SHORT TAKES


November 15, 2007

Where Are The News Media?

Stuart Taylor's brilliant rant in this week's National Journal ("Academia's Pervasive PC Rot") says "the cancerous spread of ideologically eccentric, intellectually shoddy, phony-diversity-obsessed fanaticism among university faculties and administrators is far, far worse and more inexorable than most alumni, parents, and trustees suspect."

There's an obvious explanation of why so many university watchers don't seem to know what's going on: the news media are extremely reluctant to report on what the increasingly coercive diversity lobby is doing to the campuses.

The brainwashing and indoctrination at the University of Delaware (and anyone who has read the voluminous documents in the case knows that use of these words is surely fair) has been pervasively reported on conservative blogs and right-wing radio. But the left has been silent and the mainstream media have almost universally avoided telling alumni, parents and trustees what is going on. Only a few news outlets covered the story. The Wilmington News Journal ran a piece headlined "Some Made Uneasy by UD Diversity Training", thus reducing indoctrination to discomfort. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a similarly soft report that used the headline word "unsettled" instead of "uneasy." The story's lead: "When University of Delaware freshmen showed up at their dorms this semester, their orientation included an exercise aimed at bridging cultural

Well, no. Bridging divides is not what the programmers had in mind. If that had been the goal, the Delaware indocrtrinators would not have kept telling the students that all whites are racists. And they wouldn't have insisted that "Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society." The point of the program (which isn't just for freshmen) was to change the thoughts and beliefs of the students to the ones the university administrators wanted them to have. Well down in the article, the reporter lurches briefly in the direction of accuracy, but the tone of the piece is clear: this is a high-minded program and nothing is amiss. Move along people, there's nothing to see here.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, a good publication that has been moving, ever so slowly, toward telling the truth about the campus diversity obsession, ran an article in its November 16 edition that I consider wildly dishonest. (Headline: . "U. of Delaware Abandons Session on Diversity." Lead: "The university of Delaware spent years refining its residence-life education program. One week of public criticism unraveled it.") Obvious impression left: a wonderful well-honed program has been unraveled by hotheaded critics. The article said: "The conflict shows the difficulty of promoting meaningful discussion outside the classroom..." And then later: "In an era when colleges may view students as customers to keep happy, how many are willing to make their students uncomfortable in the name of learning, even for a few minutes."

The Chronicle, apparently influenced by the programmers, wants readers to think those touchy students couldn't take a few moments of discomfort. In fact, it was relentless programming and indoctrination, week after week. Dan Lenker, who was a residential assistant at the University of Delaware before he transferred out in 2006, said RAs whose opinions differed from the university-approved ones on diversity, homosexual rights - "and more subtly, politics" - were not likely to be hired. He said: "I personally encountered the 'every person of European descent is privileged and benefits from racism' type remarks, among many others which weren't so bad yet still controversial and presented as unarguable dogma in which Reslife's opinion was the only correct opinion. Every week, RAs are put under great pressure by their Hall Directors to "promote diversity" on a constant basis through mandated social interactions, bulletin boards on approved or mandated topics, and mandated programs which residents are told they have to attend... The forced programs while I was an RA were ridiculous and poorly designed, but they did show a trend of becoming more belligerent towards re-educating students into accepting university beliefs."

The ResLife program now says the sessions were supposed to be voluntary and were discussed as mandatory due to error. It also says the all-whites-are-racists message was posted by a guest lecturer, though it is clearly listed in program literature.

Some basic questions have been left unanswered. Why do residence halls have their own curriculums? Why do administrators who shy away from defining a core curriculum for students feel free to impose one in the dorms without publicity or student consent?

The few reports that the mainstream press has carried give the impression that the program runs a discussion group promoting tolerance. But the program clearly rejects give-and-take discussion. It says: "We have successfully moved away from the idea that simple exposure to topics and opportunities to attend is equivalent to education. Our specific education aims, broken down into 28 competency areas now requires us to examine competency attainment" and "learning goals," i.e., student acceptance of the ideas we are determined to impose. The residential assistants were reporting to administrators on which students were resisting the diversity programming. "I felt like the secret police, not as a mentor," a former RA wrote anonymously to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Stuart Taylor is likely right about one prediction: the program will probably return in another form once the heat is off.

Comments (12)

Mike:

It's a shame but this kind of nonsense (along with some big-corporation propaganda) leads some of these kids into thinking that the real world really cares about diversity for its own sake instead of such lesser goals as making money.

I've received a few resumes from naifs loudly promoting their "commitment to diversity". These go STRAIGHT into the trash can; that's a pretty good signal of someone who doesn't have the brains and the judgment I'm looking for.


dmmoo:

It would be great if all the ra's could be interviewed about their introduction and indoctrination into the scheme. About their views of their goals and their feelings of how the program went. Maybe some will feel like they were captured by a cult and now need to be deprogramed. The RA's could be the real victims of this experiment in re-education

I was an RA at the University of Delaware years ago when the seeds for its Residence Life program were being sown. I'd like to give you some perspective on the program since, as an undergrad and then as a Ph.D. student, I took classes with or worked directly under people in the Psychology, Philosophy and Women's Studies departments and in the ResLife, New Student Orientation and Student Counseling programs.

First, the indoctrination program is not likely to go away. The reason that it will resurface is simple: a backlash from "racist America" has been predicted from the very beginning. Indeed, the backlash will be cast as proof that America *is* racist for being unwilling to tolerate a program of "racial understanding". Thus, by their own logic, the backlash validates the rationale and urgency of the program.

Second, you have to understand that the people involved in this program really do mean well and see themselves as a force for good. This gives them a moral "shield" that simply isn't going to be penetrated by criticism from forces they perceive as malign (Republicans, white leaders, etc.). Indeed, I don't think that I exaggerate when I say that we perceived ourselves as being far removed from (and surely superior to) the muling cows that make up our benighted society. Once you have committed yourself to "elevating the consciousness" of the bovine dolts all around you, it is no surprise that some start bellowing and mooing from the discomfort. With a God-like remove and infinite patience, however, the enlightened can help to "wake up" young America so that, when they become the next generation of leaders, they can help create a "better" and "fairer" society.

That's the theory. The problem is that the architects of this "consciousness" live in a tightly interlocked logical bubble of their own design. With little exposure to the true machinery of political and economic life, they're simply building a web of words largely divorced from reality. As I discovered after leaving UDel, the world is filled with intelligent, thoughtful people (who, by the way, are quite capable of pointing out the flaws of these programs of indoctrination). The real world also provides copious evidence that the very fundamental assumptions behind the ResLife program are simply wrong. In the bubble, however, such evidence simply doesn't penetrate.

In the end, I go back to something that my Dissertation adviser taught me: intelligence doesn't guarantee a correct outcome. It only guarantees that whatever prejudices and errors you bring to the table can be defended with greater eloquence. It takes humility, not intelligence, to uncover the truth.

T J Sawyer:

The real shame in this is the damage it does to legitimate "diversity" efforts. Even in a couple of Fortune 500 diversity programs I attended ten to twenty years ago the same attitude prevailed.

The trainers would essentially tell you that your attitude is bad because of your racial background and that all cultures are good - (Wait a minute, didn't you just contradict yourself there!)

You then know that the course is meaningless and just suffer through it to make management satisfied that you are "trained."

David Clemens:

In a related silencing, I note that Evan Coyne Maloney's documentary on campus indoctrination, INDOCTRINATE U, has been threatened with a lawsuit by a well-known, publically-funded university and the film's website, www.indoctrinateu.com, has been temporarily abridged.

Has anyone directly addressed journalism professors, CNN/Wash Post's Howard Kurtz or any other self-styled journalism watchdog group about this situation? What do they say? Is there any defense for not covering this material in a more comprehensive way?

David:

A bit more good news: William & Mary's administration seems to have backed down on the anonymous 'bias' reporting system, at least to the extent that anonymous reports will no longer be accepted. In addition, the president seems to be down for the count, based on recently released email that suggests he may have been lying about a donation - if so, he was violating the oldest university honor system in America.

Jack Friedman:

Wildmonk:

What a fine exposition & commentary upon the religion of Political Correctness; it's just as applicable to the True Believers without the ivory tower as to those within. Well done.

Jack

Laika's Last Woof:

"As I discovered after leaving UDel, the world is filled with intelligent, thoughtful people (who, by the way, are quite capable of pointing out the flaws of these programs of indoctrination)."

It sounds like you've undergone a real intellectual awakening. Some time ago I passed through something like that myself (on an unrelated issue). Congratulations.

"The real shame in this is the damage it does to legitimate 'diversity' efforts."

There is no such thing. "Diversity efforts" are nothing but bigotry rationalized by perceived victimization.
Diversity is also inherently unjust as it necessarily rejects impartiality which is a prerequisite to justice. A certain Duke Lacrosse team learned this lesson all too well.

"Diversity" is what enables student activists to advocate the grotesque sexual mutiliation of innocent men -- and feel good about themselves for carrying signs saying, "Castrate!"

There's your "diversity training". Well, as the old song goes, "You've got to be carefully taught."

Arty:

Why aren't these universities being sued for fostering an environment hostile to white people? This is systemic racism and we have to fight back if we're going to put an end to it.

Laika's Last Woof:

I think the focus needs to be on the individual, even if membership in a group is the reason for that individual's being unjustly accused.
All of us, whatever our color or creed, are owed due process, just as we are all innocent until proven guilty.
Though faced with racism, we should transcend it by embracing higher principles of justice and the rule of law. As the Duke Lacrosse case taught us, the most powerful word in the English language is "Innocent".

Well, I'm of European descent, have a doctorate, two decades of teaching experience, and cannot find a job in Academe. I've been a truth teller, you see. Great article, JG. Wish you'd send something my way. BTW, InsideHigherEd.com censored me twice. Imagine Lederman actually censored my comments regarding an article by Cary Nelson, AAUP PC-honcho. I wrote Nelson denouncing the incident. He remained silent. I did a watercolor on him as a Stalinista and sent it to him. He didn't comment.

G. Tod Slone, Founding Editor, 1998
The American Dissident, a Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence
A 501 c3 nonprofit organization providing a forum for vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy,
And for examining the dark side of the academic/literary established-order milieu
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