Monday, March 08, 2004

It's way too early for this stuff!

Andrew Stuttaford is on a roll at The Corner. Kicking off is First they came for the cigarettes:
Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns declares March ‘caffeine awareness month.’ Caffeine can, Nebraskans are warned, lead to headaches, jitteriness, irritability, difficulties in concentration, mood swings and other maladies. If this proclamation is any way typical of his activities, the same might be said of Gov. Johanns.
Make a move on my coffee and I'm going for my holster!

Then there's a 7-11 dining review (not suitable for a first date) and good news from the EU:
In view of accession of ten new Member States on 1 May 2004, appropriate arrangements have to be made to ensure sufficient supply of bananas to consumers in the new Member States."
Next thing you know, they'll be having 5 year plans!

And saving the best for last, he links to an article about the liberal bias at Duke University:
Much to the dismay of the Duke administration, the DCU (Duke Conservative Union - ed.) has provoked its ritual annual contretemps, this time by publishing an advertisement revealing that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a whopping 142-to-8 margin among university deans as well as faculty members of eight liberal arts departments. The numbers apparently startled some alumni-donors, which provoked President Keohane to publish a soothing article declaring that the near monopoly Democrats enjoy in the humanities, of course, in no way implies any insincerity regarding her oft-stated commitment to intellectual diversity.

When President Keohane wanted to demonstrate her support for racial diversity following the publication of an anti-slavery reparations ad at Duke, she allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to expanding the African-American Studies program, creating yet another new multicultural center, implementing additional affirmative action schemes, and funding even more diversity initiatives. Lately, to demonstrate her commitment to intellectual diversity in light of the revelation of a massive political imbalance in professors and deans, President Keohane…revealed that she had once suggested that a “small group” of students and professors be gathered to discuss questions of bias in a “relaxed and thoughtful session.” Racial diversity problems require six-figure solutions, while intellectual diversity gets an unrealized proposal for an Oprah episode.
President Keohane sounds like a real pip. I wonder if she was born being able to come up with concepts like a "relaxed and thoughtful session" or she learned it somewhere?

But it's been that way on campus for years, so the only surprise is when they pretend it really isn't so:
Professors and administrators, caught off guard by the sudden publicity of the DCU ad, scrambled to downplay or disregard the findings. President Keohane led the charge to dismiss the survey’s saliency by claiming in her article that political party affiliation is unimportant because professors would never, ever allow their personal political views to enter the classroom. She declared there is “ample evidence” that this is the case—apparently she was so overwhelmed with the abundance of evidence that she felt relieved of the need actually to cite any. President Keohane’s faithful favorite, Duke VP John Burness, dutifully followed the party line, declaring that he is “struck repeatedly” by the shocking success professors have in removing their personal politics from the classroom.
These two ought to hit the comedy circuit! Although Johnny might not want to give anyone any ideas by saying "struck repeatedly."
Let’s pretend for a moment that entire programs like Women’s Studies and African and African-American Studies were not established specifically to propagate left-wing social and historical theories in the classroom. If we are to believe that professors never politicize the classroom, then we can expect to find a general agreement among professors that this is the case. It is illuminating, then, to read the January 24 New York Times editorial column by Connecticut College Professor Rhonda Garelick in which the author bemoans her students’ resistance to her repeated attempts to instill in them “‘wakeful’ political literacy,” “feminist awareness,” and “literacy in sexual politics.” She finds it inexplicable that her introduction of “contemporary politics into classroom discussions,” such as the Iraq war, only provokes “paralysis and anxiety, plus some disgruntlement over my deviation from the syllabus.” This is indeed a real headscratcher, but perhaps the problem lies in the fact that Professor Garelick teaches French literature, and her recalcitrant students may, for some bizarre reason, have failed to grasp the colossal impact the Iraq war has had on the allegories underlying Les Miserables.

Professor Garelick’s solution, incidentally, is increasingly to “look beyond my syllabuses” and devote more classroom time to contemporary politics. She evidently missed the memo explaining that professors never do this. I suppose it is possible that the New York Times printed her column in order to highlight the rare exception to academia’s iron-clad rule that professors don’t politicize the classroom. Maybe President Keohane will convene a small, relaxed group of students to study Professor Garelick’s position.
Indeed. Hit the full link for the really humorous part where the Duke professors weigh in. At a guess, I'd say they couldn't find their butts with a roadmap.