Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Estrich vs. Kinsley

I’ve got to start reading the D. C. Examiner more regularly. Otherwise, I’d miss this, this, this, and this. Ken Masugi provides some valuable context, which helps to explain why a newspaper in D. C. would have anything to do with a controversy in Los Angeles (hint: Charlotte Allen). So engage in a little Schadenfreude this weekend!

Update: But wait, the Inkwell has more!

Harvard and the Iraqis

Joe asked below, Iraqis at Harvard, what I thought of this visit by six Iraqis to Harvard, and the classes they would take or sit in on. It is, as you say, and the other links you note, very silly or worse to put such people through this pseudo-sophisticated claptrap (e.g., "Gender and the Cultures of U.S. Imperialism"). Other things aside, it doesn’t do anything for the Iraqis: It doesn’t engage them in conversation, it doesn’t teach them anything. I had some experience (well, perhaps a lot of experience) in doing such things with Estonians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Romanians, et al) and the simple truth I learned is this: Begin at the beginning and let those thinkers who are the most clear on the ends and methods of republican government talk for themselves. They read Jefferson, Madison, and so on. They almost always focus on why human beings have a right to rule themselves and, once that is reasonably assumed, what do they do with that awesome power? Is there a limit to it? And why should folks who have asserted their right to govern themselves limit their own power by, for example, dividing their own power? Everything else--the flaws and imperfections (chattel slavery, bad or disputable decisions), the things most difficult to understand (e.g., that it is individuals who have rights rather than nations or tribes or groups) is eventually made clearer. You start at the beginning, in other words, and then you go from there. You don’t start where the Left intellectuals have led us because you never are able to work it backwards; they have killed the clarity and the naivete of the beginning.
This isn’t rocket science. That’s why I am able to do it pretty well. But those Harvard profs think that the connection between gender and imperialism can only be seen by the rocket scientists, and it is their job to "explain" it to the peasants, for they will have likely missed it, being unsophisticated and boorish as they are.

I think ordinary human beings can think about these matters pretty clearly, and the thinking has to be done naturally, without the overlay of the PC that pretends depth and nuance. When people start thinking about the foundations of self government, they want to start from scratch, better to get to know the minds of Jefferson, Madison, and Lincoln--and have conversations with them--than with professor Robin Bernstein, the Assistant Director of Studies and Lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, or Peter Schramm for that matter. I have done this in many different settings here and abroad, and I have found that it works every single time. It is, of course, in principle, exactly the same problem we have in teaching undergraduates. Start at the beginning, use the words that are the most clear--the words that the naive founders and framers used--words that everyone understands, and then let the thinking begin. It is exciting and radical and revolutionary for any mind that until then had been enslaved. Here is a gimmick I once used. I am in the former USSR, about three months after the fall of communism. There are sixty secondary school teachers in front of me. We will be together one week. I am introduced as the teacher of the seminar on civics. I am said to be be an important and learned person who comes from the great big free country from far away. I approach, ignore the podium that would elevate me three feet above the others, stand eye to eye with them and the first words from my mouth is this: "Is the human mind free?" All sixty of them agreed that it was. Good I said, we agree on the only thing we have to agree on in order to have a conversation about these important things. When we finished the seminar a week later the women hugged and kissed me....well, so did the men. You know how those folks are, cultural differences and all.

All human beings speak a language and

human nature, equality, and freedom, are understood in human languages. This isn’t rocket science. Contempt and shame to the Harvard professors who think it is. And pity to the six Iraqis at Harvard.

Bill Maher, Intellectual

Bill Maher on MSNBC earlier this week (according to today’s Washington Post):

"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies. . . I think religion is a neurological disorder."

Sign that man up for Mensa. Give him a talk show. Make him the Democratic Party nominee in 2008.

The Iraqi street

I thought that this comment by an Iraqi injured in yesterday’s attacks on Shiite worshippers was interesting:

"Those infidel Wahhabis, those Osama bin Laden followers, they did this because they hate Shiites," said Sari Abdullah, a worshipper at the al-Khadimain mosque who was injured by shrapnel. "They are afraid of us. They are not Muslims. They are infidels."

Note that he doesn’t blame Sunnis or Baathists, i.e., people with whom the Shiites might have to work in the new government.

More on Harvard’s Summers

Kathleen Parker writes a good piece on the Summers bruhaha at Harvard. It has a nice light touch, and, coming from a smart and attractive woman, it should be especially painful to those weird zealots who defend the awful Ward Churchill on the grounds of "academic freedom" and yet attack the president of Harvard for saying something--in an all-too-conditional and meanederingly sophisticated way--that is at least arguably true. I had a conversation with a professor on campus the other day who did just that: he defended Ward Churchill because "academic freedom" means he can say anything, but then chastized Summers for being an antedeluvian barbarian who should give up the presidency of the country’s oldest university because he said something some faculty objected to. Sometimes I think we are better off just mocking such people instead of trying to engage them in conversation. Yet, measure for measure must be answered. Read Parker.

Deficits do Matter

In today’s ’New York Times,’ David Brooks argues that deficits do matter and predicts the emergence of a leader who will take up the issue.

Brooks writes, "There’s going to be another Ross Perot, and this time he’s going to be younger. There’s going to be a millionaire rising out of the country somewhere and he (or she) is going to lead a movement of people who are worried about federal deficits, who are offended by the horrendous burden seniors are placing on the young and who are disgusted by a legislative process that sometimes suggests that the government has lost all capacity for self-control. ... In the past months we have learned that the prescription drug benefit passed last year is not going to cost $400 billion over 10 years. The projections now, over a slightly different period, are that it’s going to cost over $700 billion. And these cost estimates are coming before the program is even operating. They are only going to go up. That means we’re going to be spending the next few months bleeding over budget restraints that might produce savings in the millions, while the new prescription drug benefit will produce spending in the billions. ... We may as well be blunt about the driving force behind all this. The living and well organized are taking money from the weak and the unborn. Over the past decades we have seen a gigantic transfer of wealth from struggling young families and the next generation to members of the AARP. In 1990, 29 percent of federal spending went to seniors; by 2015 roughly half of all government spending will go to those over 65. This prescription drug measure is just part of that great redistribution."

Could it be that the Republican Party will crash and burn trying to manage the entitlement programs of FDR and LBJ?

2008 Democratic Presidential Contenders

Here’s a list of the top 50 Contenders for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination, provided by the NewPolitics blog. Topping the list, of course, is Hilary, John Edwards is 2nd, and, it gets silly toward the end, Lyndon LaRouche is 50th.

The real sleeper is at #18. Tennessee’s Governor Phil Bredesen emerges as the southern dark horse. Can this work again, an unknown Southern Governor wins just like Carter and Clinton. Just Google ’Phil Bredesen for President.’

The race is on; given campaign finance laws, the early and jam-packed primary/caucus season, it will as Yogi Berra says, ’get late, early,’ this go round.

The WaPo steps up to the plate

The Washington Post editorial page has this to say about Lawrence Summers:

One can agree or disagree with this ranking of reasons or with Mr. Summers’s reading of the research on gender and ability. But it’s contrary to the mission of a university to attack people for provoking fresh thought on big issues -- issues that, as Mr. Summers rightly put it, "are too important to sentimentalize." The furious reaction from some members of the Harvard faculty may reflect disaffection with Mr. Summers’s leadership on issues ranging from his questioning of tenure to his expansion of the campus. Mr. Summers has sparked controversies on other subjects, too, including political diversity in the law school, the quality of African American studies and campus criticism of Israel. If those subjects in part underlie the movement against Mr. Summers, his critics should engage them directly and not unjustifiably paint him as an anti-feminist bigot.

Read the whole thing.

Update: And the
NYT whiffs.

Iraqis at Harvard

Peter, is there any way the Ashbrook Center can provide Harvard’s poor Iraqi guests a somewhat less alienating vision of American freedom? A sample of what’s in store for them in the PRC:

Here is a bit of the syllabus for Prof. Bernstein’s course to be attended by the Iraqi visitors at Harvard:

We will use the methods of Cultural Studies to consider US imperialism not only as a military venture, but as a cultural project. Cultural Studies is (to offer a very condensed definition) an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the creation and flow of power and resistance, especially through ordinary people’s uses of mass-marketed products. The field of Cultural Studies enables us to consider imperialism not as a narrowly defined governmental venture, but rather as a sprawling set of practices in which many, if not all, people participate. These practices include performances on stage and screen, tourism, holiday rituals, and the writing and reading of literature (both “high” and “popular”). One may look for imperialist practices not only in military units, but in World Fairs, museums, and schools.

Cultural Studies opens unique avenues by which to consider issues of gender. Analyses of imperialism based in military history or international relations often focus on men as colonizers and conquerors, women as victims. In contrast, this course’s focus on culture opens the following questions:

1. How has gender affected the experiences of colonized people (and how has the experience of being colonized affected those people’s genders)?

2. How has gender affected the experiences of colonizers (and how has the experience of colonizing affected those people’s genders)?

3. How has gender functioned as part of the ideologies and strategies of American imperialism?

4. How has gender functioned as part of the ideologies and strategies of anti-imperialist activism and resistance?

These four questions constitute the heart of this course.

Here’s Win Myers’s conclusion:

All of this adds up to an attempt to leave the six visiting Iraqi students with the impression that America, liberator of their country, is in fact a racist, sexist, homophobic land. They will learn, in effect, just how awful life here really is, as seen through the eyes of one of the world’s most prestigious institutions.

But will they believe it? At the very least, the danger exists that they will speak with media, here or abroad, and tell of what they learned in this course. So armed, anti-American media in the Arab world can bombard its audience with news from the belly of the beast on just how horrendous life here is. Or, conversely, they may seize upon such a class to demonstrate our ostensible degeneracy to an audience already propagandized by decades of anti-Western bile.

Let’s hope that our Iraqi visitors find the presentation of life at Harvard to be so at odds with the world they observe around them, and with the nature and generosity of their hosts while they’re in America, that the conclusions they draw will be more enlightened than the ideology of some Harvard professors. Let’s hope, that is, that they ask themselves: how could a people so vicious sacrifice blood and treasure to free us from Saddam? If they draw the logical conclusion, they will have a leg up on many Harvard students and professors who, never having experienced real tyranny, spend their lives imagining themselves victims of the freest society on earth.

Here’s hoping that the Harvard Republicans, mentioned in the NYT piece on Karl Rove’s speech at CPAC, make the effort to offer the Iraqi guests a different picture of life in America.

Betsy’s Page has a lively discussion--well, a discussion--of Win’s post. Here’s the Harvard course catalog for this academic year; you pick the courses the Iraqis should be sitting in on. (I named my choices here.)

Greenpeace Gets Stuffed

It seems some Greenpeace protestors thought it would be fun to storm the international petroleum exchange in London yesterday, but the oil traders were not amused and beat the crap out of them, sending two to the hospital. Would this have happened 20 years ago?

Reminds me of the moment in 1970 when a bunch of long-haired construction workers opened up a can of whup-ass on some anti-war protestors who burned the flag in New York city. The point to be grasped then was that while the Vietnam War was unpopular, the anti-war movement was even more unpopular. Today, while most people are "pro-environment" in the ordinary sense, much of the environmental movement has lost its moral authority and is no longer popular. I’m sure most readers in London are saying today, "Those silly blokes got what they deserved."

Karl Rove speaks at CPAC

Read this, this, and then this.

The President has set an agenda and the best the Democrats can do is say "us too!" The humility Beinart urges is already present in Bush’s speeches and he has already articulated the standard to which we are to be held. So the Democrats seem to be caught between rigid opposition and shameless imitation. Not a good place.

Hat tip: Democracy Project

The 2008 campaign

Craig Crawford swears that the campaign has already started for 2008, much earlier than ever before. O.K. Maybe. But if I were advising the Democrats, I would say this: Do not worry about 2008; be seriously concerned about the 2006 elections. You must not lose any House or Senate seats for if you do, you will have no chance of winning the presidency in 2008. And, even if you should win the the presidential election in 2008, no good will come of it for your party. Be concerned with your party, not with who the candidate for president should be. The Republicans, by being concerned with party victories in 2006, are playing very smart politics that will have lasting consequences. The Demos still seem not to get it. Hillary Clinton’s contribution to this debate (along with John Kerry and other Demos) is to urge that Election Day be made a federal holiday to encourage voting. She also pushed for legislation that would allow all ex-felons to vote. This will not solve your party’s problems, Hillary. Peter Beinart’s advice to the Demos about their rhetoric is more serious, but they are not listening to him, or, they know they can’t do it. If the Demos don’t get their act together, politics will become boring.

UPDATE: A bad omen for Hillary’s prospects. Llloyd Grove reports on a speech given by David Geffen:

Friends no more? I hope Sen. Hillary Clinton isn’t counting on help from Hollywood mogul David Geffen in her possible run for the White House in 2008. Geffen, a generous supporter and pal of Bill Clinton when he was President, trashed Hillary’s prospects last night during a Q&A at the 92nd St. Y. "She can’t win, and she’s an incredibly polarizing figure," the billionaire Democrat told his audience. "And ambition is just not a good enough reason." Geffen’s dis was met with hearty applause. (Thanks to Drudge)

Big Government Conservatives

I think President Bush is a great man and I’m happy that Dennis Hastert is Speaker of the House and that Bill Frist is Majority Leader in the Senate. But did you know that since George Bush became President that the Federal Budget has grown by 38% to $2.57 trillion dollars.

George Will offers some thoughts on that here .

As Bob Dole said to equal effect, "Where’s the outrage?"

Ralph Reed...

is running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. The newspapers will hate him. There are some Republicans who really dislike him, and this story suggests that the primary will not be a cakewalk.

The Lawrence Summers speech

announces that Harvard President Lawrence Summers--bowing to faculty pressure--has released the full text of his speech on women. This is the so-called controversial speech that almost put an end to his career as president. Here is the full text
of the speech. The Reuters story also states that he released "a letter in which he again atoned for the things he said." I couldn’t find the letter. Now look, do yourself a favor and read this speech, which includes questions and responses, and then ask, is Summers deserving of the kind of treatment he got? Are his detractors--you know, the ones who thought they would have to run outside to throw up because of his opinions--correct in saying that this guy is some sort of closed-minded ideologue? Or, is the world quite mad? If I’m missing something, please inform me. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that college presidents (Summers, and maybe six others) never have anything interesting to say. Go ahead, make a cup of Java, and read it. I’d like to hear some opinions on this.

Jimmy Carter, attack submarine

The Jimmy Carter, the third and final submarine of the Seawolf class, will be commissioned in two days. It’s an attack submarine. This has led to much commentary if not merriment. My chivalrous spirit (as Bertie Wooster might say) prevents me from saying more. But others have opined, here and, perhaps the best is this cartoon.

Negroponte to DNI

The President has nominated John Negroponte to the newly created position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Here
(PDF file) is the full record of the Senate Foreign Relations hearings (September 13, 2001) when he was nominated to be Ambassador to the United Nations. The Senate voted 95-3 to confirm him to the UN post. He has been in Iraq since June, 2004.

Polygamy denied

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart

rejected the argument that the state’s ban on polygamy violates constitutional rights of religion and privacy, saying the state has an interest in protecting monogamous marriage.

The judge emphasized his ruling was about marriage, not personal sexual conduct. He cited cases as far back as an 1878 Supreme Court ruling upholding the polygamy conviction of George Reynolds, personal secretary to Mormon pioneer leader Brigham Young.

The purple finger in Lebanon?

Thomas L. Friedman is calling for a revolution in Lebanon. He makes perfectly clear that the mischief in Lebanon--once called the oldest real democracy in the Arab world--is directly related to Syrian imperialism. He reminds us that the city of Hama was leveled by the Syrian army (10,000 to 20,000 Syrians slaughtered) in 1982, and that that method is still alive. But Friedman says that Hama no longer rules, rather "Baghdad Rules" is now the name of the game:

What else can the Lebanese do? They must unite all their communities and hit the Syrian regime with "Baghdad Rules," which were demonstrated 10 days ago by the Iraqi people. Baghdad Rules are when an Arab public does something totally unprecedented: it takes to the streets, despite the threat of violence from jihadists and Baathists, and expresses its democratic will.

Rafik Hariri stopped playing by "Lebanese Rules" - eating any crow the Syrians crammed down Lebanon’s throat - and openly challenged Syrian imperialism. If the Lebanese want to be free, they have got to take the lead. They have to summon the same civic courage that Mr. Hariri did and that the Iraqi public did - the courage to look the fascists around them in the eye, call them in the press and in public by their real names, and confront the European Union and the Arab League for their willingness to ignore the Syrian oppression.

Read it all.   

Read this and weep

Via Democracy Project, a post by Bill McClay about a CHE article on a suicide hotline, originally sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ. Here’s Bill’s conclusion:

Having been associated for the past twenty-five years with American institutions of higher learning, most of them secular in character, it takes a great deal to shock me. But this article did. Imagine the fact that universities like Brown, and others all over the country, which bend over backwards in other respects to be as touchy-feely as possible---but where suicide among students is a shockingly common problem---have refused to make use of this service, for which there is an obvious and crying need, SIMPLY BECAUSE THE SERVICE IS PROVIDED BY A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, even though there is not a shred of religious content in what that organization does---nor is anyone claiming that there is. Better to run the risk that suicidal students have nowhere to turn, than to run the risk that they might turn to.....a Christian organization. That says all that needs to be said about their priorities. And Mr. Repak has decided, it is better to renounce any and all vestiges of Christian identity than to cease providing the service.

Does the animus really extend that far? And is this the sort of attitude that proponents of "faith-based" initiatives have to look forward to? I fear that the answer to both questions may be "Yes."

Enough said.

Politics as usual in Iraq

This is heartening. Here’s a taste:

for the moment, Iraq does seem to have turned a corner politically. The most telling sign is that the Sunni Muslims who mostly boycotted the political process are now said to be looking for ways to get back in. One prominent Iraqi describes a recent meeting with leading Sunni sheiks who complained that they had mistakenly assumed that the Americans would lose their nerve, postpone the elections and thereby enhance the power of the insurgents. Now the sheiks want a piece of the action.

Whether this Baghdad Spring continues depends largely on the wisdom of the leaders of the Shiite alliance that won nearly 50 percent of the vote. This week they are negotiating over who will get the top positions in the new government that was elected Jan. 30. But perhaps more important, they are debating ways that would give the Sunnis a role in the new government.

Read the whole thing.

More on the wrong Right

John Moser’s post below on the Birch Society reminds me to tell you that he knows of what he speaks (not that you would doubt that!). When his next book is published (next month, I think), Right Turn: John T. Flynn and the Transformation of American Liberalism you will have the opportunity to read something quite interesting and engaging about John Flynn, a man who moved from the Left to the Right, and thereby revealed some problems and contradictions in both positions. Moser does a masterful job of laying out Flynn’s "ideological odyssey." Look for it (published by New York University Press).

Thunder on the Right

Schramm’s mention of the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History reminded me of a notice I received recently about the opening of the new Robert Welch University. An online degree-granting institution (its web address is a dot-org rather than a dot-edu), it is committed to "providing a liberal arts education combined with an emphasis on the timeless principles of limited constitutional government." Many of the new institution’s history courses will be taught by the author of the book Schramm was talking about.

Some of you might be familiar with the name of Robert Welch; in 1958 he founded an organization called the John Birch Society.

In 2000 the official magazine of the JBS, The New American, published a series on twenty five "Heroes for All Time." Among them were such advocates of "the timeless principles of limited constitutional government" as Joseph McCarthy, Augusto Pinochet, Francisco Franco, and Chiang Kai-shek.

Do Deficits Matter?

Since Bob Bartley died, I’ve been looking for a columnist who can make sense of economics for me. Irwin Stelzer, who writes for the ’Weekly Standard,’ does a good job of bringing common sense to the dismal science.

In this article, Stelzer raises the question

’Do Deficits Matter? His answer is that the current deficit of some $400 billion probably doesn’t matter that much since it is only 3% of GDP. He worries about the trade deficit.

I still miss my daily dose of Bob Bartley.

Wrong history

Killing time at a bookstore I am accustomed to frequent, listlessly looking toward yet another shelf, my tired eyes were stopped by a great title: Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Couldn’t resist, got down to it, hoping it lived up to its title. No dice. I was reeling, the hogwash between the covers gave me quite a wallop. Max Boot has done us a service. He has read it and pointed out some of the crap to be found in it. You know the stuff, Calhoun was a good guy, Lincoln a tyrant during the war between the states (as the Civil War is called), and on and on. Boot is right, shame on Regnery for publishing this hooey. The author of it, by the way, seems to be a founding member of the League of the South which "advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic." Read Boot, but don’t buy the book.

Jefferson at the Super Bowl

Rafael Major was surprised, and deeply moved, by the reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Super Bowl.

Syria and friends

As thousands mourn the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in a raucous display of the depth of their anger and unity against those they blame for his assassination, the governments of Lebanon and Syria, we recall our ambassador from Syria and Russia it wanted to supply Syria with advanced missile systems. You might want to note the few comments of the Belmont Club on Syria. Note that Israel claims Iran will have the necessary knowledge to build an atomic bomb in six months. Timing. Timing is important in politics.

California GOP upbeat

There is a new mood among California Republicans, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

These are heady days for the California Republican Party, a once bitterly divided band that is unified, energized and relentlessly upbeat today.

The difference: California’s Republicans, who failed to win a single statewide office in 2002 for the first time in nearly half a century, are cheering on popular Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as he takes to the road to push his reform agenda, and following a confident President Bush as he does the same on the national front.

High school graduation rates

The Manhattan Institute (PDF file, 27 pp.) has published a study, "Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991-2002." Interesting stuff. For example, Ohio graduation rate is 78%, Pennsylvania 80%, California 67%, Tennessee 57%. Worth a look.

Now coffee

We already know that alcohol (and cigarettes) are good for you, and now coffee is thought to help prevent the most common types of liver cancer.

Th Gates in Central Park

Myron Magnet is not happy with "The Gates" project in Central Park. A sample from his short piece:

The art project—7,500 steel gates, 16 feet high, hung with orange nylon curtains, along 23 miles of the park’s paths—is like an alien invasion, taking over the park from top to bottom. The opposite of cheerful, the gates are oppressive, claustrophobic, even on a brilliant winter Sunday. They crowd as inescapably together as riot police, and are just as lumpish in their inelegant proportions and angular profiles. Like the riot police’s plastic shield and shiny helmets, their materials proclaim Industrial Man’s brute mastery over the elements, producing by unimaginably powerful forces, in white-hot furnaces and giant petrochemical vats that only legions of technicians could design and run, the steel and nylon that shoulders aside the trees and sky.

Central Park, by contrast, is a triumph of man’s ability to cultivate nature, not conquer it. It is dedicated to allowing the citizen, even in the heart of the crowded city, to feel free and large against the trees and sky, to wander at will from prospect to prospect —even, as the name of one area of the park proclaims, to ramble. But as crowds thronged the park to experience “The Gates,” they looked, as they trudged along the strictly delineated paths and disappeared over the crest of a hill, as if they were being herded off to the Last Judgment. They were not enlarged, as is the usual effect of Central Park, but diminished.

More Baylor

There are three new articles about Baylor posted on the Christianity Today site. Robert Benne has this to say:

a friend at Baylor had predicted this [Sloan’s resignation] would happen several months ago, after the Baylor faculty senate unanimously endorsed the Baylor 2012 plan—something they had not done for several years. His prediction seemed counterintuitive. After all, Sloan was the main architect of Baylor 2012—the blueprint for elevating Baylor to the top tier of research institutions in the United States while strengthening its Christian identity. Wouldn’t faculty senate support of that plan strengthen Sloan’s claim to continue to be Baylor’s president? No, my friend said, now that the plan was in place the plan’s architect could go. Thus opponents, supporters, and Sloan himself saw that he was expendable now that 2012 was secure.

Sloan said he would not have made the decision to resign if he had any doubts about the future of the 2012 vision. "I think the tipping point for me was when I realized that the 10-year vision had really taken hold at the university," he said. "I became persuaded that our board would take up the mantle of the central convictions of Baylor 2012." Sloan will move to the chancellor’s office, where he will be devoted to fundraising and institutional relations, but no longer involved in setting university policy.

And this:

The timing of the resignation was crucial. First, it gave the supporters of Baylor 2012 more time to move forward with it in all its dimensions. Second, Sloan’s firm stand in the midst of great turmoil forced the issue of 2012 on the board and the faculty senate, both of which endorsed it. Third, his tenacious resolve and the public support for 2012 make it much more likely that his successor will not be able to take Baylor in a different direction. Fourth, holding on as long as he did makes it possible for his supporters to accept his decision to step down with a sense of hope, not despair. And, fifth, his standing firm sent a clear message that Baylor was not being run by an assortment of its critics, but by the board of regents and the university president.

Thus, there is good reason to believe that Baylor 2012 will go firmly forward under a new administration. There is no guarantee that this ambitious plan will be completely successful or that it will now be free of controversy, but its likelihood of success is now greater without Sloan than it was with him.

Duane Litfin is somewhat less sanguine:

Baylor’s governing board has insisted they stand behind Baylor 2012, but it remains to be seen what they mean. If the root problem really was the agenda and not the man, will the next president be any more successful in furthering it? In other words, can the turmoil at Baylor be resolved while continuing to move Baylor 2012 forward?

Or more basic still, are the dual aspirations of Baylor 2012 even compatible? No institution has accomplished its twin agenda yet, for the very reasons so evident in Baylor’s recent experience. The question is, given the size, complexity, and astonishing costs inherent in becoming a first-rank research university, are there sufficient personnel and resources to enable such an institution to be systemically Christian?

That famous philosopher Charlie Brown once bemoaned, "There is no heavier burden than great potential." By such a measure Baylor 2012 represents a heavy burden indeed. Let us all pray that the Baylor community can find a way to shoulder it.

Steven Moore contributes his view that only God knows.

It will be interesting to see, not only who the interim President is, but who the next President will be.

Wolfowitz and Cornell: Leo-Cons in Bloom

Here is an interesting article about Paul Wolfowitz, "the most influential Deputy Secretary of Defense in American History," and his years at Cornell. Some interesting discussion of Strauss, Allan Bloom, Bloom’s circle of students, and Wolfowitz’s father, who taught math at Cornell.

Bill Sammon speech

Bill Sammon, the Washington Times’ Senior White House Correspondent spoke at the Ashbrook Center on Monday. The title of the talk is "Misunderestimated: The Historic Presidency of George W. Bush." Click on his name to listen to it. Very good talk. He received a standing ovation.

McPherson’s Collloquium

You can listen to James McPherson’s colloquium on Antietam of last Friday by clicking on his name.

Church and state in Georgia again

This isn’t all I wrote, but it’s all the Atlanta paper published. Anyone who wants to see the original--much more brilliant, of course--can shoot me an email. Or, as the editors at the Atlanta paper might have it, anyone who wants to see can shoot me.

Update: Although I didn’t know it when I was writing it, I was providing the counterpoint to this editorial. Just a few more jabs at my hometown paper, whose editorial page is led by Cynthia Tucker (a media personality you might have encountered on The Jim Lehrer Newshour). The AJC blithely asserts that the state is currently funding all sorts of programs based in churches, just so long as they don’t proselytize or hire only co-religionists. There are no legal challenges, the state attorney general’s office assures us. Not at present, though the United Methodist Children’s Home settled out of court a couple of years ago, having been sued for attempting to uphold a faith-based mission by terminating a lesbian counselor and refusing to hire a Jewish psychologist. And then there’s the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s suit against a faith-based program run out of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, which, I am happy to say, the FFRF lost (at least in the first round). So the concerns about lawsuits are not quite as far-fetched as the AJC suggests.

But my favorite paragraph is this:

Even with an explicit ban on school vouchers, this amendment represents a dangerous erosion of the separation of church and state that Georgia’s founders crafted into the constitution as early as 1789. As nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia show, when state and church intertwine, freedom for all is diminished.

The measure before the state legislature would bring Georgia’s constitutional doctrine into line with current Supreme Court doctrine. I guess Cynthia Tucker and her colleagues can’t tell the difference between Islamist theocrats and Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy. Well, they all do wear robes.

"Liberal" education

Here, via NRO’s The Corner, is a transcript of a panel discussion held at AEI. The subject, the ideological tendencies of American higher education, is one on which I have gassed on at great length here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Among the panelists are leaders of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and the AAUP, along with Daniel Klein, whose research on faculty political opinions I discussed back in December. It was, I think, somewhat courageous for Roger Bowen, General Secretary of the AAUP, to enter a roomful of critics.

Indeed, Bowen’s comments, for once outside the "mainstream" of this particular moderate-to-conservative room, were the most revealing. Here’s his response to Klein’s data:

with all due respect, I don’t think we’ve learned anything new. If you go back to the Lipset-Ladd study, 1975, or you look at the Michael Faia study, The Myth of the Liberal Professor, probably issued in 1974, what you find is this was based on the Carnegie survey that looked at over 100,000 faculty, 300 colleges, asked 300 questions and had a 60 percent return rate. So as a data source in comparison I think much more reliable and perhaps more interesting.

But the bottom line, if you set aside Faia, is that, yeah, then ’75 as well as today, you will find in the social sciences and the humanities most faculty tend to be Democrat. And as anticipated by our moderator, so what? Not that one ever inquires, my earlier point, but if they are, I think there may be reasons, and those reasons are suggested in the classic study by Seymour Martin Lipset.

This is taken from him, paraphrased, I’m not quoting, it’s too lengthy, but I encourage you to look at this study. Anthropologists, which apparently according to the study, Democrats far outnumber Republicans. What do they do? Anthropologists, the discipline itself is focused on questioning religious and cultural myth, particularly myth that celebrates national, cultural or racial superiorities. That in many classrooms will be a shocker for a lot of students.

Sociologists tend to inquire on the origins of inequality as a source of alienation. New concepts to many college students that will seem, I imagine, given illustrations using the American example, rather shocking.

Political scientists, they focus on questions of legitimacy, and when Lipset was doing his study it was in the wake of the Vietnam War and we were trying to understand why are campuses these hotbeds of revolt? Is it because the faculty are so liberal? And many said yes.

Historians, they look at progress frequently in terms of overcoming inequalities of the past, sometimes inequality is endorsed, even embraced by conservatives.

I’d translate these remarks this way: in Bowen’s view, there’s an inherent "bias" in some of the disciplines in favor of rationalism, progressivism, and, in general, "the Enlightenment." For Bowen, this seems to be just a fact of life. But I would argue that any "science" that loses sight of its origins and of serious alternatives to its foundations runs the risk of degenerating into mere ideology. Those in the academy who are honestly devoted to "good science" ought to welcome the debate fostered by their conservative and neo-conservative critics.

When challenged along these lines by Jeff Wallin of the American Academy of Liberal Education, Bowen had this to say:

We’re speaking as if the professoriat, even if they were all Democrats, are somehow monolithic, that you don’t have distinctions between liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, weak Democrats, whatever. Anyone who spent time in the academy knows that there are enormous differences. It is not monolithic, and faculty are by nature disputatious. They are taught early in graduate school to think critically, and thinking critically usually means attacking conventional wisdom. Whatever stands within your own particular discipline as authoritative, you make a reputation by going after it, rethinking it, revising it, and they do that with one another. And even then, even then there is so much in the way of substantial difference on policy issues as well as opinions among faculty within one particular party or one particular camp, it is still extraordinary.

In other words, the Democratic Party on campus is a big tent. Cold comfort, that.

Smoking is good for you

Sometimes a piece comes along that appeals to my vice, but makes it into a (almost) virtue. So this

George Blecher essay on smoking. He mentions all the unmentionables: bans on smoking, the cult of health, "it’s become the single religion of much of Western society," and so on.

It is short and good enough for you to read the whole thing. And keep in mind what Churchill said about cigars: "Smoking cigars is like falling in love; first you are attracted to its shape; you stay with it for its flavor; and you must always remember never, never, let the flame go out."

An inside perspective on the faith-based initiative

David Kuo, formerly of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives isn’t happy. The combination of Democratic resistance and Republican indifference has, he said, dulled the shining promise of President Bush’s "compassionate conservatism." Here are the nicest things he has to say:

I take solace in realizing that the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives that now sits outside the White House gates has effected change. The Office has used regulations and executive orders to end overt religious discrimination in the government grant-making process. Groups like the Metropolitan Council for Jewish Poverty, once denied an HHS application because it had "Jewish" in its name, are now welcome partners. Tens of thousands of faith-based social service groups, churches, synagogues, mosques, and secular non-profits attended free White House conferences where they were given information needed to navigate the federal grants labyrinth and the rules about what to do with money if they get it. A website now allows all social service groups to sort potential grants by category. These are good things.

But they are a whisper of what was promised. Irony of ironies, it leaves the faith-based initiative specifically, and compassionate conservativism in general, at precisely the place Gov. Bush pledged it would not go; it has done the work of praising and informing but it has not been given "the resources to change lives." In short, like the hurting charities it is trying to help, the Initiative has been forced to "make bricks without straw."

Here’s his take on the initiative’s unfulfilled promise:

over time it became clearer that the White House didn’t have to expend any political capital for pro-poor legislation. The initiative powerfully appealed to both conservative Christians and urban faith leaders - regardless of how much money was being appropriated.

Conservative Christian donors, faith leaders, and opinion makers grew to see the initiative as an embodiment of the president’s own faith. Democratic opposition was understood as an attack on his personal faith. And since this community’s most powerful leaders - men like James Dobson of Focus on the Family - weren’t anti-poverty leaders, they didn’t care about money. The Faith-Based Office was the cross around the White Houses’ neck showing the president’s own faith orientation. That was sufficient.

At the same time, the White House discovered urban faith leaders had been so neglected for so long that simple attention drew them in. Between 2002 and 2004 more than 15,000 white, Hispanic, and African-American religious and social service leaders attended free White House conferences on how to interact with the federal government. The meetings, held regularly in battleground states, were chock-full of vital information and gave thousands of groups invaluable information about government grants. They were hardly pep rallies for the President. But the conferences sent a resounding political message to all faith-oriented constituencies: President Bush cares about you.

Some liberal leaders have been quoted as saying the administration was looking to "buy minority votes." Nothing could be further from the truth. There wasn’t enough money around to buy anyone. The conferences actually underscored how difficult it was to even get a grant. But by traveling across the country, giving useful information, and extending faith-based groups an open hand, powerful inroads were made to "non-traditional" supporters. One senior Republican leader walked into an early conference, stared wide-eyed at the room full of people of diverse ethnicities and said to me, "This is what Republicans have been dreaming about for 30 years."

I continue to believe that the faith-based initiative is good politics and good public policy. I share Kuo’s hope that Republicans will, sooner rather than later, get it right. This depends in part upon religious conservatives "getting it right." For an argument that they’re not, go
here and here. For an argument that they are, go here and here. My review of the latter two books will appear soon in the Claremont Institute’s Local Liberty.

For more on Kuo’s column, go here and here.

Hat tip: The Revealer, which has all sorts of other questions about the faith-based initiative, some of which seem to forget that the full title of the initiative is the "faith-based and community" initiative. But I don’t want to be too snarky.

In favor of intra-party disagreements

Kenneth Baer, a former speechwriter for Al Gore, argues that what the Democrats need is not unity but a good internal discussion about some major issues, including global economics and national security. I not only agree, but think the principle of intra-party conversations and disagreements about the most important matters facing the country is a good thing for both parties. This includes primary contests, on both federal and state levels. This process should begin, for example, in the Republican Party at every level. I say this not because I want to GOP to hack at itself, but because such conversations are not only good for the party, but good for the country as a whole. There is a massive tendency (described clearly by Baer for the Demos) among Republicans (on the state level, see Ohio, for example) to try to prevent having any substantive conversations and disagreements by not having meaningful primaries. The Party leadership thinks that doing this will put them at a disadvantage. They are wrong. Exactly the opposite is the case. Such disagreents are both necessary and good. I hope the GOP changes its ways, else it risks losing whatever authority and power it has on both state and federal levels.

Democrats: Listen to Paul Krugman and keep losing

This column is revealing. Here’s one snippet:

Mr. Dean’s political rejuvenation reflects the new ascendancy within the party of fighting moderates, the Democrats who believe that they must defend their principles aggressively against the right-wing radicals who have taken over Congress and the White House.

It was always absurd to call Mr. Dean a left-winger. Just ask the real left-wingers. During his presidential campaign, an article in the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch denounced him as a "Clintonesque Republicrat," someone who, as governor, tried "to balance the budget, even though Vermont is a state in which a balanced budget is not required."

And here’s another:

In fact, by taking on Social Security, Mr. Bush gave the Democrats a chance to remember what they stand for, and why. Here’s my favorite version, from another fighting moderate, Eliot Spitzer: "As President Bush embraces the ownership society and tries to claim that he is the one that is making it possible for the middle class to succeed and save and invest - well, I say to myself, no, that’s not right; it is the Democratic Party historically that created the middle class."

Read the last sentence again. According to Krugman, moderate Democrats believe that the government created the middle class. So there was no middle class prior to the New Deal? I’m not naive about the role of public policy in promoting economic activity and influencing individual behavior, but this is preposterous.

The lead-eared Arthur Miller

Someone finally wrote a sensible piece on Arthur Miller. He has been much overpraised, the author of the American "Lear," and other such foolery. Terry Teachout calls him lead-eared, without a poetic bone in his body. There is more.

Howard Dean’s religion offensive

Here’s an article from the Christianity Today website:

The day before he was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee last week, Dean went to the leaders of different Democratic constituencies outlining an approach that will emphasize outreach to evangelicals and people of other faiths. His talks sought to distance himself and the Democratic Party from an image as a secular party out of touch with common Americans.

To a standing-room-only caucus of women Democratic leaders, Dean urged them to learn to talk and cooperate with people of faith. "People of faith are in the Democratic Party, including me," Dean declared.

In response to a question from CT, Dean said, "We are definitely going to do religious outreach. Even in my campaign I was interested in reaching out to evangelicals." Later, Dean tactfully expanded his remarks, noting "our religious outreach will not solely be to evangelical Christians but to Americans of all faiths."

But I’m not sure these
tired old tropes from the Democrats’ 2004 campaign playbook will get them very far:

Dean mocked the Republicans as family values hypocrites. "The GOP wants to cut the money for feeding kids. They only get two of the values of the New Testament. Do they talk about having walked among the least of these?"

Comparing the Republicans to Sadducees and Pharisees, Dean said, "I haven’t heard the Republicans talk about that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man through the gates of heaven."

There’s a lot more in the article, including a reminder that Dean once said that Job was his favorite New Testament book. Let’s just say that the folks at CT are skeptical. So am I.

Update:Since this post has provoked a good bit of commentary, let me add
this into the mix. Click on the link and you’ll be reminded why HD left the Episcopal Church for the Congregational Church. Hint: it had nothing to do with deep thoughts over church polity and perhaps little explicitly to do with his views of theology.

They’re All Above Average

The latest issue of Ashland University’s student newspaper, The Collegian, announces that nearly fifty percent of the university’s student body ended up on the Dean’s List last semester. To his credit, our Provost, Dr. Robert Suggs, recognizes that something is deeply and terribly wrong.

Arnold’s great battle

George Will explains how Arnold is practicing "permanent revolution" in California. He will place four proposals before the voters this year that, according to Will: "He has submitted to the Democratic-controlled legislature four proposals aimed at unlocking some interlocking political and economic irrationalities produced by a political class that has treated public office as private property. Because the legislature probably will not act soon and affirmatively, ballot language has been drafted and fundraising for four ratification campaigns has begun."

"If Schwarzenegger successfully employs the plebiscitary mechanism this year, he will approach reelection next year ranked among the state’s most transformative governors. And ripples raised by the boulders he is throwing into this nation-state’s political pool will roll eastward across the country." Read it all. Excellent piece.

And here is John Fund’s take on Arnold’s revoltion against "the unions and other interest groups blocking his package of four reform initiatives that will likely go before voters this fall."  

Blogs and the GOP advantage

Michael Barone explains that the left blogosphere has moved the Demos farther left, "and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans’ adversaries in Old Media," and thereby helps the GOP.

Iraqi election results

The Washington Post reports on the election:

" According to preliminary returns, which will be certified in three days, the largely Shiite coalition known as the United Iraqi Alliance won 48.2 percent of the vote, the low end of what its officials had predicted. A coalition of two main Kurdish parties won 25.7 percent of the vote, and a bloc led by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi got 13.8 percent. Together, the three coalitions accounted for nearly 88 percent of the vote, making them the dominant players in the National Assembly, which will choose a largely ceremonial president and two deputy presidents. They, in turn, will appoint a powerful prime minister who will choose a Cabinet."

Also note that 8.5 million people voted, and this turned out to be about 58% of the vote (I had predicted 60%). I think this is a great turnout, and everyone, I hope, will see it as such. I am also glad that the United Iraqi Alliance (Sistani’s party, but also includes Sunnis and others) won just under 50% of the vote. It should be easier to form a majority that is more moderate than would have been the case say, if the UIA won 60% of the vote.

If you are still of the mind that the regime change in Iraq has no effect on the rest of the region, note this Lee Smith article on Ammar Abdulhamid, a liberal Syrian. The liberals in the region, says Smith, "seem to be gathering a little momentum."

The leader of the vast left-wing conspiracy?

Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, elected in 2002, with experience in the Clinton White House, is the "canary in the mineshaft," according to Eleanor Clift. He is, she says "an early-warning system that is unafraid to alert his party and the country to the dangers ahead." He is well positioned to do that. He is a "man in a hurry," and she notes his drive and discipline. Clift: "If there’s a vast left-wing conspiracy, Emanuel is its high priest and rabbi." While the article ends up moving away from Emmanuel, I get Clift’s point: She is looking for Democrats who are smart and engaged and ambitious, those who may be the future of the party. O.K. that’s fine, we have Rahm Emmanuel, and by everyone’s assertion, Barak Obama. Its’ a start. But Clift should keep looking.

Relationships 101

Our college students have different kinds of problems with love (or, as everyone seems to call it, to my dismay, "relationships") than we had at their age. So classes are being offered on "relationship skills," how to take the relationship to "the next level," and marriage. Now, those of us who are around young people do understand that such matters are important to them and that, and I have noticed that progressively over the years, they have become more and more confused about how they should get to know one another, how they should behave (should I treat her as a lady, or just as a friend?, etc.). And sometimes, I must say, one is forced to step in and offer some guidance. I sometimes have, and, perhaps surprisingly, the students appreciate it. They do need help and, for some reason, parents are helping less than they should, and the forces outside of the family are not exactly teaching how to behave as ladies and gents. But such guidance is not a matter of teaching "skills" or "health", as the article would have it.

Some years back, when I kicked an Ashbrook Scholar out of the program for mistreating a young lady, I noticed that much hushed conversation ensued, entirely beneficial for civility. I also remember a worthy colleague who once taught a class on chivalry (or manliness); it was extremely popular. But, of course, it wasn’t a class on relationships, it didn’t have marriage homework, and he wasn’t a therapist. They read wonderful books, and they talked about men and women, and how they may differ, what each sees as happiness, and how the two views (if they exist), when properly understood and combined, may lead each toward something more human than not. My friend certainly did not take guidance from the International Association for Relationship Research as some of these courses do. Maybe love doctors are needed; I wouldn’t be surprised if colleges started offering degrees in "Relationships", but only after some Ph.D. programs in relationships are established first! Maybe Harvard would be a good place to start. For some thoughts on such matters from Terrence Moore see this
and this.
You might also want to consider this and this and this.

It seems entirely appropriate to let The Poet have the last word, from Love’s Labor’s Lost:

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
They are the ground, the books, the academes,
From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire.

Or, a few lines later:

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive.
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
They show, contain, and nourish all the world.

Wahhabis vs. red roses

Valentine’s Day, or the "Feast of Love" in Arabic, is taken very seriously in Saudi Arabia. This Reuters
dispatch, filed under "Oddly Enough," is more than amusing: "Saudi Arabia’s morality police are on the scent of illicit red roses as part of a clampdown on would-be St Valentine’s lovers in the strict Muslim kingdom. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious vigilantes, have banned shops from selling any red flowers in the run-up to February 14." Naturally, things don’t work exactly the way the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue would like. Red roses are available, but at twice the normal cost. And, as one florist said, "It’s the Saudi women who want these roses anyway." I’d be tempted to send a red rose to Saudi woman, if I knew one.

Dean consequence one

This short report from Florida speaks volumes to one of the consequences of Howard Dean being elected chairman of the DNC.
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual Caucus of the Florida Democratic Party in Orlando met and one of their leaders said this, in the words of the
Sun-Sentinel: With a rebel now heading the Democratic Party, Florida’s gay Democrats vowed Saturday to be puppets of their party no longer and to bring social issues to the front of their party’s concerns.

The Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party promised to offer more political candidates "with guts," saying that in the last election "our candidates were afraid to tell what was exactly in their hearts." Another Democrat said, "We’re liberal; we’re not in the middle. Let’s get away from that." Good. Clarity helps in politics.

Live, It’s The Ward Churchill Show!

Did anyone catch Ward Churchill on C-SPAN Saturday night? (Shows how boring my life is if I’m watching C-SPAN on a Saturday night. . .) Three observations:

1) If this is the face of the Left today, they haven’t much of a future. Pathetic.

2) What’s with the burly security perimeter around the dude? The audience was whooping and hollering for the guy; there was no threat of disruption or harm to the speaker. The security people, with their fake paramilitary-looking vests, made the thing look like a low-rent Nuremberg rally--which is what it was, come to think of it.

3) When the Italian-American chap asked why he shouldn’t have his free speech rights to hold a Columbus Day parade, Churchill offered an absurd explanation involving the Ninth Amendment and international treaties. To repair once again to the Gertrude Stein-on-Oakland remark, "There’s no there there" with this guy. It is all posing and hatred. At least the SDS in the 1960s had a manifesto, the Port Huron Statement. This guy probably writes in crayon.

Prediction: Whether this guy is fired or not, he is going to be a leading Left celebrity for the next few years. Watch for book contracts, appearances with Michael Moore, TV shows, T-shirts, etc. But all the while don’t ever forget how American represses dissent.

Ohio’s proposed "Academic Bill of Rights"

Peter mentioned the proposed "Academic Bill of Rights" in an earlier post. Here’s the text of the proposal, for those who are interested.

The law purports to apply to all colleges and universities in the state, not just public institutions. Of course, there are all sorts of issues one can raise with respect to this proposal. What, for example, would be the enforcement mechanism? None is mentioned in the legislation. I assume that if the bill were passed, a student who felt that his or her rights were violated could file suit seeking some sort of relief. If the legislation passed, and I were teaching in Ohio, I’d probably look into purchasing professional liability insurance, because I’m not sure I’d want to rely solely on my institution to defend me from the potentially frivolous lawsuits such a measure might inspire.

But there’s another issue I find even more troubling, one that trenches on the freedom of an institution to define its own educational mission. Here’s what the proposal says:

Faculty and instructors shall not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or antireligious indoctrination.

This sounds great until you think that, for example, promoting a religious point of view might well be integral to a college’s mission. The proposal seems to demand that every institution adhere essentially to a single standard--the liberal marketplace of ideas. What becomes of what some have called "institutional academic freedom," the freedom of an institution to define and pursue a distinctive mission?

And then there’s this:

University administrators, student government organizations, and institutional policies, rules, or procedures shall not infringe the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of conscience of students and student organizations.

Again, this sounds great, until you think about "institutional academic freedom." A religious institution could not maintain a religious atmosphere on campus, for that would violate the freedoms of students and student organizations to speak and express themselves in heterodox ways. A religious school would have to permit--and, indeed, as another provision makes clear, fund out of student activities fees--an "atheist club."

Stated simply, in the name of promoting intellectual diversity (a most laudable national goal, not to mention a most laudable goal for Ohio and for many colleges and universities, one that I support wholeheartedly when it is consonant with the mission of the institution), the proposal seeks to impose a sort of institutional uniformity. In this respect, it departs from the model proffered by David Horowitz’s
Students for Academic Freedom, which contains this proviso:

These principles fully apply only to public universities and to private universities that present themselves as bound by the canons of academic freedom. Private institutions choosing to restrict academic freedom on the basis of creed have an obligation to be as explicit as is possible about the scope and nature of these restrictions.

I remember a debate when I was in grad school between
Walter Berns and someone from the port side of our department. At issue was the extent to which the university should be conceived as a servant of the society and subjected to democratic control. Mr. Berns’s (I can’t help it; he’s still "Mr. Berns" to me) response: "Do you really want the rug merchants to control the university?" Well, in Ohio, the rug merchants are banging on the campus gates. Why? Because all sorts of folks have been pursuing committed ideological agendas in their classrooms. Not everyone. Probably not even a majority. But there are enough people out there who enjoy inflicting their views on captive audiences. And they haven’t seriously considered the consequence of their actions, which is to provoke a political response to what they themselves understand to be a political act. And when the response comes, especially in this ham-handed form, we all lose. As someone said recently, the chickens are coming home to roost.

For another take on this issue, from a different point of view (I’m all about diversity), go here.

Update: It occurs to me that in the early 90s at least two of the regional accrediting associations--the Western States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, if memory serves--sought to impose a "one size fits all" vision of diversity in higher education on schools seeking reaccreditation. Among the targets were Thomas Aquinas College and St. John’s College Annapolis, whose "Great Books" curricula were insufficiently diverse, and Westminster Theological Seminary, whose Board of Trustees was insufficiently diverse. Defenders of genuine institutional diversity across the spectrum of American higher education successfully resisted this push (so much so that I was on the Middle States reaccrediting team for St. John’s). While accrediting agencies can threaten the future of colleges and universities in ways that the Ohio proposal (at least immediately) cannot, the two are similar in their indifference to genuine institutional diversity of mission.

None of this means that we should countenance faculty who indoctrinate and/or intimidate while hiding behind the barrier of academic freedom, nor that we shouldn’t do what we can to promote intellectual diversity on campuses that are ostensibly and officially devoted to it. But this legal sledgehammer is not terribly helpful to those of us in the trenches.