Sunday, July 06, 2008

A question for supporters of UK's Ideological Uniformity Initiative

Commenters on a previous post about the University of Kentucky's Ideological Uniformity Initiative, centered in the Gender and Women's Studies Department, seem still not to be able to address the two issues that The Family Foundation has raised about the university:
  1. Despite all the tiresome rhetoric from the University of Kentucky about being "diverse," the Gender and Women's Studies Department is as far from being diverse as it is possible for an academic department to be; and
  2. At a time of rising student tuitions and a strained state budget (in fact, at any time), there is no good reason to be funding programs that amount to little more than the promotion of left-wing political and social activism.
Instead of addressing himself to these questions, one commenter, Art, tries to argue that when I point to particular professors as an examples of faculty members who are liberal political or social activists in a department that contains no conservative political or social activists I am somehow logically committed to opposing everything in which that faculty member is involved, which, of course, is nonsense.

He points to Robert Tannenbaum, one of the professors in question, listing his qualifications, which are largely impressive, but which include the ACLU, and Art asks what the problem is. Of course, there is no problem with a professor whatever his qualifications being involved in the ACLU. But if Tannenbaum had listed, not the ACLU, but the ACLJ, and it turned out that one of the departments in which Tannenbaum taught was filled exclusively with others whose views on civil rights were as far to the right as other professors teaching in the Gender and Women's Studies Department were to the left, he would be screaming bloody murder.

If Art stayed on point, of course, he would have to say that either UK is not being hypocritical in talking about diversity but not practicing it, or that it is okay for public institutions to promote political and social activism at public expense, or both.

So, in order to try to bring him back to the points I made, which were the only reasons for pointing to the professors in question, let's ask Art a question:

If there was a department at the University of Kentucky--let's call it the Family Studies Department--which recruited and accepting only professors with religious right qualifications, and which, on their website, boasted of their professor's past and present involvement with groups like Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Research Council in glowing terms on their website and someone from, say, the ACLU objected, what would be his reaction?

3 comments:

Art said...

Hi Martin,

I must apologize for being slow in keeping up with this blog. You needn’t fret that you’re losing readers and commenters, I’m sure. It’s just a busy time for me.

A few comments about this entry of yours:

1. You insinuate that I am having problems keeping “on point”. This is probably because the point keeps changing, as we shift from unsupported assertion to unsupported assertion on your part. The first, of course, was your implication that the H-L was in some way misrepresenting TFF and their hand-out to legislators. As things stand, there still is not an iota of evidence to back you up, and the best guess for reasonable readers is that the H-L got things right, that TFF were in fact demanding that the state cease supporting six professors at UK.

2. In light of this, you shift the focus, to some assertions that some departments at UK are ideologically unbalanced. However, you still have not provided us with any facts that back up your claim. You claim to have contacted someone at UK about this, and are asserting that the lack of response in some way buttresses your assertion. Such feeble reasoning is the acme of conservative reasoning, but in the real world, it is just pathetic. I’ll repeat my request, in a more explicit form: how many faculty are we speaking of, how were they polled, how many responded (and how long have they been given), who judges “liberal” and “conservative”, who did you contact (name and email, if you would). Frankly, Martin, I don’t believe you have contacted anyone at UK, and I’m almost certain that you did not contact anyone in a position to provide you with the relevant information.

3. You ask: “If Art stayed on point, of course, he would have to say that either UK is not being hypocritical in talking about diversity but not practicing it, or that it is okay for public institutions to promote political and social activism at public expense, or both.” Martin, I have seen no indications on your part (or that of TFF) that UK as an institution is promoting political and social activism at public expense. So the question is pretty irrelevant.

4. Finally, you ask:” So, in order to try to bring him back to the points I made, which were the only reasons for pointing to the professors in question, let's ask Art a question:

If there was a department at the University of Kentucky--let's call it the Family Studies Department--which recruited and accepting only professors with religious right qualifications, and which, on their website, boasted of their professor's past and present involvement with groups like Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Research Council in glowing terms on their website and someone from, say, the ACLU objected, what would be his reaction?.”

First, you imply that some faculty at UK are recruited and hired based on religious or political qualifications. This is another unsupported assertion. I challenge Martin to produce a job description from a UK search that includes, as necessary qualifications, a specific religious affiliation or political persuasion. Go ahead, I double dog dare ya.

Second, the department you describe sounds like something we would find at, say, Bob Jones Univ. or Pensacola Christian College. Now I know the idea of merit and excellence is totally foreign to conservatives, but the fact is, Martin, that the parents and students of KY deserve much better than the department you describe (as it has been implemented at various Christian schools such as I mention). And they get it at their public institutions. You would wish on the Commonwealth’s public universities third or fourth class status, or even lower.

One final aside. Martin, would you consider an observation that young mothers on the dole, as it were, had a less favorable outcome (on average, and when it comes to things like family stability) than young mothers who were more inclined to support themselves a result more favorable to conservative or liberal interests? (Be careful, it’s a trick question.)

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

Why are there no conservatives in the Gender and Women's Studies Department?

Art said...

How many faculty are in the "Gender and Women Studies Department"? How many have been polled as to their political leanings? (Careful - more trick questions...)