by everything in the 1915 statement because, uh, it isn’t 1915 anymore.

The other issue I wanted to take up with Ms. Neal concerned her critique of the AAUP’s amicus brief in FAIR v. Rumsfeld, a case involving the Solomon Amendment.  (Dahlia Lithwick covered the proceedings in Slate.) Ms. Neal wrote:

The academy’s original concept of academic freedom—which centered on the intellectual purity of both professors’ research and students’ academic experience—is out of favor with contemporary educators.  The principle of the disinterested search for the truth has been supplanted by a conception that frequently views professors more as political actors than as teachers.

This perspective was vividly on display last fall when various elite college faculties, as well as the AAUP, submitted briefs opposing the Solomon amendment. These briefs consistently and reflexively invoked academic freedom and faculty autonomy as a foundation, not for the objective search for the truth, but as a foundation for espousing a particular political viewpoint.

Um, well, actually, academic freedom and faculty autonomy are kinda meaningless if they don’t cover professors who espouse a particular political viewpoint.  But sure, you can say it’s a bit of a stretch for the AAUP to file an amicus brief in which academic freedom covers universities that adopt anti-discrimination policies and bar recruiters from employers who won’t hire gays and lesbians.  Some people I’ve spoken to don’t think that academic freedom should apply to entire institutions in this way.  And certainly, the argument got smacked down by the Supremes.  But, as I said to Ms. Neal, there’s another (secondary but important) issue here too: the reach of the Solomon Amendment has been expanded considerably, and the AAUP is perfectly right to object to this.  As the amicus brief argues:

The government is likewise incorrect that the Solomon Amendment merely earmarks federal funds for particular purposes. To the contrary, as currently applied, it penalizes the entire university if any “subelement” deviates from the government’s demands—without regard to whether the subelement itself receives federal funding. The government thus uses funding leverage to coerce universities to abandon protected speech in areas wholly unrelated to its exercise of its spending power.

This feature of the Solomon Amendment ignores the wellsettled law of unconstitutional conditions. Under this Court’s precedents, a funding condition violates the First Amendment when aimed at expression wholly unrelated to the purposes for which funding is given. Government may not place a speech-restrictive “condition on the recipient of a subsidy rather than on a particular program or service, thus effectively prohibiting the recipient from engaging in the protected conduct outside the scope of the federally funded program.” Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173, 197 (1991) (emphasis in original). That, of course, is precisely what the Solomon Amendment does.

Like the “equal-access” provision, this “subelement” rule is the product of changes to the original Solomon Amendment to make its consequences for universities ever more draconian. As originally applied, the Solomon Amendment limited any loss of funding to Defense Department funds, and to the particular “subelement” of the university found not in compliance. Thus, if a law school denied access to military recruiters, then only the law school, not the entire university, would lose funding. The Solomon Amendment has since been extended to cover funds from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Homeland Security, and to provide that a violation by any part of the university triggers a loss of federal funding for the university as a whole.

Like the “equal-access” provision, the “subelement” rule’s indiscriminate reach into every laboratory, library and lecture hall across campus is unnecessary to serve the government’s purposes. The government provides no funds for career services activities, and military recruiting at law schools is unrelated to the reasons the National Institutes of Health provide scientists funding for infectious disease research or the Education Department provides teachers in training subsidies for bilingual education.

Ms. Neal replied, if I recall correctly, that she understood that the AAUP files any number of amicus briefs that touch on civil-liberty issues, and that the real target here was the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule.  Both of which are quite true.

Indeed, the Solomon Amendment has been an important piece of American wingnuttery for quite some time.  It manages to combine three key elements of right-wing culturewarriordom: homophobia, of course, but also the determination to support the troops against the dirty hippie students and their patchouli-smelly professors and, perhaps most important, the conviction that the highest goal of any new policy initiative is to piss off liberals.  As Rep. Richard Pombo (R.-CA) said when he co-sponsored the thing, the Solomon Amendment will “send a message over the wall of the academic ivory tower.” That message:  “Colleges and universities need to know that starry-eyed idealism comes with a price. If they are too good or too self-righteous to treat our Nation’s military with the respect it deserves, then they may also be too good to receive the current generous level of DOD dollars.” And as the AAUP brief correctly notes, that price has gotten progressively steeper with time.

But that was over a decade ago.  Nowadays, as Nate Silver points out,

Public sentiment on DADT has shifted dramatically since 1993.  A May, 1993 poll by ABC News and the Washington Post showed that 44 percent Americans favored allowing homosexuals (their wording) who have publicly disclosed their orientation to serve in the military, as compared with 55 percent opposed. An identical poll taken in July, however, shows 75 percent in favor versus just 22 percent opposed.

Likewise, 471 of the Fortune 500 companies now include sexual orientation in their employment nondiscrimination policies, and even Mormon owners of hotel chains want nothing to do with this Proposition 8 nonsense.

So my final words to Ms. Neal, before we parted ways, were something like this: you know, don’t ask, don’t tell, Solomon Amendment, Prop 8—someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.  Really.  You and I, we’ll still be debating about higher ed somewhere twenty years from now, and I’ll say, hey, remember the time when young gay and lesbian Americans would sign up to fight for their country, and the U.S. armed forces wouldn’t let ‘em?  And you’ll say hey yeah, remember when a bunch of linguists, including six who spoke Arabic, were dismissed from the military in the middle of a huge festering Middle East crisis because they were gay?  Weird, huh?  And I’ll say, you know, I tell my students this stuff, but they don’t believe me.  They say, “yeah, right, and next you’ll be telling us that we fought World War II with racially segregated troops.” And with that, we shook hands and wished each other safe travels.

I just hope I won’t have to bring too many divergent opinions on this into my classroom twenty years from now.  I suppose it’ll depend on how immature my students are.

Posted by on 11/25 at 04:15 PM
  1. Because, you know, it can be somewhat of a shock to show up to class only to find out you’re descended from monkeys.

    Just think how this must make the monkeys feel.

    Personally, I think hominids give good, honest apes a bad name.

    But… you know, Professor Bérubé, the young conservative mind is a fragile, fragile thing—like unto a cuckoo’s egg.  It’s ridiculously easy to crack it open… why, just the tiniest bit of academic freedom is enough to crack its outer shell to smithereens!  And who can put Humpty back together again once his crunchy brain coat has fallen away?  Nobody, that’s who!

    Oh, you educators… who insist on educating… dang you!  Dang you all!

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:03 PM
  2. Since Michael clearly does not want to detract from his laudable endeavor of using delightful snark to denigrate groups of people whose political views he doesn’t share by being overly verbose, it’s up to the commentariat to point out that he is using “the Mormon owners of hotel chains” as shorthand for “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who own hotel chains”.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:10 PM
  3. Thanks, JP.  You know how averse this blog is to overly verbosity.

    Mmmmm, crunchy brain coat.  Crispy on the outside, rich and gooey on the inside.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:17 PM
  4. I’m glad to say that it’s FORMER Rep. Richard Pombo.  Jerry McNerney may be a wee bit energy-geeky, bless him, but he’s not an evil bastard.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:20 PM
  5. Discounting the good archy-angel moronic for a moment, in reading your post, i find myself thinking back to my travels through this nation over the last couple of years.  Visiting large herds of the unenlightened in the midst of those states that are often painted in red by the MSM, i found that most of them were quite well informed of all things conservative and “right.” This seemed due to their being deluged from two distinct media: local conservative newspaper, and saturated far-right talk show radio broadcasts. 

    Thus, when they arrive at teh universities, and encounter that known liberal bias, reality, these young minds are aghast at such glaring controversies.  It seems to me that efforts such as those by Neal, Wood, and Dee Hau, are really guided towards keeping the minds of these children safe from learning.  It isn’t so much that they want ID and the Great Books canon taught in the manner of nineteenth century rigor, but that they don’t ever want these precious innocent beings to experience aspects of the real world around them.  I can only hope that broadband saturation from the white noise frequencies affords some earlier reality (thus liberal) edumacations.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:23 PM
  6. 1: Oh, you educators… who insist on educating… dang you!  Dang you all!

    I agree. Madness!

    And via a twisty French connection, a dramatization of an “educator” belatedly coming to his senses.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:27 PM
  7. Some new Linnaeus needs to develop a rigorous taxonomy of rightwing arguments.  The one employed by Anne Neal is rather classic--you are not permitted to open your mouth on a topic without repeating word-for-word everything you ever said about the topic, on pain of being accused of having abandoned your principles.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:38 PM
  8. Some new Linnaeus needs to develop discover a God’s glorious and rigorous taxonomy of rightwing arguments.

    We shall brook no heresy here, madam.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  06:50 PM
  9. Um, well this made my day:

    Um, well

    For shame, blogger, for shame.

    Posted by Capt. Trollypants  on  11/25  at  07:55 PM
  10. I find this strangely depressing. Where will snark go now that dumb is out? And it’s all the fault of the educators who have been doing their job.
    Captha: thats, which I guess is the plural of that.

    Posted by Hattie  on  11/25  at  08:06 PM
  11. I just hope I won’t have to bring too many divergent opinions on this into my classroom twenty years from now.

    and here i was, hoping against hope for a serious disquisition addressing covariant synergies between aaup and aumf.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  08:29 PM
  12. We shall brook no heresy here, madam.

    I am amazed that you can tell that I’m wearing drag, just by reading my comment.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  09:23 PM
  13. just by reading my comment.

    um, err, um ... Why, yes, thank you, very omniscienty of me.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  09:44 PM
  14. The one employed by Anne Neal is rather classic--you are not permitted to open your mouth on a topic without repeating word-for-word everything you ever said about the topic, on pain of being accused of having abandoned your principles.

    Well, to be fair, I don’t think she’s doing that to anything like the degree Peter Wood is—and, as I noted, she didn’t bring it up in San Diego.  But I do hope that in the future, ACTA will refrain from suggesting that something sinister is going on whenever the AAUP cites its 1940 statement and not the 1915 version.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/25  at  09:47 PM
  15. When we get the fairness doctrine back and reclaim the public airwaves for well.... the public, then I think we can move on to discuss other arenas of free expression.

    Prediction: Next right wing meme: The internet itself has a liberal bias.

    e.

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  10:55 PM
  16. It appears that the main difference between the 1915 Statement of Principles and the 1967 Joint Statement is that the 1915 version is a precatory statement addressed to faculty members while the 1967 version appears to provide students with enforceable rights. That’s a big step forward in granting students actual academic freedom.  Does it work that way in practice?

    Posted by  on  11/25  at  11:00 PM
  17. Man, Eliot beat me to the Fairness Doctrine punch.

    Have a response to Fish’s latest on academic freedom?  I thought Chris Newfield had a good criticism of a 2006 piece of his in Unmaking the Public University (259-263).  Which I recommend heartily, not least b/c it cites this humble blog.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  11/26  at  01:55 AM
  18. Posted by  on  11/26  at  02:36 AM
  19. That’s a big step forward in granting students actual academic freedom.  Does it work that way in practice?

    Well, bloix, I prefer to say that teachers and researchers have academic freedom, and students have the right to learn.  That aside, the degree to which student rights work in practice depends on the policies of individual institutions.

    Have a response to Fish’s latest on academic freedom? 

    Do you mean Save the World On Your Own Time), or has Fish written an op-ed since?  I’ve said a few things about my differences with Stanley in the past, and don’t know if I need to update them.  But I generally agreed with Stanley’s idea of academic freedom as a “guild concept,” and Sherman Dorn disagreed with me in turn, so we’re still working this out.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/26  at  08:26 AM
  20. Thanks JP Stormcrow (#6) you’ve given new relevance to one of my favorite movies of all time. Next time my colleagues over in comp/rhet say we shouldn’t ask students to examine their cockamamie received notions, just show them how to find better sources with which to argue those notions I can simply whistle the “The Colonel Bogey March.”

    Posted by  on  11/26  at  08:36 AM
  21. Having seen Michael’s debate, I can say Michael more than acquitted himself well, and most of the audience, from what I could gauge, knew Ms. Neal was trying to change the larger subject because she knew she was speaking to an audience who would not be very hospitable to her red-baiting university professors.  Michael made his points and kept his tone reasonable throughout, the most salient one which was exposing Ms. Neal’s organization as more interested in propagating right wing ideology to talk radio listeners than promoting improvements in our university systems.

    Still, on the Solomon Amendment, is Michael saying it is wrong for the federal government to deny funds to universities for kicking military recruiters off campuses?  I was personally persuaded by the majority opinion in the case that it was legally appropriate for Congress to pass the legislation.  Politically, I found myself divided because, while I saw Michael’s point that barring military recruiters for not embracing a university’s pro-homosexual rights rules is not unreasonable, I also recall that too many university activists were using anti-discrimination arguments as a cover in order to kick out the government’s military recruiters BECAUSE they were the government’s military recruiters.  That struck me as patently unfair.  I would call it disloyal, but the word “disloyal” is so horribly loaded because of people like Ms. Neal.  I therefore would rather stick with the word “unfair"…

    Posted by Mitchell Freedman  on  11/26  at  10:59 AM
  22. The DOD should have less dollars to spend on campus.

    Posted by Bob In Pacifca  on  11/26  at  11:35 AM
  23. Politically, I found myself divided because, while I saw Michael’s point that barring military recruiters for not embracing a university’s pro-homosexual rights rules is not unreasonable, I also recall that too many university activists were using anti-discrimination arguments as a cover in order to kick out the government’s military recruiters BECAUSE they were the government’s military recruiters.

    I don’t think second-guessing motivations here is the way to go. If there’s documentation of ‘secret’ motives (e.g., the anti-contraception goal of many “pro-lifers”; the reconquista goal of many immigrants rights groups: <-- note this last one is a joke), then by all means, let it be aired; otherwise, it seems best to me to stick with the obvious objections (or defenses) to the government requiring that higher education give special access to an anti-gay organization.

    Posted by  on  11/26  at  11:49 AM
  24. Karl, it was not secret.  The anti-military fervor was a major motivator and really, we should not just see the military as equivalent to some private company that discriminated against homosexuals.  It’s the federal government, and the issue was whether the federal government should fund a university that bans a major federal department from its campuses.  Hence, the reason I see both sides of the question…

    Posted by mitchell freedman  on  11/26  at  12:03 PM
  25. on the Solomon Amendment, is Michael saying it is wrong for the federal government to deny funds to universities for kicking military recruiters off campuses?  I was personally persuaded by the majority opinion in the case that it was legally appropriate for Congress to pass the legislation.

    Hey, Mitchell, thanks for the kind words about the debate.  And yes, I agree with you.  Much as I hate to say it, and fear for my immortal soul for typing the following words, but (gulp) Scalia was right to point out, during oral argument, that because the Constitution explicitly gives Congress the power to raise armies, military recruiters get to be the only representatives from discriminatory employers who are exempt from campus anti-discrimination policies if Congress wants it that way.

    That’s why the only way around this one is to repeal DADT, and let our patriotic gay and lesbian brothers and sisters serve with honor (and gay pride!).  And that’s why I made my “this will all seem funny” remark—just after letting Ms. Neal know that I disagreed with the AAUP’s amicus brief w/r/t the academic freedom claim but strongly agreed with it w/r/t to the complaint about the overextension of the Solomon Amendment.

    Politically, I found myself divided because, while I saw Michael’s point that barring military recruiters for not embracing a university’s pro-homosexual rights rules is not unreasonable, I also recall that too many university activists were using anti-discrimination arguments as a cover in order to kick out the government’s military recruiters BECAUSE they were the government’s military recruiters.  That struck me as patently unfair.

    And the other thing that will happen when we repeal DADT, Mitchell, is that we’ll finally find out who’s protesting in solidarity with their patriotic gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and who’s protesting the military qua military.  By their hemp berets ye shall know them.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/26  at  12:33 PM
  26. .  By their hemp berets ye shall know them.

    Gives a new twist to the notion of eating one’s hat as a consequence of losing this or that.

    Posted by  on  11/26  at  04:55 PM
  27. La link to sakana-sensei’s latest:

    http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/an-authoritative-word-on-academic-freedom/

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  11/26  at  09:09 PM
  28. Pombo, once: “. . . a message over the wall of the academic ivory tower”

    There’s another ivory tower?  Is that one surrounded by a siege wall too?

    I have to go soak my brain in WD-40 now.

    Posted by  on  11/27  at  04:38 AM
  29. La link to sakana-sensei’s latest:

    Thanks, TC!  Though that did look like comment spam for a moment.

    OK, I haven’t read the Finkin/Post book yet, but I’ve liked everything I’ve seen from them on the subject so far.  As for Stanley, well . . .

    Responding to an expressed concern that liberal faculty too often go on about the Iraq War in a course on an entirely unrelated subject, Finkin and Post maintain that there is nothing wrong, for example, with an instructor in English history “who seeks to interest students by suggesting parallels between King George III’s conduct of the Revolutionary War and Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq.”

    But we only have to imagine the class discussion generated by this parallel to see what is in fact wrong with introducing it. Bush, rather than King George, would immediately become the primary reference point of the parallel, and the effort to understand the monarch’s conduct of his war would become subsidiary to the effort to find fault with Bush’s conduct of his war. Indeed, that would be immediately seen by the students as the whole point of the exercise. Why else introduce a contemporary political figure known to be anathema to most academics if you were not inviting students to pile it on, especially in the context of the knowledge that this particular king was out of his mind?

    . . . we’ve seen this bit before, haven’t we?  Last year, he did the same keep-Bush-out-of-the-classroom shtick in response to the AAUP’s “Freedom in the Classroom” report:

    My point is made for me by the subcommittee when it proposes a hypothetical as a counterexample to the stricture laid down by the Students for Academic Freedom: “Might not a teacher of nineteenth-century American literature, taking up ‘Moby Dick,’ a subject having nothing to do with the presidency, ask the class to consider whether any parallel between President George W. Bush and Captain Ahab could be pursued for insight into Melville’s novel?”

    But with what motive would the teacher initiate such a discussion? If you look at commentaries on “Moby Dick,” you will find Ahab characterized as inflexible, monomaniacal, demonic, rigid, obsessed and dictatorial. What you don’t find are words like generous, kind, caring, cosmopolitan, tolerant, far-seeing and wise. Thus the invitation to consider parallels between Ahab and Bush is really an invitation to introduce into the classroom (and by the back door) the negative views of George Bush held by many academics.

    Stanley really has a regrettable tendency to go into concern-troll mode when the Bush-parallels come up.  It’s especially regrettable with regard to the Moby-Dick example, because, of course, Ahab was actually a charismatic leader who understood that we have to fight the white whale over there so that we don’t have to fight the white whale here.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/27  at  10:28 AM
  30. of course, Ahab was actually a charismatic leader who understood that we have to fight the white whale over there so that we don’t have to fight the white whale here.

    There’s also that famous scene—Chapter 84, I think it is—where Ahab symbolically pardons a whale while in the background his crew is slaughtering another one. Good times.

    Captcha: “plans” as in “I hope yours for Thanksgiving go well!”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  11/27  at  10:42 AM
  31. Sounds like some of you “academics” don’t understand that relatively inaccessible material properly calls for relatively inaccessible treatment in the classroom. Is everything to be allowed in pursuit of “relevance”? Where are the professors who dare to leave their students defeated, but challenged and finally emboldened?

    Posted by  on  11/27  at  10:17 PM
  32. Where are the professors who dare to leave their students defeated, but challenged and finally emboldened?

    On the tenure track at Bovine University.

    You and I, we’ll still be debating about higher ed somewhere twenty years from now

    See, this is supposed to be optimistic, but I find its plausibility depressing.  Is it too much to hope for that professional liars* such as Ms. Neal will eventually see their shtick of demonizing rootless cosmopolitans intellectuals lose its ability to command an audience?  (Answer: Yes.)

    That’s why I often wonder about such debates.  Was anyone convinced to change their views by all the parries and ripostes?  I hope so**, but I’m skeptical.

    *I give Ms. Neal the compliment of attributing mendacity to her, rather than stupidity.

    **I naturally presume that Professor Bérubé’s eloquence would carry the day.  Not for nothing is he called “The Ginormous Head Fog.”

    Posted by  on  11/28  at  05:09 PM
  33. Dammit, San Diego is my home town, but I showed up for Thanksgiving two days too late to catch your talk. Next time, Berube… next time!

    Posted by  on  11/29  at  09:19 PM
  34. Well thank heavens for Stanley Fish!  If it wasn’t for his warning, we’d have students putting modern issues into the context of historical precedent and reinterpreting contemporary events outside of the ethical vacuum du jour!  O, the horror!

    Personally, I think we need to go a step farther.  It isn’t enough, really, to just stop teachers from prompting students to relate history, literature and science to our present political debates; clearly, the teacher’s ability to choose study materials which the students might use to interpret their own lives (political, spiritual or temporal) is a huge power which must be checked lest it be horribly, horribly abused. 

    I don’t see any way around it: we have to eliminate everything from the curriculum except mathematics and grammar.  Everything else poses a risk of relevancy.  Just have students copy geometry proofs and diagram sentences for sixteen straight years - surely, that way, nobody could have anything to complain about.

    captcha: wall, as in “up against the”

    Posted by  on  12/01  at  03:42 PM
  35. You may be interested that the right wing hacks that are Safeguard Old State announced this evening that Anne Neal will speak tomorrow December 2th at 5pm at an undisclosed location on the University Park campus.

    Posted by veblen  on  12/01  at  11:30 PM
  36. You may be interested that the right wing hacks that are Safeguard Old State announced this evening th

    Posted by Cheap Evening Dresses  on  04/12  at  07:53 AM

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