Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Children of the damned

This is just plain scary. An alumni group is paying students to spy on profs and provide taped proof that university teachers are promoting some objectionable leftwing agenda in the classroom. So what about the professors with right-leaning views? They get a pass? A cash bonus? Read on.

42 Comments:

Blogger Gene said...

scary? you bet.

surprising? not in the least. these people are completely out of control.

If you haven't wandered to the Magnolia to see "Good Night & Good Luck" yet (about Edward R. Murrow vs. McCarthy) .. do it! Then draw your own conclusion about whether history repeats.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Morgaine said...

Great. They're going to spy on teachers who teach.

12:00 AM  
Blogger zac said...

Haha, love it! Sign me up!

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scary? Not as scary as spending 30-40 grand a year to have your kid compelled to regurgitate tired lefty politics to get a good grade.
Besides, now the profs get to whine about 'McCarthyism'...

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of it as the FOIA, but without making taxpayers foot any sort of bill for paperwork.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Appalling. Now revealing anything less-than-stellar about conservative right-wing politics in this country is considered an "unprofessional" way of teaching?

Silly me. I always thought truly valid and powerful teaching meant telling all sides of the story. Rather like powerful reporting is supposed to be.

Sad days, these are, to be a thinking, aware American.

One positive note -- mid-kid's history prof this semester is a bright light on the horizon. He calls himself a progressive socialist and told the entire lecture hall full of eager young minds yesterday that they're stupid if they think they get the truth from the nightly news, CNN, and especially Fox.

I want to write him a gushing email of admiration, thanks and support. (You should see his website and his writings!) But my daughter would be appalled. I promised all the girls I'd stop writing those things to their intelligent, progressive, innovative instructors after they got out of high school.

If you were a college senior and your mother wrote a "you go guy" email to your radical history prof, would YOU be mortified?

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are silly tactics, in my opinion. You know, sharing information is by nature, liberal. So, if college professors seem liberal, that is why.

I'm sure these professors will continue to teach as they normally do, and the alumni group will do its "research" to prove what we all know already: sharing ideas and viewing all sides to an issue is liberal.

If this alumni group is so intent in stopping criticism about the current administration, maybe they should lobby congress to write a law that says it's a crime to criticize the government. (Of course, I am kidding).

But the last time I checked, we have free speech in America. In college, we come in contact with all types of people, ideas, cultures, etc. College is a time when we figure out who we are. And we should be subjected to liberal professors, conservative professors, and professors from other countries that are neither liberal or conservative. I know that listening to opinions from international students challenged my beliefs and made me more aware. This by nature is "liberal."

There are still plenty of conservative people in this country. I don't think that all these liberal college professors are very effective since the government is currently a conservative one. So, really, aren't all these tactics to expose liberal professors a waste of time?

10:20 AM  
Anonymous wayward said...

This reminds me of the Prince Myshkins song "The List" about the Clear Channel List:

"Over one hundred professors were listed as transgressors,
for disparaging the President's new war
It was time for schools to snitch on the leftists in their midst,
and that's exactly what this patriotic list was for

Joe burbled with intrigue, as he crashed the Ivy League
with intent to start a new McCarthy scare
But imagine his amazement, when pounding down the pavement
were professors waving posters which declared:

Why aren't we on the list? Have you seen our resumes?
What did we ever do to incur you people's praise?
We can prove that we're seditious - won't you even act suspicious?
We've worked for those positions on your privileged lexicon!
Once you've scanned our major works, once you've glanced at our
credentials
We feel certain you'll concur that our censure is essential!
We aren't everyday dissenters - we're dissenters holding tenure!
You people have some nerve!
An ad hominem attack'd be the least that we deserve!
Come on, put us on that list where we belong.

Ask any therapist for a practical prognosis
She'll tell you making lists can be a symptom of psychosis
And it's becoming clear, too clear to be dismissed
That there's somebody this year who's got a thing for making lists

There's a list of evil men, there's a list of evil nations
There's a list of suspect profiles and suspicious organizations
There's a list of strange new laws, and a list of detainees,
It's a list a thousand long which we're all not allowed to see,

But if it's anything at all like their last illustrious list
That oughta give us some idea of whom this one consists
'Cause if you wrote the Bill of Rights, which we're hoping still
exists,
You'd fit their definition of suspicious terrorists
And for the people who resist, and the people who assist
There's a mystery tribunal in a military mist
It's a twisted justice system that can always add more twists
When it gets to feeling listless as its mill runs out of grist
And nobody has to be a vicious pessimist
To perceive that there's a question here that everybody's missed
It's the question that persists through every day of this
Namely: Why aren't we on the list?"

The mp3 is up at http://www.princemyshkins.com/songs/list.mp3

10:56 AM  
Blogger Jeff the Baptist said...

"You know, sharing information is by nature, liberal."

Considering these alumni are simply sharing information about professors, wouldn't that make them "liberal" by your definition? Something about your definition of liberalism doesn't work.

I agree that students should be subject to professors of all walks, races, nationalities, faiths, and political leanings. Do you really think that is happening now?

"Now revealing anything less-than-stellar about conservative right-wing politics in this country is considered an "unprofessional" way of teaching?"

In political science or even economics, certainly not. In Physics or Creative Writing? Doesn't really sound like part of the curriculum to me.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I mean about sharing information being liberal is that the current administration, which is conservative, kept naysayers out of campaign rallies. They have silenced people and kept secrets. While this happens whether you are liberal or conservative, it seems to me like it was worse than I've known in my lifetime, and it's scary.

So, yes, reporters get blamed for having a liberal bias because they bring issues (sharing information) to our attention that we might not otherwise know, and I am thankful that they do. Some may disagree with me. It is their right as an American to disagree with my opinion. But to tie real journalism and liberalism together is a tactic that the right likes to use while they are covering up their transgressions of tapping phones, paying golf in Scotland, redistricing Texas, etc.

And if Democrats were the ones doing this, I'd speak out against it, too. But I guarantee you the Democrats wouldn't call reporting a liberal bias, no matter if it helps or hurts them.

11:44 AM  
Blogger David said...

Being a conservative graduate of UW madison, most of my prof. were left of center, but I never thought it was a detrement to my education, nor did I ever think that my grades were influenced by my religous beliefs.

Having said that, I would of loved to tape a geography prof. who was clearly suffering from Alz. - i always wanted a refund on my tuition to sit through that class.

Having said that, whats wrong with taping the class? Free speech cuts both ways. Actually, the students likely have a better free speech argument - it is the prof. (as an employee) who has his speech restricted in the class room.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

I see nothing wrong with an open discussion of what is being taught on campus. If a student or alumni group has the courage to support their ideas, then where is the courage of professors to support theirs or to debate other ideas in the classroom?

I think its Ironic that on the one hand you support a hot profs website which is all about face, but when the discussion turns to the actual person, its bad.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Jacob said...

Taping and distributing instructors' lectures without permission runs afoul of intellectual property rights. The instructor in the classroom has full and complete rights to her lecture content.

What's happened here is that fools like David Horowitz have gone off telling half-truth stories and they've been called on it. This group is no doubt going to cherry-pick excerpts of lecture and class sessions to try and pillory faculty they don't like for purely political reasons.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Taping of classes, and distribution of those tapes amongst students, has been going on since tape recorders were invented. What's next? You can't distribute notes?

I've read through some reactions from Professors, and I don't agree with many of them. This is not McCarthyism ... if you can't see the difference between some disgruntled alumni and what McCarthy did, then I have no hope for you.

The real problem is that the ivory towers are being subjected to greater scrutiny, and criticisms are being leveled against what's being taught.

If you can't honestly answer the criticism with reasoned discussion, then perhaps you need to rethink what you're doing. Otherwise, soldier on and more power to you!

1:06 PM  
Blogger Lorenzo and Lynn Martinez said...

Wasn't Nazi Germany like this ?

1:06 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Jacob,

When you have grown up around a small-town Baptist Church full of hypocrites, uncritical thinkers, and emotional bullies it does not take much effort to spot the same in a University Professor or Department.

The first rule of the Church Lady is to stifle debate - it matters not if its a bake sale with no room for your cakes or a knife in the back.

It will be funny to see a Marxist Professor try to hide behind intellectual property rights - when Marx would say the surplus value of her lecture would belong to the students.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All that this program proposes to do is to shine a little light into the world of academicians.
Parents (and the public at large) have little idea of the venom and malice some of these "professional" spew.
Sunlight is a great disinfectant, but you can expect these left-wing parasites to moan pitifully as they melt away.
Mike in NY

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"intelligent, progressive, innovative instructors" ???? These were graduates of 'edukashun skoolls,' and probably had the lowest SAT scores on campus. I'm sute they made your kids feel good. abot themselves. I have them now as students, and they can't read or write.

As for 'sharing education' being liberal, what about educating youth for the world ahead by passing on the wisdom of those before them? That might be considered conservative.

To be sure, most of my colleagues are liberal, but thankfully they don't bring much of that into class. There are extreme exceptions though, and, like the Farleigh-Dickinson adjunct who revealed as a NAZI, they need to be known. Remember, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As for 'sharing education' being liberal, what about educating youth for the world ahead by passing on the wisdom of those before them? That might be considered conservative."

What you say sounds like history to me. You can call it conservative, if you want. And the last time I checked, history is a requirement at the college level. And for the record, I have no problem with colleges teaching history and examining liberal and conservative views on history.

Oh wait, that makes me a liberal doesn't it? Being willing to look at both sides is a liberal thing, right, because otherwise I should only want to hear the conservative viewpoint and not ask any questions to be considered conservative.

And I don't think liberal professors are going anywhere. As long as I've been alive, professors have been blamed for spreading "liberalism." To a point made earlier, if that's the case, they are losing because this country is ruled by conservatives. So, I don't think the sunlight has much to expose, except some paranoia among some people.

And what specifically are these professors saying that bugs you so much that you would use words like venom and malice to describe them. I have bachelors and masters degrees, and I don't recall having one professor, ever, that I would accuse of being venomous or malicious, whether or not, he/she was fat/thin, nice/jerk, ugly/not-so-ugly, liberal/conservative, etc. Those words are really harsh, and I would not use them to describe a single professor that I had in all the years that I went to school.

Red River, you said, "I see nothing wrong with an open discussion of what is being taught on campus." I agree with you, but the word to think about is OPEN. The implications that these taped lectures are to build some case against professors is idiotic and cowardly, in my opinion. Sure, people have been taping lectures for years and years. But to think that you have to go to the level of spite and catch professors in a "Gotcha" kind of way is ridiculous, in my opinion. Colleges are the one place where you are allowed to speak pretty freely. Try having a debate with your boss in a corporate environment or talk about setting up your boss because you think he's spreading venom. You'd be canned faster than you could blink your eyes. All I'm saying is that this should be an OPEN discussion with professors and allow them to address issues brought before them. I have a feeling they would be more receptive than any boss, neighbor, and probably even any family member in which you had such a difference in political beliefs.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Jacob said...

Scrutiny is good. Open discussion is good. Professors who discourage either should be dealt with by established procedures within their respective institutions. Students should not be enticed to attack their professors.

Chris, trading notes and taping lectures are fine, provided they are for personal use. When the materials are turned over to an outside entity, that does not fall under any concept of fair use.

All that this program proposes to do is endanger students by asking them to violate copyright law to promote a ideological agenda.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Morgaine said...

This is just another element of the fascism that is sweeping this country. Intellectuals and artists are always among the first targets. If Alito is confirmed, it will only get worse.

Did you hear about DOJ demanding all searches made on Google for June and July of last year?

1:26 AM  
Blogger Jeff the Baptist said...

Oh one more comment about these guys. I have no problem publicizing what professors say in the classroom. However some of this group's work focuses on what the professors do in their own time outside of school grounds.

It is one thing to say "this professor teachs a course with a lot of liberal bias" or "this professor's research seems to be very partisan." It is another to criticize a professor for volunteering with a Democrat candidate. Participating in the political process is a fundamental right. Provided they aren't unethically abusing their position for political ends, they have every right to do it.

"What I mean about sharing information being liberal is that the current administration, which is conservative, kept naysayers out of campaign rallies."

I was in college when Clinton ran for re-election. Gore held a rally on campus and I went (despite planning to vote for the other guys). How often do you get to see your VP in the flesh?

Security was geared around keeping out anyone with bags, weapons, and Dole/Kemp campaign materials. The Secret Service confiscated them as soon as they saw them. Of course people inside were handing out C/G materials if you forgot to bring yours. Trust me, suppression of dissent at rallies isn't a solely Republican thing. The rallies on both sides are completely staged events.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Just wondering- if it had been liberal students who taped or listed their conservative prof's reactionary views, would it be scary, or investigative journalism?

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Professors with right-leaning views...?" You mean like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy?

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Security was geared around keeping out anyone with bags, weapons, and Dole/Kemp campaign materials. The Secret Service confiscated them as soon as they saw them. Of course people inside were handing out C/G materials if you forgot to bring yours. Trust me, suppression of dissent at rallies isn't a solely Republican thing. The rallies on both sides are completely staged events."

The key is that you still got in. Your Republican stash may have been taken away from you, which I still think is crap, but you got in. However, I heard news stories that anyone who had Democratic gear were not allowed in the rally at all, which is beyond ridiculous and seems to me like it's a violation of the first amendment. I'm no legal scholar, but I think you should be allowed into a rally, no matter if you are of the party presenting or not. This includes you, a Republican, being allowed to attend a Democratic rally. Not being allowed is wrong, in my opinion.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous lucille said...

<<"Now revealing anything less-than-stellar about conservative right-wing politics in this country is considered an "unprofessional" way of teaching?"

In political science or even economics, certainly not. In Physics or Creative Writing? Doesn't really sound like part of the curriculum to me.>>

Uh, well, that's a pretty narrow vision of curriculum. Creative Writers take on political issues all the time. Don't know what Physics folk do, at the college level. But I teach 19th c. literature and when I teach Rebecca Harding Davis's "Life in the Iron Mills" or Thoreau's *Walden,* I do encourage students to make connections between what those authors were protesting and inequities or injustice in contemporary life. Even my right-of-center students are often stunned by the excesses of raw capitalism in each moment. And if they write a paper saying capitalism works just dandy, and support it with astute textual analysis in good expository prose, they get an A and some gentle questions about what they might be overlooking. If that put me on a list of liberally biased professors, hey, I'd be proud: I equate "liberal" with "capable of critical thinking."

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Professors with right-leaning views...?" You mean like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy?"

They exist. When I was getting my MBA, I had a professor who openly discussed his Christian faith and tied his faith to the book we used for class. We didn't even have a textbook for the class. Instead, we read a book, written by a Christian. The book is this Christian author's view on balancing life. How this tied into business school was a bit of a stretch to me. I hated the class, not because I hate religion, but I felt like this was not a class that was worthy of being part of a Masters curriculum.

However, I did not call the professor names. I did not tape record his boring ass lectures that were not intellectual, and I did not complain about him to school administration. The class sucked, and I still feel like it was out of place for a higher level institution, but I left the class with my personal views still in tact.

Are conservative students afraid that if they are exposed to views other than their conversative ones that they'll end up being liberal? Please. Really, what are you afraid of?

The thought of trying to do some sort of harm to this professor would have been rather juvenile. And, he was not the only conservative professor I had in business school. So, yes, conservative professors exist. Stop your whining. By the way, there is nothing wrong with the professor. We have a difference in some beliefs. But it doesn't make him, or others like him, terrible. How liberal of me to be so accepting.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucille,

I agree with you. Even in junior high and high school, when we read writings by Benjamin Franklin or Greek mythology or Shakespeare or Emerson, we most definitely examined the history of the writing. It was important to understand the point of view of the author. Isn't that the point in studying literature? And by studying literature, you are able to understand how people lived, what was important to them, prominent events of that time, etc. And writing is fundamental in studying literature. I had to read the fire and brimstone sermons of Jonathan Edwards in high school. You really understand history better through creative writing and studying literature. I am thankful for the lessons learned and the good English teachers I had back then. they are probably why I am liberal today because they taught me how to think critically about literature.

And, I, like you, "equate "liberal" with "capable of critical thinking."

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Political views have no place in the college classroom. Period. Only facts should be taught.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How in the world can you teach "only facts" in a class called Contemporary Moral Problems? How can you have a meaningful discussion about anything when all you ever talk about is facts?

I do agree that some professors abuse the privilege of having a regular audience to spout off unrelated political viewpoints. But at the same time, these people are human beings, and so are the students. We can't expect professors to be robotic, fact-spewing machines. Some of my favorite classes had heated debates in which the professor took part. And at my college at least, students were smart enough to argue against the prof when needed. I've NEVER had a class where politics factored into grading.

I would hate for college classrooms to be reduced to black-and-white places where political views -- i.e., all the shades of gray -- are taboo, where everyone is constantly tiptoing around the big white elephant in the middle of the room. That's boring and unnecessary and definitely not valuable to anybody involved.

As far as I'm concerned, if a professor wants to bring his or her political views to the discussion, that's fine -- as long as I'm still being taught what I signed up to learn and as long as I and everyone else gets a chance for rebuttal. Candor, honesty, and receptiveness are not such bad things, and it would be nice if more people would learn their value while in college.

5:19 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

But politics do belong in the science classroom because politics strongly affect science .. for example, politics affect the sort of science we receive funding to pursue (i.e; stem cell research), the political climate in which this science is applied to real world problems (i.e.; climate change), and politics even decides whether certain lines of research are perceived to be "worthwhile" at all, just to bring up a few really easy examples.

Even if a student never enters a scientific field, they are, as voters, being gravely deceived if they are not given the basic facts about how politics affect the research that is available and how it is used. Since public money funds most basic research, the public has a responsibility to know how their money is allocated, and the effect that politics have on that.

And if students don't learn this in college, then where and when, will they ever learn this stuff?

GrrlScientist

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To whomever said that political views have no place in the classroom, you are clearly not understanding that political views, social mores, culture (politics, included), etc. have shaped everything we do from the beginning of time. You can't teach philosophy, biology, history, literature, etc. without some type of political or moral issue arising. Throughout time, scientists and philosophers and mathematicians have mixed science, philosophy, and religion together. Many early scientists were also religious or not religious, and their views had a big impact on what their theories were. And their views had a huge impact on the development of civilization as we know it today.


You clearly have not had enough education if you think that political views, religious views, and basic societal views have not been a part of math and science since the beginning of time. I urge you to learn more about early scientists and philosophers, like Copernicus, Bain (Emotions and the Will), Bentham (Principles of Moral Legislation), Newton (Principia Mathematica), and I could go on and on.

The point is that if you really understand the background of these men, you will see that way, way, way back science and morality and mathematics and politics, even, have been interrelated.

Shame on those liberal professors for not teaching you that. Or maybe you are too blinded by your own political views to pay attention.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Morgaine said...

I found a little more info on the idiot who started this. In the past, he held an "affirmitive action bake sale" where he offered minority students a discount on baked goods. On the site tracking info on these Profs, they are rated with black fist icons. He's a flat-out racist ass. I hope these professors own this guy. Lawsuits will no doubt be filed soon.

3:25 AM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

I think we should do an investigation as to who these anonymous posters are. They seem gung-ho to out the liberal professors but not even their own identity.

8:43 AM  
Blogger zac said...

chill out hillary, maybe you should investigate why you seem so paranoid about anonymous posts... stay right and you cant go wrong. ;)

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

Actually I don't really care. It was supposed to be a joke, Gigem.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's call a spade a spade. The only reason to go to college is to 1) learn skills to make money in a capitalist society or 2) become a professor. Since 98% of the people are in category 1, and college costs real bucks these days, why would I go out of my way to take a class called "Contemporary Moral Problems" unless it was required to get a degree to further reason 1? I have better things to learn with my valuable tuition money- skills that earn me a higher salary. Professors should be teaching critical thinking skills that employers need, not conservative or liberal ideals or whatever else falls into their personal agenda. I’m not paying money for that.

Part of the problem at the university level is tenure. Once a professor has that safeguard, it’s easy to see how a class lecture could become a professor’s bully pulpit for political and personal ideals. Take tenure away and take class evaluations seriously, and the situation will change. Every “idealistic” professor I’ve had was tenured. Those without stuck to the syllabus. Go figure.

If you reach college and need a philosophy class to "teach you reason" or "right and wrong" or "how to think," you are way behind the curve. While I too believe the "the unexamined life is not worth living," and see value in studying the world’s great history makers, poets and philosophers, my extensive liberal arts classwork and my ability to quote Socrates didn't impress any employer come evaluation time.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous lucille said...

Anon above: I hope your post was parody. Otherwise I have to go kill myself, if it's really true that the only reasons to go to college are money or to become a professor. I'm too young and actually way too "liberal" to write this fuddy-duddy post, but here goes. There used to be this thing in this country called participatory democracy. It used to come with the responsibility to make *educated* decisions about our collective life -- based on an understanding of history, the ability to recognize manipulative language or bogus statistics, a willingness to consider moral problems from many angles, and so on. For that reason, we used to have a free, mandatory, genuinely public educational system in this country, one supposedly dedicated to producing an enlightened and active citizenry. Now we have a bunch of crappy vocational schools, more or less, and a country led by a semiliterate puppet.

4:38 AM  
Blogger ding said...

amen, lucille. college is the only respite from hegemony a person will have before they're forced by our culture to become a corporate cog breeder. if, during those four years, a young person will hear ideas that go against the conservative grain, then so be it. they need to suck it up. most likely they'll forget it as soon as they graduate anyway.

i've taught at the university (even at the university at the center of this current debate) and i'd have to say the instructor is most often offended by the complacent idiocy of our students, rather than the other way around.

we don't think about inculcating young minds with progressive dogma; we'd be happy if the little urchins actually new how to write a non-plagiarized paper.

we don't have time to cook up ways to bring them over to the dark side; we're too busy getting drunk reading their papers on why the japanese deserved to be interred, or why white people have the right to use the N-word or why feminists just need to get laid.

we don't have the flipping time to scheme of ways to get them to renounce capitalism or kiss michael moore's ass; we're too effing busy trying to explain what cultural literacy is.

and, yeah. my lecture is my property; it's probably going to be a small section of my next book. you can't tape, transcribe, distribute or sell it to someone else. it's mine.

jeebus. and people wonder why kids in turkey are smarter than us.

3:46 PM  
Blogger ding said...

i mean 'knew'. sheesh.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Jacob said...

The alumnus behind the whole shebangy-bang has now pulled his offer of payment, while still encouraging students will come to him with tapes and notes. He thinks, apparently, that the payment was the problem, and not the copyright violation itself.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story seems to be making waves around the country. I'm a freshman at a north-eastern school, and I have a very liberal professor who's prone Bush-bashing. He made a reference to this story in class the other day, asking the class jokingly (after a short but red-hot rant), "I'm not being videotaped, am I? For some extreme right-wing group?" I suppose it's making profs all over the country very nervous. It's very sad to see this happening in the US today.

10:03 PM  

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