“Perhaps the ugliest side of professors is the conviction that specialized knowledge about a few narrow subjects confers intellectual and moral authority on matters about which one knows almost nothing. How is it possible, we wonder, that students who do not share our fascination with the English Civil War and Marxism can somehow also be intelligent and ethical people? How is it that we are not consulted in matters of grave national importance? If the world will not come to us for wisdom, then we will stand aloof and make a world for ourselves where we can torment each other, like Milton’s vision of hell, while the rest of the world goes about the business of living, unconcerned with the petty disputes that cost many of us any possibility of happiness”.–Thomas H. Benton, pseudonym of a soon-to-be associate professor of English at a Midwestern liberal-arts college, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article titled, The 7 Deadly Sins of Professors
Archive for the 'Academia' Category
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“Pride: If it does nothing else, the process of becoming a professor should involve the recognition of how little one knows. Even in the smallest subfield, there are always new questions, and revolutions in thought arrive with the regularity of new generations of scholars. Perhaps the evident pride of professors is based upon a secret insecurity: Our intellectual and ideological fortresses are built on sand”.–Thomas H. Benton, pseudonym of a soon-to-be associate professor of English at a Midwestern liberal-arts college, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article titled, The 7 Deadly Sins of Professors
“Greed: Professors often say that they didn’t become teachers out of a desire to get rich, but it’s hard to believe that most professors chose their careers solely out of a desire to foster “social justice” or some other fashionable form of ostentatious altruism. More often, I think people become professors out of a lack of options: What can one do, after all, with an undergraduate degree in medieval studies or art history? Most entry-level jobs seem unsatisfactory to people who think of themselves as exceptionally gifted. Unlike doctors and lawyers, most professors forgo big money, but, as a group, they are even more ravenously hungry for status. Humanities faculty members, for example, are less concerned about the higher salaries earned by their counterparts in science (who do have other career options) than they are about what the humanist in the next office is getting paid. This is where greed shades off into pride, but more on that later”. —Thomas H. Benton, pseudonym of a soon-to-be associate professor of English at a Midwestern liberal-arts college, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article titled, The 7 Deadly Sins of Professors
“Does it tell you something about our times when a representative of the Taliban is welcome on the Yale University campus but representatives of our own military forces are not?” —Thomas Sowell, listing his “Random Thoughts”
Ben Stein writes in the American Spectator:
As everyone has seen, Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government has published a scathing anti-Semitic attack on Israel and its friends in the U.S. — Jews, Evangelicals, anyone who believes the most persecuted minority in history deserves a home. Naturally, this article has drawn criticism for factual errors and for its crude anti-Semitism.
Harvard’s response is that at a university, all points of view should be heard. But what about Larry Summers, outgoing President of Harvard? Why was he not allowed even to question why women are not well represented among top scientists? Why was he not allowed to even question grade inflation at Harvard, where the average grade is an A? Why was he not allowed to even discuss with black Professor Cornel West the bizarre fact that West spent a large part of his time at Harvard producing a rap disc? Why was Summers not allowed to even question the anti-Israel bias of some of the faculty at Harvard and the insane idea of punishing Israel by selling stock in companies that do business with Israel…because Israel wants to defend itself?
Free speech for the haters and the Ivy League Klansmen with degrees, censure and humiliation for the real friends of free speech. Veritas — the Harvard motto — indeed. Veritas, and a hearty chorus of the Horst Wessel Song.
“Facts that go against preconceived notions are likely to be ignored, even by many scholars. For example, slavery is an issue that is widely discussed as if it were something peculiar to Africans enslaved by Europeans, instead of something suffered and inflicted around the world by people of every race, color, and religion. Two books about a million European slaves taken to North Africa have been published in recent years. That is more than the number of African slaves brought to America. The books are “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters” by Robert Davis and “White Gold” by Giles Milton. Both books have been largely ignored by the media and academia alike. Apparently scholars, as well as journalists, have made up their minds and don’t want to be confused by the facts”. —Thomas Sowell, in an article titled, Are Facts Obsolete?
“Minimum wage laws are like protective tariffs insulating unionized workers from the competition of other workers. It is robbing a less affluent Peter to pay a more affluent Paul — all the while using noble rhetoric that appeals to the uninformed and the unthinking, which includes many people with fancy degrees and even fancier illusions about their own higher sense of compassion”. —Thomas Sowell, in a three part series titled, Something For Nothing
“There are other, more subtle problems in writing business history. For one thing, you probably won’t have anyone to talk to in your history department. The academy — unlike the country — is overwhelmingly liberal or left/radical and most faculty members don’t really want to understand any aspect of business. That’s why the history course you took may have mounted a critique of the “consumer culture,” attacking capitalism because it’s so productive of the goods and services that people want. Does that now seem absurd? Of course! But this clever line of reasoning enabled the professoriate to be just as negative about a business system that was successful as they were about one that was mired in depression. This was the academic version of Catch-22″ —Louis P. Galambos, professor at Johns Hopkins and the Maguire Professor at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, writing in the Wall Street Journal on the need to study more Business history
“In the minds of at least some vocal members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, expressing such politically incorrect views is the academic equivalent of provoking Islamic extremists by depicting Prophet Mohammed in a political cartoon. Radical academics do not, of course, burn down buildings, at least not since the 1970s. Instead they introduce motions of no confidence and demand resignations of those who offend their sensibilities (while insisting on complete freedom of speech for those with whom they agree — free speech for me but not for thee!)….Now that this plurality of one faculty has succeeded in ousting the president, the most radical elements of Harvard will be emboldened to seek to mold all of Harvard in its image. If they succeed, Harvard will become a less diverse and less interesting institution of learning governed by political-correctness cops of the hard left. This is what happened in many European universities after the violent student protests of the late 1960s. It should not be allowed to happen at Harvard in the wake of the coup d’etat engineered by some in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences”.– Alan M. Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard for 42 years in an article in the Boston Globe titled, Coup against Summers a dubious victory for the politically correct
“A PLURALITY of one faculty has brought about an academic coup d’etat against not only Harvard University president Lawrence Summers but also against the majority of students, faculty, and alumni. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which forced Summers’s resignation by voting a lack of confidence in him last March and threatening to do so again on Feb. 28, is only one component of Harvard University and is hardly representative of widespread attitudes on the campus toward Summers. The graduate faculties, the students, and the alumni generally supported Summers for his many accomplishments. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard’s diverse constituencies. And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers’s problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military”. — Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard for 42 years in an article in the Boston Globe titled, Coup against Summers a dubious victory for the politically correct
Hispanic Business reports:
Until recently, Harvard University has been perhaps the most glaring example of an elite college’s failure to welcome low-income students. With an endowment of $25.9 billion — far larger than that of any other university in the U.S. or abroad — Harvard clearly has the resources to educate the poor.
Yet only about 10% of its undergraduates are eligible to receive federal Pell Grants, which are usually awarded to students from families earning less than $40,000 a year. At Amherst, 15% of the students get Pells, and President Anthony Marx is aiming to boost that to 25% of future classes.
But now, Harvard’s controversial president, Lawrence Summers, is on a campaign to give low-income students far greater representation at America’s most prestigious university. “If Harvard is only for the children of those who have been successful, we will lose the social mobility that has always been America’s strength,” argues the former U.S. Treasury Secretary. “I’d like Harvard to look as much like America as possible.”
Unfortunately, the left-wing faculty at Harvard thought otherwise, and pushed Larry Summers to resign.
The WSJ writes:
Mr. Summers’s fate has unfortunately become all too typical at elite schools in recent decades. The Dartmouth faculty looked down on David McLaughlin as an “anti-intellectual” (he had an M.B.A. instead of a Ph.D.); he was run out of Hanover in 1987 over bitter quarrels over ROTC and disinvestment from South Africa. Benno Schmidt left Yale in 2001, saying his six-year tenure had been marked “by more argument . . . than I would have wished.” Donald Kagan, the dean of Yale College who had handed in his resignation a few weeks earlier, was franker, noting the threat from an “imperial faculty.”
As some of my liberal friends like to say, McCarthyism is alive and well, and it is especially strong at elite schools where liberals control what can and can’t be said.
Update: Thomas Sowell has more.
“As Professor Dershowitz rightly reminds us, Summers’ resignation is a heavy blow for academic freedom in the university. Summers’ downfall was engineered by a hard-left faction of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, whose hatred for him reached mythic proportions with only minute fodder. “Only at an American university campus could Mr. Summers, a former Clinton Treasury Secretary, be portrayed as a radical neocon”, remarks the ever-sage WSJ editorial page. I fear for my dear alma mater, because if the orthodoxy of the hard left becomes the only permissible “truth” in this university it will cease to be relevant faster than the USSR ceased to be solvent”. —Paloma Zepeda, a Harvard University student blogging over the resignation of Harvard President Larry Summers
“I am afraid that “happiness research” amounts to nothing but a flimsy excuse for left-wing academics to claim that they should be given control over how the rest of us live”. —Economist Arnold Kling, in an article titled, The Happiness Police
“I’m not a conservative, have never been a conservative, and don’t ever expect to become a conservative. So it spooks me how accurate all those old-time McCarthyite rants about Communist subversion turned out to be now that we have the Venona transcripts and ex-KGB generals telling all to historians. Back in the ’60s and ’70s I thought I was as hard-core anti totalitarian as an American boy could be, but even I bought some of the obscuring smoke that the anti-anticommunist “liberals” were peddling”. —Eric S. Raymond, In a conversation over at Cato Unbound, detailing the Marxist seduction of the Universities
“More generally, the political culture of the West is only now beginning to recover from the memetic damage done to it from 1920 on by Soviet propaganda and Soviet agents of influence (see, for example, Stephen Koch’s Double Lives : Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals). This memetic attack followed the prescriptions of Antonio Gramsci and other Marxist theoreticians, and was determinedly (even brilliantly) executed for over fifty years. Part of the resulting damage is manifest in what you aptly describe as the pervasive “wacko leftism” of the academic/educational world. Where you see in humanities and social-science academia resentful victims of a system that fails to reward them properly, I see an academic establishment that swallowed not just Stalin’s bait but the hook and the line and the sinker as well (multiculturalism, postmodernism, and “world system” theory), and in doing so rendered itself largely incapable of teaching anything of value. Their economic troubles are not the cause of their political fecklessness, but its completely inevitable consequence”.–Eric S. Raymond, responding to David Gelernter’s critique of capitalism
“No real-world market is perfect. But market failure is only grounds to deprecate markets when we have reason to believe non-market allocation mechanisms can do better. Otherwise, the only aim and effect of the deprecation can be to replace an imperfect market with something worse. (Usually the “something worse” is a committee of bureaucrats.) Can you propose a non-market allocation mechanism that would rescue academia from its present disgraceful state? Good luck with that. F. A. Hayek and David D. Friedman, among others, have shown that even a bureaucrat-god with perfect information and infinite computational capacity cannot outperform market allocation through price signals (the most accessible proof I know of this is in Friedman’s Price Theory, which I recommend)”. —Eric S. Raymond, responding to David Gelernter’s critique of capitalism