Thursday, May 03, 2007

Even distinguished conservatives kept out of academe

Mark Moyar doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of a disappointed job seeker. He is an Eagle Scout who earned a summa cum laude degree from Harvard, graduating first in the history department before earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge in England. Before he had even begun graduate school, he had published his first book and landed a contract for his second book. Distinguished professors at Harvard and Cambridge wrote stellar letters of recommendation for him.

Yet over five years, this conservative military and diplomatic historian applied for more than 150 tenure-track academic jobs, and most declined him a preliminary interview. During a search at University of Texas at El Paso in 2005, Mr. Moyar did not receive an interview for a job in American diplomatic history, but one scholar who did wrote her dissertation on "The American Film Industry and the Spanish-Speaking Market During the Transition to Sound, 1929-1936." At Rochester Institute of Technology in 2004, Mr. Moyar lost out to a candidate who had given a presentation on "promiscuous bathing" and "attire, hygiene and discourses of civilization in Early American-Japanese Relations."

It's an example, some say, of the difficulties faced by academics who are seen as bucking the liberal ethos on campus and perhaps the reason that history departments at places like Duke had 32 Democrats and zero Republicans, according to statistics published by the Duke Conservative Union around the time Mr. Moyar tried to get an interview there.

Issues relating to hiring and promotion are "a constant complaint from those on the conservative spectrum in academe," the president of the National Association of Scholars, Stephen Balch, said.

Mr. Moyar is used to opposition. A contrarian among most Vietnam scholars, he does not believe it was a mistake for America to have gone into Vietnam. In carefully argued prose using previously unexamined sources, he marshals support for the "domino theory." His scholarship and books have received great reviews and marked him as a rising star. In saying Vietnam was winnable, Mr. Moyar is "profaning one of the holy of holies," Mr. Balch said. Senator Webb, a Democratic opponent of the Iraq war, and scholar William Stueck, a liberal, have endorsed Mr. Moyar's book, "Triumph Forsaken" ( Cambridge), which was the subject of a conference at Williams College. A conference is a signal honor for a young scholar.

Mr. Moyar says he was the object of political discrimination at Texas Tech in 2005. The chairman of the history department there, Jorge Iber, said he "disagreed wholeheartedly" with Mr. Moyar's assertion. Mr. Iber, who is a conservative Republican, said the department makes its decisions on the basis of individual merit.

A history professor at Texas Tech, John Reckner, declined to speak about specifics of Mr. Moyar's job application at that particular school, but noted generally, "Let's just say, a person applying to teach whose topic is the Vietnam War and whose position is conservative, would encounter difficulties because the ideological ghosts of the 1960s are, unfortunately, still alive on a great many campuses, even though the Vietnamese themselves have put the war behind them." On April 27, 2005, 15 faculty members out of the 20 in Texas Tech's history department voted Mr. Moyar "unacceptable."

Texas Tech is not the only institution in the Lone Star State where Mr. Moyar says he received differential treatment. Another is, of all places, the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Named after the 41st president, it is where Mr. Moyar worked as a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in 2003 and 2004. Dean Richard Chilcoat, a retired lieutenant general, disputed the idea that that school's faculty is overwhelmingly liberal.

Mr. Moyar said Mr. Chilcoat initially told him the good news that all three finalists were considered qualified, but that he, unfortunately, was not at the top, only to learn later that he was unranked among the three finalists and found unacceptable by three faculty members. Mr. Chilcoat told The New York Sun that maybe there was miscommunication. Mr. Moyar alleges that the job description was changed from the one originally advertised. Mr. Chilcoat said that after a national search, the school made the hire based on the published criteria. Mr. Moyar says he was surprised to learn one objection raised against him was that he would not have an "immediate impact," yet his second book was published before the second book of the no. 1 candidate and before the first book of the no. 2 candidate. He says he was not told why he had been unranked.

Mr. Chilcoat declined to talk about confidential deliberations, but said in no way was ideology or politics a consideration in the voting. "I would never allow any discrimination," he told the Sun. He said Mr. Moyar was not "de-selected" but was a competent historian who got a fair opportunity to compete. "When you added everything up, he was not the best qualified," he said. Mr. Moyar said Mr. Chilcoat didn't reply to him during his final five months there. Mr. Chilcoat said, "I always made sure he knew what my position was."

Mr. Moyar told the Sun that one faculty member informed him she did not vote for him because of "ideological differences." Documents obtained by Mr. Moyar through the Texas Public Information Act and shared with the Sun show an anonymous faculty candidate assessment describing Mr. Moyar as a revisionist historian "bent on proving the merits of the Vietnam War (even if he is doing a great job doing it). His being here would hurt the reputation of the school." Another faculty member expressed concern about "his agenda-oriented research." The dean of the faculties at Texas A&M, Karan Watson, wrote to Mr. Moyar saying no evidence presented indicated that illegal discrimination occurred.

Mr. Moyar's credentials were of little help at Old Dominion, where he learned he was considered more a diplomatic historian than military. At Miami University of Ohio, the history department evaluated his scholarship to be more strongly in the field of military history than American foreign policy. This was despite his having taught courses in American foreign policy and having letters of recommendation from two of the world's top historians of American foreign relations: Akira Iriye and Ernest May, both of Harvard. The new president of Miami University, David Hodge, wrote to Mr. Moyar saying the school took seriously its obligation to hire the best faculty "without regard to personal attributes, including political beliefs."

In applying to the U.S. Air Force War College in 2003, Mr. Moyar said a professor, Jeffrey Record, repeatedly failed to contact Mr. Moyar to set up a visit to the college. Mr. Record told the Sun it was not his job to set up the visit but that he was a "polite and gracious" host to Mr. Moyar. Mr. Moyar says that after he delivered a presentation, Mr. Record told him that he was "full of [excrement]." Mr. Record told the Sun that he "flatly denies" this, but said if he did say something like that, it was purely in jest and people who know him would know it was in jest. Mr. Record said he regards Mr. Moyar's work as serious and scholarly although he disagrees with it.

Asked about the treatment of conservatives in academia, a professor at Columbia University, Eric Foner, said he did not know Mr. Moyar, but he said most history departments do not know or care about the politics of candidates. Mr. Foner, who leans to the left, said conservatives should stop complaining about being victims, which they blame liberals for doing. A professor at Boston College, Alan Wolfe, told the Sun that academic departments tend to hire like-minded people. He said there were surely liberal history departments, but so too conservative political science departments. "There is insufficient intellectual diversity at both liberal Ivy League colleges and as well as conservative colleges like Hillsdale and Grove City College," he said.

A professor at Duke University, Michael Munger, who leans to the right, said that, paradoxically, liberal students benefit most from conservative faculty. Otherwise, he said, in learning how to make arguments, "they don't get to play against the first team."

An emeritus professor of government at Smith College, Stanley Rothman, said he could not speak to individual cases but that a study he co-authored in 2005 called " Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty" seemed to show that statistically, conservatives were not treated as well as liberals in the academy.

The president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Gregory Lukianoff, said universities can "take brutal advantage" of the fact that most tenure and promotion decisions are confidential. An attorney at Alliance Defense Fund, David French, a Christian public interest law firm, said ideologically based discrimination cases, such as race- and gender-based cases, weigh direct evidence and circumstantial evidence of differential treatment. He said that once private institutions advertise for a specific job, they are required to live up to that description. A New York attorney, Jeffrey Duban, said judges look at whether a decision against a faculty applicant was arbitrary or capricious.

This month, Mr. Moyar filed a complaint with the University of Iowa's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity after he was not selected for an interview for a job in diplomatic history. He found among county voting records that the department had 27 Democrats, no Republicans, two with no voting affiliation, and four not listed. The university has a policy prohibiting discrimination in employment based on "associational preference" along with other things like race and creed.

Mr. Moyar said, "It's extremely unhealthy for the country to have one-half of the political spectrum absent from higher education." Mr. Moyar now holds a chair at the U.S. Marine Corps University at Quantico, Va. Mr. Moyar said he wants to help other scholars in the future "who are going to have to deal with this nonsense." He said he knew going into the history field, it would be bad. "But I had assumed there would be room for a few token conservatives," he said.


Fevered brains at Kenyon college

"American Thinker" was slurred by a professor at Kenyon College, in an opinion piece in the student newspaper. Below is a reply

In the course of Vernon Schubel's attacking a recent proposal to rent College facilities to a group of Knox County religious leaders for an evangelistic celebration, he has also attacked the American Thinker, a publication to which I contribute, and, indirectly, positions that I have taken against him. I do not know of Franklin Graham or his positions or statements on Islam. I take no position on whether the College should have extended this invitation to his organization. But Professor Schubel speaks disparagingly of those "who are spreading fear of Muslims." He calls this a "virulent disease" that is called "Islamophobia," and then he compares this "disease" to anti-Semitism.

At the risk of being labeled a carrier of this "disease," consider four unpleasant realities: (1) The potential destructive power of chemical, biological, and nuclear weaponry; (2) The significant number of Muslims (al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezb'allah, to name a few of their organizations) who see nothing wrong with killing non-Muslims; (3) The very open desire for certain Muslim regimes (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran) to have these weapons, and Iran's very clearly expressed and forthright intention to use them; and (4) When compared to the reaction of Muslims to the Mohammed cartoons, the virtual silence of moderate Muslims in the face of all this hatred and violence.

I must insist that "fear" is a rational response to these unpleasant realities for both non-Muslims and decent Muslims alike. One does not have to assert that hatred and violence are "normative Muslim behavior," nor does one have to argue that "Islam is inherently violent or wicked" to be reasonably fearful of what extremist Muslims have shown themselves capable. This fear is not something that is by definition what the Professor calls "Islamophobia" with its implied bigotry.

Professor Schubel's analogy of "Islamophobia" to anti-Semitism is a creative sleight-of-hand. As I am sure Professor Schubel knows, the worst of the world's anti-Semitism, not seen since the days of the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s, is regularly preached in mosques throughout the Middle East. But he acknowledges no problem here. What bad happens to Jews usually happens to non-Jews before long, so is there anything wrong with this fear of what Muslims are fomenting? For Professor Schubel, anti-Semitism serves as a means to illustrate his views of Islamophobia, but is little more.

Professor Schubel takes a gratuitous shot at the renowned scholar, Bernard Lewis. Readers might want to compare the scholarship of Professor Lewis with that of Professor Schubel. Only one of them is regarded as a giant in the field.

There are cynical elements to the Professor's argument as well. He condemns this supposedly "politically powerful ministry" that he says is openly hostile to Islam. He tacks on the reference to "gays and lesbians" as subjects of this hostility. This reference slickly shifts attention from a serious problem to a pseudo-problem. Professor Schubel must know how gays and lesbians are targeted in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, where the life expectancy of a known homosexual is not long. Evangelicals who can be critical, or Islamists who can be murderous; of whom should gays and lesbians be more fearful?

Professor Schubel is very concerned that the presence of Mr. Graham's organization on campus might cause the public to get the idea that Kenyon "emphasizes the study of neo-conservatism." This charge is risible. Anyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the prevailing orthodoxies on virtually any campus knows full well that neither Kenyon nor any other liberal arts college "emphasizes the study of neo-conservatism." Find one degree program in neo-conservatism, or name one "center for the study of neo-conservatism." They don't exist, in part because nobody can quite say what neo-conservatism is, beyond a label that many on the left regard as obviously bad.

Having spent most of his life on campus, Professor Schubel certainly knows this. I suspect that the name-calling has far more to do with rallying the faculty and administration for his demand for a new "concentration" in Islamic Studies. How better to keep those scary, "diseased" neocons at bay?

Then there is Professor Schubel's characterization of American Thinker as "ultra-right wing," which says more of the Professor than of the American Thinker. Such a phrase may evoke images of jackboots and death squads in fevered leftist minds, but it is not very useful as a characterization of this widely-read and respected mainstream website, consisting of opinion, analysis, and commentary. American Thinker has been quoted by the Telegraph of the UK and Le Monde in Paris, not to mention a raft of major American newspapers. A new college textbook is reproducing a three part series American Thinker published on the war on terror.

By all means, readers of the Collegian should check out American Thinker. I specifically suggest my July 2, 2006 analysis of Professor Schubel's embarrassing whitewash of Islam that graced the summer 2006 Kenyon Alumni Bulletin. On August 5, 2006, American Thinker published Professor Schubel's even more embarrassing response to an alumnus, and then my response to him. Readers can decide the merits.

There are those who espouse a contemporary Islam that has a serious problem with violence and hatred for those whom Islamists call infidels. To deny this is to actively avert one's eyes from the obvious. This does not mean that one must hate Muslims. Far from it. I suspect that no one except decent Muslims can reform Islam and tame its worst elements. Perhaps when enough decent Muslims recognize this sad fact and decide to purge Islam of its worst elements, prospects will improve for all civilized people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Professor Schubel, with his name-calling, his whining, his denials, and his silence in the face of Islam-inspired terror, is just another obstacle to the prospect for this necessary reform.


Children force-fed global warming hysteria

Comment from Australia:

JUST when you thought some common sense was back in schools with the return of core subjects history and geography, it turns out there may be new nonsense on the agenda. Apparently the NSW Board of Studies is looking to introduce climate change classes for kindergarten to Year 6 children as part of its science and technology syllabus. At first glance, it sounds sensible. Climate change could be a critical issue for our children, as well as for us. The problem, of course, is what they will be taught.

There are plenty of reasons for concern on this score. Adults have barely engaged in a grown-up conversation over the causes of global warming. Debate over the what, how, why, and when on global warming has been drowned out by hysteria. Global warming has been cleverly framed as the big moral issue of our time to quarantine it from debate.

Even conservative politicians shy away from suggesting scepticism because anyone who is a sceptic is labelled a denier. If you disagree with some of the science, and the religious fervour it has fuelled, or even evince a level of agnosticism towards it, you are not just wrong. You are a bad person forced to defend your integrity as well as your arguments. This is an old trick, but a good one. Given that stultifying atmosphere among adults, it is a stretch to imagine that classroom talk will be different.

A hint of what students might learn came a few weeks ago. My 13-year-old daughter returned home from school to tell me our house on the coast would be swamped by 6m of water. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was compulsory viewing for Year 8 students at her Sydney school that day. Gore told her sea levels would rise 6mby 2100. And people are causing this horrible global warming, she said.

Fortunately, I had just read up on the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and informed her that their worst case scenario prediction is that sea levels may rise by 26-59cm. Hold back the hysteria, I said. Some eminent scientists are suggesting other reasons for global warming, I added. Indeed, some point to evidence that the world may undergo a global cooling. Curious about the climate change curriculum, I asked the school if the movie coincided with a follow-up lesson to enable students to discuss or even question the Gore message on global warming. No, came the answer. “So Gore was it?” I asked. Yes, said the teacher.

So you see why it’s time to ask serious questions about what our children will be taught about this issue. It will, no doubt, start at the silly, harmless end. Keeping it simple for kindy kids, will they be treated to entreaties by pop star cum global warming guru Sheryl Crow? Crow is calling on people to use only one sheet of toilet paper per visit, rising to two or three for “those pesky occasions” as she writes on her blog.

Then it will get more serious. Perhaps older students will read an extract from the Nicholas Stern report on global warming and be introduced to the growing fad of food-miles. They might be told that kiwi fruit is a climate change culprit because flying 1kg of kiwi fruit from New Zealand to Europe translates into 5kg of carbon being discharged into the atmosphere. Given the dumbed-down nature of other parts of the school curriculum, perhaps climate change lessons will involve excursions to the local supermarket where children, armed with a food miles calculator, will add up the environmental impact of food travelling long distances to our shops.

Don’t laugh. British organisation has developed a software package to do just that because “it is essential that people are able to make informed choices about buying food and the effect on the environment of moving food around the planet”. Echoing that call, Tesco supermarkets in Britain are making the exercise easier with its plan to introduce a carbon count on their products - little stickers that will allow you to spot the products that, as the Environmental News Network suggests, “only a carbon criminal would dare take ... to the checkout”. Tesco is also planning to halve the amount of air-freighted fresh produce - a good green initiative that our own supermarkets ought to follow, the students might be told.

Children might then be taught that individual action is all well and good. By all means count your food miles - but governments must also do something to save the planet. Friends of the Earth might pop up in the curriculum with their demand that we need tougher policies to stop out-of-town stores to put an end to car-based shopping.

They want government-funded schemes to ensure local and regional food supplies. Governments must, they say, get tougher to reduce food miles. Like Earth Hour, when Sydneysiders were asked to turn off the lights, there is a certain child-like appeal to these think global, act local campaigns.

But unlike flicking a light switch, the focus on food miles provides a number of lessons on what is wrong with many of the reactions to the global warming hysteria - lessons unlikely to make it into the classroom. Will students, for example, be told that poor African farmers will be the real victims of conscientious Westerners looking to reduce their food miles? When buying local produce is promoted as good, buying foreign food must be bad. And, as the BBC reported earlier this year, that is bad news for countries such as Kenya where horticulture is second only to tourism as the biggest foreign exchange earner. We rightly encourage poor countries to build up their economies and sell their wares to rich, Western countries. Now they are being punished for doing so all in the name of global warming. Will students be asked to consider that?

Indeed, of all the reasons to be sceptical of the climate change agenda is the way it is coalescing with the anti-globalisation, anti-capitalism movements. Will students be asked to reflect on whether food miles is a new form of old-fashioned protectionism dressed up in the alluring language of global warming? Unlikely.

Which brings us back to the core problem. Making students aware of climate change is necessary. Infusing hysteria is downright dangerous. If we do not encourage students to debate, dare one say, to be sceptical about global warming, we risk creating a generation that will demand policy responses that end up causing more harm than good. Even worse, they will be denied the essence of a good education - recognising uncertainty, challenging assumptions and asking questions in the quest for knowledge.


Schools are too left wing, says an Australian conservative spokesman

TEACHING materials in primary schools have become too politically correct in depicting single sex couples and a black armband view of Australian history, according to the NSW Opposition. The Opposition's new spokesman on education, Andrew Stoner, accused the Labor Government of using schools as "a vehicle for left-wing indoctrination", saying it needed to "rein in the PC culture" within the Department of Education and NSW Board of Studies.

"Under Labor, up to half the curriculum in some subjects focuses on a purely indigenous perspective, including emotive terms such as 'British invasion', as well as 'Survival Day' instead of 'Australia Day'," Mr Stoner, the National Party leader, said. "No one doubts the integral role indigenous people play in Australian history, but any teaching of our past must be balanced. "Labor's political correctness in education also extends to gay causes, including the funding of reading material for children as young as five, regarding gay and lesbian parents. "[The Premier] Morris Iemma should keep his promise and teach kids respect and responsibility, leaving controversial issues like same sex marriage and adoption to parents."

He said books about same-sex parents, used in some primary schools include My House, Going to Fair Day, Koalas on Parade and The Rainbow Cubby House, produced by the Learn to Include project, were funded by the Crime Division of the NSW Attorney General's Department. The books tell the story of a young girl with two lesbian mothers and include a visit to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, confirmed the department had funded the project in 2004 when the books were produced as a teaching resource to help combat bullying in schools.

The Minister for Education, John Della Bosca, said Mr Stoner had been highly selective in his use of examples from the curriculum. His strong views about Aboriginal history and sexuality "should be a case study on why you don't let a National Party politician desperate for votes write the primary school syllabus". "This syllabus was designed in consultation with parents, teachers and many professional and community experts and has been successfully taught for nearly a decade. Historical events can be seen differently depending on your view and the syllabus requires teachers to always present a range of perspectives."

The president of the NSW Primary Principals Association, Geoff Scott, said principals and teachers had the final veto on which books were used in schools. Books that simply reflected the gay lifestyle, as opposed to espousing it, would generally be considered acceptable for children. However, each school would exercise discretion in consultation with parents to decide whether a book was appropriate. "There would be a number of occasions when award winning books that are well written but have inappropriate content are not put on the shelves in schools," Mr Scott said. "The principal and teachers would be up to speed with what community expected. The books in primary school libraries are not espousing a particular point of view or pushing values on to children. If a story written about people in same sex relationships, that's real life and provided it is at an appropriate standard, then it can be available for children."



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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