Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Horowitz on the MSA Cartoon


David Horowitz has responded by e-mail to Prof. Kenneth Mayer’s comments on the anti-Semitic cartoon distributed by the Muslim Students Association at the University of Wisconsin. Mayer equated the re-printing of the Danish cartoons critical of Mohammad with the anti-Semitic cartoon. Horowitz ripostes: “The difference between the two cartoons is that the university has rules against religious bigotry. The Mohammed cartoons were nothing of the sort.”

Coatsworth of ‘Hitler, Too’ Fame Named Columbia Dean


John Coatsworth has just been appointed dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. The editors of the New York Sun, with good reason, are appalled. They lambaste those responsible for this appointment and summarize Coatsworth’s activism “on the far-out fringe” as follows:

The persons whose judgment is really called into question here is not just Mr. Coatsworth but the president and trustees of Columbia, who have now elevated to a deanship an Israel-hating apologist for the Communists who is on record as being willing to welcome Hitler to campus. They announced the decision just in time for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The university leadership could learn a thing or two from David Feith, who edits the student newspaper, the Current. In an editorial, he recommends that Columbia honor some of the world’s bravest dissidents with honorary degrees — especially in the year of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the campus. Dean Coatsworth, what say you of this idea?


Northwestern ‘Clarifies’ the Wright Controversy


More from the statement by Alan K. Cubbage, Northwestern University vice president for university relations, regarding the university’s decision to withdraw an invitation to the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright to receive an honorary degree:

May 1, 2008
Earlier this academic year, acting on the recommendation of faculty committees, Northwestern University extended an invitation to the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, former senior minister of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, to receive an honorary Doctorate of Sacred Theology at Northwestern’s Commencement in June. Commencement at Northwestern is a time of celebration of the accomplishments of Northwestern’s graduating students and their families. In light of the controversy around Dr. Wright and to ensure that the celebratory character of Commencement not be affected, the University has withdrawn its invitation to Dr. Wright.

Dr. Wright was quoted as saying that his invitation to receive an honorary degree was withdrawn by Northwestern President Henry Bienen because Dr. Wright “wasn’t patriotic enough.” If Dr. Wright was quoted accurately, that statement is not true. In his conversation and correspondence with Dr. Wright in March, President Bienen never characterized Dr. Wright’s views or made a judgment about them. The letter said, “In light of the controversy surrounding statements made by you that have recently been publicized, the celebratory character of Northwestern’s commencement would be affected by our conferring of this honorary degree. Thus I am withdrawing the offer of an honorary degree previously extended to you.”

Lone G.O.P. Ranger


Recent figures show the Democrats hauling in $16,093 in donations from those who identify themselves as employed at Brooklyn College. There was but one Republican donor, Professor Mitchell Langbert.

And the educational establishment pronounces with a straight face that there is no political imbalance on campuses!

Re: Ignored Questions


Roger is absolutely right. I just wanted to add that there’s a perfectly good argument against the SAT, and it has nothing to do with race.

In fact, in terms of determining merit, the SAT is generous to minorities. Were the SAT unfair, its scores would underpredict minority college GPAs — in other words, the racist test would say they’d only get a 3.0, but actually they’d get a 3.5. But actually, the opposite happens: There is “a tendency for the SAT to overpredict, not underpredict, the college performance of African Americans. On average, it indicates they will do better than they actually do.”

The case against the SAT, as made by Charles Murray, is that relative to other measures (including the SAT II), it’s just not that good for figuring out how students will do in college — regardless of what race the students are.


The As-Usual Ignored Questions


There’s a long article in The Chronicle of Higher Education today about two studies showing that the allegedly “excessive weight” given SAT scores by the admission offices of elite colleges is “complicat[ing] their pursuit of diversity,” meaning the admission of more blacks and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics. The solution: Give less weight to SAT scores.

First of all: This is not exactly news. Everyone knows that these groups perform less well on the SAT, and so people who want schools to get their numbers right have been complaining about their using the SAT for years. The twist is that, despite all this politically correct pressure, the reliance on the SAT may actually be increasing.

Anyhow, there are two obvious questions posed here, one of which is completely unaddressed by the article, and the other only in briefest passing. (1) If the SAT helps colleges select the most qualified students, isn’t it problematic for them to stop using it? And (2) specifically, isn’t it racial discrimination if schools choose selection criteria, not simply on the basis of which ones select the best students, but also on the basis of which ones yield a particular racial and ethnic mix?

All the article says with regard to the first question is that, according to one of the studies, “shifting to admissions policies based on class rank would not hurt graduation rates.” But there are graduates and there are graduates. The answer to the second question — the one that is not addressed at all — is, “Yes.” If the shoe were on the other foot, and schools decided to ratchet up their reliance on class rank because it would help keep down the number of Asians and Jews, wouldn’t that be discrimination? Oh, wait, the shoe is on that foot.

Take ‘Sustainability’ Programs Off Life Support


We all need to be “sustained,” right? To stay alive, right? To adopt measures to thrive, right?

Unfortunately, John Leo observes in “The Worst Campus Codeword,” the inevitably attractive, near-incontestable concept of sustainability has been co-opted in comprehensive and effective ways by the campus Left. Dozens of universities now have sustainability programs, institutionalized in both the curriculum and campus residential life by a powerful network of educational organizations. Sustainability ideology brims over with sub rosa indoctrination in everything from one-sided ecological, social and socialist reforms to prescribed viewpoints on affirmative action, abortion, same-sex marriage, and U.S. iniquity.

One of the more egregious sustainability schemes is the once-suspended, now-resurrected residential life program at the University of Delaware, which, as Leo recaps:

discussed mandatory sessions for students as “treatments” and insisted that whites acknowledge their role as racists … It also required students to achieve certain competencies including “students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society.” [It also featured] “the social justice aspects of sustainability education,” referring to “environmental racism,” “domestic partnerships” and “gender equity.”

UD, as of this week, has, without due process, restored its “Res Life” sustainability program. FIRE’s Adam Kissel states it is still:

Keep reading this post . . .



Charlotte Allen visits with Middle-East scholars who don’t hate Israel.

Beliefs of Academia


The WSJ’s Naomi Schaefer Riley quotes from a letter of recommendation written by a high-school teacher for her niece:

“Jazmine is enlightened by the journey of academia the twist, turns and heights elevated to farthest stretch imagined. Jazmine will bring a willingness to work, thought provoking, openess and challenges of the worlds positive attributes. . . . Jazmine has shared with her peers & cohorts her beliefs of academia and the wherewithal to never give up to keep trying, to keep learning and to always keep growing.”

Rachel’s Law a Done Deal


New York State Governor David Paterson yesterday signed the “Libel Terrorism Protection Act” (S.6687/A.9652), also known as Rachel’s Law. The legislation passed the state’s Assembly and Senate unanimously. Publishers Weekly reports Rachel Ehrenfeld hopes “other American authors will continue to expose what needs to be exposed and that publishers will not be shy in publishing it.”

This law belongs not only to Rachel Ehrenfeld but to us all, as Bruce Kesler aptly notes.

Reader Mail re: MSA and Horowitz


From Kenneth R. Mayer, a University of Wisconsin political science professor (speaking only for himself):

The cartoon about Horowitz may be offensive, but there’s nothing for the MSA to apologize for, and no basis whatsoever for the Chancellor to reprimand them, any more than the Badger Herald should have apologized, or have been reprimanded, for publishing the Mohammed cartoons. In that case, the MSA demanded that the newspaper editors be disciplined. They were wrong then. You are wrong here.

The Muslim Students’ Association vs. David Horowitz


Take a look at this vicious, anti-Semitic cartoon attacking David Horowitz:

Horowitz cartoon

It was distributed by the Muslim Students’ Association at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The MSA is of course free to spread its venom, but the organization should apologize to Horowitz, and the president of UW should reprimand the organization.

Re: Dr. Wright


Robert, I share your pain: Jerry Springer delivering the law-school commencement address, a hastily withdrawn honorary doctorate for an anti-American race baiter, and the ongoing employment of unrepentant terrorist Bernardine Dohrn … it’s enough to make a young alumnus ignore those fundraising letters, isn’t it?
At least NU president Henry Bienen had the wherewithal to rescind the honorary degree offer, prompting Wright to complain, “[Bienen] called and told me he was withdrawing the degree because I was not patriotic.” It’s been a rough few days for the Reverend. Kicked to the curb by Obama, and now NU. Good thing he’s known for his placid temperament.

Re: Dr. Wright


Ah, my alma mater, at it again…

As to why they’d offer an honorary degree, here’s something from the student daily paper. Those “faculty committees”:

Northwestern University’s statement on the degree offer to Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
“Earlier this academic year, acting on the recommendation of faculty committees, Northwestern University extended an invitation to the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, former senior minister of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, to receive an honorary degree at Northwestern’s Commencement in June. … In light of the controversy around Dr. Wright and to ensure that the celebratory character of Commencement not be affected, the University has withdrawn its invitation.”

Here are some more details on NU honorary degrees.

Obama was a hero at NU before he ran for president (he gave my 2006 class’s commencement address), so I imagine people figured that his pastor, Wright, was for Hope and Change as well.

Alternatively, Northwestern Law is having Jerry Springer give the 2008 commencement address, so it could have just been plain bad judgment.

Dr. Wright


Northwestern U. had planned to give Jeremiah Wright an honorary degree in June, but it has just revoked the offer on account of the “controversy” surrounding him. That’s a good decision, but it begs a question: Why on earth did Northwestern decide to give Wright an honorary degree in the first place?

No Fighting Irish Need Apply


This is one of the worst cases of political correctness I’ve ever read about:

In November 2007, Sampson—who works in the school’s janitorial department and is ten credits away from a degree in communications—was notified by Lillian Charleston of IUPUI’s Affirmative Action Office (AAO) that two co-workers had filed a racial harassment complaint against him. The AAO alleged that by reading a book on the KKK in the break room, Sampson had engaged in racial harassment. Sampson attempted to explain that the book, written by Todd Tucker, was a historical account of the events on two days in May 1924, when a group of Notre Dame students fought with members of the Ku Klux Klan. His explanation was dismissed, and he later received a letter from Charleston that determined he was guilty of racial harassment. Charleston wrote that his failures included “openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.”

The story appears to have a happy ending. Read FIRE’s press release here

Academics’ Political Donations


Green Pasture for Litigation Addicts?


A former lecturer at Dartmouth, Priya Venkatesen, has informed her former freshman students that she will sue them for harassment and discrimination. She alleges they bombarded her ceaselessly with “hostility, nastiness and anti-intellectualism.” Heavens, reports the New York Post, some members of the class even clapped when one student disagreed with her.

One doubts that harassment charges on the basis of such complaints as mean-spirited applause will stick. But, you never know. Maybe this case will open new and heretofore unimagined vistas in the academic world of speech codes, politically correct curricula, and promiscuous litigation.

Very Final Thought on Race vs. Ethnicity


I’m not seeing how it makes “ethnicity” redundant. Ethnicity does not necessarily have anything at all to do with genetics: Merriam-Webster defines “ethnic” as “of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background.”

As a real-world example, Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race, and it’s basically useless in DNA terms — Hispanics can descend from the Spanish, from people conquered by the Spanish, from black slaves purchased by the Spanish, or from any combination of them. In other words, they can have different races. These racial categories — the common stock, the partly inbred extended families — are the ones that DNA can determine.

Still a Marked Woman


Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave an invite-only speech at Harvard today, and security was apparently tighter than it was for Pervez Musharraf’s appearance at the university!

Attendees had to check in twice, showing a photo ID to a guard out front, getting a name badge, then showing an ID again to a guard just outside the conference room. There was also a uniformed police presence for the duration. 

It amazes me that the threat to Hirsi Ali to is still so great that the level of security was deemed warranted.


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