Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So, there, Rosie O'Donnell! (my article)

I've got my Ph.D. and Rosie O'Donnell has ... ? Oh, yeah, she's got a television talk show! What are her qualifications? And why does her audience (same women who watch "What Not to Wear" and a very light-skinned black supermodel's talk show) applaud her remark that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam"?

Read my article in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Historian Howard Zinn has this to say about individual activism:

"All of us, no matter what we do [professionally], have the right to make moral decisions about the world. We must be undeterred by the cries of people who say, 'You don’t know. You’re not an expert. These people up there, they know.' It takes only a bit of knowledge of history to realize how dangerous it is to think that the people who run the country know what they are doing."

Now, before you dismiss Zinn as a left-wing propagandist, consider this: he has a PhD in History.

Conversely, David Irving, another historian, also has his PhD, and yet he essentially denies the Holocaust.

Do you believe the Holocaust happened? I do, too. Are you and I qualified to question Irving's "professional findings"? Individually, no. But we have access to the works of many other qualified historians who repudiate Irvings claims based on overwhelming evidence that the Holocaust did in fact occur.

Likewise, many qualified experts in theology, foreign policy, and philosophy, would agree with the essence of O'Donnell's remark. That is to say Pat Robertson, sitting in his Virginia studio, isn't particularly dangerous. When he is given access to the corridors of power through his block of followers, however, some of us believe he is--not because he doesn't believe in abortion, but because his Middle East policy is driven by an apocalyptic eschatology. So is al-Qaeda's.

The reason the idea that all opinions are equal has gained so much traction in our society has little to do with the Deconstruction theory to which you were exposed in grad school, and everything to do with the fact that our culture is saturated with an anti-intellectual populism that is as American as apple pie. The way to fight it is not to simply dismiss the validity of individual opinion-holding ("As an 18-year-old, I was hardly qualified to comment on the performance of a president"), but to teach students to think critically. Indeed, I'm sure you would agree that having confidence in our ability to make informed decisions re: public policy is vital to the survival of our system of gov't. Let's just do everything we can as educators to ensure that said confidence is well-founded.

Dave Mead
Thanks for your reference to Zinn. I think we should also evaluate the intellectual capabilities of the professors our universities are producing. After all, we now have classes on Oprah and pornography! Much of my original piece was cut. One of the points I made was that we should go back to the classics. The radicals, of course, dismiss classical thinkers like Plato and Aristotle, and indict them for every evil in our "imperialistic West." I know this from graduate school and reading the literature. The radicals then replace Plato with works of their own fellow radicals. So we have radicals citing radicals, putting radical authors on syllabi, etc.
Have you ever read Zinn's _A People's History of the United States_? If not, then get yourself a copy (cheap and used--you don't have to give him any money) and put it on your shelf right alongside your other history texts. You may not agree with very much he says--I don't necessarily agree with everything--but I think he does perform a valuable service, as a historian, in retelling the American narrative from points-of-view not often given ascendence in mainstream secondary historical texts.

I take my cues here from Christopher Hitchens, who advocates placing Zinn's book alongside a text such as Clarence Carson's _A Basic History of the United States_ (or perhaps Schweikart's and Patrick's _A Patriot's History. . ._), thereby allowing students to develop a "basic grasp of narrative and evolution, and a corresponding grasp of the idea of differing views of the same story," so that they might learn to "consider theories and interpretations."

hi mary....

Zinn aside, there have to be some standards. For example, when our betters at the Unitversity level start practicing nepotism, cronnyism, and enforce communism or islamo-fascism, then we have the right to raise hell-ism...hee..hee

For example, there is a difference between teaching the basics of Jihad and enforcing it or flunking out any opposing view points....

We've come to the point where we may not condemn things such as Vagina Day at UNC, must wonder at the intellectual sophistication of certain professors calling Auschwitz a lie, while at the same time calling for the death of all jews, or accept as intellectual freedom calls for one million Mogadishus.

When exposed, said bigots should be called down for what they are. Dr. Adams does an excellent job of this.


ps...waiting on my transcripts, so that I can finish up the ole' welcome to the sand box paperwork!...hee..hee
I know you were addressing Mary, but I hope you don't mind my responding.

It's true that there are wingnuts in academia, just like everywhere else. Nicholas De Genova, the Columbia prof who publicly wished for "one million Mogadishus," was roundly denounced by his own colleagues who had planned the event at which he made the remark. Consider this, from the Accuracy in Academia website:

"While the other faculty members speaking at the teach-in expressed nearly unanimous opposition to the war in Iraq, many quickly acted to distance themselves from De Genova's statements.

"Jean Cohen, a professor of political philosophy at Columbia and one of the event's organizers, has emphasized that De Genova was not originally invited to speak at the event, but stepped in at the last minute when one of the other participants was unable to attend. 'He and the press have hijacked this teach-in, and I'm very, very angry about it,' she told the Columbia Daily Spectator. 'It was an utterly irresponsible thing to do. And it's not innocent….this was a planned undermining of this teach-in.'

"Another event organizer, Eric Foner, called the professor's remarks 'idiotic.'

"Columbia President Lee Bollinger noted in a statement that he usually refrains from commenting on faculty member's utterances, but in this case he felt he could not let De Genova's statements stand unchallenged. 'Because of the University's tradition of academic freedom, I normally don't comment about statements made by faculty members. However, this one crosses the line and I really feel the need to say something,' wrote Bollinger, 'I am especially saddened for the families of those whose lives are at risk.'

"'Assistant Professor Nicholas De Genova was speaking as an individual at a teach-in,' continued Bollinger. 'He was exercising his right to free speech. His statement does not in any way represent the views of Columbia University.'"

Foner's politics, in particular, are very similar to Zinn's. So, see? Not even most left-wingers endorse such tripe.

SOURCE: http://www.academia.org/campus_reports/2003/apr_2003_2.html

Best regards,
Dave Mead
Goodness, teach-ins! How quaint. Paul, you are TOO funny! Go raise that hell-ism!!

Dave, you make me feel like I'm in graduate school again (aw, those awful flashbacks!). A lot of sitting around the conference table and showing off sensitivity for the poor, unwashed ignorant masses, while quoting each other. And most of these academics come from pretty privileged backgrounds, have never picked up a hammer, a broom, or a gun. The quotation from Zinn is precious. Thank you very much.
Someone should ask Rosie when the last time an "Extreme Christian" strapped a bomb to themselves and blew themselves and a dozen innocent people up with them.....or the last time an extreme Christian flew a plane into a building....

And to my friend Mr. Mead here.....I think I'd rather face an army of Pat Robertson's than Bin Laden's.....seriously, if you think Pat Robertson is "dangerous", I suggest you seriously look in the mirror to make sure you are indeed a man.


Mary - reading your article again, I have to agree with every word. WHY is it that people need to be subjected to a talk show host, movie star, celebrity moron's views and critiques on the Government when they themselves can't even manage their own lives properly?

What - because they have a few minutes of fame and use thier status to get liberal messages across? What people have to understand is that these celebrities don't just disagree with Bush...THEY HATE HIM and EVERYTHING he stands for. THEY want him to fail at all costs....and Rosie says that Christians are dangerous??? These people think that BUSH organized 9/11!!! Bill Maher said that these 'boys had courage doing what they did"...but our troops in Iraq are idiots for fighting for this country.

Bottom line....the majority of these losers are high school drop outs, but they know how to run the country.


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