Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Academic nonsense

The Hamilton college misadventure with Ward Churchill has unwittingly and fortunately brought to the forefront what is very wrong with academia in the United States. Author Mark Goldblatt savages American academia for hiring and promoting unserious folks like Churchill and for having departments like ethnic studies. Here is a brutal and on-the-spot critique of some of these fluffy departments:

But the epistemological nadir of any university is found in the wacky world of ethnic and gender studies: black studies, Africana studies, Chicano studies, Latino studies, Puerto Rican studies, Middle Eastern studies, Native American studies, women's studies, gay and lesbian studies, et al. The suggestion that "studying" is involved in any of these subjects is laughable; they are quasi-religious advocacy groups whose curricula run the gamut from historical wish fulfillment (the ancient Egyptians were black; the U.S. Constitution was derived from the Iroquois Nation) to political axe grinding (the Israelis are committing genocide against the Palestinians; the U.S. is committing genocide against the people of Cuba) to gynocentric self-help (reasoning from verifiable data is a tool of male domination, to which the experiential impressions of women are a necessary antidote) to circumstantial special pleading (Lincoln was gay because, well, he was a nice guy; Hitler, not so nice, therefore not gay). Contesting the status quo is the raison d'etre of these departments. No idea is beyond the pale — except, of course, the suggestion that the status quo might somehow be valid.

Click the title to read the whole article. I agree with Goldblatt's suggestion that Churchill should not be fired. It was his hiring that was the big problem in the first place. Let him and the University of Colorado twist in the wind.

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