Tuesday, November 02, 2010

So, this is what Academia comes to?

On one of the lists on which I occasionally contribute comments there is an article about a racist work of fiction in which a thinly veiled Southern Poverty Law Center figure is murdered by a racist zealot which has been assigned by some professors at a handful of colleges for student reading. At least one of the professors, himself an avowed semite, hails this work as "an emotionally compelling account of Whites as historical victims of non-Whites--just the sort of thing we need to motivate a renaissance among our people."

Interesting assertion. Who might “our people” be? Other racists? More likely this professor of psychology at Cal State Long Beach is presuming to speak of all white people. That is how all misanthropy tends to work: Everyone shares my biases (including G-d, most of the time) or they ought to.

One of the comments responding to this article posed this question: "So this is what academia has come to." Here’s my response:

Academia has come to precisely what the public has allowed if not demanded it become. It has become degree processing factories at the public level and entitlement legitimating enclaves at the private level. It has become vocational schools producing unquestioningly obedient workers gaining skills with very short shelf lives while avoiding the production of reflective, critical thinking members of society at all costs. It has become producers of consumers, content to accept the limited range of consumer goods and services offered us along with the incessant advertising which conditionalizes our self-esteem to make us believe we actually need this schlock all the while avoiding the responsibilities of citizenship at all costs.

Academia is a reflection of our larger culture. It reproduces and reinforces the values we have imposed upon it. Those values do not include thoughtful, critically reflective human beings, the products of an academia which is actually living into its own vocation rather than that imposed upon it by a culture dominated by corporate interests.

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (canonically resident, Diocese of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.


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