Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Academic Ghettoes

Robert Maranto is worried, and here's why:

Academia's ideological homogeneity harms education by limiting the views students are exposed to.
Don't laugh! It's a serious problem. If this stranglehold is not broken, how will students develop an unexamined faith in free markets and American exceptionalism? What other authority figures will defend the orthodox viewpoint on God, gays and guns? Where else will they hear the truth about welfare Cadillacs, African slave traders, leprosy among immigrants and the Clinton Body Count? Unless America's colleges clear a conceptual space for the subaltern micronarratives of the corporatist right, the day may come when America forgets that taxes are too high.

One of the ways academia marginalizes conservatives is by providing them with specialized facilities in which to conduct their groundbreaking research into the totally awe-inspiring awesomeness of Freedom.
My friend Steve Balch wants university alumni to push for the establishment of centers studying free institutions and free markets, as already operate at Duke, Brown, Princeton, Villanova, and elsewhere. I fear that these will become academic ghettoes.
Yes, ghettoes! What else would you call it when a few brave defenders of the Free Market are huddled together in a prestigious center funded by grants from major corporations, voiceless save for their easy access to op-ed pages, Sunday news shows and the White House? It's like Watts, if it had been full of angry white guys with money. Or Greenwich Village before Stonewall, only with more closet cases.

Confining conservatives to "centers" and "thinktanks" is like saying they don't deserve to be in charge of everything, everywhere, in perpetuity. The time has come for these huddled masses to speak truth to power, according to the rules laid down by Saul Alinsky (who is the movement's new guiding light, as one can tell from the fact that its members complain about him as obsessively as they once complained about "postmodern relativism").

As the radical Saul Alinsky wrote, the powerless can discomfort the powerful by pointing out when the high and mighty fall short of their professed ideals.
In practice, this involves asking clever questions like "if you libtards are so goddamn tolerant, why don't you tolerate homophobia?" No one has ever tried this tactic before, so it's no wonder Maranto is giddy with the thrill of discovery.

If universities are open-minded, why do they never sponsor debates?

Beats me. I'm guessing it has something to do with ACORN.

If "social justice" theorists like Jonathan Kozol are really in it for the children, why don't they donate their $20,000 speaking fees to scholarships?

It's a good question, so long as one assumes that Kozol never does this, or anything like it (Maranto's odd focus on "scholarships" makes me a bit suspicious, however). Whether Kozol actually gets $20,000 for speaking is another good question. If this is Maranto's idea of academic argument, it's not surprising that he's been "denied a job or two."

What exactly is a non-researcher like William Ayers doing on the governing board of the American Educational Research Association?

Well, let's see. AERA is committed to "advancing educational research," which is not necessarily the same thing as conducting it. And the AERA site says that "the broad range of disciplines represented by the membership includes education, psychology, statistics, sociology, history, economics, philosophy, anthropology, and political science." And Ayers' UoI page claims that his interests include "narrative and interpretive research."

Therefore, the goal here is clearly to impose Islamo-Socialism on Our Innocent Children, given the incontrovertible fact that OMG BILL AYERS!!!11

Anyway, if hard-right activists can somehow find it within themselves to ask tough, probing questions like these, people will finally start listening to them! Everything must change, yet again, so that everything can remain the same.

1 comment:

Rmj said...

Everything must change, yet again, so that everything can remain the same.

We have to run as fast as we can in order to stay in one place.

Lewis Carroll first mentioned that. And I'm sure it had something to do with mathematics when he wrote it. But even that knowledge is the result of academic thinking, which has clearly homogenized my awareness. Or something.

Anyway, I'm misguided until I acknowledge that all the knowledge I need to know is all the knowledge I need to know. And all that other pesky knowledge is just aimed at annoying conservatives.

Who really are just so much fun to pick on....