---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 12:50:48 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: An Organization on the Lookout for Patriotic Incorrectness
An Organization on the Lookout for Patriotic Incorrectness
By EMILY EAKIN
November 24, 2001
The Rev. Jesse Jackson made the list for remarking to an audience at
Harvard Law School that America should "build bridges and relationships,
not simply bombs and walls." Joel Beinin, a professor of Middle Eastern
history at Stanford University, earned a place on it for his opinion that
"If Osama bin Laden is confirmed to be behind the attacks, the United
States should bring him before an international tribunal on charges of
crimes against humanity." And Wasima Alikhan of the Islamic Academy of Las
Vegas was there simply for saying "Ignorance breeds hate."
All three were included on a list of 117 anti-American statements heard on
college campuses that was compiled by the American Council of Trustees and
Alumni, a conservative nonprofit group devoted to curbing liberal
tendencies in academia. The list, part of a report that was posted on the
group's Web site (www.goacta.org/Reports/defciv.pdf) last week, accuses
several dozen scholars, students and even a university president of what
they call unpatriotic behavior after Sept. 11.
Calling professors "the weak link in America's response to the attack," the
report excoriates faculty members for invoking "tolerance and diversity as
antidotes to evil" and pointing "accusatory fingers, not at the terrorists,
but at America itself."
Reports from advocacy groups are issued all the time. What has gotten this
one, titled "Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing
America and What Can Be Done About It," more attention than usual is that
one of the council's founding members is Lynne V. Cheney, the wife of Vice
President Dick Cheney.
A recent speech by Mrs. Cheney calling for colleges to offer more courses
on American history is prominently excerpted on the report's title page,
and she is identified on the council's Web site as "chairman emeritus." But
Margita Thompson, a spokeswoman in her office, said Mrs. Cheney was no
longer involved with the council, which was created in 1995. She added that
Mrs. Cheney "has seen" the report although has not read it.
Mrs. Cheney did provide a statement, however, that Ms. Thompson read. The
council "has been supportive of the need to teach American history, a cause
I think is important," the statement said. "Faculty members have the right
to express their opinions freely," it continued, and groups like the
council "have a right to dispute those opinions when they disagree."
The report's authors declare they are acting to protect free speech. "It is
urgent that students and professors who support the war effort not be
intimidated," they write.
But the council is facing mounting criticism from scholars who say that
singling out individuals for remarks taken out of context is misleading
and offensive. Todd Gitlin, a professor of communications at New York
University, called the report "a record-breaking event in the annals of
shoddy scholarship," adding, "it's a hodgepodge of erratically gathered
quotations, few of which are declarations of heartfelt opposition to
American foreign policy."
Mr. Gitlin a longtime leftist who said he has draped an American flag
across the balcony of his Manhattan apartment and published an essay
denouncing anti-American sentiment abroad, was surprised to learn he was on
the list. His disloyal act? Telling a journalist who asked him to describe
the mood on his campus that "there is a lot of skepticism about the
administration's policy of going to war."
Other scholars went further, comparing the report's list of names to
McCarthy-era blacklisting. "It has a little of the whiff of McCarthyism,"
said Hugh Gusterson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology who is on the list for a comment he made at a campus peace
rally. "Imagine the real suffering and grief of people in other countries,"
the report quotes him as saying. "The best way to begin a war on terrorism
might be to look in the mirror."
Culled from student newspapers, Web sites and the media, the list includes
chants recited by students at peace rallies and poster slogans like
"Recycle plastic, not violence," as well as comments made by scholars in
To the report's authors, such statements are proof that an oppressive
anti-American ideology has taken over on campuses. "We're criticizing the
dominant campus orthodoxy that so often finds that America and Western
civilization are the source of the world's ills," said Anne D. Neal, vice
president of the council and a co-author of the report. "Looking at these
representative comments, it appears they have stifled to a great extent
The cure for academe's anti-American bias, Ms. Neal and her co-author
write, is what the council has been advocating all along: more courses on
American history and Western civilization. Ms. Neal said that the council
would send copies of the report to 3,000 college and university trustees.
Scholars protest that the council is taking advantage of a national crisis
to further its academic agenda. "Their aim is to enforce a particular party
line on American colleges and universities," said Eric Foner, a professor
of American history at Columbia University whose name appears in the
report. "Now they're seizing upon this particular moment and the feeling
that they're in the driver's seat to suppress the expression of alternative
points of view."
Mr. Gusterson said that neither his remark nor three others attributed to
scholars at M.I.T. could be considered typical of opinion at the
school. "Three of the four quotes they used come from a peace rally on
campus," he said. "But there were at least six other panels, and a majority
of people who spoke at those panels didn't criticize American foreign
policy." He added, "One of my colleagues has called for a resumption of
Mr. Foner cited a recent poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at
Harvard and mentioned in the report. It found firm support for the war on
college campuses. "If our aim is to indoctrinate students with unpatriotic
beliefs," he said, "we're obviously doing a very poor job of it."
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