Last week, a few of you sent me links to this article, about the many teachers being fired or otherwise hassled for having opinions or otherwise trying to get students to think. It poses the question: “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?”
Now, you already know how I feel about this stuff. I might also add one tidbit: sometimes, in order to get students to THINK about something in a new way — their own way, and not just the way somebody told it to them — you have to make a really out-there statement that grabs their attention and forces them to assess its validity. You don’t have to believe it, but once the students are engaged, you can start finding the edges of what they think and you can analyze it together. It’s actually a pretty good primary-source teaching tool. Teachers should be encouraged to use it. Use your words, administators, not the axe.
The article also refers to McCarthyism, and Gary Younge is not the only person who has made that connection. Anyone out there remember Red Channel? When actors and members of the entertainment industry were blacklisted during the McCarthy era (the vast majority of the time not even being communists), they would then be publicly denounced on Red Channel broadcasts. Can someone tell me why this is different? Anyone? Anyone?
So what happened to me was really very fashionable. I got fired between the Ward Churchill and Jay Bennish flaps. (Incidentally, I am prouder to say that I attend the same school at D.U. that Bennish does than that I am in the same Ph.D. program from which Condoleeza Rice graduated.) Ah, the things we do for fashion: wear heels, punch holes in ourselves, get fired…