Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Islamic Chair Cancelled at Temple


An Islamic group has withdrawn the offer of $1.5 million to Temple University for the endowment of a chair in Islamic studies. The deal collapsed when trustees and others raised concerns about the donor, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a nonprofit research organization that was included in a government probe into funding of suspected terrorists. (Philly Online)

Ulterior Motives Underlie Harvard’s Largesse


Educational consultant Steven Roy Goodman looks at Harvard’s decision to spend a little more money in order to slightly lower tuition bills for admitted students. The university’s underlying intent, he writes, is “to make sure that Congress doesn’t mandate that universities spend five percent of their endowment funds every year, as private foundations are required to do.”  Goodman crunches the numbers and pronounces Harvard’s generosity “a preemptive move” and “quite a trick,” that is, to:

spend at best a tiny fraction of the endowment, while reducing growing political pressure in Washington and around the country that could potentially cost the university more than 10 times the additional amount of financial aid. (Boston Globe)


NYT on Islam


The New York Times Book Review has devoted an entire issue to Islam. The Times has done a better job in selecting reviewers than it often does, for example, it features a trenchant piece by Ayaan Hirsi Ali – who knows of what she writes. The Times also provides at least some balance to the tendentious scholarship found in many Middle East Studies Departments, choosing to review, for instance, Lee Harris’s The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the Enlightenment.  

Some of the recent works on Islam that the Times leaves out, but should have reviewed, are Andrew Bostom’s The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims, Robert Spencer’s Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, and Ibn Warraq’s Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism.

Paying Indulgences


Andy Ferguson:

As for the remainder of the tuition–that portion not covered by student aid–it must then be provided by the parents, who work overtime in America’s marvelous market economy so their children can spend four years in the care of college professors who despise the market economy and the bourgeois buffoons who work in it overtime so they can send their kids to college, where, coincidentally, the kids will acquire a degree that does next to nothing to prepare them for working in the market economy.

The insanity is pristine, perfectly uncontaminated by common sense. Only a country as rich as this one could afford such a fanciful indulgence.

NY Student Attests to Abuse of Rights


Here is a letter from Phil Orenstein to 50 New York State Senators and Assemblymen concerning the history of, and legislation relating to, the Academic Bill of Rights in the state. Orenstein urges them to come to the aid of the students and faculty who have suffered discrimination because of their political and religious views. By way of example, he relates the story an embattled student, Aaron Haberer of Borough of Manhattan Community College, who received a failing grade for disputing his professor’s virulent political opinions against America and religious devotees.


The Fallacy of Liberation Theology


Like liberation theologians, many academicians remain mesmerized by collectivism and even dedicated to collectivist militancy. Here from Father Robert A. Sirico is an update on, and refutation of, liberation theology. Excerpts:

The Bible teaches concern for the poor, liberation theologists said, and then went a step further: Jesus was a symbol and advocate of class warfare to expropriate from the rich on behalf of the poor.

At least 100 years of evidence stands contrary to the claim that a more powerful state (and that is all liberation theology really offers) is the proper means to material advance. Nothing is to be gained for anyone but the state by smashing the rich. What society needs is not expropriation but ever widening opportunities for all classes to improve their living standards.

There is only one way toward liberation, and that is a genuine liberalization of economic and political life, one that separates the state, not only from the Church, but also from the culture and the commercial life of the nation. (“Liberty Theology,” The Wall Street Journal, December 31)

The Islamist-Nazi Connection Dissected


Matthias Kuntzel and Andrew Bostom are in the throes of a charged and nuanced exchange on this important topic. (Frontpagemag)

O’Malley v. Karkhanis, John Doe and Jane Doe


CUNY Professor Susan O’Malley recently filed a formal defamation complaint against Emeritus Professor Sharad Karkhanis. Professor Mitchell Langbert has recorded the entire complaint in his blog, noting three aspects of the case that merit public scrutiny:

One involves the scope of academic freedom. A second involves freedom of speech in a collective bargaining unit and the interaction of labor law with defamation and First Amendment rights. A third involves the extent to which the courts and public dispute resolution processes interact with collegial academic processes.

Amusing Washington Post Headline today


“Tribal Rage Tears at Diverse Kenyan City.”  

Runner-up (from The Daily Iowan—and what better way to be an Iowan, BTW):

Ex-Arizona beauty queen accused of kidnapping, torturing ex-boyfriend ” 

Said ex-beauty queen is “mid-way through her second year in law school,” for those readers who insist on a higher ed connection.

Clueless China Connection?


U.K and U.S. universities are lining up to “partner” with China to provide education. But, asks a British report, do these universities have a clue as to what they’re about? This, from

a controversial report released in Britain … the thinking … has been “alarmingly woolly,” says the report, “British Universities in China: The Reality Beyond the Rhetoric.”  … there is no overarching strategy about what UK [and U.S.] higher education should be trying to achieve.” (Inside Higher Ed)

For the Sake of Love, from UL


The University of Louisville has just given its $200,000 Grawemeyer Award for Religion to Margaret Farley, a professor emerita of Christian ethics at Yale. Farley was honored for her 2006 book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (Inside Higher Ed).

Challenging ‘No-Anti-Semitism’ Verdict at UC Irvine


Sources close to the investigation into anti-Semitism at the university claim that the letter from the U.S. DOE which ended the inquiry, left out many of the allegations made by the complainant. According to Anti Racist Blog, the letter selectively chose a few incidents and arguments, while totally ignoring others which formed the core of the complaint. A strong challenge is said to in the offing.

Cambridge Mullah Wages Radio Offensive Against Islamists


John Butt, the Muslim chaplain at Cambridge University, has started a radio show broadcast, “Across the Border,” to Afghanistan and Pakistan. His efforts to do battle against militants who preach violence in the name of God are “groundbreaking.” (The Sunday Times, London)

Columbia Climatologist Naysays the ‘Governator’


California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed rules that would force automakers to bump up their fuel efficiency 30-percent by 2016.

James Hansen – a Columbia University climatologist described by Shikha Dalmia as “a global warming worrywart” – has acknowledged that subjecting the whole country to the Schwarzenegger “warming fix” would not result in any measurable cut in global temperature. (New York Post)

Excellent Article on the Nuttiness of College Admissions


In today’s Wall Street Journal, Naomi Schaefer Riley has this excellent article on the nutty world of college admissions today, where students are much better off if their parents are factory workers than if they’re surgeons.

In order to overcome the “disadvantage of privilege,” students are coached on how to structure their resumes so as to look appealing to the admissions people at the elite schools. It is like the old U.S.-Soviet arms race, with kids trying desperately to outshine others in their “passion” for things that supposedly impress the gatekeepers.

So if a kid from a successful family wants to get into Princeton, it’s not enough to have straight As and a dazzling set of SAT scores. It’s necessary to spend all free time padding the resume with “meaningful” activities. Then, if you’re lucky, you’ll overcome your disadvantages in the eyes of the admissions people and your parents will be allowed to spend a fortune on a degree that won’t make you any smarter than if you’d gone to a non-elite school.

Further on the Use of “Islamo-Fascism”


A reader writes to say that the term is commonly used to deny any problem with Islam itself.  In this view, any negative manifestations among Muslims, such as the use of violence in the name of Allah and the enforcement of oppressive laws and customs, arise only from a distortion of true Islam that bends it to achieve despotic,fascist-like militancy and control.        

Happy Iowa Caucus Day


In Iowa, the state’s two biggest student newspapers have endorsed Obama and McCain.

How To Get into College


Naomi Schaefer Riley in WSJ:

Given that, with the arrival of the new year, college applications are now flooding into admissions offices all over the country, it might be a good time to reflect on the absurdity of the whole college-admissions process. Take this passage from Michele Hernández’s “Acing the College Application,” where she assesses the chances of a high-school student getting into a college of his choice. “Best case: Neither of your parents attended college at all, your father is a factory worker, and your mom is on disability. . . . Worst case: Your father went to Yale as an undergraduate and then Harvard Business School and is now an investment banker and your mom went to Brown, holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and works as a research chemist.”

We all understand that being a rich white kid puts one at a disadvantage in the college-admissions process. But it is worth pausing to savor the irony of an institution that charges as much as $45,000 a year asking its applicants to demonstrate their proletarian credentials.

Clarification Needed on Use of the Term “Islamo-Fascism”


It seems the term is being used in two ways.  One is to highlight the historical connections between the Muslim world and Nazism and Fascism.   For example, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood was an admirer of Hitler and Mussolini.  For another example, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem met frequently with the Nazis to encourage them in the elimination of the Jews of Europe, and during the war he actually organized some Bosnian Muslim units to fight with the SS.

But the term is also being used in a generic sense, to say that Islamic sharia law constitutes a form of fascism, a form of totalitarian control of society. 

The first use is factual and probably unexceptionable.  The second is problematic, and forces the uniqueness of Islamic fundamentalism into the familiar mold of European fascism and national socialism. 

But in any event, people who use the term should make clear what they mean.  Eventually its spelling should be regularized too.  

The Value of HBCUs


In this week’s Clarion Call I write about the evidence that historically black colleges and universities are beneficial institutions because of what they don’t do: affirmative action and debasing of the curriculum.


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