Monday, December 15, 2003

This is utterly typical of the American right: they claim islamic terrorists "hate freedom" and use that as a pretext to bomb the heck out of half the world while here at home anyone who dares to exercise their first amendment rights gets put on a watch list. Scary stuff:

Conservatives Put Liberal Profs on List

Updated 9:40 AM ET December 13, 2003

- University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen is an
unapologetic liberal who openly expresses his strong views, both in
and out of the classroom.

"My political views are left," Jensen said. "Some people would call
me a radical."

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, student Austin Kinghorn felt
Jensen crossed the line.

"We walked in, and he had the overhead projector turned on, and on
there was a sentence, 'What is terrorism?' " Kinghorn said. "And
Jensen took the next hour and 15 minutes of class to basically make
his point, two days after 911, that the American government is a far
worse perpetrator of terrorism than the 911 hijackers."

Kinghorn, chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas, was deeply offended.

"I felt like Professor Jensen was manipulating a national tragedy,"
Kinghorn said, "to make a point that he wants to make about his
far-leftist agenda that seems to blame every problem in the world on
American policy."

The Young Conservatives decided to make Jensen No. 1 on a newly
created "watch list," which was posted on their Web site and also
published in a local newspaper. It includes 10 professors at the
University of Texas, the nation's largest public college, whom the
conservatives accuse of trying to indoctrinate students and using the
classrooms to promote their personal agendas.

"It's a list of professors that need to be scrutinized, watched,"
said Brendan Steinhauser, a member of the Young Conservatives of
Texas. "They need to be held accountable for their actions in the
classroom. And they haven't been yet."

Conservative Trend

The number of conservative and Republican groups organizing on
college campuses has nearly tripled in the last four years. And some
officials in Washington also have acted.

"I think you're going to have more and more conservative students
standing up and creating a new counterculture that doesn't believe
that all morals are relative, that believes in absolute values, that
believes in conservative government," Kinghorn said. "And they're
going to get louder and louder as they feel more and more oppressed."

Though colleges have a reputation as bastions of liberalism, college
students are more likely to call themselves political independents
than any other affiliation, according to the ABCNEWS polling unit.
For those in college, ages 18 to 22, 27 percent call themselves
Democrats, 34 percent Republicans and 35 percent independents.
College students are more likely to say they are liberal than other
Americans, but the biggest percentage, 41 percent, call themselves

The general public is roughly evenly divided among Democrats,
Republicans and independents.

In Washington, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., recently introduced an
academic "bill of rights" to protect students from "one-sided liberal
propaganda." The House of Representatives passed a bill to monitor
whether federally funded centers for international research reflect
and respond to the needs of national security.

And a group founded by Lynne Cheney, the wife of the vice president,
that blasted academics right after 911 for being "the weak link in
America's response to the attack" urged a Senate committee to raise
public awareness of what it called the problem of liberal bias on
campus and to encourage universities to conduct "intellectual
diversity reviews."

"It's a trend which, if it got completely out of hand, could lead us
to another McCarthy kind of situation," said Edmund Gordon, a UT
associate professor who is on the Young Conservatives of Texas list.
"I certainly hope it doesn't go that far."

'Labeled a Radical'

Gordon is accused of overemphasizing white oppression of African-Americans.

"I was actually not labeled a liberal," Gordon said. "I was labeled a radical."

He said his classroom has undergone a dramatic change.

"I never had people who were avowedly Young Conservatives in my
class, as students, who announced that they were that from the very
beginning," Gordon said. "I feel like they were put there to watch
me. And this watch list or my position on this watch list is a result
of that. So, do I feel like I'm under surveillance? I am under

Jensen gives the conservative students plenty to watch, hanging
posters of Cuban revolutionary leaders in his office and writing
controversial editorials in the Texas papers. One such editorial,
published in the Houston Chronicle just after Sept. 11, 2001, was
headlined, "U.S. Just as Guilty of Committing Own Violent Acts."

"It led the president of the university to issue a public statement
denouncing me, in which he called me foolish," Jensen said.

The reprimand did not bother Jensen or affect his behavior. He's a
tenured professor and his job at the public university is protected.

He loves to stir things up in the classroom, and some students are

"I think what Jensen really wants us to do is to learn to think
critically about our role in society and society as a whole," one
student said.

"I think that if a teacher is completely neutral, which I personally
don't think is possible, it would make a class boring," said another.


Jensen fears he could be pressured into toning down his message.

"Nobody with power is telling me I can't say something," Jensen said.
"It's only going to become censorship if university administrators,
who have the power to hire and fire and the power to punish faculty,
start requiring a kind of ideological conformity for advancement in
the profession. If that happens, then higher education is dead."

The very idea of making lists of members of opposing groups has a
long and checkered history in America. Hollywood once had its black
list, an unwritten understanding of those who would be denied work
because of their suspected affiliation or sympathy with communism.
President Nixon had an infamous enemies list, and his political
opponents had their own scoreboard of so-called war criminals in his
Cabinet. The National Rifle Association recently put out its own
listing of adversaries. Some of them said they were proud to be on it.

So, perhaps there's no wonder the latest incarnation of political
watch lists has caused such a stir on college campuses. Whether these
lists are promoting tactics of intimidation or simply exercising free
speech is a matter of debate.

The Young Conservatives say their watch list is about promoting
intellectual diversity. But others say it feels more like censorship
and the start of a campus culture war.

The Young Conservatives bristle at any suggestion their watch list is
a form of censorship. But they intend to put a select group of
professors on notice that the classroom is not the place for a
one-sided bully pulpit.

"I've had liberal professors who are great professors," Kinghorn
said. "I'm not afraid of opinions. None of us are. What we're afraid
of is students who don't get both sides of the stories and don't have
enough information to make informed decisions, which is supposedly
what a college degree is all about."

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

No comments: