A lot has been made over the years about the inappropriateness of the religious right using institutions of faith to advance an ideological agenda. This co-opting of a fundamental and arguably necessary component of society to legitimize patently ignorant ideas such as creationism has had some success in causing the adoption of these ideas by parts of society but only at very high costs to the host institutions. Each time the religious right succeeds in getting "evolution is a theory" stickers on textbooks the event is rightly accompanied by loud and frequent discrediting by the media.

What hasn't been adequately challenged is the left's co-opting of another fundamental component of society. A recent study revealed that nationally 72% of college/university faculty identify themselves as being liberal while only a scant 15% identify themselves as conservative. While many college professors keep ideology outside of the classroom an increasing number do not. This has had a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas keeping many that have been long discredited in circulation. The product of an educational institution unwilling to submit its curriculum to the rigors of challenge is ignorance.

Parents of soon-to-be college students are not blind to this and are becoming alienated by the pseudo-intellectual wankery that's now passing as curriculum in some colleges. As a left leaning college among left leaning colleges, Earlham is particularly susceptible to the culture of ignorance that can form in the absence of intellectual diversity. While the administration knew it needed to present a united front in condemning the 'pie' incident the reality of faculty opinion is anything but. Its clear many professors at the school believe their mastery of their discipline and their perspective of reality is so unassailable that subjecting their world view to dissenting opinion is at best a waste of time.

This is best demonstrated by SOAN professor Lyn Miller:
"Why would a Quaker college with a commitment to peace and non-violence invite a speaker who has been instrumental in building consensus for war to campus?" She ridiculed the notion of a need for dialogue with figures like Kristol. "Kristol has far more power by virtue of his access to the media and had a far less restricted platform for expression of his ideas than did anyone else in the room...Listening to Kristol...is akin to teaching you to sit quietly in kindergarten."
Martin stressed the importance of 'translation' of the act, referencing her research on social movements, "[which] attempts to read movements not from the center, from those who direct and speak for the movement, but from acts carried out by those who cultivate space at the limits of social movements...acts that generate disagreement and demand translation."

It's ironic that after long being critical of the dogma organized religion demands unquestioning acceptance of, academia is now producing its own.

Correction: Dan pointed out that I attributed the above quote to the wrong SOAN professor. The quote was from Earlham SOAN professor Jo Ann Martin. As for my interpretation of her comments regarding 'translation' I think she was simply saying that she believes that extremists are necessary to expand what ideas the mainstream finds acceptable to allow the center to shift. Stating the obvious with jargon just makes it easier for it to be mistaken for profundity.


'Thought & Humor' said...

Thought I would stop in to say, "Hi"!!!


'Thought & Humor'
Harvard Humor Club

Dan H said...

Interesting thesis Andrew. A minor correction: I followed your hyperlink "pseudo-intellectual wankery" to The Earlham WORD. I believe the statements you attributed to professor Lyn Miller are entirely the words of SOAN professor Jo Ann Martin. (I can't make sense of anything professor Miller is quoted saying there.)