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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Stalinism Is Alive & Well

And thriving on the American college campus.

The following reminds me of Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Written fourteen years ago.

Some things never change. An excerpt from "The Academic Mob Rules," by Naomi Schaefer Riley:
6,500 academics signed a petition online demanding that I be fired.

At first, the [Chronicle of Higher Education] stood its ground, suggesting that my post was an "invitation to debate." But that stance lasted for little more than a weekend. In a note that reads like a confession at a re-education camp, the Chronicle's editor, Liz McMillen announced her decision on Monday to fire me: "We've heard you," she tells my critics. "And we have taken to heart what you said. We now agree that Ms. Riley's blog posting did not meet The Chronicle's basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles."

[A] substantive critique about the content of academic disciplines is simply impossible in the closed bubble of higher education. If you want to know why almost all of the responses to my original post consist of personal attacks on me, along with irrelevant mentions of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George Zimmerman, it is because black studies is a cause, not a course of study. By doubting the academic worthiness of black studies, my critics conclude, I am opposed to racial justice—and therefore a racist.

My longtime familiarity with the absurdities of higher education did not, I confess, prepare me for this most absurd of results. The content of my post, after all, is hardly shocking; the same thing could have been written 30 years ago. And perhaps that's the most depressing part of all this. Despite the real social and economic advancement that has been made by blacks in this country, the American faculty is still stuck in the 1960s. 
Thirty years. And nothing on campus has changed. The illiberal Left still strangles freedom of thought and expression.

For shame.

- - -

Writes the Wall Street Journal in an editorial ("The Cravenness of Higher Education") this morning:
As such things go, the McMillen apologia will enter the higher-ed Hall of Fame for Cravenness. Anyone with a passing interest in university life the past 25 years knew that editor McMillen's commitment to diversity of opinion would vanish the moment the "betrayed" staged an online sit-in outside her office.

It is hard not to note the context in which Ms. McMillen dismissed Naomi Riley for committing speech. Now more than ever, too many college graduates discover that their expensive higher educations send them into a modern workplace with skills that few employers want or need. The graduates sit home, unemployed and unemployable. Meanwhile, back inside the school walls, the Chronicle of Higher Education stands ready to eliminate any writer who causes distress to the modern generation of scholars who teach these students.
Fired for "committing speech."  Beyond reprehensible.