And of course, there is the campaign on campuses. Following is an excellent essay regarding those who spend their time going after the "other" in the halls of our universities.
Purging the University of ThinkersBy Nathan Tumazi
There is a chill over open-minded and critically-thinking academics. The assault on free thinking comes at the worst of all possible times. As the United States gears up for war with Iran, Pakistan and North Korea, FOX News and other outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch, in collusion with government departments such as the Department of Homeland Security, spew fear. They have to. The government and Murdoch, who owns a large portion of the “news” we receive, have to create a hysterical fear in us to further their agenda of war and corporate empire.
How does this happen? First, they create a panic situation. Every Muslim or Arab becomes an “Other”—a mysterious, irrational, out-of-control, less-than-human being to which “we” are not supposed to relate. Think about it. In the last six years, how many images of Muslim or Arab families going to the park have been shown in the media? How many images of Muslim or Arab families eating at home to save money are shown on corporate-controlled television? Now contrast that with the images in which a Muslim or Arab is shouting, running through a street, holding a weapon or looking angry in an active role instead of a calm, rational role. Edward Said called this Orientalism in his book of the same name.
Second, they attack those who think. David Horowitz’s book “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America” is an illustration of this attempt to vilify anyone who criticizes President George W. Bush, but that’s not a surprise since Horowitz is paid by friends of Bush to fly around the country and isolate professors and students who actually think.
One of the professors mentioned in the book is bell hooks. Professor hooks has been an activist for civil and feminist rights since the 1960s and has written books such as “When Angels Speak of Love,” “Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope” and “Where We Stand: Class Matters.” But because she questions the powerful CEOs and government officials expanding U.S. war, she is labeled one of “the most dangerous academics in America,” akin to a terrorist.
I wonder why simply questioning the government and the giant, multinational corporations that are on our campus at every career fair makes someone a danger. Because questioning these corporations and our government exposes their massive attempts to isolate, confuse and terrify the public into submission. And any professor who disagrees is labeled a “danger” we are supposed to fear. It’s also known that the population that becomes the Other is transferable.
In the 1950s, it was the communists; before them, the Japanese; before them, Africans.
Native-American activists are being targeted everywhere. The Native American Studies Department at UC Davis voted recently to deny tenure to Professor Edward Valandra (Sicangu Lakota), completely ignoring his excellent record of teaching, scholarship and community service. In Colorado, Native-American professor Ward Churchill was fired by the University of Colorado Board of Regents simply for his political views. In addition to denying tenure to Professor Norman Finkelstein, DePaul University also denied tenure to Professor Mehrene Larudee. According to a Review Board decision issued on Oct. 26, her rights were violated by DePaul during her tenure process. Unanimously approved for tenure by her department, the International Studies Program, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Professor Larudee was turned down by the University Board on Promotion and Tenure in May, and the president denied her tenure in June. It is now recognized she was attacked only for supporting Professor Finkelstein during his tenure case last spring.
Conservatives are getting cleverer and more cunning in their strategies. They’re not fanatically screaming their ideologies so the public can respond with intelligence. Instead, they cleverly mask themselves as defenders of “academic freedom” and “individual rights,” neither of which they extend to thinking professors. They disguise their organizations with names such as “Foundation for Individual Rights in Education” or “Center for Academic Freedom” to confuse unaware bystanders.
Recently, they attacked a peaceful program at the University of Delaware that critically examined the ethnocentrism, xenophobia and phallocentrism that Americans are socialized with from childhood on. University of Delaware President Patrick Harker was bullied into submission by outsider conservative organizations and immediately ended the program and the critical thinking it provided.
Conservatives are on a McCarthy-style witch-hunt to stop any professor who refuses to exalt Bush. They specifically attack professors in fields where critical thinking takes place, such as the social sciences and humanities, and shut them down.
Outsider political, well-funded and conservative organizations are militantly attacking universities and thinking professors with a political agenda, not an academic one. Conservatives outnumber liberals in the military by a substantial margin, yet there aren’t campaigns to put more liberal soldiers in the military just because of this. But conservatives don’t understand this aspect of sociality. They want power and control over every institution, not just the military. They want power over the university as well, and they are on a McCarthy-style witch-hunt to obtain that power and purge universities of thinkers.
Nathan Tumazi is a third-year international studies major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also read, "Does U.S. Tolerate Anti-Muslim Speech?" (Christian Science Monitor)