Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The New McCarthyism

Moorish Girl (and others, I'm sure) point to an in-depth look at how PC Gone Wild is seizing U.S. classrooms and campuses. Political correctness is usually the term applied to the Lunatic Left, but in this case the Radical Right is every bit as involved with the same dynamic. Gary Younge, writing in the Guardian, paints the picture.

University professors denounced for anti-Americanism; schoolteachers suspended for their politics; students encouraged to report on their tutors. Are US campuses in the grip of a witch-hunt of progressives, or is academic life just too liberal?

...it has primarily been universities that have been on the frontline. And on the other side of the trenches has been the rightwing firebrand David Horowitz. Horowitz...was raised by communist parents and was himself a marxist as a teenager. He is involved with Campus Watch, Jihad Watch, Professors Watch and Media Watch; he was also connected to discoverthenetworks.org, which targeted Gilroy. A few years ago he founded a group, Students for Academic Freedom, which boasts chapters promoting his agenda on more than 150 campuses. The movement monitors slights or insults that students say they have suffered and provides an online complaint form. Students are advised to write down "the date, class and name of the professor", get witnesses, "accumulate a list of incidents or quotes", and lodge a complaint. Over the past three years Horowitz has led the call for an academic bill of rights in several states. The bills would allow students to opt out of any part of a course they felt was "personally offensive" and force American universities to adopt quotas for conservative professors as well as monitor the political inclinations of their staff.

The bill has been debated in 23 states, including six this year. In July, Pennsylvania approved legislation calling on 14 state-affiliated colleges to free their campuses from the "imposition of ideological orthodoxy". Meanwhile, House Republicans have included a provision in the Higher Education Act which calls on publicly funded colleges to ensure a diversity of ideas in class - code for countering the alleged liberal bias in classrooms.

"The aim of the movement isn't really to achieve legislation," says Horowitz. "It's supposed to act as a cattle prod, to make legislators and universities aware. The ratio of leftwing professors in Berkeley and Stanford is seven to one and nine to one. You can't get hired if you're a conservative in American universities."

I became aware of Discover the Networks last June. Scary bunch, if you ask me.

I expect these folks will be trembling with rage and fear next Monday with all these immigration rights advocacy groups taking to the streets. It's just the kind of activity they love to document for the purpose of maligning someone's sincerity or patriotism. Serious objections to proposed legislation have animated and united a broad array of otherwise fragmented groups. HR 4437 has really struck a common nerve.

ILRC lists objections in a clear and understandable manner.

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