Wednesday, July 12, 2006


How Democracy Works

The University of Wisconsin gets it:

An instructor at the University of Wisconsin who has said he believes US officials orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks, will be allowed to teach a course on Islam. Some state politicians had called for the University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire Kevin Barrett, a part-time instructor, after he spoke about his theories on a radio talk show last month. The university provost, Patrick Farrell, said in a statement late on Monday: "We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas."
And politician Steve Nass gets it wrong:
Politicians who had called for Barrett's dismissal criticised the decision.... Steve Nass, a state representative, said he would push next year for cuts to the university's budget.
If you guessed Mr. Nass is a Republican, you got it right.
While he should be free to teach that theory in class, he must temper it with opposing theories. Otherwise it is biased and not fair for the students who look up to their professors for enlightenment... If he teaches multiple sides to the story, then it is acceptable.
Oh, I'm sure that there will be plenty of Abramoff-style College Republicans enrolling in his class just to make sure he does, F. They will take careful note of everything he says. They're going to try and do with him what they did for Ward Churchill: Make him into the next "famous liberal poster child" that no actual liberals have ever heard of until now.
Sadly it is probably true that it will come to that. Mainly because most professors are 'untouchable' once they receive their positions and especially once they receive tenure. In my college experience (twice) both times I met professors all too willing to speak on issues totally political and unrelated to the subjects they taught... also ones that were supposed to be political, often giving one side.

Education is supposed to be the doorway to enlightenment... but if you aren't taught just the facts, or both sides of an opinion argument, how can you decide for yourself?

Kinda sounds like election coverage too...
This is ridiculous.

This is a class on Islam. I am sure he will be teaching religion, and not asymmetric warfare or political theory. If so much as 1% of class time gets spent on anything besides religion, it's poor teaching, no matter who it is or what it's about.

The question is whether a person who thinks that Bushco might have plotted the attack from which it has gained so much power is to be permitted to teach a class on religion.

In places like Stalinist Russia, "deviationist thought" was a reasom to deny a person employment. In the United States of America, it isn't.

People who have a problem with that need to grow up.
I remember a professor of history who appeared quite steadfast in his minority opinion of a certain slice of history.

He managed to piss-off most of us. Some of us banded together, determined to find facts and arguments to counter his line of reasoning. He would listen and gave (to us) seemingly reasonable rebuttals. We worked harder, hashing things out in the dorm or over beer. We got better.

The last day, the professor emphasized that we were there not to learn beliefs, but to learn how to navigate our way through the beliefs and viewpoints already out there, taking those we feel comfortable with, modifying those we could feel comfortable with and ignoring, for the moment, those we could not.

The end of the class was not the end of friendships, amongst the students as well as the instructor.

The biggest lesson I got from that class was that I could be friends with someone with whom I disagreed. Also, I got pretty damn good about that particular slice of history.
Yeah, Sky-ho, that's the thing about college. It's over way too soon, you end up in the workplace where political discussion is off-limits unless it's cheerleading low taxes and no regulation, and all you're left with is the wistful memories of people who had genuinely independent ideas.

Yes, the best part of real intellectual debate is that it forces one to challenge one's assumptions. I, for one, would looooove to refute the professor who thinks the Bushies planned 9/11. And I bet I could get an A doing it.

It probably wouldn't come up in a class on Islam, though.
Great news my liberal friends: the university of Wisconsin has decided to do something good for a change. It has opened a religiously themed dorm on campus. To see the links to the articles come to my blog.
I wonder how Gordon will like my comment....
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

More blogs about politics.
Technorati Blog Finder