A professor without tenure discovers that even the teaching of basic English is driven by political correctness.
By Mary Grabar
August 25, 2009
|I’m an adjunct English professor. When the subject of adjunct faculty comes up, the predictable calls for unionization and “social justice” are often voiced by my tenured colleagues enjoying light teaching loads and by administrators enjoying comfortable salaries overseeing “multicultural” programs. But I know that I would not be among their intended beneficiaries were they made aware of my political views.
It’s not that I sought to be political when I returned to school in the 1990s to earn my Ph.D. I soon discovered, however, that political neutrality—even in literary studies—is suspect. In the academic world, the belief that great literature conveys universal, timeless themes is generally taken as evidence of an imperialistic outlook. The same holds for history, where the reliance on factual evidence and focus on major events are deemed offensive to women and those from non-Western cultures.
My fellow graduate students tailored their programs for the job market: studying African-American and gay writers, and applying the trendy postmodern, deconstructivist literary theories. Since 2002, when I earned my Ph.D. in English, the field has gotten even stranger, with such additions to the ideological postcolonial, African-American, and critical theory courses as “fat studies” and “trauma studies.” An upperclassman can enroll in “Introduction to Visual Rhetoric”—and then presumably in “Advanced Visual Rhetoric.” But how does my study of Plato and Cicero prepare me to teach these classes?
I am considered qualified to teach freshman composition, though. My experience of being called at 4:50 p.m. on a Friday and asked to be on campus at 8:30 a.m. on Monday to fill out the application and teach two classes that morning is not that unusual. At least it’s one way to avoid the scrutiny of mycurriculum vitae.
Some of my teaching is done at a community college. Even there, however, one must accept the prevailing ideology, as I discovered during a job interview.
After my teaching demonstration on a nuts-and-bolts aspect of freshman composition (semicolons), the committee chair (a black female who chaired a committee that was all-female, except for one openly gay man), asked how I addressed the multicultural needs of the student body. I mentioned Zora Neale Hurston, the black and decidedly non-political author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, as someone I like to have students read. Apparently, it wasn’t a good enough response.
Although I did not get the position, I was encouraged to apply again. To put my cv over the edge, I suppose I should attend the recommended online and Saturday teacher development workshops and publish papers on multicultural pedagogy.
I certainly could not, however, tout my writing in publications like the Weekly Standard, Pajamas Media, and Townhall, even though they might inspire student writers. Some of my colleagues openly brag about being published in the leftist magazine The Nation or having worked on Al Gore’s presidential campaign. That’s perfectly safe, but I no longer list my academic affiliations under my byline. Once I was told that I was no longer “needed” at a school after readers of my columns wrote laudatory letters to the department chair.
Here’s another illustrative case. A colleague who started at a small college as an adjunct was eventually hired on a one-year basis and told he’d be the first in line when a full-time position opened. Then he was asked to submit his application, but was later told that the position now required a “gender historian.” He was not even interviewed, despite having published a book and having received glowing student evaluations. History major “groupies” circulated petitions when they learned that his contract was not being renewed—to no avail. He just didn’t have the right political orientation. Excellent teaching and research didn’t matter.
The sad fact is that history majors, after taking the mandatory gender history class, will be taught from that same radical perspective in their other history classes. These kinds of students probably will seek other majors. I doubt I would have continued my graduate studies had I not been able to select the traditional classes of older professors, who have since retired or died.
And even at the community college level where we have to explain the difference between a noun and a verb, we have no choice in textbooks. One I currently use includes a story by Richard Wright from his communist period (which Zora Neale Hurston called “communist propaganda,” I tell my students). The introduction does not mention Wright’s repudiation of communism later. The grammar handbook uses Alice Walker’s prose as examples of elegant sentences, and the words of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld as logical fallacies. At another low-tier state university we were ordered to put on our syllabi that the course had the objective of gaining “an understanding of race, class, and gender.”
I think what happened a generation ago was that conservative humanities professors failed in challenging the ideology of the radicals—especially the females—who demanded entrance. During my one-year stint as a full-time faculty member I watched a tenured Shakespeare professor voice no objection to the suggestion that a course include Tupac Shakur’s lyrics as poetry.
Or, more generously, the conservative gatekeepers assumed that the radicals demanding entrance would apply the same rules of open-mindedness, objective inquiry, and fair play they did. We now know otherwise.
The colonization of American higher education by the left is remarkably thorough. From the elite universities to the lowest-ranked schools, the deck is stacked in favor of those who want to turn everything from semicolons to Shakespeare into an ideological exercise. On occasion, dissidents like myself can sneak in the back door, but we are in a precarious position.
Archive for September 22nd, 2009
Posted by iusbvision on September 22, 2009
Posted by iusbvision on September 22, 2009
The NRCC had some fun with the Democrats hypocrisy on the civility complaints.
Thanks to Hotair.com for the video link.
Former CBS News man Bernard Goldberg on the civility double standard.
Posted in 2012, Campaign 2008, Campus Freedom, Indoctrination & Censorship, Chuck Norton, Click & Learn, Culture War, Journalism Is Dead, Leftist Hate in Action, Obama and Congress Post Inaugration | Leave a Comment »
Professor Fired Without Due Process, Escorted from Campus by Police over Mysterious ‘Sexual Harassment’ Charge Two Days after Complaining about Defects in Policy – UPDATED!
Posted by iusbvision on September 22, 2009
UPDATE – The B-Cast intervied the Professor Thomas Thibeault HERE.
A professor points out that a policy has a critical flaw and he finds himself charged under that policy, fired, given no due process or any chance to answer any charges. In fact the charges themselves were kept secret from him.
This kind aof behavior and violation of due process is not uncommon at all on todays colleges including IUSB and other universities in the IU system. The Alliance Defsnee Fund and the Foundation for Indivisual Rights in Education (FIRE) have documented more of these cases than I can count with more and more piling on every week.
Posted by iusbvision on September 22, 2009
News9.com Oklahoma City:
OKLAHOMA CITY — Only one in four Oklahoma public high school students can name the first President of the United States, according to a survey released today.
The survey was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in observance of Constitution Day on Thursday.
The Oklahoma City-based group enlisted national research firm, Strategic Vision, to access students’ basic civic knowledge.
Brandon Dutcher is with the conservative think tank and said the organization wanted to find out how much civic knowledge Oklahoma high school students know.
“They’re questions taken from the actual exam that you have to take to become a U.S. citizen,” Dutcher said.
A thousand students were surveyed by telephone and given 10 questions drawn from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services item bank. Candidates for U.S. citizenship must answer six questions correctly in order to become citizens.
About 92 percent of the people who take the citizenship test pass on their first try, according to immigration service data. However, Oklahoma students did not fare as well. Only about 3 percent of the students surveyed would have passed the citizenship test.
Dutcher said this is not just a problem in Oklahoma. He said Arizona had similar results, which left him concerned for the entire country.
“Jefferson later said that a nation can’t expect to be ignorant and free,” Dutcher said. “It points to a real serious problem. We’re not going to remain ignorant and free.”
|Question||% of Students
Who Answered Correctly
|What is the supreme law of the land?||
|What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?||
|What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?||
|How many justices are there on the Supreme Court?||
|Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?||
|What ocean is on the east coast of the United States?||
|What are the two major political parities in the United States?||
|We elect a U.S. senator for how many years?||
|Who was the first President of the United States?||
|Who is in charge of the executive branch?||
Posted by iusbvision on September 22, 2009
Every Administration has this problem, the onligitory kiss & tell book. Usually they are written by those with slightly disfunctional personalities who make everything about them and are filled with high school level drama.
The Paul O’Neil book was filled with inaccuracies that have been well covered or were disputed by many others who were in the White House. The Richard Clarke Bush bashing book ended up having key points that contradicted Clarke’s own on the record previous statements and testimony. I wrote about many of the contradictions myself and spelled them out in detail. Former Press Secretery Scott McLellend wrote his kiss & tell bookwhich was also shown to have its share of inaccuracies by documents and people in the White House.
While these books are the latest examples, kiss & tell books from both parties tend to be nearly equally incredible. An exception was the book written by former CIA Bin Laden Unit Commander Dr. Michael Scheuer who was hard on both the Clinton and Bush administrations with time showing the book to be at least directionally accurate.
The latest book is By Matt Latimer is quickly showing to be nothing new. Notes and testimony of those around him are showing an all too familiar pattern.
Here is Dana Perino debunking Latimer’s claim that President Bush did not even know Sarah Palin. Considering how tight Bush always was with the Republican Governor’s Association the idea that Bush didn’t even know Palin is next to impossible to believe.
This is from Latimer’s former supervisor.
When Speechwriters Kiss and Tell A man I hired was not the star he thought he was.
By WILLIAM MCGURN
When the sun rises over our capital city this morning, its denizens will awake to a truly novel tale: The aggrieved ex-staffer—wait for it!—disillusioned by Washington. The tome out today is by former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer, who describes the White House as “less like Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing and more like The Office.” In Mr. Latimer’s hands, it reads more like “The Princess Diaries,” full of hurt feelings and high-schoolish drama.
Like all kiss and tells, “Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor” is thick with atmospherics intended to suggest the author’s importance: a West Wing office, meetings in the Oval, rides on Air Force One, etc. Like most kiss and tells too, it’s divided between heroes (Mr. Latimer and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) and idiots (pretty much everyone else). And like so many kiss and tells, the tale of failure, foolishness and vanity it reveals is not necessarily the one the author intends.
As the senior staffer who brought Matt to the White House, let me start by adding some perspective. In a memoir that takes us from Matt’s childhood in Michigan through all the morons and phonies he worked for in Washington, only Mr. Rumsfeld gets the full gush. Left unmentioned is that Matt is on Mr. Rumsfeld’s payroll, working on the former Defense Secretary’s memoirs. Not that Mr. Rumsfeld need fear. If this book is any guide, an employer will read how stupid Matt really thought he was only after he’s no longer being paid.
In the same way, Matt neglects to mention that personnel took away his West Wing cubby when they needed space for someone more important. Or that he spent the next few weeks knocking on every door in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, looking for a room sufficiently grand to display his large and ever-expanding collection of framed testimonials to himself.
Ditto for Air Force One. Yes, he was on it, but not because he was important. To the contrary, I put him on it because he was failing. At one point in the book, he admits that he “never felt the connection” he was supposed to feel with the president. Bringing him into the Oval and getting him on Air Force One was a (losing) attempt on my part to get the president to warm up to him. These are distasteful things to have to say publicly about someone who once worked for you. And I would have taken them to the grave had Matt not used these props and the snippets of conversation he picked up to paint a highly distorted view of some very good people during some very tough times.
Nowhere is this clearer than in his account of putting together the address to the nation the president delivered last September during the financial crisis. Matt does capture the chaotic feel that surrounds any last-minute, high-stakes, prime-time speech. In his version most everyone—the president, economics adviser Keith Hennessey, counselor Ed Gillespie, etc.—comes across as a bumbling idiot.
I was gone by then, and had my own doubts about some of the solutions proposed. But I also knew Ed and Keith to be solid free-marketeers. And I had a better appreciation for the difficulties involved when I called Ed and he recounted a Roosevelt Room meeting that had led to the president’s speech.
In that meeting, the Fed chairman and the Treasury secretary warned the president that if he didn’t intervene, the global financial system was in danger of collapsing and America of plunging into another Great Depression. Certainly the decisions should be debated. But, Matt takes the cheap route, snarking about people struggling with those decisions while never explaining what he would have done differently.
As for how conservative President Bush was, this too is a legitimate argument that will continue for years. As conservatives debate, however, surely the hurt feelings of a speechwriter ought to be weighed against a record that includes turning around the war in Iraq, standing up for our intelligence officers, supporting our allies in Eastern Europe with missile defense, cutting taxes, concluding trade agreements, appointing good judges up and down the federal bench, and standing firm on the preciousness of human life—positions that brought down the derision and mockery of elites across our country.
In fairness, it’s not all yucks. On the day Mr. Rumsfeld resigns, Matt recounts a scene in the Defense secretary’s office. “You were my star,” (emphasis in the original) he tells Matt. “And, uh, I probably never told you that.” Right there in the secretary’s office, Matt reports, “I started to cry.'”
Right there too we see Mr. Bush’s greatest failing: Never did he look into young Matthew’s moist eyes and tell him, “You are my star.” If he only had we would have a very different book.
Posted by iusbvision on September 22, 2009
They are calling it the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act (CMRA). The Old Community Reinvestment Act played an important role in lowering mortgage standards and creating so many of these high risk loans that broke the system. While the CRA was just one layer of a multi layered problem created by government that culminated in the largest economic collapse since the Great Depression, it was still an important layer, so naturally the far left wants to do it AGAIN.
As we have reported before and have taken a lead in reporting on, the original CRA was intended to make it illegal to stop “redlining”; the practice of not giving loans to people based on race. But CRA was used by the Clinton Justice Department to make it an affirmative action program for loans, forcing banks to give mortgages to people who had no business getting a home loan simply because it was very unlikely that they could pay the loan back. They say it was about giving loans to poor minorities, when it fact it was about getting loans to Democrat constituent groups.
The rub is, that giving out high risk loans did not do them any favors. Many thousands of people in high risk loans defaulted, they lost their homes, their credit was destroyed and mortgage securities based on those loans brought down AIG, Lehman Brothers and dozens of banks.
Of course ACORN was at the heart of this problems as they filed CRA lawsuits to force banks to make high risk loans, under the faux guise of “fighting racism”.
ACORN and SEIU have already created an atroturf support group to help get it passed – LINK.
The CRMA takes the old CRA one step further and mandates that loans be given to minorities regardless of income. Is giving a home loan to anyone regardless of income a wise move?
The Washington Examiner has details:
Dems push expanded Community Reinvestment Act; deny Act’s role in mortgage meltdown; GOP cites ACORN connection
By: BYRON YORK
Chief Political Correspondent
09/16/09 4:13 PM EDT
A number of experts believe that aggressive enforcement of the 1970s-era Community Reinvestment Act contributed to the mortgage meltdown, and thus to the greater financial crisis, by requiring financial institutions to lend to unqualified borrowers. Now, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is responding to that situation by proposing to expand the scope and power of the Community Reinvestment Act.
This morning House Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Barney Frank held a hearing on H.R. 1479, the “Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009.” The bill’s purpose is “to close the wealth gap in the United States” by increasing “home ownership and small business ownership for low- and moderate-income borrowers and persons of color.” It would extend CRA’s strict lending requirements to non-bank institutions like credit unions, insurance companies, and mortgage lenders. It would also make CRA more explicitly race-based by requiring CRA standards to be applied to minorities, regardless of income, going beyond earlier requirements that applied solely to low- and moderate-income areas.
Republicans on the committee strongly oppose the plan. “Instead of looking to expand the number of institutions that must abide by Community Investment Act regulations,” California Rep. Ed Royce said in prepared opening remarks at today’s hearing, “I think we should reassess the role this and other government mandates played in the financial collapse and consider scaling it back.”
In private conversation, other Republicans were more emphatic. “There is clearly arguable evidence that the CRA is at the root of this financial meltdown,” says one GOP committee member. “So what do they do? They try to expand CRA.”
But Democrats, led by H.R. 1479 sponsor Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, claimed that expansion of CRA is much-needed. “Congress has passed a number of laws designed to combat redlining and eliminate housing discrimination,” Johnson said at the hearing. “Unfortunately, we all know that redlining still occurs.”
Then there is the ACORN angle. Republican critics point out that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has used the CRA to pressure banks to pour money into ACORN and its affiliates, allowing ACORN to facilitate loans to clearly unqualified borrowers. Now, with ACORN under fire after a series of undercover videos showing ACORN workers in Baltimore, Washington DC, New York, and California openly encouraging prostitution, tax evasion, and other crimes, Republicans on the committee are citing the CRA-ACORN connection as yet another reason the Act should not be expanded.
Johnson’s bill has 51 co-sponsors, including some of the most liberal members of the House, like Reps. Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Bobby Rush, Steve Cohen, and Barbara Lee. Given the Democrats’ tremendous numerical superiority in the House, if the majority wants to expand CRA, Republicans will be unable to stop it.
UPDATE – Byrom York gives an analysis of the CRA that is spot on and tells the same story we told when the collapse took place. Well done Byron.
Washington Examiner Byron York:
Democrats on path to repeat housing disaster
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
September 22, 2009
With all the attention paid to the health care battle, ACORN, and the president’s “Full Ginsburg” appearances on five Sunday talk shows, few people noticed a hearing with an exceedingly boring title — “Proposals to Enhance the Community Reinvestment Act” — held last week in the House Financial Services Committee. But the session marked a key moment in the ongoing battle between Republicans and Democrats over what caused our current financial woes — and how we might best avoid getting into the same trouble again.
At the hearing, and in others across Capitol Hill, Democratic majorities are pressing hard to expand some of the very policies that led to the reckless home lending that in turn helped lead to the great financial meltdown. If Chairman Barney Frank and his fellow Democrats have their way, we’ll do it all again — and more.
At issue last week was H.R. 1479, the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. It would expand and strengthen the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks to make loans in low-income areas that many lenders had traditionally shunned.
After the meltdown, some conservatives blamed the CRA for almost solely causing the crisis by requiring banks to make risky loans to unqualified borrowers. It was an unfair charge. “CRA had at best an incremental role in the U.S. housing debacle,” says J.D. Foster, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. But CRA did help create the conditions in which disaster could occur.
The problems began in the 1990s, when Congress made it harder for lenders to do business if they had not passed the CRA “exam” — that is, if they had not met the government-imposed standards for loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers.
“From 1995 on, there was an incredible push by the Clinton and Bush administrations in every way they could — CRA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other ways — to increase the homeownership rate,” says Russell Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University. “What that did was to push up the price of housing, and that made it imaginable to lend money to people you never would have lent money to, on terms you wouldn’t have done before.”
In particular, Fannie Mae began to aggressively promote homeownership using the Community Reinvestment Act to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them. Fannie went to bankers and said, make as many CRA loans as you can; we’ll buy them and take them off your hands. “Our approach to our lenders is ‘CRA Your Way,’ ” top Fannie executive Jamie Gorelick told the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2001. “Fannie Mae will buy CRA loans from lenders’ portfolios; we’ll package them into securities; we’ll purchase CRA mortgages at the point of origination. …”
Fannie promised to buy billions and billions of dollars worth of CRA loans because it was under pressure to do so from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which in turn was under pressure from Congress, which set ambitious quotas for low- and moderate-income loans.
The policy ended in a lot of people losing their homes. Now, Johnson’s bill would ensure more of that by applying CRA’s lending requirements not just to banks but to non-bank institutions like credit unions, insurance companies, and mortgage lenders. It would also make CRA explicitly race-based by, in Johnson’s words, “requiring CRA exams to explicitly consider lending and services to minorities in addition to low- and moderate-income communities.”
Republicans on the Financial Services Committee strongly oppose the plan. “Instead of looking to expand the number of institutions that must abide by CRA regulations, I think we should reassess the role this and other government mandates played in the financial collapse and consider scaling it back,” California Rep. Ed Royce said at the hearing.
In private conversation, other Republicans were more emphatic. “There is clearly arguable evidence that the CRA is at the root of this financial meltdown,” said one GOP committee member. “So what do they do? They try to expand CRA.”
That’s an overstatement of CRA’s role in the housing mess, but it’s right about the Democratic plan. Denying that CRA, Fannie and other institutions played any role in setting the stage for disaster, they’re proposing more of what helped get us into trouble in the first place. It’s no way to fix the problem.