Academia / General

Aufderheide, Patricia, ed. Beyond PC: Toward a Politics of Understanding. St.Paul MN: Graywolf Press, 1992. 239 pages.

This collection concerns the debate over multiculturalism, "political correctness," preferential admissions, and free speech on U.S. campuses. Essays and excerpts from authors on both sides of the debate are reprinted on the pages indicated:
 pp.7-10:   National Association of Scholars pp.129-32:  Raoul V. Mowatt
 pp.11-22:  Dinesh D'Souza                   pp.133-41:  Rosa Ehrenreich
 pp.23-26:  George F. Will                   pp.142-47:  Miles Harvey
 pp.27-49:  C. Vann Woodward                 pp.148-54:  Barbara Epstein
 pp.50-58:  Nat Hentoff                      pp.155-57:  Martin Duberman
 pp.59-64:  Mortimer J. Adler                pp.158-60:  Shawn Wong
 pp.67-70:  Teachers for Democratic Culture  pp.161-64:  Roger Wilkins
 pp.71-79:  Ruth Perry                       pp.165-74:  Paula Bennett
 pp.80-88:  Jacob Weisberg                   pp.177-79:  Harry C. Boyte
 pp.89-96:  Sara Diamond                     pp.180-81:  Sara M. Evans
 pp.97-106: Jon Wiener                       pp.182-84:  Troy Duster
 pp.107-12: David Beers                      pp.185-90:  Todd Gitlin
 pp.113-17: Linda Brodkey and Shelli Fowler  pp.191-200: Patricia J. Williams
 pp.118-21: Nina King                        pp.201-11:  Reed Way Dasenbrock
 pp.122-25: Katharine T. Bartlett            pp.212-24:  Joan Wallach Scott

D'Souza, Dinesh. Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. 319 pages.

Dinesh D'Souza began his career as a critic of liberal multiculturalism and "political correctness" by co-founding and editing the Dartmouth Review while he was an undergraduate there from 1979-1983. The next two years he attended Princeton and edited an alumni magazine started by conservatives. After Princeton he was the managing editor of the Heritage Foundation's theoretically-inclined Policy Review. In 1987 he became a domestic policy analyst for the White House, and then a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Throughout his career he has been supported by conservative money, particularly the John M. Olin Foundation.

It's embarrassing to the PC left that D'Souza is also a "person of color" (he's a native of India). This opened doors during his visits to six universities to collect data and interviews concerning issues of race and sex, how they have become institutionalized in course content, speech codes, and preferential admissions, and the effect this has had on attitudes and campus life. If liberals dared to sidestep the conventional PC wisdom and give this book a chance, many of them would be amazed to discover that it is tightly argued and compelling.

Finkbeiner, Ann. The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite. New York: Viking, 2006. 304 pages.

The author first heard about Jason in 1990, and because there was almost nothing published about the group, ended up chasing down some current and former members for interviews. The Jason group is a collection of Pentagon-funded scientists with top-secret clearances. It began in 1960 and included some Manhattan Project veterans. The first public exposure of the group occurred in 1970, when a student stole minutes of a Jason meeting from an anthropologist and gave them to an alternative student newspaper. The publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 added more information, and Jasons were now regarded as villains by numerous academic activists around the world. In 1972 a group called Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action published a booklet on Jason, which is indexed in NameBase.

During the Vietnam War, Jasons worked on the electronic barrier sensors, which detected activity and called in the bombers, and also on nuclear weapons research and submarine communications and detection. In the 1980s they worked on the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), and in the 1990s they began hiring biologists in addition to physicists, and started some defensive biological warfare research. Jasons feel that they can be apolitical, independent, and patriotic -- all at the same time. This feeling will probably last until the U.S. starts another unjust war.

Goines, David Lance. The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960s. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1993. 767 pages.

The conventional wisdom of talking heads and columnists, for the last two decades, has frequently blamed our current cultural malaise on the excesses of the 1960s. Now we have the real story on a portion of that period straight from a major participant. Without a doubt, many of those who sat in at Sproul Hall in 1964 were smarter, more competent, more ethical, more democratic, more sensitive to important issues, less racist, and better educated than their parents, their university administrators, and their representatives in Washington. Yes, drugs and sex were part of the bargain, but that was merely frosting on the cake.

The story of the 1960s has not been told by our mainstream media; either you were there, or you ferret it out on your own, or you still don't know. This period has fallen victim to our ahistoricism. Today it is so far removed from of our culture's capacity for experience, that most observers look back without a clue. Instead the 1960s have become a repository for throw-away lines from know-nothings. It's refreshing, then, to find a thick book that knows intimately what it's describing. This is the definitive history: the names, the photographs, the blow-by-blow -- and best of all, the essential spirit.

Kors, Alan Charles and Silverglate, Harvey A. The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses. New York: The Free Press, 1998. 415 pages.

Alan Kors, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties attorney in Boston, compiled this comprehensive account of what's been happening on American campuses over the last 15 years. It seems that the First Amendment is out of favor, and campus administrators have instituted kangaroo courts to enforce speech codes that protect the sensitivities of women, minorities, and gays. This has led to numerous prosecutions of straight white males -- both faculty and students -- for speech or expressive behavior that would have been considered legally protected on campuses just 25 years ago. Even today, as soon as one steps off campus, courts are consistently striking down these repressive speech codes. The problem is that students don't have the resources to pursue their rights off campus, which can take years of effort. This book is peppered with dozens of case histories and incidents on dozens of campuses, which are then juxtaposed with First Amendment case law in the real world (off-campus). What's going on here? The authors trace the problem back to Marcuse's theory of "repressive tolerance," which turned into "progressive intolerance." Not likely; it's rather a case of quotas and multiculturalism gone amuck. The "diversity administrators" on campus are buzzword thugs who know little of Marcuse or the 1960s -- sometimes they seem barely even literate.

North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 454, New York NY 10115, Tel: 212-870-3146.

The University - Military - Police Complex: A Directory and Related Documents. 1970. 88 pages.

NACLA began in 1966 and quickly became one of the most important research organizations to emerge out of the U.S. student movement. Through the mid-seventies their publications concentrated on the role of U.S. corporations and foreign policy in Latin America, with special emphasis on U.S. universities, development policy, police training, and CIA covert activities. Reports were well-researched, with more facts than analysis.

In the sixties students were concerned about defense and law enforcement contracting, and its influence on academia. Today our universities still sell to the highest bidder. This report contains hundreds of faculty names collected from lists of think tank directors and Defense Department contract summaries.

Schrecker, Ellen W. No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. 437 pages.

Ellen Schrecker is a Harvard Ph.D. who teaches history at Princeton, which makes her book on McCarthyism in academia very thorough, somewhat aloof and dry, and just a shade indignant that the long arm of politics was able to reach in from the real world and pluck tenured professors from their privileged perches. The fact that this book was published in the first place is a measure of the typical academic's sense of self-importance. During the 1950s, hundreds of professors were forced to testify under threat of contempt and some who refused lost their jobs. Not many years later, hundreds of thousands of their students were forcibly sent to Vietnam to kill or be killed, and that seemed okay. Similarly, Schrecker's account of the horrible blacklist that prevented some academics from finding jobs also deserves little sympathy. Today's political correctness and preferential hiring and admissions is a self-imposed campus orthodoxy which, by any reasonable standard, is more oppressive for more academics than the 1950s ever were.

So Schrecker's sob stories of ruined careers don't interest us much, but occasionally she mentions one of Joseph McCarthy's flunkies, or a professor who was turning in his colleagues just a bit too eagerly. The names plucked from this book tend to fall into those two categories, along with a few names of McCarthy resisters whom we recognized and respect.

Soley, Lawrence C. Leasing the Ivory Tower: The Corporate Takeover of Academia. Boston: South End Press, 1995. 204 pages.

During the 1960s, students almost forced the university to give up its military contracts. Then in the 1980s, the entire institution was sold to the corporations. Today a professor on the medical faculty might own stock in a pharmaceutical company, moonlight for this same company, and use tuition-paying students as unpaid researchers to write an article for a prestigious medical journal about this company's wonderful new drug. The stock goes up and he sells his shares for a quick profit. To one degree or another, this describes the modern American campus -- in biomedicine, in other patent-grubbing, high-tech departments, and even in the social sciences, which are littered with think tanks funded by conservatives. Campus buildings are now named after tycoons, and the board of trustees is packed with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. If the new university president can't bring in the bucks, the trustees find someone who can.

A minor criticism: for the first few pages only, the author pays homage to political correctness by blaming the corporations for the attack on PC. It would be more accurate to say that PC diverted would-be activists from recognizing the real threat. Anyone who has worked for large corporations knows that they don't mind playing the multicultural card: it's a strategy that keeps the workers balkanized, and precludes any class consciousness.

Sykes, Charles J. The Hollow Men: Politics and Corruption in Higher Education. Washington DC: Regnery Gateway, 1990. 356 pages.

Charles Sykes, a conservative critic and reporter from Milwaukee, wrote this book as a follow-up to "ProfScam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education" (1988). Half of "The Hollow Men" reviews trends and events in American higher education in the decades before 1970, while the other half is a case study of Dartmouth College, mostly from 1970 through the 1980s. The weak link in this thread is the author's limited knowledge of the 1960s. The issues and energy behind the Free Speech Movement in 1964, or the Columbia strike in 1968, completely escape Sykes, perhaps because he was only starting junior high about then.

Even after bracketing the 1960s, this book still has something to say. In the context of American higher education over many decades, the issues at Dartmouth during the 1980s demonstrate that something had gone very wrong on campuses. But rather than blaming the 1960s, Sykes should have used some of his reporter's shoe leather to investigate the many millions that the Ford and Rockefeller foundations pumped into women's and ethnic studies on campus, beginning in the early 1970s. (For women's studies alone, Ford Foundation, by their own estimate, put in $24 million between 1972 and 1992.) Unfortunately for the reader, such inconvenient facts don't find a place in Sykes' preconception of how political correctness evolved.

Trumpbour, John, ed. How Harvard Rules: Reason in the Service of Empire. Boston: South End Press, 1989. 450 pages.

Several times a century, apparently, some American students take a look at their university and are horrified to discover that they are in the belly of the beast. It happened to Randolph Bourne at Columbia in 1917, it happened again at Columbia in 1968 (see NACLA's reprint of "Who Rules Columbia?" in NameBase), and it happened to me at the University of Southern California in 1969. That's when I discovered that the campus was owned by former CIA director and future Chile-destabilizer John McCone and his multimillionaire/multinational corporate cronies, the campus fraternities were controlled by future Watergate dirty-tricksters, and half of Ronald Reagan's California kitchen cabinet was on the Board of Trustees.

By now I'm more amused than outraged after reading How Harvard Rules, a collection of 26 essays from assorted academics who have kept their eyes open. Some concern rather esoteric issues, but these are offset with seven essays by Trumpbour himself, who was a Ph.D. student in Harvard's history department. He demonstrates an appreciation of Harvard's historical role, including its connections to the intelligence community.

-- D.Brandt

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