Saturday, March 8, 2014

OK -- I've had it!

So here I am, on spring break FINALLY trying to complete this g___ d ___ (think "gosh darn") book manuscript, and I sit down to listen to news for a few minutes, and WHAT DO I HEAR.  Apparently the Rutgers faculty decided to not invite (or disinvite -- not clear which) Condi Rice to lecture or speak or some such thing.......A couple of journalists known for their associations with the liberal media expressed disgust at the very idea that she would be barred.  So did the anchor.  So would I.  So what happens?  This smug little Republican surrogate (I can't even remember the usual term, so hopped up am I) through pinched, ruby-red lips and an AFRO, as if she isn't aware of that party's posture toward a good many people of color, announces that the real problem is the "fact" that universities are full of those nasty, intolerant "liberals" who want to silence everyone who disagrees with them.

I really HAVE HAD IT.  Let's set the record straight.   It  was Daniel Issa who silenced ranking Congressman Elijah Cummings not two days ago by shutting off his mike.  Why?  Because the attorney for the person being interviewed (who was taking the Fifth) had agreed to proffer, which means that the woman pleading the Fifth was about to say what she knew.   So.  Can't have Cummings doing THAT.   Remedy?  Shut him down.   In the south, in places like Texas and Mississippi, it's social conservatives, not liberals, who want to strip textbooks of all mention of the more deplorable episodes -- among them, Darwin's ideas, the civil rights movement, the fact of white lynching of black people, the women's movement, and so on and so forth.  They have pretty much succeeded, by the way.  It is sure as h___ not the conservatives who wrote the American BIll of Rights and have defended it in federal courts against hundreds of attempts to shut down speech.  Indeed, when liberals do that, it is conservatives who keep saying that liberals tolerate too  much speech, that we don't know when to draw lines -- whereas they do.   John Stuart Mill and John Locke were not conservatives.  Thomas Jefferson, who tried to beat back the CONSERVATIVE attempt to silence Republicans (who were liberal, by the way) in the late 1790s, was apparently one of those intolerant people. 

When I sat on the Detroit board of the ACLU long years ago, I actually got SO annoyed with the board's insistence upon hearing ALL voices and in the process being completely hamstrung that I ended up quitting.   One of liberals' problems, in fact, and it's really serious, is that we have a lot of trouble saying that X or Y or Z is "right" -- because it seems to exclude other points of view.

It's time to call a halt to this nonsense.  When I write a syllabus -- and, indeed, when my colleagues write a syllabus, no matter what their political views -- the idea is to represent as many points of view as possible.   Sometimes it makes for confusion.  Students actually like clarity -- a single 'fact,' not competing information.  I think that's why social conservatives, the ones who reduce things to a single, easy-to-memorize slogan ("Obama is a Nazi") are so successful -- and here, I pointedly exclude the many conservatives I know who welcome discussion.   It's the ones who would shut down the public forum that are intolerable.  In the law school, there used to be one professor (a political conservative, I quickly add) who decided to fix the whole problem by assigning a textbook that simply cut out all of the materials he thought were "wrong," such as Roe v. Wade.


When I finish this book, I will report in again.  In the meantime, disagree with someone!    svb

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