Friday, June 17, 2005

Katha Pollitt: Brooklyn Professor in Godless Shocker

(Courtesy of Henri Mensonge)

Brooklyn Professor in Godless Shocker
by Katha Pollitt
The Nation


As long as a believer ascribes his views to his faith, he can say anything he wants and if you don't like it, you're the bigot. Simplistic as Shortell's essay is, it does raise a useful point: Faith and morality are not only not the same, as Americans like to think, they express contradictory impulses. I believe Kierkegaard said something along these lines in Fear and Trembling in his discussion of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Or as the physicist Steven Weinberg put it more recently: "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." Would Weinberg be too "offensive" for CUNY?

The Tim Shortell case is not a blip, even at CUNY. Around the same time it went after Shortell, the Sun ran a front-page story accusing Priya Parmar, a young untenured professor in Brooklyn College's School of Education, of attacking standard English as "the language of oppressors," based on a reading assignment and complaints from two students accused of plagiarism. Under the guise of depoliticizing academia, David Horowitz is pushing the "Academic Bill of Rights," which would empower state legislatures to mandate "balance" in the classroom. His website invites students to report their teachers for such sins as "introduced controversial material," "mocked political/religious figures" and the ever-popular "biased grading."

Entire Article

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