Thursday, March 31, 2005

Picking the “Wrong Topic” in English

In response to a post on ideological conformity in the Marquette English Department, we received three e-mails in short order.

One, a response from a left-leaning student activist, will be posted shortly.

Another came from an alumnus, who observed:
As a double graduate at Marquette, I appreciate your views on what is going on in the world and what is going on at MU. I experienced expressing the wrong views in my freshman english comp class back in the fall of 1983. I imagine it has only gotten worse over time.
This correspondent then explained in a later e-mail:
When the subject of euphemisms came up and the term “pro-choice” was not considered an appropriate term for an example of a euphemism. In fact the suggestion that pro-life was a better example was offered. There clearly was an environment that made me steer clear of “controversial” subjects as the class went on.
Another e-mail was from a current Marquette student:
Thought I would share this bit of information with you.

In English 002, we are currently working on a personal essay (one which requires no thesis statement but rather a style reflective of the “My Turn” pieces in Newsweek) on social justice issues we had a connection or view on and our professor this afternoon . . . asked if any us were working on something related to the Terri Schiavo case. Disappointedly I was the only one in the class of about 20-30 students who raised his hand. After that he said he wanted to see me after class to discuss something. When class was over with I went to his desk and spoke with him. Apparently his brother is in a vegetative state or something to that effect (he didn’t go too much into detail and I didn’t bother to ask believing it to be a personal issue that shouldn’t be open to discussion outside immediate family) and questioned what position I was going to take in the issue. I said I would be taking the side of Terri’s parents and the belief that no one is given the decision as to when and where they want to die. I saw the Schiavo case as, at best (if that could be said), assisted suicide (which goes not only goes against Catholic teaching but the constitution of the US as well) or, at worst, cold-blooded murder. He then advised me to not write on the issue and to select another topic. At first I was willing to do this - the Schiavo choice was a last minute decision made over Spring Break and I was originally planning to write on the views of the Iraq War - but I am never one to be censored on what I can and can not write about, so I questioned why I had to choose another topic. I could see that this was a personal issue for him but it was for me as well. My father is a pharmacist and my mother is a nurse, so when this debate was going on I received a lot information about her condition and the difference between a vegetative and non-vegetative state, etc.

Furthermore, my grandmother died when I was five or six years old from lung cancer (she smoked a lot during her life) and she was in a lot of pain for a good portion of the end of her life . . . but not once during that time did either my mother or my grandfather decide that it was too much for her to suffer through that they had to pull the plug or feeding tube or whatever. We talked it over a bit and he said that he would talk with the head of the English Department (or another professor) . . . to see if he/she could grade my essay instead of him because he believed he would have a biased view on the subject and it would hurt my grade. I agreed to this. I understand and agree with what he is doing but I wanted to let you know about this and see what you thought.
It’s hard to know whether this was an example of ideological bias, or simply one of personal sensitivity. The fact that the professor wanted to know which side the student was going to take argues for the former. So does the fact that “Social Justice” is usually a euphemism for a leftist political agenda.

On the other hand, the professor made a robust effort to be fair when challenged. But the student shouldn’t have needed to challenge the professor.

Perhaps the moral of the story is that students should challenge faculty and insist on their right to take conservative positions if they want to. That is far less dangerous than some of the more timid might believe.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Lockstep “Diversity” in English

From the “this isn’t news” department: An article in the Washington Post:
College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.
These numbers clearly understate the liberal bias of faculty, since in academia to call oneself a “moderate” and an “independent” is perfectly consistent with taking liberal positions on every issue under the sun, and always voting for the Democratic presidential candidate.

Further data in the survey confirm this point:
The liberal label that a majority of the faculty members attached to themselves is reflected on a variety of issues. The professors and instructors surveyed are, strongly or somewhat, in favor of abortion rights (84 percent); believe homosexuality is acceptable (67 percent); and want more environmental protection “even if it raises prices or costs jobs” (88 percent). What’s more, the study found, 65 percent want the government to ensure full employment, a stance to the left of the Democratic Party.
Of course, the liberal bias, while pervasive, isn’t consistent across departments.
The most left-leaning departments are English literature, philosophy, political science and religious studies, where at least 80 percent of the faculty say they are liberal and no more than 5 percent call themselves conservative, the study says.
Such findings, of course, show how dishonest the claim of politically correct faculty to believe in “diversity” is. Most certainly, they want more minorities, women in fields where women have traditionally been scarce, and more gays and lesbians. They claim to want this to represent “diverse viewpoints,” but in fact they want to hire people who are basically in agreement with them.

One can imagine a liberal academic explaining: “In our department we have eight liberals, one Old Left Marxist, two New Left Marxists, and one specialist in Queer Studies. What are we going to do to increase diversity? I know, we’ll hire an ecofeminist!”

Marquette’s English Department

Which brings us to a manifesto, printed this past December in the Tribune, in which an overwhelming majority of English Department faculty opposed a return to “Warriors” as the Marquette sports team nickname. The signers were:
Dr. Milton J. Bates, Dr. Amy Blair, Dr. M.C. Bodden, Dr. John Boly, Dr. Virginia Chappell, Dr. John Curran, Dr. Ed Duffy, Dr. Michael Patrick Gillespie, Dr. Paula Gillespie, Dr. Heather Hathaway, Dr. C.J. Hribal, Dr. Stephen Karian, Dr. Steven Hartman Keiser, Dr. Christine L. Krueger, Dr. Jodi Melamed, Dr. Rebecca Nowacek, Dr. Krista Ratcliffe, Dr. Angela Sorby, Dr. R. Clifton Spargo, Dr. John Su, Dr. Sarah Wadsworth & Dr. Amelia Zurcher
In other words, all but four of the Assistant, Associate and Full Professors in the Department signed the statement (based on the 2004-2005 Undergraduate Bulletin listing of faculty). Among the four who didn’t, at least some failed to sign for idiosyncratic reasons, or maybe just didn’t get the e-mail, which was sent out by a junior faculty member.

Opposing Indian Team names puts one among a tiny minority of sports fans nationally. A Sports Illustrated survey, reported in the March 4, 2002 issue of the magazine, found that 79% of sports fans nationally, and 83% of Indians nationally, felt teams should not drop Indian names. Thus the vast majority of English faculty are among the tiny minority of Americans who see anything wrong with Indian team names.

Most interesting is the fact that every Assistant Professor in the Department — and here we are talking about people who have to worry whether they will get tenure — signed on to the statement. Either some junior faculty are cowed, fearful that their tenure prospects will be hurt if they dissent, or being a politically correct leftist is an absolute qualification for being hired by the English Department these days, or only politically correct leftists go into English. All three of these possibilities are deplorable.

The English Department doubtless thinks it has struck a blow against racism and for “diversity,” but in fact it should be embarrassed because of the lock-step conformist group-think that prevails there.

Uniformity of opinion breeds intolerance, and it is certainly no accident that academia is now the least tolerant sector of American society. Lawrence H. Summers, President of Harvard University, found this out when he suggested the quite reasonable hypothesis that women are genetically less apt in math than men, and that this accounts for the paucity of women in the sciences.

(People not up-to-date on feminist ideology should know that it’s quite acceptable to posit that women are genetically superior to men in some respects. But suggest that it might also work the other way, and the banshees want your head on a pike.)

Thus students at Marquette have to wonder how much they risk if they should want to make a conservative argument in an English paper. And conservative students will have to think twice about majoring in a department where they know they will face a rigid and hostile orthodoxy.

The resulting self-selection will make English even more insular and monolithic, and compound the problem. But then, English faculty probably don’t see it as a problem.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Bigotry and the Murder of Terri Schiavo

From, of all places, the Harvard Crimson, a student with cerebral palsy is, quite rationally, worried about where the culture is heading.

The result of this disrespect is the devaluation of lives of people like Terri Schiavo. In the Schiavo case and others like it, non-disabled decision makers assert that the disabled person should die because he or she—ordinarily a person who had little or no experience with disability before acquiring one—“would not want to live like this.” In the Schiavo case, the family is forced to argue that Terri should be kept alive because she might “get better”—that is, might be able to regain or to communicate her cognitive processes. The mere assertion that disability (particularly cognitive disability, sometimes called “mental retardation”) is present seems to provide ample proof that death is desirable.

Essentially, then, we have arrived at the point where we starve people to death because they cannot communicate their experiences to us. What is this but sheer egotism? Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, this is obviously an attempt to play God.
The author, a fellow named Joe Ford, provides a link to Terri’s Exit Protocol. Read it for yourself, and ask whether it describes a pleasant serene death.

Race and Earnings

Conservative student activist and blogger Brandon Henak writes about a key piece of census data released just yesterday. Quoting an AP story:
“A white woman with a bachelor’s degree typically earned nearly $37,800 in 2003, compared with nearly $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a college-educated black woman, according to data being released Monday by the Census Bureau.”
Henak attributes this to the prevalence of affirmative action quotas and preferences.

In some fields, this is doubtless true. Henak continues:
The article’s main explanation of this is “Given the relative scarcity, if you are a woman in the sciences — if you are a black woman — you would be a rare commodity.” Now why are minority women such a sought after rare commodity? Is it because of scientific expertise significantly superior to their white counterparts? Not in most cases. They are so heavily pursued because they are necessary for coveted company “diversity.”
Without a closer look at the data, it’s not obvious that affirmative action is the sole, or even the main, reason for the disparity. It might be, for example, that black women are less likely to have a husband, and therefore have spent virtually their entire life since college in jobs, while white women mostly have husbands, and the luxury of leaving the workforce when children are young, to work part time, and so on. Doing this harms one’s earnings, although it may increase the quality of life for the woman and her family.

But one thing the data are not consistent with is the politically correct fantasy of massive racist discrimination against black women workers.

And example of how family structure can affect these kinds of statistics is found when we look at race and family composition and their effect on incomes.
Median Income of Family Households
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2001
Table 666


Looking simply at the total figures, and comparing the income of black and white families, we find that black families have 65% of the income of white families. This is the sort of figure endlessly quoted by the politically correct types to support the claim that there is still massive racial discrimination against black people.

But suppose we look only at married couple households? In this category, black households make 88.6% of the incomes of white households. Given the number of blacks who have been poorly educated in urban public schools, and the fact that older blacks had their life chances hobbled by real racial discrimination in the era before the Civil Rights revolution came to a head in the 60s, this is remarkable.

Female headed households have incomes much lower than married couple households. Among whites, female headed households have 57% of the income of married couple households. Among blacks, female headed households have 37.7% of the income of married couple households.

So why do the overall figures show black families having only 65% of the income of white families? First, because of the prevalence of female headed households among blacks, and second because, among blacks, a woman not having a spouse inflicts a bigger “hit” on family income.

This reality is profoundly embarrassing to the politically correct crowd. It suggests that the sexual mores promoted by their friends in Hollywood, and a welfare system that makes having a husband redundant has had a devastating effect in the black community.

Terri Schiavo: Judicial Murder

I know I promised, but I can’t resist one more post on Terri Schiavo.

Nat Hentoff is a left-leaning civil libertarian, but a lot more principled and consistent than (say) the ACLU, of which he is a sometimes critic.

His article in The Village Voice is an impassioned condemnation of the process, and the judge, that has decreed that she must die. It’s also a condemnation of the way the mainstream media has covered the issue. Hentoff concludes:
What kind of a nation are we becoming? The CIA outsources torture—in violation of American and international law—in the name of the freedoms we are fighting to protect against terrorism. And we have watched as this woman, whose only crime is that she is disabled, is tortured to death by judges, all the way to the Supreme Court.

And keep in mind from the Ralph Nader-Wesley Smith report: “The courts . . . have [also] ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead.”

In this country, even condemned serial killers are not executed in this way.
The simple truth about this issue is that anti-abortion conservatives were in the forefront of people working to save Schiavo, and a lot of liberals (most certainly including the mainstream media) reacted in entirely knee jerk fashion. But not all liberals are callous in the face of a woman being starved to death. The wonder is: why are so many of them? The simple answer: they are fighting the Culture Wars.

Tolerant Liberals – 102

When juries in Colorado retire to deliberate whether a convicted murderer gets the death penalty, they are charged with making an “individual moral assessment,” as to whether the convicted man should live.

When members of one such jury referred to the Bible before sentencing a man to death, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the sentence, saying the Bible was an improper outside influence and that jurors had relied on a “higher authority.” The New York Times quoted one expert as follows:
“The court says we’re asking you to be moral men and women, to make a moral judgment of the right thing to do,” said Thane Rosenbaum, a professor of law at Fordham University School of Law in New York City, and author of the book “The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What’s Right” (HarperCollins, 2004). “But then we say the juror cheated because he brought in a book that forms the basis of his moral universe,” Professor Rosenbaum said. “The thing is, he would have done it anyway, in his head.”
It’s normal in court proceedings to sequester jurors and prohibit them from seeing materials that might bias their judgment on the factual issues in a case. But facts weren’t at issue here, only the jurors’ moral code, which they were explicitly charged with consulting.

The criminal in question, one Robert Harlan, kidnaped and raped a waitress. The woman escaped and flagged down a female motorist who came to her aid. Harlan caught up with both women and shot the motorist, leaving her paralyzed. He then beat and killed the waitress.

So let’s see the hands: how many people here think that, had the jury consulted Plato’s Laws, or the writings of Gandhi, or John Stuart Mill’s opinions on the death penalty anybody would have had any problem with the jury consulting those “higher authorities?”

I didn’t think so.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tolerant Liberals – 101

From a column by Mike Adams on Town Hall:

The University of North Carolina has “de-recognized” a Christian fraternity that insists that only Christians can be members.

The group also takes a Christian position on homosexuality, something most university administrators can’t stand.

A Federal injunction stopped the university from discriminating against the group.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Marquette Blogs

Nobody who starts a blog in 2005 can claim to be “ahead of the curve” technologically. So folks around Marquette have been playing a bit of “catch up” this past couple of months, with four new blogs (that we know about) written by Marquette people. In addition to this one, there are:
What is needed, of course, is more faculty blogs. More blogs that say, right out in the open, what faculty are saying to each other. Indeed, what faculty are saying in public forums, on the rare occasion they get to speak in public forums.

The virtue of blogs is the same at Marquette as in national politics: they provide an alternative to PR stuff put out by the current administration (on the one hand) and what the Mainstream Media are willing to report (on the other). Some alternative voices – such as talk radio – don’t really exist on college campuses, although local conservative talkers (Sykes, Wagner, Belling) will cover Marquette when the Administration does something seriously silly. But the threshold is pretty high for these guys, so for alternative reporting on most issues of interest to the University it’s the Administration, or the Mainstream Media (which means the Marquette Tribune) or it’s blogs.

The Administration is no more willing to release inconvenient information than is any Presidential Administration in Washington. They have, for example, concealed the results of a survey of students, faculty, alumni and staff on the “Warriors” issue. When their refusal to allow the College Republicans to raise money for American snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan created a firestorm in the media, e-mails sent out by public affairs carefully sanitized what they reported, giving the impression that the issue wasn’t much covered, and that most coverage was favorable to the Administration’s position.

The Tribune might be a counterweight to the Administration. But fledgling reporters are fledgling reporters. And when the ideological biases of the Tribune staff happen to coincide with the Administration’s position (as they did on the “sniper” issue), any real check on what University bureaucrats can get away with is lacking.

Imagine a situation in national politics where there is a liberal Democratic administration in Washington, and the New York Times is the only alternative source of information.

(Yes, I know that Tribune staffers will deny the paper has any ideological biases. But then, they don’t think the New York Times or National Public Radio or Dan Rather have any ideological biases either.)

Ideological bias can’t help but effect what stories are covered, and how they are covered. The Tribune, for example, failed to even mention the story of an Engineering professor who compared American snipers to Nazis and implied that College Republicans support Nazis. This was embarrassing enough to prompt the Administration to issue an apology, but the Tribune didn’t bother to report it. Apparently, it didn’t fit their template as as to what “hate speech” is. Apparently “hate speech” is something directed against blacks, gays and so on while nasty things said about Republicans, conservative Christians, etc. are merely “free speech.”

It is likewise implausible that the Tribune would ever discuss the unsavory views of some speaker brought to campus by JUSTICE, MANRESA and the University Ministry. But the three groups brought to campus a speaker who supported Saddam’s 1991 invasion of Iraq, and denied that Saddam used Oil for Food money to build palaces. Rather, he insisted that Saddam had his own funds.

So the purpose of blogs is to bypass the usual “gatekeepers” who get to control what people know. The more we have at Marquette, the better.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Travis Diener Prefers “Warriors”

Via The New Warrior.

It seems that now-sidelined Marquette stalwart Travis Diener would prefer the team be called “Warriors” rather than “Golden Eagles.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, which described the injury which ended the season for him:
It is not the way the great Warriors’ warrior--yes, Diener prefers Marquette’s former nickname, Warriors, to the current Golden Eagles--would have chosen to end it.

Until this season, Diener had never missed a basketball game because of injury. For Lent, “I gave up not getting injured,” he joked. (Avani Patel, Tribune staff reporter. Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Mar 8, 2005. pg. 6)
Some of the opponents of “Warriors” have deluded themselves into believing that only the old geezer alumni prefer that name, and that the younger generation is happy with “Golden Eagles.”

The Administration has data on this issue, from a badly biased survey, but refuses to release it. The unavoidable conclusion is that the current generation of Marquette students has as much contempt for the “Golden Chicken” as their slightly older cohorts.

Diener, who is nothing if not a Warrior in the great Marquette tradition, has managed to get on the record with his choice.

Vermont Man Sentenced for Starving Cows

Via Opinion Journal’s “Best of the Web,” an account of how people in Vermont take cruelty to animals seriously.
BARRE – A Cabot farmer convicted of starving his cows to death has begun serving a reparative sentence imposed by Washington County prosecutors as part of a plea bargain.

Christian DeNeergaard pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in January. He received a suspended one-year sentence as well as 30 days of work crew assignment as part of a deal with prosecutors. DeNeergaard, 47, may not own or possess livestock during his year of probation and must also undergo alcohol-abuse counseling.

In October, then-Washington County State’s Attorney Tom Kelly said he would seek at least some jail time for animal neglect, which claimed the lives of at least 11 cows.

“We think some jail time is appropriate,” said Kelly in an October interview. “The cows suffered tremendously.”

[. . .]

DeNeergaard, first charged in March 2003, allegedly neglected to feed or water his herd of 75 cows. Numerous investigations by Vermont State Police and the Agency of Agriculture revealed squalid conditions in the Cabot barn, and a preliminary report by a veterinarian said at least 11 cows found dead on the farm had starved to death.

[. . .]

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which calls itself the world’s largest animal rights organization, had wanted the Cabot farmer to go to jail. In a May letter to McArthur, PETA caseworker Stephanie Bell demanded jail time for Christian DeNeergaard and asked that he undergo a psychological evaluation and counseling at his own expense.
It’s good to know that PETA, which we usually disdain, is working to protect from cruel treatment helpless creatures who are powerless to protect themselves.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Last Post on Terri Schiavo (I Think)

We realize that we have posted nothing about Marquette University for the last week, and lots of Terri Schiavo. Since Marquette is on Easter Break and nothing much has been happening here, that’s fair enough. But it’s time to move on from this heart-wrenching case, if for no other reason than that Terri may well be dead by the time you read this.

But there are three tidbits to be considered before we leave this issue entirely.

First a fine, balanced column from Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. Jacoby first rejects the nasty dogmatism of some of the liberal editorialists:
Are the congressional leaders who wrote a law authorizing a federal court review of Terri Schiavo’s case disgraceful hypocrites meddling where they don’t belong? The Los Angeles Times thinks so: In an editorial, it damned the Republicans for their “constitutional coup d’etat” and “Stalinist . . . usurpation of power” and accused them of trying “to appease their radical right-wing constituents.” Would the editorial board have been so angry if, instead of a patient on life support, it were an inmate on Death Row whom lawmakers were so anxious to save?
Good point. Jacoby goes on to give his mixed reaction to the issue:
My instinct is to agree with President Bush that “in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life.” I find it admirable, not awful, that congressmen and senators would go to such lengths to provide Terri Schiavo’s parents with another chance to plead for her life in court. Yet I recognize that the last thing our legal system needs is a new federal law every time there is a dispute about whether to end life support for a patient in a vegetative state.
Jacoby concludes that “this is one case that calls for less certainty, and more prayer.”

Next, from the Associated Press, via MSNBC.COM, a character portrait of Michael Schiavo:
Then, in the early morning of Feb. 25, 1990, Terri Schiavo collapsed, changing everything.

Initially, Michael Schiavo felt that his wife might benefit from therapy. He staged fund-raisers to pay for a flight to California for rehabilitation.

During a medical malpractice case in 1992, Schiavo testified that he was studying nursing at St. Petersburg College to better learn how to care for Terri.

“I want to bring my wife home,” he told the court.

When asked how he felt about being married to Terri in her current state, he said: “I feel wonderful. She’s my life, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. ... I believe in the vows that I took with my wife. Through sickness, in health, for richer or poorer.

“I married my wife because I love her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I’m going to do that.”

But by 1993, Schiavo was fighting with his in-laws, Bob and Mary Schindler, over his wife’s care and guardianship. In a deposition, the ruggedly handsome Schiavo was forced to admit that he had already been involved in lengthy relationships with two women since his wife’s collapse. One of those women, a nursing assistant at the home where Terri was being cared for, told the Schindlers’ attorneys that Schiavo would “whine all the time” about how Terri’s illness had ruined his life, and that he couldn’t wait to collect the malpractice settlement. She described Schiavo as obsessive and claimed he stalked her for more than a year after their breakup.
In other words, Schiavo was carrying on with other women while he was telling a court about his undying loyalty to Terri. Long after Terri had supposedly told him that she didn’t want to live in that condition, he was saying that “I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”

There is no doubt that fate dealt Michael Schiavo a bad hand. But when, hopefully, laws are changed – as they should be in the wake of this tragedy – it will become legal to consider the fact that a husband has been an adulterer and has a vested interest in his wife’s demise.

Finally, a fellow who is not one of our favorite people, but whose moral sense is just fine on this issue. From the “The Abrams Report” on MSNBC:
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Well, in this case, the vital signs of life are independent of the tubes. And so long as she has those vital signs of life—I’m very sensitive to her husband’s rights, sensitive to the parents’ passion. I’m even concerned about this invasion of the judiciary by the Congress. But somehow, the ethics of the matter transcend that. She is right now being starved and dehydrated to death. And that’s unethical.
Amen.

Iraquis Fight Terrorists

From the Christian Science Monitor, March 24, 2005 number:
Iraqi Uprising Against Terrorists

The Monitor’s View

As if the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq weren’t enough of a message to that nation's insurgents to quit, now come reports of angry private citizens acting to stop a terrorist attack before it began.

Last Tuesday, a Baghdad carpenter named Dhia and his relatives saw a group of masked gunmen with grenades coming to their shop and quickly opened fire on them, killing three. Their mainly Shiite neighborhood has seen recent attacks by the mainly Sunni terrorists.

This preemptive citizen attack, done in the absence of a strong police presence, sends another signal that Iraqis really do want stability and not sectarian strife. It’s a small sign that a measure of civil liberties in the Middle East may just work against jihadist terrorism.

Vigilantism, of course, isn't the way to do this. The US still needs to put more resources into training the new Iraqi army and police force. The new Iraqi parliament has yet to see a deal struck between Shiite and Kurdish leaders to form a government. And basics such as water and electricity still need to be hooked up in many places.

But when common Iraqis start to actively say “Enough!,” then tolerance for terrorism melts away.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Ten Top Ways to Make Liberals Sympathetic to Terri Schiavo’s Plight

  1. Michael Schiavo announces he is a Republican
  2. Have EPA declare her an endangered species
  3. Convict her of murder and sentence her to death
  4. Put out that, if she lives, she could win multi-million dollar suit against drug companies
  5. Have siblings explain that, before she was brain damaged, she was a lesbian about to “come out”
  6. Convince animal rights advocates that she has pet dog who will be depressed if she dies
  7. IRS announces new tax on vegetative states, proceeds to be used for programs “for the children”
  8. Pope, in sharp reversal of position, announces “the sooner she’s gone the better”
  9. New, very lenient Florida rules for assisting handicapped voting will allow her to vote for Hillary in 2008
  10. Bush Administration accuses her of terrorism and ships her to Guantanamo
Sources: mostly us, but with a couple from talk radio, and a couple from a colleague.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Conservative Rift over Terri Schiavo?

The mainstream media has been basking in the fact that there is a split among Republicans over the Terri Schiavo case. As described by the New York Times, the cleavage is between “social conservatives” on the one hand and “process conservatives” on the other.

The social conservatives are people who give priority to saving Terri Schiavo’s life. The “process conservatives” are people who give priority to traditional conservative views about how government should operate: first, it should stay out of family affairs, and second, the federal government should stay out of matters that state legislatures handle.

The cleavage among Republicans is quite real, but the objective evidence strongly suggests the issue is much more a problem for Democrats. This past Monday, when the House voted on a bill intended to save Schiavo’s life, 97% of Republicans who voted on the bill voted in favor. Among the Democrats voting, only 53% voted against it. The Republicans, in other words, were united and the Democrats badly split.

Equally relevant, perhaps, is the fact that 50% of Democrats failed to vote, while only 31% of Republicans did. It’s not hard to figure out who viewed the issue as a hot potato best evaded.

The mainstream media of course are using the split among Republicans to bash Republican leaders, portraying them as hypocrites who have abandoned their long-standing principles to pander to those benighted religious conservatives. But in reality, Republicans are torn between two quite legitimate principles. As Charles Krauthammer explained in today’s Washington Post:
For Congress and the president to then step in and try to override that by shifting the venue to a federal court was a legal travesty, a flagrant violation of federalism and the separation of powers. The federal judge who refused to reverse the Florida court was certainly true to the law. But the law, while scrupulous, has been merciless, and its conclusion very troubling morally. We ended up having to choose between a legal travesty on the one hand and human tragedy on the other.
If Republicans have allowed their traditional “process” scruples to be eclipsed by their substantive desire for a particular outcome, at least the outcome they want is morally defensible: to prevent an innocent woman from being starved to death.

But what about the liberals?

Many have recently become born again “process conservatives” talking about how government should not intrude in family matters, and how the principle of federalism was trampled on by Congressional Republicans who thrust Congress into the issue.

To say their protestations lack credibility is more than an understatement. Their protestations stink to high heaven. They have long aggressively pushed government into family matters – promoting the right of a teenage girl to have a government funded abortion without her parents even knowing about it, much less giving their consent. They now resist the notion that government may intervene to prevent a man from killing his wife.

Liberals have long crusaded for the Federal government to infringe on the traditional prerogatives of the states. In 1994, for example, they passed the Violence Against Women Act which made domestic abuse, something always a matter of state law, an issue for the Federal government. Then they were willing to use the power of Washington to prevent Michael Schiavo from beating his wife. Now they have scruples about using Federal power to keep him from killing her.

If the liberals are such strong believers in Federalism, they should have no objection to Florida state government trying to rescue Terri. But they scoff at the efforts of Governor Jeb Bush’s administration to help her, and when the Florida legislature passed a bill to save her life, a liberal activist Florida Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional.

So much for the right of states to legislate in matters of family law.

If liberals aren’t motivated by “process” concerns, what substantive values guide their politics? The right to “die with dignity?” Terri wasn’t dying until they removed her feeding tube. To relieve her suffering? If she is really vegetative, as they claim, she can’t be feeling any pain.

The real issue, rather obviously, is the value that society attaches to human life, which of course brings us to abortion. But the issues are substantially different. Forcing a woman to carry a baby to term is most certainly an imposition – justified or not. But Michael Schiavo could have avoided any imposition on his freedom by simply divorcing Terri. Indeed, Terri hasn’t been much of an imposition on his freedom, since he has had two children by his live-in girlfriend while being married to Terri.

What has happened is that the Culture of Death has taken on a momentum all its own. It’s become simply a matter of principle that inconvenient people need to be done away with.

The willingness of Terri’s parents to love and care for a severely brain-damaged daughter is a rebuke to every pregnant woman who thinks that Downs Syndrome is a good reason to have an abortion. Their tireless efforts for her are a rebuke to every pregnant women who gets an abortion because she doesn’t want to change dirty diapers, or get up for 3:00 a.m. feedings. People like Terri’s parents must, of course, be demeaned and scorned and marginalized when they can’t be ignored. Else people might get the idea that human life is indeed a paramount value.

Thus Republican conservatives have at least compromised their principles for a good reason. They don’t like seeing innocent people killed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Terri and Elian

As of this writing, it appears that liberal Democrats have succeeded in the effort to protect Michael Schiavo’s right to have his wife starved and dehydrated to death. While many of us will be praying for some sort of last minute miracle, it’s time to assess the political effects of this entire imbroglio.

When one looks for an historical parallel, the case of Elian Gonzalez immediately comes to mind. Consider the similarities.

– In both cases, the issue revolved around a person who was not competent to make their own decision. In the Gonzalez case, it’s because the person was a minor, in the Schiavo case it’s because the woman in question was severely brain-damaged.

– In both cases, relatives were legally empowered to make the key decision, but there was a dispute about which relatives should make the decision. In the case of Gonzalez, the mother had died trying to escape and get Elian out of Cuba and to the United States, while the father in Cuba wanted his son returned there. In the Schiavo case, her husband wanted to withhold food and water and let her die, while her parents and siblings wanted her to live.

– In both cases, the real issue was some deeper ideological divide. Liberals didn’t mind sending Elian back to Cuba because, whatever they might concede about the evils of the Castro regime, they retained a bit of the romanticism of 60s leftists and viewed Cuba as a country of universal health care and widespread literacy. Conservatives were unapologetic Cold Warriors. In the case of Schiavo, the issue is abortion, or more broadly how one views life. Conservatives see life as inviolable, while liberals stress the “quality of life.” Liberals argue that some people (badly brain damaged people, newborns who are severely handicapped) should be killed, an echo of the argument that a woman should be free to abort an “unwanted” child, lest the child have a lousy life.

– In both cases, both sides abandoned long standing, apparently principled positions. In the Gonzalez case, conservatives paid little heed to traditional family law, which said the closest living relative should decide the issue. Liberals, who would have supported the “rights of the child” if some fundamentalist Muslim wanted his daughter sent back to (say) Saudi Arabia, were happy to send little Elian back to Cuba.

In the Schiavo affair, conservatives in Congress intervened in an issue that they have long held should be left to the states, and to families. Liberals, for their part, had a long history of being advocates for the disabled, and for the protection of women from husbands who might do them harm. But not in this case.

But if the facts of the two cases are eerily parallel, how will the politics play out?

First, liberal Democrats “won” both times. They managed to send little Elian back to Cuba, and it appears, as of this writing, that they have enabled Michael Schiavo to kill his wife.

But the first victory was indeed a Pyrrhic one. The actions of the Clinton administration enraged the Cuban exile community in Florida. While that community has long been solidly Republican, the mobilization and hardening of attitudes around the issue certainly cost Al Gore more than the paltry 538 votes that would have put him ahead of George Bush in Florida.

Will enabling Terri Schiavo’s killing be equally damaging? We think it could easily be. First, it’s important to discount poll results from the mainstream media showing that a majority wants Terri dead. Those polls embody mainstream media assumptions and mainstream media language (a “vegetative state,” the notion that Terri’s defenders are motivated by politics), and of course get mainstream media results.

More relevant here is the fact that a bill attempting to rescue Terri passed the House just yesterday by a lopsided 203 to 58 vote. Members of Congress are responsive to constituents who know about and care about issues, and not to people who don’t care, notwithstanding that the latter group has given pollsters answers the mainstream media approve of.

Another indicator that the Democrats know this is a problem from them is the fact that while only 31% of Republicans failed to vote on the key motion (Roll Call 90), 50% of Democrats did. It seems the latter sensed that this issue was trouble.

Currently, the Democrats are talking about how to appeal to “red state voters,” and hoping that with the right kind of language, they can win over social conservatives. Hillary Clinton is resurrecting the claim that she wants abortions to be “rare” (if also “safe” and “legal”). Democrats want to claim they are “pro-life” too, even if they are also “pro-choice.”

The Schiavo case will serve as a vivid reminder for social conservatives that the problem with the Democrats is not that their rhetoric hasn’t been properly tweaked. The problem is that their values are all wrong.

Myths About Terri Schiavo

A good post from the “Tigger's Rant” blog, which is usually more about Disney than about politics, but has gotten politically engaged because of the Terri Schiavo case.

The most interesting part: details on how money from a trust fund that was supposed to be used to care for and rehabilitate her has in fact been spent on lawyers working to kill her.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Wages of “Diversity”

In the world of politically correct academics, racial and ethnic good feeling is something that is created by having a lot of “programs” and “initiatives” that promote “diversity.” It’s something you get when you have a lot of affirmative action hiring, lots of “diversity” programs on campus, lax admissions standards for minority students, “sensitivity training” all around, and an administration that’s especially responsive to the demands of minorities.

If it really worked this way, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside would be Utopia.

A recent article in the Journal-Sentinel described Parkside as a “campus honored for diversity” and noted that it “has the highest percentage of minorities of any UW campus and in recent years has won state awards for its diversity efforts.” Rebecca Martin, UW-Parkside provost, uses all the right politically correct language, saying that “diversity is critical to us at all levels in terms of students, faculty, staff and curriculum . . . . It’s a clear part of our mission.”

The Journal-Sentinel article points out that:
The Office of State Employment Relations has honored the school with two diversity awards since 2000, one for its mission statement and hiring practices, the second for its Diversity Circles, which are discussion groups aimed at attacking racism.
So how are things going in Utopia?

The campus has been hit by a spate of complaints from minority faculty. Two of them have filed discrimination charges in the last 20 months, and allegations about the racial atmosphere are rife. For example:
“It’s not a scientific exercise, but something you just feel,” said associate professor Simon Akindes, who is black and originally from the West African nation of Benin. Many minority faculty believe administrators cut back the teacher education department’s funding and staff because the department had the largest percentage of minorities and the curriculum had a multicultural focus.
And Rose Mary Moore, a retired black faculty member said “Of course it’s race. They have difficulty dealing with people other than themselves.”

So what has gone wrong in Utopia?

Sensible people – which includes a clear majority of people who don’t work in academia – can quickly see that when claims of victimization are rewarded, they will proliferate. If any university administration habitually acquiesces to the demands of the “diversity” crowd, those demands will be escalated.

Supply curves slope to the left. Reward people designated as “victims,” and there will be a plentiful supply of victims.

For example, one of the incidents often cited is the fact that in the fall of 2003, a Black Student Union movie poster for “The Ghosts of Mississippi” was defaced with a racial slur.

In response to that incident, there was a student demonstration.

Given that such “hate crime” incidents usually create a sympathetic response from university administrations, it’s not surprising that they are often hoaxes, perpetrated by the supposed victims.

But if the perp was in fact a non-minority student, that wouldn’t be surprising. Nobody likes the “teacher’s pet,” and making minority students the “teachers’ pets” on a modern university campus is likely to create resentment. So is subjecting non-minority students to a diet of “multicultural” courses and workshops that strongly imply that they must be racist, even if only “unconscious” racists. And if the students in question happen to be Republicans, the “unconscious” part is omitted.

Likewise, it’s perfectly possible that minority faculty on a politically correct campus might perceive some genuine contempt or hostility.

The key thing about politically correct affirmative action is that the people who do it are supposed to engage in Orwellian double-think. On the one hand, they are supposed to discriminate against white males to hire more minorities and women in traditionally male fields. On the other hand, they are supposed to then immediately forget that they have done so, and begin to think of these affirmative action hires as fully equal to other faculty who got no such preferences.

I’ve talked with liberal faculty who defend affirmative action hiring, but who discuss their affirmative action colleagues in a patronizing and condescending way. They believe in “diversity,” and they want a nice quota of “under represented” groups in their departments, but they can’t really forget that they applied laxer standards when they hired those colleagues.

This sort of thing can be really tragic in the case of a minority student or faculty member who never asked for nor received any special preference, and who met the same standards as whites. Such people suffer under the presumption that they too were affirmative action hires or admissions.

Thus one gets a downward spiral. As administrations promote more and more “diversity,” demands escalate. As minority students and faculty more and more find that they prosper by playing the “race card” they spend more and more time and psychological energy doing exactly that, as opposed to scholarly work that meets the same standards that apply to whites. When academic reality finally catches up with them – and as the Ward Churchill case shows, it can take a long time – this creates yet more grounds for grievance.

And all the while, the (mostly) white liberal administrators, for reasons both of ideology and bureaucratic interest, do nothing to stop the spiral.

The Schiavos’ “Marriage”

A particularly cogent comment on the Schiavo case from Opinion Journal:
Supporters of Michael Schiavo’s effort to end his wife’s life have asked how conservatives, who claim to believe in the sanctity of marriage, can fail to respect his husbandly authority. The most obvious answer is that a man’s authority as a husband does not supersede his wife’s rights as a human being -- a principle we never thought we’d see liberals question.

But why do those of us who aren’t right-to-life absolutists side with Mrs. Schiavo’s parents, who want to keep her alive, over her husband, who wants her dead? It’s a fair question, and it raises another one: What kind of husband is Michael Schiavo?

According to news reports, Mr. Schiavo lives with a woman named Jodi Centonze, and they have two children together. Surely any court would consider this prima facie evidence of adultery. And this is no mere fling; a sympathetic 2003 profile in the Orlando Sentinel described Centonze as Mr. Schiavo's “fiancée.” Mr. Schiavo, in other words, has virtually remarried. Short of outright bigamy, his relationship with Centonze is as thoroughgoing a violation of his marriage vows as it is possible to imagine.

The point here is not to castigate Mr. Schiavo for behaving badly. It would require a heroic degree of self-sacrifice for a man to forgo love and sex in order to remain faithful to an incapacitated wife, and it would be unreasonable to hold an ordinary man to a heroic standard.

But it is equally unreasonable to let Mr. Schiavo have it both ways. If he wishes to assert his marital authority to do his wife in, the least society can expect in return is that he refrain from making a mockery of his marital obligations. The grimmest irony in this tragic case is that those who want Terri Schiavo dead are resting their argument on the fiction that her marriage is still alive.
We aren’t entirely convinced that only an impossible act of heroism would be necessary for Schiavo to remain faithful to his wife. Historically, a lot of spouses have given up love, sex, money, children and much else to remain faithful. But if he can’t do that, can’t he at least refrain from trying to kill her?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Those “Brain Dead” Republicans

Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean has been to Toronto, and in his inimitable style said that Republicans are “brain-dead.” According to the Toronto Star:
One major reason his party lost the 2004 race to the “brain-dead” Republicans is that it has a “tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail,” Dean told the semi-annual meeting of Democrats Abroad, which brought about 150 members from Canada and 30 other countries to the Toronto for two days.

“I'm going to be very disciplined about how we deliver messages. We can have policy deliberations in rooms like this. On TV, we have to be very focused.”
Dean went on to reiterate a common theme of Democratic Party leaders, explaining that there is no need for the Party to change any of its positions, they only need to tweak the rhetoric.
“The majority is on our side. We need to figure out how to talk differently about these issues.”
Thus, people like Dean and Hillary Clinton believe that if they just say that they want abortions to be “safe, legal and rare” that will placate anti-abortion voters.

They must think such voters are stupid.

Supposedly, such voters aren’t going to notice that abortions are far from rare, and that Democrats oppose any policies that might make them rare. They aren’t going to notice that Democrats vote not only to keep abortion legal, but to publicly fund it. And vote for partial birth abortion. And think that teenage girls should be able to get abortions not only without their parents permission, but even without their parents being told.

And of course, these same stupid voters can’t understand the “nuanced” style of the Democrats. Somehow, they don’t see nuance, but mealy-mouthed evasion and equivocation.

The Democrats have the fundamental problem of believing that they are the smart people in American politics and that everybody else is stupid. Getting clobbered at the polls simply seems to reinforce that belief. Given current trends, the Democrats can be predicted to have bigger and bigger egos, and less and less political power.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Dumb E-mail Faculty Did Not Get This St. Patrick’s Day

When the Marquette Tribune did their usual St. Patrick’s Day story, they of course dealt with the issue of student drinking, and mentioned a “memo” that faculty got last year.
Last year, the Office of Academic Affairs issued a memo giving guidelines to faculty in order to discourage student drinking on St. Patrick’s Day. No memo has been sent out this year, according to several professors.

University Provost Madeline Wake, who did not issue the memo last year, said she does not intend to issue a similar memo this year, and she is not aware of any such memo being issued by anyone else.
That’s good news, since the “memo” in question – actually an e-mail – was entirely ill-advised.

Sent out by Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs and Teaching Thomas Wenzel, it first outlined a number of innocuous things the administration was doing – for example having residence hall staff wear t-shirts that said “Smart, Safe, Sober.” But it then went on to say the following:
Administration and Student Affairs senior administrators are requesting that Academic Affairs support these initiatives by doing the following:
  • Not cancelling classes on Wednesday, March 17
  • Announcing at Monday classes that students are expected to be at Wednesday classes
  • Having a requirement such as a quiz or assignment due for March 17 classes
  • Contacting DPS to escort any intoxicated students out of class
  • Not making jokes about drinking on St. Patrick’s Day
Would you please convey these requests to your faculty and encourage them to do what they can to discourage unsafe behavior and promote a proper academic environment during this holiday period on Wednesday and Thursday.

Thank you for your help in this matter.
This was sent to all deans, and then duly forwarded on to departments and individual faculty.

Clearly, this missive was the work of administrators who had too much time on their hands.

No doubt some students drink to excess, and no doubt it’s a bad thing. But trying to tell faculty how their run their courses is simply out of bounds. Even worse is trying to tell faculty what sort of jokes they can tell. If being dour moralists about drinking would actually help students, faculty would then have a moral obligation to be such, but it’s not clear that would help students, and it’s certainly not something the Administration can decide for individual professors.

In a modern university, when something is defined as a “problem” the understanding is that the university needs to “address” that “problem.” It’s considered desirable to have meetings and issue statements and produce “guidelines” and “directives,” but it’s not in fact considered necessary that any of those things have a plausible connection to the “problem” being addressed.

As journalist Charles Peters has explained, in a bureaucracy “make believe equals survival.”

The “Media Guidelines” Memo

This was hardly the first misguided missive that the Administration sent to faculty. In January 2003, all faculty were sent a memo titled “Guidelines on Talking to Members of the Media” signed by Provost Madeline Wake and Senior Vice President Greg Kliebhan. The memo conceded that faculty have a right to talk to the media about their academic specialties, but then went on to list the “guidelines” that applied if the media should ask for information about Marquette University. Quoting the memo:
  • Ask the reporter their name, media outlet (i.e., Journal/Sentinel, WISN-TV, etc.)
  • Do not answer their questions immediately.
  • Tell them you will return their call within the hour once you have the time to locate the information and confer with your colleagues.
  • They may push you a bit and say “c’mon you know the answer to that…just tell me now because I’m on deadline.” Tell them you will make every effort to get back to them quickly.
  • Call Ben Tracy, Director of University Communication, and let him know what the reporter is asking you. In consultation with your Vice President or Dean, Ben will provide some guidance in forming your response.
Sometimes, media simply want the “official” version of information, such as enrollment figures, fund raising data, and so on. It’s fair enough that nobody should claim to be providing “official information” without it being vetted as really official.

But the media might ask faculty all sorts of questions about Marquette that positively should not be vetted with the Administration, such as “what is faculty morale like,” or “what about diversity at Marquette,” or “is drinking a problem among Marquette students.”

One bizarre thing was that faculty were instructed to -- in effect -- lie to journalists and claim that they don’t have particular information available when they in fact do. This to provide an excuse to get the information properly vetted before being given to the media.

Just blurting out the truth can be dangerous.

But the most bizarre thing was that the memo was signed not only by Provost Madeline Wake but by Greg Kliebhan. Kliebhan is the top business-side bureaucrat in the University, and has no business giving faculty directions of any sort regarding what they can say.

A day and a half later, after a firestorm over the first memo, Marquette issued a “clarification” saying that the memo really only concerned the giving out of official information. Perhaps that was indeed the intention, but if so the memo should have been written to say that.

Opposing the Iraq War

In winter and spring of 2003 the nation was moving toward war with Saddam’s Iraq, and during the run-up to the war Provost Wake felt moved to e-mail to all faculty an essay titled “War and the Campuses” by one Paul Loeb. Wake appeared to be urging faculty to take class time to discuss the coming war.

Unfortunately, the essay had a leftist anti-war bias and, despite some superficial rhetoric to the contrary, a condescending and arrogant tone toward those who supported the war. In the essay:

  1. It’s assumed that most students oppose the war, and need to be encouraged to express anti-war sentiments by faculty. The typical student response is assumed to be “anger, fear, mourning, and perceived powerlessness.” Students are to be encouraged not to “bury their doubts, fears, and questions.” If some students support the war, this is supposedly because of “an environment that equates patriotism with blind obedience.” The notion that students may need to be encouraged to speak out in the face of faculty and campus activist opinion that strongly opposes the war is nowhere to be found.
  2. Faculty are urged to “raise difficult questions about the roots and consequences of our [U.S.] actions.” They are not urged to raise any questions about the consequences of not acting. They are urged to be critical of the use of American power (“Pax Americana”), but not to be critical of Saddam or (say) the actions of the French. It is American actions that are viewed a problematic, but not anybody else’s.
  3. It is assumed that “the most idealistic and engaged” students will be opposed to the war. It is asserted that such students “will feel powerless, when their most heartfelt actions and outcries will seem to have been spurned. Some may be tempted into self-destructive political rage, blindly lashing out.” Students who favor the war are clearly seen as not “idealistic” nor “engaged” and indeed are demeaned as sheep who just follow the crowd or passively watch TV.
  4. American political leaders are demeaned as “treating democracy with contempt,” and are accused of “dismissing citizens who disagree as misguided or worse.”
Again, a firestorm erupted, and only a day later Wake issued a “clarification.”
I am writing to clarify my intent in sending the essay by Paul Loeb earlier this week. My intent was to ask you to acknowledge the crisis of war with respect to the various perspectives of students as they struggle with the issues. This intent includes students who favor or oppose the war and those who are uncertain. The university does not have a position on the war, but rather believes that our role is to facilitate discussion that includes all viewpoints. In that regard, the university believes we have a duty to respect each individual student as a person and their views. I thank you for your understanding and your commitment to providing a truly transformational education for our students.

Madeline Wake
Interestingly, the same administrators who are insisting that information from Marquette be properly vetted are themselves having to issue a lot of “clarifications.”

Even assuming that Wake didn’t intend to endorse the ideological biases of the Loeb essay, the e-mail was highly problematic. A Provost simply isn’t charged with telling faculty how to use class time. An exception would be in the case of real abuse of academic responsibilities. But talking about the Iraq War in a (say) calculus class is arguably an abuse, and not doing so clearly isn’t.

Some liberal faculty, who were out of sympathy with the war, objected to Wake’s message on exactly these grounds.

Conclusion

Thus, it’s dandy that faculty got no advice or guidance about this St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps Marquette administrators are learning.

We don’t expect them to do anything really sensible, like firing about half of all administrators here so that only necessary work gets done.

But when they sit down together with the intention to “address” an “issue,” perhaps they are sometimes deciding that the best thing to do is . . . nothing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Opinion in Iraq

From USA Today, evidence that people in Iraq see things looking up since the elections:
The poll, by the International Republican Institute (IRI), due to be made public today, also found that nearly half of Iraqis believe that religion has a special role to play in government.

The survey of 1,967 Iraqis was conducted Feb. 27-March 5, after Iraq held its first free elections in half a century in January. According to the poll, 62% say the country is headed in the right direction and 23% say it is headed in the wrong direction. That is the widest spread recorded in seven polls by the group, says Stuart Krusell, IRI director of operations for Iraq. In September, 45% of Iraqis thought the country was headed in the wrong direction and 42% thought it was headed in the right direction. The IRI is a non-partisan, U.S. taxpayer-funded group that promotes democracy abroad.
Note that three of Iraq’s 18 provinces were excluded because of security and logistics concerns. But even if we assume that everybody in those provinces would have given a negative assessment, the poll would have shown a majority saying the country is headed in the right direction.

Ward Churchill: the White Man’s “Indian”

One might think that, since he chaired the University of Colorado’s Ethnic Studies Department, and since he was hired as an American Indian, and since he writes about Indians, Ward Churchill represents an authentic “Indian voice.” One might assume that when he says the people killed in the Twin Towers on 9/11 deserved their fate, this represents the voice of “people of color” mad at centuries of racism and oppression.

All that would be wrong.

Ward Churchill is a creature of, and a representative of, left-leaning white academics.

All the while Churchill was being petted and pampered and promoted at the University of Colorado, Indian activists were trying to warn the University that what they had on their hands was a fraud. As outlined in an excellent story in the Rocky Mountain News, Indians bringing the bad news about Churchill were repeatedly ignored or rebuffed.

As the newspaper put it:
CU has been contacted a number of times over the past 20 years by prominent figures within the American Indian community who have raised questions about Churchill’s truthfulness, his scholarship and his ethnicity.
They then go on to provide examples.
David Bradley, a Santa Fe-area American Indian artist whose feud with Churchill has endured more than a decade, says he told CU a long time ago that Churchill should be fired.

“If his bosses had simply done their jobs, if they had checked him out, if they had started reading his damn writing, they would have said, ‘Wait a minute! This falls below our standards,’” Bradley said.

“If they had, he wouldn’t have tenure. It was a failure every step of the way.”
An American Indian Movement activist named Vernon Bellecourt was apparently one of the first to approach the University and challenge Churchill. He says he first approached the university with questions about the veracity of Churchill’s claim to American Indian heritage, coming forward in 1986.
“We went out there with a stack of documents to tell them about him,” Bellecourt said. “I made a special trip to Colorado and went to the university. I tried to meet with the president of the Board of Regents.”

Bellecourt says none of the regents was willing to talk to him, and instead sent an employee to meet with him. He says he gave her all the documentation and never heard from them again.

“We were really frustrated when we left,” Bellecourt said. “We said, ‘At least we warned them.’”
Probably the most persistent critic of Churchill has been activist Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute. According to the Rocky Mountain News
“I sent a letter to the university in 1992 saying he’s not a native person,” said Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute. She says she received a response from a university official saying Churchill had not been hired because he was an American Indian. Harjo, the former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, says that is nonsense.

“He was interviewed and hired because he said he’s an American Indian,” she said. “The material he used to gain tenure says he’s an American Indian. If he were Ward Churchill, white man, they would not have made him chair of ethnic studies.”

“He’s lied to the university and they’ve passed him off as an Indian,” she said. “They’ve aided and abetted his deception. The university needs to accept its role in this and do something about it.”
The irony here is rich.

A liberal university administration, claiming to believe in “diversity” hired a grossly underqualified fellow who claimed to be an Indian. What did they do when real-world Indians came forward to expose Churchill as a fraud? Blew them off! Told them, in effect “Forget it. We have our diversity hire. Don’t bug us about whether he’s even really an Indian, and certainly don’t bug us about whether he’s an honest academic.” All those things are, after all, potentially very inconvenient when we are making a “diversity hire.”

Churchill, and similar “diversity” leftists such as those who dominate Colorado’s Ethnic Studies Department and other outposts of playground radicalism, have to be understood as the product of two distinct kinds of left-leaning academics. First, there are the administrators. They may have a genuine (if intellectually flabby) belief in diversity, and lack the acuity to understand what is going on. Or they may be cynical careerists, knowing how good “diversity initiatives” look on a résumé and how convenient they are for placating all kinds of constituencies.

Second, there are the leftists on the faculty, who either agree with people like Churchill, or who, if they have slightly better sense, still resonate to the rhetoric.

In the environment of a modern university, both groups matter a lot. Who doesn’t matter? Real-world American Indians, to whom the University of Colorado was saying “get lost.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Speaker an Apologist for Saddam’s Kuwait Invasion

Last week Fr. Simon Harak, S.J, spoke at Marquette under the auspices of JUSTICE, the Campus Ministry and MANRESA.

Just listening to the speech, it was obvious that Harak is viciously anti-American, but it wasn’t immediately obvious he had been an apologist for Saddam.

But he had.

Harak authored an article titled “Why DID Iraq Invade Kuwait? -- A Brief History.” It was written to oppose the first Gulf War.

Harak repeats Saddam’s propaganda claims, such as:
It had been traditional in the Arab understanding to consider that the territory from Baghdad south to the Gulf (including what is now Kuwait) was “Iraq.” The al-Sabah family (of modern Kuwait) wanted to “carve out” from that territory a fiefdom for themselves and their economic activities, free from any outside power -- Arab or colonialist.
Yes, those terrible Kuwaitis, not wanting to be part of Saddam’s country, as they “traditionally” were.

Harak goes on at great lengths about the evils of the Kuwaiti regime, who sold oil at below the OPEC price (does Harak like cartels?), and “slant drilled” to tap oil that Saddam thought was his.

Concluding the essay, Harak paints a picture of arrogant Kuwaitis taunting Saddam and somehow forcing him to invade:
But on July 30th, Sheikh Sabeh Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, the brother of the Emir, and foreign minister, was speaking to Jordanian diplomats. He ridiculed the Iraqi forces, and when the Jordanians rebuked him, he said, “If they don’t like it, let them occupy our territory ... we are going to bring in the Americans.” Again, this was three days before Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. . . . The meeting broke up after two hours; two days later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
The sheer impertinence of those Kuwaitis! What is a dictator supposed to do when people in the next country talk like that?

This, bizarrely, is the Simon Harak who claims to be anti-war. But he seems to have no qualms about making excuses for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

Harak doesn’t seem to have learned much about Saddam over the years.

As recently as early 2004 he was in a classroom at the Christian Brothers University denying that Saddam used any “Oil for Peace” money for palaces. According to a student who heard his presentation:
Fr. Simon tried to say that Saddam was not taking the money from sanctions and oil - that that is all a myth- and insinuated that Saddam just had some personal money. . . . He said that Saddam had some “personal” money that was unrelated to taking money that rightfully belonged to his people, and THAT is how he built his palaces.
When challenged on such views, Harak tends to turn insulting and self-righteous. For example, a poster on a discussion board challenged him as follows:
How can you possibly post a message that says it’s OK for Saddam Hussein to build palaces instead of hospitals and schools? Palaces which may very well have been or are being used to manufacture chemical and biological weapons (which he has used on his own people). The embargo would be over if Iraq would just account for the weapons making materials and equipment that their own documentation proves they have purchased. If you’re going to Oppose the embargo, place the blame where it belongs.
Harak responded with the following tirade:
Sad to hear you parrot US propaganda.

Have recently been to Iraq, and have also done much research on Iraq and, of course, our presentation of Iraq in the media.

Have generally found that media programming has sunk so deep that it is impossible to refute, especially for people who are deep down, looking for someone to hate, and really have never considered the command of Jesus to love our enemies.

If you are one of the above, I apologize for disturbing you and humbly suggest that you pray a bit more and listen to hatred and fear (however plausibly presented) a bit less.

If however, you are willing to entertain the notion that our media and our government can sometimes be false, and that our Lord can be true, I would be glad to discuss with you what I have learned from my time in, and research on, the Iraqi people.

Blessings and Peace with Justice
Simon, in the Company of Jesus
Yes, the fellow who hates the Bush Administration is lecturing a critic on loving one’s enemies.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with radicals like Harak speaking at Marquette, or on any other college campus. But of course, there is nothing wrong with a racist speaking at Marquette, or on any other college campus.

But what would we think of an organization that brought the racist to campus, and appeared to endorse his views?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Erik Gustafson to Speak on Iraq War

When the left-leaning student group JUSTICE brought in Fr. Simon Harak, S.J. last week, we were far from impressed. We just got an e-mail from Greg St. Arnold, co-Chair of the group, announcing another speaker.

This particular speaker is billed as more moderate than Harak. JUSTICE tells me that as a matter of policy that they won’t sponsor a speaker who supports the Iraq war, but perhaps this fellow is moderate enough to engage in a useful dialogue. Far more valuable, however, would be an outright debate where both sides are heard.

Someone should challenge him on his opposition to sanctions used against Saddam’s regime. The only alternatives to sanctions were (1.) do nothing, and (2.) go to war. Since Gustafson sppears to have opposed going to war, one must assume he would have preferred to do nothing.

It’s also the case that the damage that sanctions supposedly did to innocent women and children was the result of Saddam’s policy of using his “Oil for Food” money to build palaces, and to bribe French, Russian and UN officials. The anti-sanctions people are blaming the west for what Saddam did.

The e-mail, with the details, follows:
Erik Gustafson, executive director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, will be on campus to share his personal story as well as talk about the mission of EPIC (www.epic-usa.org). The title of his talk will be “The US Military, Postwar Iraq, and My Conversion to Catholicism".

Mr. Gustafson is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm who traveled to Iraq in 1998 to protest the UN sanctions against the country. He has appeared on several US media outlets to speak about the current situation in Iraq, including Fox News, NBC, NPR, and CBS. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Gustafson converted to Catholicism and has been practicing ever since. EPIC’s mission is to avoid divisive dialogue about the morality of the war in Iraq and instead discuss the nature of nation building and the role the United States can play.

Please join us this Thursday for Mr. Gustafson’s talk as well as refreshments. Please pass this along to anyone you know who may be interested. Email gregory.starnold@mu.edu with any questions.

In peace,
Greg St. Arnold
His talk will be at 6 p.m. Thursday in Cudahy Hall room 001.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Free Speech for Students?

Ward Churchill, the fellow who is enjoying the benefits of free speech in academia, in fact doesn’t like free speech when other people criticize him.

In 1994, when Churchill was scheduled to speak at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, a student cartoonist for the student newspaper attacked him. The student, Grant Crowell, describes what happened as follows:
Churchill arrived, as planned, and began his speech. Shortly thereafter, Churchill's speaking engagement changed from a book discussion into a public protest rally featuring . . . Churchill . . . blaring into microphones over my “racist cartoon” and demanding my dismissal.

During Churchill’s speaking time at the event, this man -- a man who had never met me and refused to do so before and during the event -- included in his speech a reference to me as “vermin,” and shared aloud a story of how an unnamed Nazi cartoonist was tried at the WWII Nuremburg trials, executed, dismembered and then cremated. Churchill’s ended this story with his own personal comment of, “Now, I’m not saying that should happen to Grant, but it would be a good thing.”

Liberal Hubris

A liberal e-mail correspondent (a Marquette faculty member, actually) just sent me this, which has apparently been going around various e-mail chains:
Dear President Bush,

Congratulations on your victory over all us non-evangelicals. Actually, we’re a bit ticked off here in California, so we’re leaving.

California will now be its own country. And we’re taking all the Blue States with us. In case you are not aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and all of the North East.

We spoke to God, and She agrees that this split will be beneficial to almost everybody, and especially to us in the new country of California. In fact, God is so excited about it, She’s going to shift the whole country at 4:30 pm EST this Friday. Therefore, please let everyone know they need to be back in their states by then. So you get Texas and all the former slave states. We get the “Governator,” stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay. (Okay, we have to keep Martha Stewart, but we can live with that.) We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Opryland. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Old Miss. We get 85% of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get all the technological innovation in Alabama.

We get about two-thirds of the tax revenue, and you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms to support, and we know how much you like that. Did I mention we produce about 70% of the nation’s veggies? But heck the only greens the Bible-thumpers eat are the pickles on their Big Macs. Oh yeah, another thing, don’t plan on serving California wine at your state dinners. From now on it’s imported French wine for you. Ouch, bet that hurts.

Just so we’re clear, the country of California will be pro-choice and anti-war. Speaking of war, we’re going to want all Blue States citizens back from Iraq. If you need people to fight, just ask your evangelicals. They have tons of kids they’re willing to send to their deaths for absolutely no purpose. And they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their kids’ caskets coming home. Anyway, we wish you all the best in the next four years and we hope, really hope, you find those missing weapons of mass destruction soon. Seriously.
Elitist arrogance is hardly new in American politics, but the open expression of elitist arrogance, and of raw religious bigotry directed at conservative Christians, has actually become mainstream among liberals. They are becoming collectively unhinged. The responses to the Marquette College Republican’s “Adopt a Sniper” fundraiser on the Democratic Underground discussion board were one example of this, as was Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean saying that the Democrats’ conservative opponents are “evil.” Liberalism appears to be in a death spiral.

It’s not just that they hate. It’s that they are proud to be haters.

Bitter because they have been losing, they give vent to their frustration, and their emotional reaction makes them less likely to do the things that might let them win again. Like stop being nasty elitists. Like stop hating conservative Christians.

It’s one thing to win a tough partisan battle. It’s quite another to watch your adversary simply implode. The Republicans have the luxury of doing the latter.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Ward Churchill: Leftist Academics’ Alter Ego

Ward Churchill seems to be the fellow that nobody agrees with (or at least will admit they agree with), but whose “right to speak” is staunchly defended by liberals, leftists and indeed a large number of moderates and conservatives.

When the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel supported his right to speak at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater they described hearing him as “Listening to the despicable.”

So it was a bit of a surprise to read in the online World Magazine about a pro-Churchill demonstrator outside the site of Churchill’s speech.

An elderly gentleman held a sign that read, “If only the guilty get killed then there won’t be any more right wing government in the U.S.A.” WORLD asked him, do you really think right wingers should be killed? “I’m just stating a hypothetical,” he replied. “There is all this talk about the innocent being killed. I think we should think about the guilty being killed.” Do you agree with what Ward Churchill said about the 9/11 victims? “Oh, yes,” he said, identifying himself as George Adams, an English professor at UW-Whitewater.
Since there is indeed a George Adams on the English faculty at Whitewater, we wrote him to ask about the accuracy of the quote. Here is his reply:

Thank you for your enquiry about the accuracy of the comments imputed to me in World Magazine. It is unusual for anyone in America nowadays to question a newspaper account, especially one dealing with controversy. Unfortunately, the reason why you enquired is the reason why I can’t simply answer “yes” or “no.”

As you know, what is usually missing from newspaper stories is the context in which controversial statements are made. As you also probably know, at the rally where Charlie Sykes spoke three assertions were made with no evidence to validate them, namely, 1, only the innocent get killed by terrorists, 2, “hate speech” should not be allowed at a university lecture, and 3, Ward Churchill’s view of the Trade Towers attack is completely wrong.

Addressing the first assertion I asked, “If only the guilty got killed by terrorists, what would the result be?” One result would be that we would no longer have a right-wing government responsible for, among other atrocities, the killing of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Or, if they were not innocent, how would that be proven? This is the question raised by the third assertion, that Churchill was wrong about the Towers attack.

At issue is collective responsibility, that is to what extent are all citizens willingly living in a society that makes war on innocent people and not doing anything to stop that war responsible for the continuance of the war? In short, how can those who do not try to stop their society from making war and who keep on doing their jobs be called “innocent”?

To call raising such questions “hate speech” is typical of the right-wing distortion of language and the refusal to do analysis instead of ranting. The hysterical circus which formed around Churchill's appearance on the UW-W campus had nothing to do with the “right of free speech” but rather the “rightness of the free speech,” keeping in mind that in a capitalist socio-economy nothing that is free has any value. Churchill was not being “hateful” when he criticized the mindless repetition of “innocent.”

One more thing: I don’t mind being called “elderly,” but I object to being called a “gentleman.”
Translation: “Yes, I do indeed agree with Churchill.”

Churchill was frequently portrayed as some sort of crazy Indian whom tolerant and magnanimous academic liberals keep around and protect because of their belief in “academic freedom” and “diversity.”

The reality is that Churchill is the alter ego of a lot of leftist academics. They in fact think as he thinks and approve of what he says – although not all of them will admit it. But George Adams will, and a fair number of others will too.

In an e-mail giving me permission to post the above text, Adams added the following:

I append a footnote . . . intended primarily for Christians, namely, that the hardest saying of Jesus (except perhaps the unlikely case of a rich person getting into heaven, Matthew 19:24) is in John 8:7, where he asserts that only the completely guiltless can judge others.
That’s a rather odd comment coming from someone who is willing to judge this nation’s “right wing government,” and judge the “collective responsibility” of people working in the Twin Towers. And to applaud their being murdered.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ho Hum: Another Leftist Priest Speaks at Marquette

We got an e-mail from a JUSTICE member urging us to attend a speech given by Fr. Simon Harak, S.J. Harak was scheduled to speak on the morality of the Iraq War.

“OK,” we thought, “let’s go see what the fellow has to say.”

In fact, it was utterly predictable.

Harak claimed that Colin Powell failed to convince the U.N. that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. In reality, virtually everybody believed that Saddam had WMDs, and the only issue was whether an invasion was justified. Who is “virtually everybody?” Russian, French and British intelligence. Hans Blix. The CIA. Bill and Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry.

People who say that “Bush lied” to get us into war must believe Bush is the smartest man in the entire world. When everybody else fully believed that Iraq had WMDs, Bush somehow knew better.

Harak actually claimed that Bush knew that Saddam had no WMDs, because, he said, had he thought Saddam did, he would not have sent in American troops. This ignores that fact that U.S. troops fought the Iraqis in 1991, when Saddam most certainly did have WMDs, and the fact that U.S. forces have long been equipped and trained to deal with chemical and biological warfare on the Central Front in Europe. In reality, chemical and biological agents aren’t terribly dangerous to well trained and equipped troops, although they are deadly when used as Saddam used them, against innocent civilians.

Harak claimed that the “means” used to persecute the war by the U.S. are illegitimate, saying that the U.S. has targeted “population centers.” The U.S. has indeed targeted sites in (for example) Baghdad, but with highly accurate smart weapons. Catholic Just War Theory has always recognized that some innocent noncombatants will be killed, and has only insisted that the number be minimized.

Harak showed slides of badly injured Iraqis, claimed to have been injured by U.S. bombing. (They may well have been, although faked or misrepresented photos have frequently been used for propaganda purposes.) If it were 1944, Harak could use similar images to claim that Hitler’s Germany should be left alone to kill all the Jews it had not gotten around to killing yet.

Harak was at his demagogic worst when he dealt with the issue of oil. He seemed to imply that Bush really went into Iraq “for oil.” He was unclear as to whether the point was to take control of Iraqi oil, or merely to keep oil flowing to industrial economies. One could not determine whether he lacked the intelligence to differentiate between the two theories, or was simply canny and willing to pander to whatever theory audience members happened to believe.

The former claim has been proved silly, since the oil belongs to Iraq, and is going to continue to do so.

If the point was to keep the “the oil flowing” it overlooks the simple fact that the oil was already flowing under Saddam’s “Oil for Food” program -- which should have been called the “Oil for Palaces” program or the “Oil for Bribes for the French, Russians and UN” program.

When one thought it could not possibly get any worse, Harak showed the audience a series of photos of pitifully deformed newborns, and claimed that they were the result of the U.S. using depleted uranium in anti-tank munitions during the first Iraq War. Unfortunately, sound science doesn’t support Harak’s claims. The World Health Organization concluded:
[I]n war zones, the inhalation and ingestion of DU-contaminated dust, even under extreme conditions… has been calculated to result in a radiation exposure of less than about 10 millisieverts (mSv). This represents about half the annual dose limit for radiation workers. Such an exposure is thought to result only in a small proportional increase in the risk of leukaemia, of the order of 2% over the natural incidence.
As Harak himself admitted, insoluble uranium oxide dust is “believed to be the main battlefield remnant of the use of DU weapons.” Harak was exploiting the deformed infants to promote a political agenda.

After about 40 minutes, we gave up on hearing anything beyond leftist cant, and left.

The organizations that sponsored this event, JUSTICE, the Campus Ministry and MANRESA, need to be asked “when are you going to sponsor a speaker on the other side?” The latter two organizations, especially, are spending Marquette’s money and are not supposed to be engaged in a propagandistic agenda.

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Vice Provost Overturns Faculty Grades

On the agenda of the Committee on Faculty this afternoon: a case where a Vice Provost disregarded Marquette rules and overturned faculty assigned grades.

We’ve long held that sometimes the University should “cut some slack” for students, even bending the rules on occasion. But when this happens, it should be in consultation with faculty, and we have great difficulty imagining a case where the Provost’s office should overrule two faculty members, the Director of the program in which the student is enrolled and the Dean of the student’s college.

But that’s precisely what recently happened at Marquette.

A student, due to a very large number of absences and a general lack of effort was assigned grades of F and C/D in two different courses by two different professors in the same program.

Quite generously, the program called the student in to discuss how to make up the deficit and get on with professional training. The student was offered the opportunity to take a course at another institution, for example.

But the student and the student’s mother talked to the Program Director and Dean and wanted the grades – which certainly harmed future prospects – expunged.

There had been a minor medical issue early in the semester, but it was temporary, and nothing in the record indicated any medical excuse for the entire semester. Indeed, had there been such, the student should have simply withdrawn. It was claimed that medical problems prevented the student from attending an 8:00 a.m. class. But it developed that one of the bad grades was in a 10:00 a.m. class, and that the student had been regularly attending another 8:00 a.m. class. A claim was made that the student had a “disability,” but nothing had been submitted to Marquette to support any such claim.

Indeed, back during the semester, when poor performance became an issue the two faculty members met with the student to discuss the situation and what to do to improve. The student did not ask to withdraw during the semester, and did not ask for an “I” grade that would have allowed making up missing work.

It was, in sum, a lame performance, and a situation the student allowed to “slide” until the deserved low grades were posted, and an apparently overindulgent mother got involved.

At this point the appeal was taken to the Provost’s office, and specifically to Vice Provost Peggy Bloom, who overruled the faculty, Program Director and Dean, and ordered that the grades be changed to a “medical withdrawal.” This was, in effect, a retroactive selective withdrawal from two courses with no real justification other than the fact the student got low grades.

The faculty in question were not even notified of the decision.

Full details can be found here.

The Committee on Faculty was extremely distressed, and voted to write a letter to Father Wild and Provost Wake, asking that faculty be directed to the COF web page to read about the incident, and that the issue be taken up in the Academic Senate, the Deans Council and the Committee on Academic Proceedings.

This issue goes to the academic integrity of Marquette. We have no illusions that faculty are always right, but faculty are the people most likely to have a fine grained knowledge of a student’s actions. Department Chairs, Program Directors and Deans might overrule faculty who have erred, but that anybody in the Provost’s office should overrule everybody lower in the hierarchy has got to be a situation about as rare as a professor getting hit by a meteorite during a lecture.

Dr. Bloom, whose views on assessment we find to be sensible, is new to Marquette, so we can probably put this one down to inexperience. It shouldn’t happen again.