Middle East studies in the News
FSM's Second Annual ‘America's Most Dangerous College Courses' [incls. DePaul prof. Aminah Beverly McCloud]
by Jason Rantz
It's been two years since I've begun investigating insipid, scary and yes, downright dangerous college courses – sometimes funded by tax dollars – and unfortunately, little has changed. Arrogant professors, protected by tenure and faint-hearted administrators, use their classrooms to spread their twisted views of America and its allies. Sometimes, entire courses are focused on anti-American views; other times, professors take time from non-political classes, such as math or Kinesiology, to complain about George Bush, the war on terrorism, social justice, and whatever it is that happens to bother them at the time of their rants. Consequently, students are not being taught properly and universities and colleges are robbing their students of the well-rounded educations they are paying for and deserve.
As was the case with the first installment of this list in 2006, courses for this list are based on a variety of criteria:
These courses represent the worst seminars offered by a university or college in 2007-2008, and should be avoided if you appreciate honest and rational debate – and if you wish to steer clear of anti-American rhetoric. Courses that rob students of facts, and professors who stroke their egos and indoctrinate students, are dangerous. Now, on to the list:
10. Collegiate Sexualities at Occidental College.
9. Body Politics: Power, Pain, and Pleasure at Williams College.
8. Issues Dividing America at Columbia University.
7. Whiteness and Multiculturalism at Ithaca College.
6. Truth, Lies, Politics, and Policy at Portland State University.
5. Introduction to Labor Studies at the University of Washington.
4. Speaking Out at Bucknell College.
3. Imperialism in American History at the University of California, Irvine.
2. Movements in Social Justice at Occidental College.
1. Islam in Global Contexts at DePaul University.
And now, the analysis:
10. "Collegiate Sexualities" at Occidental College.
It's hard to believe that this course for freshmen at Occidental College – my alma mater – is one that focuses on the "hook up" culture of college students. Offering not an iota of academic value, the course aims to debate such titillating questions as, "Do hook-ups require drunkenness?", "What are college students' sexual identities or dis- identifications?" and "What are the political ramifications of identifying as gay, lesbian, straight, bi, queer, asexual, spectral, or something else?"
For those of you not up to date on the extremist politically correct language on sexuality, "spectral" apparently "suggest[s] that homosexuality or lesbianism are threatening specters feared by the heterosexual mainstream" (I had to look up this word.) When was the last time someone you know identified his sexuality as "spectral"? I'm willing to wager not recently, if at all, leading one to believe that this course's aim is to brainwash freshman into thinking heterosexuals in the mainstream fear homosexuality (read: we're all homophobes).
9. "Body Politics: Power, Pain, and Pleasure" at Williams College.
Feminist Professor Jana Sawicki has created a politically correct, Lefty gem with her Williams College course that promises to discuss such penetrating questions as, "If bodies and pleasures are historically and socially constituted within unequal power relationships, what can or should we do to transform them?" and "Is the body an inevitable source of resistance and rebellion?"
One look at the course description, and PC words and phrases just jump out at you: only academic Leftists use the terms "unequal power relationships." Unfortunately, most students can't decipher Lefty propaganda until after they graduate. Here's a tip: stay out of this class if you want rational discussions on important political concepts that don't have anything to do with feminist professors complaining about how the "man" tries to control "their" bodies. You're likely to come out of this class dumb and brainwashed, and that is dangerous indeed.
8. "Issues Dividing America" at Columbia University.
This seminar has agenda-driven propaganda written all over it. The seminar claims to focus "…on four political issues so contentious that they have produced enduring cultural, socio-economic and political divisions throughout the United States." Among the four issues professor Irwin Gertzog includes is the gay rights movement – a controversial topic, indeed. Students are graded on the "merits" of their work and effectiveness of their arguments. Unfortunately, students are not offered equal differing views on these topics, making it virtually impossible for them to gain enough facts about their topics from the texts provided to argue adequately against the professor's views.
Take, for example, the sole reading assignment on the syllabus for the topic of gay rights: From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States by Craig Rimmerman. Far from delivering an evenhanded debate on the issue, this one-sided book champions coalition building and grass roots organizing to promote the gay rights movement. According to John D'Emilio, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and the University of Illinois at Chicago, the author "can only invigorate gay and lesbian politics in the United States today." The book even criticizes the "Christian Right" and their successful organizing to defeat "gay-friendly policies."
Of course, the inclusion of this text would be completely honest and fair if accompanied by one of the many books and articles arguing for laws that protect traditional and conservative policies on sexuality and the gay rights movement. How are students adequately served with one text when the point of the course is to discuss why the issues are controversial from the perspective of people on all sides of the issue?
7. "Whiteness and Multiculturalism" at Ithaca College.
Typically, this Politics course focuses on the severely underdeveloped "study" of a new academic field called Whiteness. The field dissects what it views as institutionalized racism and inherent privileges of being white. In courses like these, professors insist that if you are white, you are the enemy of minorities seeking an equal playing field. "Whiteness studies" are often racist, make excuses for any problems in minority communities by blaming whites, and demonize anyone who might have the audacity to think that racism isn't as pervasive as the professor wants you to think.
According to the course syllabus, Professor Chip Gagnon will discuss the "invisibility that the power and privilege inherent in the category of white resides." The course is meant to brainwash, and Gagnon seems to embrace this: "The course is meant to open up the way in which whites are conditioned to think (or not think) about their race, as well as the ways in which it conditions their relationship to nonwhites and to power and privilege." That is, the course will make whites feel bad about what the professor feels are inherently racist views, and the course will tell students how they should think about race. Of course, this course is meant to target only white students and how they think, leading one to wonder how quickly it would be called racist if the syllabus suggested African-Americans need to be taught how to think differently.
(A side note: On Gagnon's course website, he offers several links to whiteness sites he admires. One such site is the Center for the Study of White American Culture. Jeff Hitchcock, the co-founder of the group, attended the Third National Conference on Whiteness at the University of Chicago. While there, he issued a bold call for the erasure of "Whiteness" and the elimination of "White American culture." Furthermore, required reading for the course includes an essay titled "The Point is not to Interpret Whiteness but to Abolish it" and a chapter titled "Evil White Nationalists I." Again, imagine if he called for the erasure of "Blackness" and how the radical Left would respond to that!)
6. "Truth, Lies, Politics, and Policy" at Portland State University.
Professor Rick Wolf, who served as a senior policy advisor to far-Left Senator Ted Kennedy, attempts to teach students the "real story" as to how policy decisions are made. But what this course really does is tell you the "real story" behind how ideologues try to brainwash students with only "progressive," required texts.
The two required books that discuss political issues are both authored by Lefties. The first book is titled Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision by progressive thinker and UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff. Among the author's biggest fans are MoveOn.org's co-founders Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, as well as the group's executive director Eli Pariser, and John Podesta, who runs the far-Left group Center for American Progress. All praise Lakoff's "progressive" politics and his ability to teach people how to effectively communicate progressive ideas.
The second required book, laughably, is Chris Matthews' Hardball. Matthews has been instrumental in NBC's move to the far Left and their suffering the resulting ratings fall. And while this type of text would be beneficial to students if they were also exposed to books of conservative authors (such as Laura Ingraham's Power to the People or Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior), that is sadly not the case. How, then, are students supposed to get the "real story" on how policy decisions are made? By reading progressive books that MoveOn.org cherishes? Not a chance.
5. "Introduction to Labor Studies" at the University of Washington.
This course title is misleading – students don't just "study" issues of labor, they are indoctrinated into the unchallenged belief that unions are good and capitalism is bad (especially when Wal-Mart is involved). By all indications, this course is an agenda-driven brainwashing session that seeks to turn students into union supporters and capitalism haters, rather than actually to study and analyze the issues around labor unions and capitalism.
One of the required readings is a collection of anti-Wal-Mart essays titled Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism. The book is filled with essay after essay of Wal-Mart bashing that suggests the practices of this company are representative of modern capitalism – that is, they discriminate against women, they mistreat workers and are oppressive. This is a standard device used by the Left – they demonize a major corporation, many times with unnamed sources, for the sole purpose of pushing their own agendas on private business owners. They do so by manipulation, spin, and flat out lies – much like a Michael Moore "documentary," these critics exaggerate stories, select "facts" that serve their purpose, and use rare instances of injustice to suggest there are patterns of abuse. Seldom do they suggest that workers who seek union jobs should apply for a job with corporations that support unions. That would be personal choice, and these critics want to make choices for you.
Other required readings include texts that suggest affirmative action was used by whites to get ahead of African-Americans, and yet another text that blames the U.S. labor market for not doing enough to end poverty (remarkably, the book claims "most Americans are hardly better off [now] than they were a generation ago").
4. "Speaking Out" at Bucknell College.
"Social justice" is such a great term. Who could possibly be against "justice"? Many American citizens, actually. No, it's not that we don't want "justice" – we don't want the liberal notion of "social justice," which would lead to abortion-on-demand, marriage for whomever to whomever, a drastic increase in minimum wage without any concern for how small businesses would suffer, and an end to what many in academia are now referring to as "environmental racism." Unfortunately for students at Bucknell College interested in "speaking out" against the sacred cows academia holds near and dear to their hearts, they're out of luck.
Taught by Professor Saundra Morris, who loves reading poetry, fighting for "social justice" and peace, and long walks on the beach, the course purports to "work on learning to listen to marginalized voices in American literature and culture, to develop and to speak our own knowledge and convictions about current controversial social justice issues (such as Darfur, immigration, abortion, war, gay marriage, wage rates, and globalization), and to improve our understanding of the multiplicity and complexities of our cultures and literatures in relation to ‘otherness.'" Quite a mouthful. How it should read is, "You are forced to listen to extreme perspectives by Leftists, so that by the time you leave our course you'll have been indoctrinated by our generally immoral views."
3. "Imperialism in American History" at the University of California, Irvine.
This course seeks to place America in the worst possible light – by blaming this country for needlessly extending our power on other countries. The course asks, "To what extent has the United States (either consciously or unconsciously) dominated, used, and/or exploited other countries and nations in the years since its founding?" Quite a loaded question – try being a student who says we aren't all imperialist jerks as the academic Left loves to claim. If capitalism wasn't a good enough target for these crazy academics, calling us imperialists proves too easy to pass up. You see, Leftist academics hate capitalism – even while these Marxist lovers demand lofty paychecks for just a few hours of academic work a week and yearn for the day when they can write a book that is chosen as required reading for college courses, happily accepting a steady stream of royalty checks – and they like to argue that everything America does (under a Republican administration) is an example of imperialism. Let them have their copies of Socialist Worker – we'll take classes that don't criticize America as a focus for a course.
2. "Movements in Social Justice" at Occidental College.
Peter Dreier, the professor of this Occidental College course, loves to tell anyone who will listen (and even those who do not care) that he is the "Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics." He is wickedly biased and is notorious for preaching, not teaching. (Note: I was once a student of his.) Similar to the problems in the Bucknell College course noted above, the intent of "Movements in Social Justice" is to convert students into activists who will fight for the perceived struggles by the ideologue Dreier.
One of the required texts of the course is Socialist Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Inspirational quotes found on Dreier's course website include a gem by Karl Marx.
Dreier also romanticizes Socialism and Communism, often ignoring the brutal truth about those economic systems, in order to indoctrinate his students. To that point, students in this course are expected to write a paper on one book from a list of several he has picked. Among them: Talkin' Socialism, California Red: A Life in the American Communist Party, and The Romance of American Communism.
The professor doesn't use his course just to brainwash his students into the thrills of Socialism and Communism; he uses his course to routinely demean conservatives. Dreier orders students to read far Left publications like The American Prospect (he assigns the article "Rejecting the Right" toward the end of his class).
Far from respecting alternative sides to his favorite issues, Dreier almost always solely presents assignments reflecting his stance on issues. On women's rights, Dreier assigns an article from MS titled "Five Rights Women Could Lose." The article attempts to scare readers with typical Leftist hogwash – claiming conservatives will end "quality health-care services" and will ban the "fundamental right" to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade (even though overturning it would not ban abortion). Also, on the topic of abortion, Dreier assigns another MS article that argues America accepts abortion.
On the topic of gay rights, Dreier doesn't offer texts on the legitimate discussion of gay marriage, but assigns articles from the gay rights magazine The Advocate. During this part of the course, not a single conservative perspective is offered except to say conservatives are upset with openly gay soldiers in the military.
Dreier should not call himself a professor, as he doesn't really teach. He provides one-sided views on a number of topics on legitimate debates in America today. He uses his professorship at Occidental College in this course to create an army of like-minded sheep who will do as he says and fight his fights.
1. "Islam in Global Contexts" at DePaul University.
It has never been more important to learn the facts about Islam as a religion and the extremists who have hijacked the religion for their twisted, anti-Western purposes. Unfortunately, this course does not offer an honest assessment of the extremist, instead offering lame excuses and silly comparisons.
Taught by Aminah Beverly McCloud, who has been described as "actively working to obscure the true nature of Islamism in this country" by conservative writer Cinnamon Stillwell, this course appears to serve as a way to propagandize students into believing Islamofascism just isn't that bad. Take, for example, the required reading, as indicated by an earlier syllabus for the course, the book The Heart of Islam by Seyyed H. Nasr. As Discover the Networks points out, the text actually compares terrorists to some of America's founders and original seekers of Independence. According to the book, "When some people attack Islam for inciting struggle in the name of justice, they forget the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution."
You can also have a look at McCloud's background. According to the columnist Thomas Ryan, McCloud is "a follower of Louis Farrakhan," a notorious anti-Semite.
Our war on terrorism is of utmost importance. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, man or woman, if you live in the U.S., Islamofascists want you dead. Any course that does not properly put into perspective the dangers of a large extremist group, or offers only apologetic views of terrorists' acts, is doing a tremendous disservice to this country and our students – our future leaders.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Jason Rantz is a political commentator and host of the talk program "Jason Rantz Show."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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