STUDENTS NOW SUE LIBERAL INSTRUCTORS
By Jon Christian Ryter
December 31, 2004
College and university students have now found a way to strike back against liberal instructors who choose to force feed them with socialist ideas and threaten to fail them if they do not adhere to the particular philosophies of their professors. Leading this new movement is David Horowitz, a one-time liberal campus activist turned conservative author and talk show host. And, strike back they are.
Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom [SAF], an offshoot of his Los Angeles, California-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture, is raising public awareness of the dangers of the "Peace Studies" indoctrination programs that are now being taught in almost every college and university in the country. Largely because of Horowitz's efforts through SAF, conservative students are learning they have legal recourse when they feel they are being discriminated against by liberal college instructors. And, they are now fighting back by filing lawsuits against instructors for what amounts to brainwashing and intimidation by instructors who threaten to fail students who do not accept their radical philosophies..
Three students at the University of North Carolina filed a lawsuit in May, 2002 after being told that incoming freshman at UNC were required to read "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations." The book was translated and edited by Michael Sells, a Professor of Religion at Harverford College. What incoming freshman students objected to is that "Approaching the Qu'ran," which contains 35 suras (the moral codes of Islam) from the Qu'ran, was required reading for all incoming freshman to UNC..
Three of those new incoming freshmen at UNC in 2002—one Jew and two Christians— contacted the Mississippi-based American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy which filed a lawsuit against UNC. The Center sought an injunction to halt the required reading that was to take place in the summer, before they would be admitted to UNC as students. Included as plaintiffs (in addition to the three students), was one UNC alumni and one taxpayer from the State of North Carolina. The suit alleged—rightly so—that the book ad advanced Islam as a "favored religion," and misrepresents the Qu'ran as benign when, in fact, the Qu'ran demands that its faithful adherents kill any infidel who violate its tenets. Further, the suit argued that the mandatory reading of "Approaching The Qu'ran" by those of faiths opposed to the tenets of Islam amounted to forced brainwashing, and violated the establishment clause and free exercise clauses of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Had the Bible Belt university adopted a policy that required incoming freshman students to read a book that contained, say, 35 psalms or proverbs from the Holy Bible, you can bet that People for the American Way or the American Civil Liberties Union would have filed a lawsuit against such a flagrant violation of the separation clause, and they would have heatedly denounced the University of North Carolina in the media for promoting a religion. (Of course, that's not likely since UNC has now become one of the most liberal institutions of higher learning in the South.) In filing the Center's lawsuit, chief counsel Stephen Crampton said: "We are not in favor of the school's mandating the reading of any religious document. This includes," he added, "the Bible. They required the students to read a strongly pro-Islamic interpretation of the Koran, which includes only about one third of the suras." The lawsuit contended what UNC and other institutions of higher learning who use Sell's book were doing was painting a Christ-like image of Islam by omitting those suras which require the "faithful" to kill those who disagree with Islam—such as Sura 4::89 which very clearly and unambiguously declares that those who reject Islam must be killed. Sura 9:5 that says: "Fight and slay the pagan wherever you find them."
Rebutting Crampton's argument was UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser who argued that the college was not spoon-feeding Islamic ideology to its students. He noted that UNC merely asks new students to read the book during the summer before classes begin, and then asks them what they think in a two-hour seminar when classes begin. This is done, He added, "...in a spirit of seeking understanding—not advocacy of Islam over Christianity or Judaism or any other religion. Not reading the book would be a missed opportunity for students." Still defending the program today, the UNC website currently states that "...[w]esterners for centuries have been alternately puzzled, attracted, concerned, and curious about the great religious traditions of Islam. These feelings have been especially intense since the tragic events of September 11." The texture of that statement suggests the program, and the mandated reading in 2002, was initiated after September 11, 2001 to give UNC students a balanced view of Islam and the benign nature of most Muslims. The only problem is the program forcing students to read "Approaching the Qu'ran" was initiated in 1999. .
Moeser, you will remember, became embroiled in another leftwing UNC dispute in February of this year over UNC-CH instructor Elyse Crystall's cultural diversity training when she accused a white, heterosexual Christian male student of making violent, homophobic remarks against a homosexual in her class. The incident was referred to the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Division by Congressman Walter Jones [R-NC], who also filed a complaint against Crystall with the North Carolina Attorney General. The homosexual community in North Carolina was up in arms because a heterosexual had filed a discrimination complaint under a federal law designed specifically to protect homosexuals from discrimination by heterosexuals. Both the State of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Education found UNC-CH's diversity training program had discriminated against white male heterosexuals.
Clashes over academic freedom have pitted instructors against students, and conservative politicians against university or college administrators or specific instructors for quite some time. College level instructors are generally given the autonomy to conduct their classes in whatever manner they see fit—and they are almost always defended by those colleges when charges of instructor bias or discrimination against Christians are leveled. But more than not often today, it is conservative students who are invoking claims of political, not theological, discrimination.
At Columbia University in New York a student activist group, Israel on Campus Coalition allege in a video documentary they put together that several Columbia instructors, including Dr. Hamid Dabashi and Professor Edward Said (who died from leukemia on Sept. 24, 2003), used every means at their disposal to intimidate students—Gentile or Jew—who support Israel. The group's video "Columbia Unbecoming" purports to document incidents of student intimidation and anti-Semitism in the classroom by pro-Islamic instructors. Said, who had previously been targeted by Israel on Campus, was a Palestinian. Dabashi is an Iranian. According to students, both men were known to have anti-Jewish biases.
The program initiated by Israel on Campus has been very effective. Attendance at the video presentations made by Ariel Beery and Noah Liben of the coalition is increasing enough that the New York media has begun to pay attention which, of course, meant that Columbia began to pay attention. Columbia is now defending itself from what they term is an "underground video" that they claim is nothing more than a collage of uncorroborated claims of intimidation by students with an ax to grind. Columbia officials note that when the video was put together, the accused professors were never shown the footage or asked their views. Columbia officials have initiated a fact-finding study to determine if there is an anti-Jewish bias at the University.
In the past, students had little choice but to accept the opinions of their professors as fact—even when they vehemently disagreed with the instructor's political positions which were the foundation of their opinions—or suffer the consequences. Most liberal instructors insist that their personal politics don't affect their teaching—yet roughly half of them make political comments in their classrooms that are completely unrelated to the subjects they are teaching. Thirty-one percent of college and university students (in a study done on 135 campuses by Students for Academic Freedom) affirm that they were forced to agree with the instructor's political views in order to get a good grade.
Today, Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom [SAFE] have proposed legislation to create an academic Bill of Rights in 20 States. In the past, "academic-freedom" guidelines were generally used to protect left-leaning students from punitive measures for campus activism to promote social change (i.e., homosexual and lesbian rights, abortion rights, protesting against the government, or the government's political or social agenda—particularly war. In America's universities today being opposed to war is not only acceptable, it is mandated. Being in favor of a war—such as America's role in Afghanistan or Iraq—is not. The legislation Horowitz is proposing would protect the diversity viewpoints of conservative students from overzealous, ideologue college professors who require Christian and conservative students to compromise their values by accepting as fact liberal ideologies with which they disagree in order get passing grades.
On Dec. 7, 2004, SAF launched a campaign in Indiana to drive home the point that the publicly-funded, "Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution" class at Ball State University was nothing more than a leftwing radical, anti-military propaganda program that, according to Brett Mock (one of the students who was forced to take the class) "...was designed entirely to delegitimize the use of the military in defense of our country."
When Mock contacted SAF last spring, he described the intellectual atmosphere at the Ball State University Peace Studies Center as "...closed to any political or philosophical view other than that professed by Professor George Wolfe." It was an indoctrination course funded by the taxpayers of the United States. Wolfe, whose resume reveals that he does not possess any degrees or special training in Peace Studies, nor does he have any degrees in any related social science discipline. His BSU biography notes only that he is a saxophonist who serves as the Assistant Professor of Music. He is not qualified to teach Peace Science and should never have been given that assignment by BSU.
Commenting on Wolfe's credentials, Horowitz noted on the SAF website that "...[p]lacing [Wolfe] in charge of a course that purports to deal with the history and nature of war and its social causes, is an abuse of the students who pay tuition to Ball State, and a misuse of funds provided by Indiana taxpayers."
According to Sara Dogan, National Campus Director of SAF, in one classroom exchange a student asked Wolfe if self-defense with a gun would be justified if an armed gang came to Ball State and began shooting innocent students (referring to Columbine). Wolfe's response was that it would not be justified since sooner or later the gang would run out of bullets—adding that the students who were being shot at could always hide. Not only is (Professor Wolfe scholastically-challenged in the peace studies arena, Wolfe strikes me as a man who doesn't appear to have a real good grip on reality.)
The text used in the mandatory Peace Studies' course at Ball State, "Peace and Conflict Studies" (Sage Publications Â© 2002), offered justification for only one form of violence—revolution. The right of people to forcibly overthrow their government. However, the only example of justified revolutionary violence cited in the required course's textbook was Fidel Castro's communist overthrow of Fulgencio Batista's corrupt quasi-democratic government in Havana, Cuba on Jan. 1, 1959 in order to achieve "social justice" for the Cuban people.
The textbook, on pg. 15, states that "...While Cuba is far from an earthly paradise, and certain individual rights and civil liberties are not yet widely practiced, the case of Cuba indicates that violent revolutions can sometimes result in generally improved living conditions for many people." In point of fact, the common people of Cuba live in abject poverty. Today the average Cuban worker earns approximately one percent of what they earned in 1959. Yet, the textbook, "Peace and Conflict Studies" claims that the economy of Cuba was very robust until the fall of the Iron Curtain—and Russia's decision to suspend the $4 billion per year it was giving Cuba, combined with a reduction in trade with the island nation. Income levels throughout Cuba dropped over 50% when the Russians left. Today, a college instructor in Cuba earns 210 pesos per month. An engineer in Cuba earns 310 pesos. It takes 25 Cuban pesos to equal one American dollar—which is the preferred currency in Cuba. Thus, a college instructor like George Wolfe who would, in my opinion, be overpaid at that rate, would earn the tidy sum of $8.40 per month teaching music in Cuba. You probably spend that on lunch. An engineer would earn $14 in American money per month. Those income levels do not exactly suggest a robust economy. Liberals always attempt to make communism look like paradise. Cuba today is a reflection of what a communist paradise really looks like.
SAF contacted BSU Provost Beverly Pitts concerning the complaint filed by Brett Mock. SAF urged the university to adopt the Academic Bill of Rights that allows the expression of diversity opinions. Pitts responded that in Wolfe's class "...a wide range of viewpoints [are] accepted and encouraged." She further argued that "Peace and Conflict Studies" "...presented various sides of peace- and war-related issues." In a rebuttal argument in an article entitled "One Man's Terrorist is Another Man's Freedom Fighter," Horowitz countered Pitts' contention by noting that in the preface of their book, the authors of "Peace and Conflict Studies" noted that "The field [of peace studies] differs from most other human sciences in that it is value-oriented... Accordingly, we wish to be up front about our own values, which are frankly antiwar, anti-violence, antinuclear, anti-authoritarian, antiestablishment, pro-environmental, pro-human rights, pro-social justice, pro-peace and politically progressive." In other words, they're as liberal as you can get without openly calling yourself a communist.
Among those in the academic world that Horowitz approached in his search for academic fair play was the American Association of University Professors [AAUP]—which actually wrote the first Academic Bill of Rights in 19115 when the liberal viewpoint had no voice. The AAUP was not in the least sympathetic with his argument. Most of his critics argued that Horowitz is pushing a political agenda, not an academic one. What the AAUP really means is that since the late 1950s, funded by groups like the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Pew Foundation, the Carnegie Trust and several other Council on Foreign Relations-linked foundations and trusts, the liberal educators started to become "the establishment." Since they now control the thought processes in the classroom, there is no longer a need—or room—for real diversity of thought—or student rights. Horowitz is fighting the same battle he fought during the Vietnam Era, only this time, he's fighting for the propriety of the right, not the left.
Since the 1970s when the liberals began to gain administrative control of the universities and colleges in the United States, they have been determined to silence the conservative perspective that dominated mainstream thought in Ameria's universities for two hundred years.. And, they have been quite successful in their efforts. Today, academia is a bastion of the left. Today, conservatives—both in the faculties and in the student body feel threatened if they express their honest views on political or societal issues. Students feel they will be blackballed from graduate schools, and ultimately, the better jobs. Conservative instructors are threatened with lack of tenure, if not out-and-out termination by the refusal of the university to extend their contracts.
Kris Wampler, one of the three UNC-CH students who filed the lawsuit against being forced to read the Qu'ran, believes there is a major disconnect between the faculty and the students. The instructors know they control the fate of the student and can pretty much force the students to publicly accept whatever philosophy is prevalent. And even though the three students at UNC lost their lawsuit to end the Islamic religious brainwashing, UNC saw the handwriting on the wall. "Approaching the Qu'ran" is no longer mandated.
Yet, intimidation still reigns. Fifty percent of the new students at UNC are urged by their counselors to sign up for the reading because it will put them in good stead with their instructors. And, of course, they do.
The academic-freedom guidelines that were adopted to govern diversity conduct to protect liberals during the Era of Unrest on America's campuses have pretty much been discarded since the liberal has little need for them today. Conservative students merely want the same safeguards that protected the liberals who now chair the educational departments in which they were once activist students. Activism no longer suits them. Most are troubled by the new generation of activists; and they are worried about the outcome of the latest chapter in the debate over academic freedom since they see the new activists trying to dictate what they don't want to be taught in the classrooms.
"Even the most disaffected students in the 60s and early 70s never really pressed this kind of issue," Robert O'Neill, the Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression noted in a recent Associated Press interview. (O'Neill is the former president of the University of Virginia and has experienced, first hand, the "new" student activism.) But the new activists aren't content to simply bellyache to other students, or seek help from guidance counselors. They are filing lawsuits to stop what they feel is an attempt by the liberal establishment to brainwash them or force them to accept political views with which they are opposed, with threats suggesting their current political positions will affect their chances of getting jobs with Fortune 500 companies when they graduate. Joe Losco, Professor of Political Science at BSU, has come to the defense of Wolfe and one other instructor now under attack for using the same types of intimidation as Wolfe. What the student activism is doing, he said, is causing faculty retrenchment. "...[Instructors] are less willing to discuss contemporary problems, and I think everyone loses out. It's put a chill in the air."
As the debate widens, both sides cite the 1915 student's Academic Bill of Rights—but only from the perspective that benefits them. Teachers point out that the guidelines clearly stipulate that instructors don't have to "...hide [their] own opinions under a mountain of equivocal verbiage," since their job is to "teach" students to think for themselves. In point of fact, college and university instructors are now doing the opposite in many of our institutions of higher education. Students are forced to accept the instructor's singular, sometimes biased views as truth—including his political or societal opinions. Students, on the other hand, argue that it is the job of the instructor to present all of the divergent views on each issue since the only way students can learn to honestly disseminate information is to possess all the available information.
The SAF investigation of the Peace
Studies courses in 135 college and universities here in the United States
raises serious questions not only about the Ball State University program
but those on every campus in the country. These courses are largely
far left indoctrination classes disguised as educational programs. They
are specifically designed to alter the political and societal views
of the next generation of adults—and the next generation of voters.
Our sons and daughters in these universities are not afraid to speak
out. Why are we?
© 2004 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website. E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com
In a century old battle between atheists, polytheists, and humanists against Christians in the most Godly nation in the world, the secularists have finally won. Today, not only has a mythical old man in a red suit replaced the Messiah as the symbol of the season