Earlier this week, Michelle Malkin linked to a story about violent pro-OBL protests in Orange County. The situation in that area is getting pretty dire. Kids are glorifying suicide bombers. There are Al Qaeda cells hiding in plain view. And the crucible of local extremism is the University of California, Irvine, where jihadist and Islamist activism is almost the norm. There is so much anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism on the campus that the Zionist Organization of America has gone so far as to file a Title VI suit alleging systemic discrimination.
A school environment where students wear t-shirts openly calling for jihad doesn’t come from nowhere – it has to be incubated by bias in the classroom. A summer course being offered by the School of Social Sciences provides an example of just how prevalent and open anti-Americanism is on college campuses. A professor is offering a course entitled “the Social Ecology of Peace”, and he emailed the following course description out to students:
The opportunity in the summer is to study the lessons of the war in Vietnam in a small group (about 15) and to apply those lessons to the challenges of the modern era. In a recent speech in Southern California former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that this is the first time since the end of the thirty-years war in 1648 that ethnic and religious violence has so transcended the boundaries of the Nation state. Samuel P. Huntington has written an important book called “The Clash of Civilizations” which provides a framework for understanding some aspects of war and peace in this era. With this kind of framework I can understand anger toward America and Americans. As horrific as is the beheading of an American truck driver in Iraq who was only doing his job and turned the wrong way, this action can be understood in the framework of American unilateralism.
I have no framework for comprehending why a late middle-aged woman who had spent her life in Iraq as the wife of an Iraqi citizen and whose work was assisting needy Iraqi children would be televised begging for her life and then shot in the head and the murder transmitted on the Internet.
It’s rare to find such a stark and useful example of the academic-pretense as political-activism as therapy triangle that passes as political discussion in college classrooms. Most college students would be hard-pressed to remember the last time they had a class without that morose girl who kept raising her hand to talk about “how she feels” about the Iraq war or tax cuts. And it’s not like she’s actually trying to move the discussion along – usually she’s just “me too”ing the asinine but oh-so-politically-correct “feelings” of the unshaven hippy boy behind her.
So this professor hasn’t really done anything but codify the informal anti-American hand-wringing of the seminar room. And he wants everyone to know that he feels personally distraught by “horrific beheadings,” but that he “understands” where the terrorists are coming from (shades of the pre-Afghanistan “of course no one is saying that 9/11 was justified, but…”).
But he only “understands” the terrorists to an extent – the extent to which they kill Americans. When radical Islamists kill humanitarians, well, then he has no idea what’s going on. There’s no hint that the jihadists might have an agenda other than crude anti-Americanism – violence that seems to be driven by religious fundamentalism is literally incompressible. The Other is an oppressed insurgent lashing out against occupation – not a racist, sexist, anti-homosexual, anti-Semitic, anti-secular bigot blowing up children in a quest to reestablish the caliphate. So when the Other goes ahead and becomes a racist, sexist, anti-homosexual, anti-Semitic, anti-secular bigot, American academics have “no framework for comprehending” it (in a way, this professor is being perversely honest – almost like that Berkeley course description that said that if you disagree with the narrow pro-Palestinian ideology of the teacher, you should select another course.)
Oh, and one more thing – Iraq is Vietnam!! Now, some Iraq-Vietnam analogies are complex and nuanced. Not so much here – here it’s just the massacre and losing stuff:
The class in the summer will begin on June 28th with the My Lai massacre from 1968 where American Charlie Company murdered 400 defenseless women, children and old people in a tiny Vietnamese hamlet. I will then focus for the first five meetings on why America chose (largely in secret) to Americanize the Vietnam war and commit 500,000 troops only to lose with the loss of 58,000 Americans and perhaps as many as 3 million Vietnamese killed.
During the academic year with a large enrollment class (there were 111 last year) there is a standard midterm and final. In the summer the small class makes student projects (either individually or in a group) as a very viable alternative to a midterm.
The war in Iraq has cost the lives of 1500 Americans. Military leaders do not for see an early end. There are extensive resources available on the web to compare and contrast the lessons of Vietnam with the evolving lessons of America in Iraq . With the Cold War over the issues are compelling.
This is bad scholarship, it’s bad politics, and it’s bad pedagogy. The confused self-righteousness just oozes out of the course description. There’s not even the pretense of objectivity – it’s difficult to imagine how a student, after reading this, could feel safe expressing a principled pro-American view. And don’t believe the usual line about professors “trying harder” to be unbiased – the official course description itself is all but written propaganda. The kind of cocoon that makes this kind of myopia seem reasonable starts in the seminar room, where professors and their disciples smirk and make snarky comments about how dumb Bush is. Then the impotent resentment of anti-Americanism seeps into the rest of the campus, until administrators, professors, and students end up abandoning liberal discourse for the thuggish gratification of banning, silencing, or attacking speakers they disagree with.Related Mere Rhetoric Posts: