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New Middle East Studies News


Corner readers are no doubt familiar by now with the battle over federal funding of Middle East studies (and other area studies programs). But believe me, this battle is anything but old news. On the contrary, the fight over HR 3077 is growing every day. News of this bill is breaking over the academy like a wave. Because their federal subsidies are at stake, politically correct professors are attending to their critics like never before. Here’s one of the more remarkable articles I’ve seen. Essentially, it confirms nearly every point I’ve ever made on this issue–acknowledging that area studies programs do everything they can to undermine government policy, but demanding a federal subsidy anyway. Hey, there’s no special title of the higher education act for philosophy departments. Professors can write and think whatever they like, but that doesn’t entitle them to a federal subsidy. Meanwhile, after a couple of columns in the Yale Daily News misrepresenting the purpose and functioning of HR 3077, this excellent article by Yale undergraduate Jamie Kirchick answers back. Kirchick places the battle over HR 3077 in the context of other attempts by the left at Yale to silence opposition. Finally, here’s an editorial opposing HR 3077 from UCLA’s Daily Bruin. It makes the usual false claims–that HR 3077 will silence opposition to U.S. foreign policy. Opponents of HR 3077 don’t like quoting the actual language of the bill, which does not ban opposition to American foreign policy, but simply calls for the inclusion of many viewpoints. Academics claim to be concerned about academic freedom, but they’ve long since choked off free debate at their own universities. What these professors really want is the freedom to go on suppressing any opposition to their own ideas. HR 3077 doesn’t take away anyone’s right to speak, think, or teach as they see fit. It simply encourages subsidized programs to expose students to many perspectives. If even that is too much to ask, then let area studies get along without special federal subsidies. It’s good enough for philosophy and art history.


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