Lately, I have studiously avoided getting all het up about political issues on either side of the border. I’m admittedly a little blue about my personal employment situation, and avoiding the outside world and its goings-on is one way of coping. That and chocolate.
But there are limits…
We’re five days away from a federal election here in the Great White North, an election that appears to be all but sewn up for the hitherto too-scary-to-contemplate Conservative party. Down below the 49th parallel, things are pretty much unchanged – from a Canadian perspective, the US is ignoring its most important trading party as usual, except for the occasional potshot about pot and gay marriage and diseased livestock; rather than mending rifts, the Bush league seems, as usual, intent on imposing democracy and freedom and the American way of life on the Middle East, whether they like it or not.
And now this.
An alumni group is offering students up to $100 per class to supply tapes and notes exposing professors who might express extreme left-wing political views at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Bruin Alumni Association president, Andrew Jones, claims that they are “just trying to get people back on a professional level of things.” On the group’s web site, the UCLAP project is lauded as a measure against “an increasingly radical faculty.” This week’s target, professor Douglas Kellner, is villified as follows:
While in public not much of a fire-starter, especially compared to the roustabout behavior of his more active radical colleagues, Kellner is an absolute tiger on paper. A close look at Kellner’s personal history and theoretical background reveals a professor whose political views are a witch’s brew of worldwide conspiracy, Marxoid theory, “critical pedagogy,” and an overwhelming dose of anti-Bush hatred.
In other words, despite the group’s stated objective of removing politics from the classroom, Kellner makes the list for his publications, not his lectures. Kellner is a prof in the Education faculty – hence the appearance of ‘critical pedagogy’ among his various sins.
This might be easier to swallow if the group’s targets were not limited to liberal profs. If any prof who exploited the captive audience to proselytize his or her political views out of context were to be ‘exposed,’ regardless of hisor her pro- or anti-Bush leanings, this thinly disguised witchhunt might be almost palatable. To specifically target only the so-called anti-Bush ‘radicals,’ however, not only smacks of McCarthyism, it’s downright insulting – aren’t the UCLA students smart enough to listen to professorial rhetoric and judge its validity for themselves?
The ultimate insult is that the group – presumably made up of graduates of UCLA and therefore, one hopes, well-educated and well-versed in US political history – seems completely blind to the irony of the term “witch’s brew.” Senator Joe would be so proud.
Oh, and “Marxoid”???