February 25, 2005
If you signed up for a college course entitled, “History of political, social, and diplomatic developments that have shaped the U.S. since 1960,” I think you could reasonably expect to receive a survey course that provides an objective presentation of the patchwork of perspectives on the “political, social and diplomatic developments” that might shape our society.
Apparently, if you signed up for that course in UCLA and the course is taught by this professor, you will receive anything but an objective account of the political, social and diplomatic developments that have shaped America since 1960. In fact, according to a former student, you will be in for a semester of the “socialist rendition of history, with no regard for the many other sides of the account,” he describes as follows:
Her bottom-line version of recent American history was some cocktail of male hegemony, racism, class systems, and the vast right-wing Republican conspiracy. Early in the quarter, she went on a rant against capitalism and the market system, which she defined as “the weird faith that everything will work out fine.” “Capitalism isn’t a lie on purpose. It’s just a lie,” she lectured us, “It’s easy for us to look back and say these people [who believe in markets] are dorks.” And for the climax, “[Capitalists] are swine.… They’re bastard people.
Apparently, not only did this professor make no claim to objectivity, but she also was intolerant of opposing viewpoints, both in class and in handing out grades. Perhaps, at a minimum, the course should have been entitled, “A Socialist View of the History of ….”)
I understand, and I believe it is important that universities should be places where students are exposed to the vast marketplace of ideas. At the same time, I think it is the role of the faculty to fairly present a cornucopia of ideas and to foster discussion in a forum that encourages disparate views, showing intolerance only for those that are poorly reasoned, as opposed to simply being contrary to the professor’s personal views.
I absolutely do not think that it is the professor’s role to use his or her classroom as a pulpit from which to advocate a personal political ideology, with the goal of turning the members of the captive audience into ideological clones.
This has nothing to do with “academic freedom,” but has everything to do with academic professionalism and competence.
Via Chad Adams.