Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ward Churchill and Phil Mitchell

The good professor's troubles keep mounting at the University of Colorado:

University of Colorado officials investigating embattled professor Ward Churchill received documents this week purporting to show that he plagiarized another professor's work. Officials at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia sent CU an internal 1997 report detailing allegations about an article Churchill wrote.

"The article . . . is, in the opinion of our legal counsel, plagiarism," Dalhousie spokesman Charles Crosby said in summarizing the report's findings.

Dalhousie began an investigation after professor Fay G. Cohen complained that Churchill used her research and writing in an essay without her permission and without giving her credit. Although the investigation substantiated her allegations, Cohen didn't pursue the matter because she felt threatened by Churchill, Crosby said.

Crosby said Cohen told Dalhousie officials in 1997 that Churchill had called her in the middle of the night and said, "I'll get you for this."

Cohen still declines to talk publicly about her experience with Churchill, but she agreed the Dalhousie report could be shared with CU officials, Crosby said, because "whatever concerns she may have about her safety are outweighed by the importance she attaches to this information getting out there."

Meanwhile, university officials pull long faces and ponder gravely what they should do about the old Lefty warhorse - academic freedom and all those other cherished values of the academy must be respected, don't you know. Nevertheless, there are some teachers that even the most tolerant institution cannot abide, and one of those is Dr. Phil Mitchell who appeared last Wednesday night on MSNBC's Scarborough Country.

Dr. Mitchell who teaches in the history department at a major American university was informed by his chairman recently that his teaching contract will not be renewed in the Fall because his teaching is not up to university standards.

It's about time, you say. More universities should clear out the deadwood, you declaim. But Dr. Mitchell received an award in 1999 recognizing him as an outstanding teacher. He's also been acknowledged by his colleagues as an excellent instructor. So why is his teaching not up to university standards? It turns out that he is a racist and, worse, a theist.

In one of his classes, apparently, Dr. Mitchell, the father of two adopted black children, cited the opinion of Thomas Sowell, a black economist, who holds a dim view of affirmative action. This offended some students and, of course, the last thing that universities want on their faculty is a professor who offends people.

He also committed the unpardonable offense of quoting from a text on 19th century liberal protestantism, and, in the course of the discussion, made reference to G_d. Apparently, the reference was not part of a profanity, which would've been protected free speech, but was instead respectful, which evidently is not.

For these crimes against the spirit of political correctness and Left-wing orthodoxy his university decided he had to go. The announcement aroused no student demonstrations on behalf of academic freedom, as did the kerfuffle surrounding the martyr Ward Churchill, the ACLU found themselves otherwise occupied and unable to come to his aid, and faculty petitions castigating the administration for the "chilling effect" their dismissal of Dr. Mitchell would have on the spirit of open inquiry on campus were notable for their absence.

Even so, the administration later relented, but still prohibited him from teaching in the history department.

Which university is it that maintains such rigorous standards that anyone who gives offense or shows signs of having a favorable view of religion risks being cashiered? Which university is it that will not tolerate the likes of a Dr. Mitchell? The University of Colorado. The exact same institution which is currently wringing its hands over what to do about an academic fraud and bully who managed to offend just about the entire nation with his comments about 9/11. Evidently, Dr. Mitchell's mistake was being fond of his country, being religious, and not making up a story that he was part Indian.

The taxpayers of Colorado are presumably pleased at the vigilance displayed by university officials in the case of the unfortunate Dr. Mitchell and also with their diligence in making sure that only instructors of the finest character stand before the young minds in Colorado's history department.

For more on this travesty go here.

The Case For Judeo-Christian Values, cont'd

Dennis Prager's series of columns on The Case for Judeo-Christian Values continues with Part VI and Part VII.

Part VI addresses the contemporary emphasis on the appeal to feelings rather than to external moral authority in determining how one should act. He writes:

With the decline of the authority of Judeo-Christian values in the West, many people stopped looking to external sources of moral standards in order to decide what is right and wrong. Instead of being guided by God, the Bible and religion, great numbers - in Western Europe, the great majority - have looked elsewhere for moral and social guidelines.

For many millions in the twentieth century, those guidelines were provided by Marxism, Communism, Fascism or Nazism. For many millions today, those guidelines are ... feelings....feelings are the major unifying characteristic among contemporary liberal positions.

His examples are guaranteed to raise eyebrows... and perhaps blood pressure. For example:

Aside from reliance on feelings, how else can one explain a person who believes, let alone proudly announces on a bumper sticker, that "War is not the answer"? I know of no comparable conservative bumper sticker that is so demonstrably false and morally ignorant. Almost every great evil has been solved by war - from slavery in America to the Holocaust in Europe. Auschwitz was liberated by soldiers making war, not by pacifists who would have allowed the Nazis to murder every Jew in Europe.

He closes Part VI with this:

Reliance on feelings in determining one's political and social positions is the major reason young people tend to have liberal/left positions - they feel passionately but do not have the maturity to question those passions. It is also one reason women, especially single women, are more liberal than men - it is women's nature to rely on emotions when making decisions. (For those unused to anything but adulation directed at the female of the human species, let me make it clear that men, too, cannot rely on their nature, which leans toward settling differences through raw physical power. Both sexes have a lot of self-correcting to do.)

Feelings also play a major role in many conservatives' beliefs. Patriotism is largely a feeling; religious faith is filled with emotion, and religion has too often been dictated by emotion. But far more conservative positions are based on "What is right?" rather than on "How do I feel?" That is why a religious woman who is pregnant but does not wish to be is far less likely to have an abortion than a secular woman in the same circumstances. Her values are higher than her feelings. And that, in a nutshell, is what our culture war is about - Judeo-Christian values versus liberal/leftist feelings.

In Part VII he considers the concept of evil and how this concept creates a great divide between the Judeo-Christian view of morality and other, competing, conceptions:

In much of the Arab and Muslim world, "face," "shame" and "honor" define moral norms, not standards of good and evil. That is the reason for "honor killings" - the murder of a daughter or sister who has brought "shame" to the family (through alleged sexual sin) - and the widespread view of these murders as heroic, not evil. That is why Saddam Hussein, no matter how many innocent people he had murdered, tortured and raped, was a hero to much of the Arab world. As much evil as he committed, what most mattered was his strength, and therefore his honor.

In the contemporary Western world, most people who identify with the Left - meaning the majority of people - hate war, corporations, pollution, Christian fundamentalists, economic inequality, tobacco and conservatives. But they rarely hate the greatest evils of their day, if by evil we are talking about the deliberate infliction of cruelty - mass murder, rape, torture, genocide and totalitarianism.

That is why communism, a way of life built on cruelty, attracted vast numbers of people on the Left and why, from the 1960s, it was unopposed by most others on the Left. Even most people calling themselves liberal, not leftist, hated anti-communism much more than they hated communism.

[T]he Left throughout the world generally has contempt for people who speak of good and evil. They are called Manichaeans, moral simpletons who see the world in black and white, never in shades of grey. Western Europeans and their American counterparts loathe the language of good and evil and correctly attribute it to religious - i.e., Judeo-Christian - values. Among those values is fighting evil and "burning evil out from your midst." And to do that, you have to first hate it. Because if you don't hate evil, you won't fight it, and good will lose.

This is an excellent series of columns. If you missed any of the first five installments you can link to them by going to Prager's archive which you will find here.