Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nihil obstat

Academia's rough handling of Larry Summers stands in stark contrast to the deferential, even fearful treatment accorded to Ward LeRoy Churchill, who even after being shown to be third-rate fraud continued to be defended on the grounds of "academic freedom". At a time when the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted 218-185 to express a "lack of confidence", following his remarks about the difference in scientific aptitude among the genders, a survey by the Crimson showed the students in support of Summers by a margin of nearly 3 to 1. Today the Crimson denounced Summer's "disinvitation" to a University of California dinner meeting of the Regents at the behest of Maureen Stanton, a professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, as "a disgrace". Stanton had claimed that "inviting a keynote speaker who has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia conveys the wrong message to the university community and to the people of California." The Crimson wrote:



the quashing of Summers’ speech points to a troubling trend in academia. Increasingly, the unrestricted marketplace of ideas that must form the heart of any university worth the name is being poisoned by a perverse pressure to conform truth to political agenda and stifle any speaker who espouses uncomfortable or invonveneint opinions. In the present case, the culprits are academics who fashion themselves as progressives eager for social justice and tolerance, but the other side of the political spectrum is no less guilty in others. This situation is alarming and dangerous. If academic freedom cannot exist in the university, our society is in trouble.

What is truly remarkable about the persecution of Larry Summers is that he cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be seen as a conservative. His liberal credentials are impeccable. Summers served in the Clinton cabinet. He publicly identifies himself as a Democrat. Summers served with the UN. To be sure Summers sometimes flirted with heresy, being among others things a proponent of free trade and globalization. But surely he was entitled to think those thoughts being an academic economist, one good enough to a have serious shot at a Nobel Prize nomination -- before his downfall. Apparently not, in common with all theocrats there is nothing the academic left hates more than the Fallen Angel. Men like Summers, who should have modeled the brightest of chains for the Left, but who instead perversely chose to think their own thoughts deserve only the deepest pits of hell. Better the pious parrot like Ward Leroy Churchill than the critical thinker, even one belonging to their own church like Larry Summers.

But the Crimson editorial staff gets it right when they say that inquisitors themselves stand condemned. Whatever they may style themselves, by their actions and small-mindedness they have shown themselves unworthy to stand in judgment of anything.

Maureen Stanton and company represent the worst of academia. The side that politicizes its classrooms and refuses to hear, or let others hear ideas that they find distasteful or uncomfortable, no matter their merit. We hope the UC realizes the gravity of its error and makes amends by inviting Summers back. We know he’s worth listening to, even if one disagrees with him.

16 Comments:

Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Professor,

Point taken and noted. These so called educators, these social marxists, make me ill with their supression of free thought.

Evidence of this is easy to find on the net. Commenting on leftist websites has been educational for me. Any opposing thought and you are banned.

I believe it is a sign of fear. Their small mindedness and their failed social engineering is becoming apparent and they are just holding on to their power.

This power seems to be on the wane. A clown like Churchill, the pseudo-redman, totin his AK-47. I can see why the folks in Boulder fell for him. They can just not admit what leftist fools they are.

Funny thing, the publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine resides in Boulder as well. I like the irony.

9/20/2007 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

Just like journalists, academics in America seem to be doing a grand job of shredding whatever influence they used to have.

Project this behavior forward for another generation. You'll have to look under a rock to find anyone outside the universities who gives a second thought what professors think about politics or morality, and their students will be against them 30 to 1 instead of 3 to 1.

As we see here, they will deserve their fate, not just because of the deranged few who push the envelope but also because of the cowardly majority who look on and let it happen.

9/20/2007 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Compare and contrast. UC disinvites Summers, while CU invites Amahdnejahd

9/20/2007 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Our educational institutions had started down this path of the coward's way long before certain radical students in 1969 occupied the Columbia University administration offices, armed with shotguns and pistols, and draped with bandoliers of cartridges. It really doesn't matter that the premise was to protest Columbia's decision to evict low-income renters from University-owned apartments in order to construct new facilities.

They were on a power trip, one that has never ended.

The clear lesson for the radicals was that the administrations were not ready to offer any resistance to their demands, nor rescind concessions made under duress, nor disavow the use of intimidation by students, outsiders, or ... well, any leftist making demands.

For decades this has resulted in universities accepting the most banal tripe as Veritas, so long as it coincides with the prevailing intellectual stupor.

As Douglas Adams posited about such delusional ones, "First they prove that Black is White, then they got flattened at the next zebra crossing..."

It's so bizarre to consider that Ahmedinejad and the mullahs are busily rounding up, torturing, and executing people in Iran for simply advocating dissent.

9/20/2007 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Mad Fiddler: It's so bizarre to consider that Ahmedinejad and the mullahs are busily rounding up, torturing, and executing people in Iran for simply advocating dissent.

Gosh, that's what Saddam and his sons were doing before 2003 with their rape rooms. Maybe we need to invade Iran too, so they can have a democracy. A 20 year stop-loss order ought to give us the needed troop level.

9/20/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

Teresita:
Maybe we need to invade Iran too, so they can have a democracy. A 20 year stop-loss order ought to give us the needed troop level.

Uhh... nice try, but the discussion is higher education. And the analogy offered by the fiddler was not only sound, it was... on topic.

9/20/2007 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

No Teresita --

We respond to Iran's 30 year legacy of waging war on the US by bombing them back into the Dark Ages. Leaving not one brick upon the other. As an object lesson.

That there are *other* options than nation building. Our Navy and Air Force are fairly idle. It would be an excellent way of getting Iran's attention. And many others.

Summers? He ought to have known that Universities exist only for thought control -- not anything else.

9/20/2007 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

fat man:

Kudos.

9/20/2007 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Funny thing, the publisher of Soldier of Fortune
magazine resides in Boulder as well. I like the
irony.


Indeed. Funny how that works sometimes. Bellingham is no conservative haven, but the home of Shomer Tec.

9/20/2007 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger R said...

Looks like my narcissistic generation may be coming to the end of its life cycle. My only problem is what may replace it.

Death struggles are always ugly, and this one is going to be really ugly; note the male/female clash coming up disguised as a presidential contest.

Nature just doesn't mess around.

9/21/2007 04:16:00 AM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Two points, in separate posts for clarity:

First, Summers is probably correct about the "males-in-sciences" thing, because to perform at the very top is that field requires intellect out in the 5- to 10-sigma tail.

Let's hear it for the Y-chromosome phenomenon, which, oh, by the way, has also given us a majority of profoundly retarded people. Same reason. Other end of the spectrum.

The real problem is that "difference" between males and females are acceptable only if they portray females in a more favourable light.

9/21/2007 04:56:00 AM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Second point, back in the late 12th Century the Church enjoyed a monopoly on learning, but came to stifle enquiry by insisting on both control and a specific viewpoint.

Groups of independent thinkers gathered apart from the ecclesiastical centres of learning, and -- using Latin as a common language -- vigorously debated and researched and enquired.

These groups developped into universities, primarily in the early 13th Century.

Fast-forward 700 years. Academia now occupies the position once held by the Church, with equal closed-mindedness.

Groups of independent thinkers now gather apart from the academic centres of learning, and -- using English as a common language -- vigorously debate and research and enquire.

What will it become? I don't know. Right now we call it the Web, and Belmont Club is one of many such gathering places.

9/21/2007 05:05:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

So are you suggesting Wretchard changes it to "Belmont University"?

Works for me.

9/21/2007 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Y’all just don’t understand.

The handmaiden of Situational Ethics is Situational Punishment.

The honest, decent guy gets tossed in jail for, for example, converting a wetlands into a … wetlands …. and on his private property. The fact that he was modifying a small part of the wetlands to make it more suitable for him to nurse back to health injured waterfowl makes no difference.

Shoot someone breaking into your property in the wee hours and lose that same property or go to jail for 20 plus years.

O.J. Simpson? The guys who beat up that truck driver on TV during the LA riots. They just don’t walk but are allowed to skip away.

And so it is in Academia. Or, as I call them, Macadamia; full of nuts.

9/21/2007 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

But the Crimson editorial staff gets it right when they say that inquisitors themselves stand condemned.

Nonsense. The latest trend in academia is "good governance", meaning that, barring sexual improprieties, the party in question is responsible for the correct conduct of the faculty. So if some professor doesn't like a speaker or student and consequently violates some academic rule or another, that isn't the professor's fault at all.

9/21/2007 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger wildiris said...

One of the dirty secrets of the Humanities is that the first people to bring the biblical arguments up against Galileo were his fellow philosophy professors at the University of Padua. It was only after those professors, in an obvious case of professional jealousy, brought up those arguments, that the Catholic Church was reluctantly drawn into the picture.

9/21/2007 09:37:00 AM  

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