Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

The anti-Horowitz gang


It seems that some left-wing professors are taking issue with what David Horowitz says about them in his new book. They’re responding here. And here’s a news story that covers the dispute, including some of Horowitz’s responses to the responses.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali


One of the most interesting speakers to appear at Harvard this year arrives on campus for a talk tonight. Travis Kavulla describes Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

She’s a Dutch parliamentarian, a Somali-born former refugee who escaped before she could be given into an arranged marriage. In Holland, she’s been living in protective custody ever since the director Theo van Gogh, with whom she made a movie about women’s rights in immigrant communities, was publicly stabbed to death last year. (On the note left pinned to van Gogh’s corpse, she was identified as the next target.)

More info is here .


Universities Prove Maggie Right


Maggie Gallagher’s cover story in this week’s Weekly Standard is an absolute must read. As Stanley Kurtz noted in the Corner this morning, Maggie has opened a “whole new dimension” to the debate over same-sex marriage. While I encourage you to read Maggie’s entire article, this paragraph from Stanley’s post is an excellent summary:

Scholars on the left and right agree that the gay marriage movement has raised the specter of a massive and protracted battle over religious liberty. In states that adopt same-sex marriage, religious liberty is clearly going to lose. The source of the problem is the flawed analogy between the battle for same-sex marriage and the sixties movement for civil rights. Gay marriage proponents argue that sexual orientation is like race, and that opponents of same-sex marriage are therefore like bigots who oppose interracial marriage. Once same-sex marriage becomes law, that understanding will be controlling.

To see the truth of this prediction, one need only look at college campuses – where the comparison of the same-sex marriage battle to the civil-rights struggles of the Sixties is the dominant paradigm. To the campus establishment, there is no functional or moral difference between an evangelical Christian proponent of traditional Judeo-Christian sexual morality and George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door. As a consequence, over the last five years, Christians have begun to experience an avalanche of persecution on campus. Since the case Maggie mentioned at Tufts University where the university ejected the Tufts Christian Fellowship from campus without due process for the “crime” of requiring that its leaders agree with the Biblical standards of evangelical Christianity, dozens of major universities have either taken similar action or threatened to. Lawsuits have been filed at UNC Chapel Hill, Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State, the University of Minnesota, Arizona State, Southern Illinois, and elsewhere challenging the application of expansive nondiscrimination policies to Christian student groups.

As bad as this situation is, it is only growing worse. Not content with excluding Christian student groups from campus because of their moral stance on homosexuality, colleges are going further, much further, by attacking students and staff simply for the thoughts in their heads. At Washington State University, the university’s school of education almost denied a conservative Christian student a degree when he expressed disagreement with many aspects of the school’s so-called “social justice” mission, including disapproval of one person’s choice to become a “lesbian mom.” In other words, a student’s opinion on homosexual adoption — without any evidence of actual discriminatory conduct — was considered dangerous enough to threaten his entire education. (See also the faculty of Ohio State Mansfield’s outrageous decision to accuse a librarian of sexual harassment for suggesting that freshmen read a book that advocates a traditional view of sexual morality).

Ending “homophobia” has become part of the “conceptual framework” of public universities, and is culminating in explicit state religious instruction to defeat religious objections to homosexual behavior. For example, Georgia Tech’s Safe Space Training Manual contains multiple statements endorsing permissive religious viewpoints and rejecting traditional or orthodox religious positions. The manual evaluates various religious traditions (classifying some as “anti-gay” and others as “relatively free of homophobia”) and then weighs in on the merits of Biblical arguments. For example, see this statement in response to the question, “Is homosexuality immoral?”

Many religious traditions have taught, and some continue to teach, that homosexuality is immoral.  These condemnations are based primarily on a few isolated passages from the Bible.  Historically, Biblical passages taken out of context have been used to justify such things as slavery, the inferior status of women, and the persecution of religious minorities.

In other words, a person who holds the traditional Christian view of sexual morality is equivalent to a person who would twist scriptures to justify slavery. Where is the Left’s eternal vigilance on state establishments of religion?  I suppose when the establishment in question serves the overall leftist mission of ending “homophobia” (however that is defined), then the so-called “wall of separation” is not quite as high as once thought. The Ten Commandments on the wall? Well, that represents intolerable religious endorsement. State officials teaching students and staff that religious conservatives are the moral equivalent of slavers? That’s just “social justice.”

Whenever campus Christians fight back to secure their most basic liberties, faculties and administrations often behave as if the recognition of a Christian Fellowship is only one half-step from permitting a battalion of Klansmen to gallop across the quad. I used to think such rhetoric was counterproductive hyperbole designed to demonize conservative Christians.  In fact, for many campus leftists, it is a cry from the heart — a genuine expression of moral equivalence. And that is perhaps the most disturbing fact of all.

Parody of The Vagina Monologues Off Limits


When a professor at Slippery Rock satirized The Vagina Monologues with handbills for a fictitious play substituting the name of the male organ, fliers for the event were torn down by female faculty enraged at the use of academic freedom to mock their cherished play. A professor from the Pennsylvania campus spoke of this tantrum to incredulous state assemblymen.

Save the Date


It won’t be held until next school year, but it’s never too soon to register for a day-long AEI conference on the cost of higher education .


No Criticism Allowed


Le Moyne College has dismissed a journalism professor as the adviser to its student newspaper. His crime? Criticizing the campus for unjustly punishing an education student who endorsed corporal punishment in class.

Holy Cross Burning


Apparently, Holy Cross’s “Hate: Not Here!” anti-discrimination policy does not aim to protect conservatives. Well, who am I kidding: Holy Cross doesn’t do anything to protect conservatives, which is why Holy Cross won the third-place Polly in the2006 Campus Outrage Awards. What I should say is that apparently Father Michael McFarland, President of Holy Cross, has extra space on his trophy shelf and is gearing up for the 2007 Pollys.

According to Shawn Sheehy, graduating editor of The Fenwick Review, a Collegiate Network member publication, arsonists burned a copy of his conservative newspaper in front of his dorm room late Thursday night.  Thursday night Shawn had been at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s “Dinner for Western Civilization” highlighting a successful fundraising campaign and featuring Supreme Court Justice and Holy Cross graduate Clarence Thomas.  When he returned to campus, Shawn found a charred pile of ashes in front of his room and detected the lingering scent of smoke.  His roommate explained finding the remains of a Fenwick Review outside the door that morning.  Shawn noted that, aside from the intimidation and harassment aspects of the crime, it could have been a serious fire had it gotten out of control.  The perpetrators likely intended no physical harm, but fire is not a plaything and blocking Shawn’s roommate’s only viable exit is dangerous.

Shawn consulted the public safety office about the incident, and they said they would investigate.  However, when Shawn asked if this harassment falls under the “Hate: Not Here!” policy protecting students, he was informed by the safety officer and the dean of student affairs that it was not.  Students cannot be harassed based on religion, sexuality, or gender, but if you are conservative, it is open season.

For more, check out The Fenwick Review blog.

Yale Gets an ‘A’ from Hu Jintao


The president of Communist China, who was heckled for three minutes–three sweet little minutes–as he stood outside the White House in April, also spent some time at Yale University. Dan Gelernter made note of the visit in Red Yale”. (“I don’t like waking up to the Chinese communist national anthem,” was the understandable conclusion.) But while red-blooded Yalies may not have appreciate such pomp for one of the world’s cruelest oppressors, Hu Jintao certainly was taken by Yale.

He’s now returned the favor financially. The Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission has added Yale University to its Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors list. Old Eli’s men now stand as a pack with only forty other institutions worldwide permitted to invest in “A-class” shares of Chinese business. Officials at Yale are, no doubt, excited.

Beatrice Bartlett, a Yale history professor emeritus and member of the East Asian Studies Council was quoted by the Yale Daily News as saying, “Yale is being favored by China these days… President Levin has built up a very good relationship with China through his numerous trips there.”

In low comedy, this move comes after student activists campaigned last winter to force Yale to divest of holdings which may support the Sudanese government. Human rights concerns, there.

But none in China, right?

I wonder if Hu will be adding VMI or West Point to its list of Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors any time soon.

Brave Iranian Students Speak Out


…against their government’s “irrational and confrontational” behavior, with the help of the Voice of America and satellite dishes.

Publish or Perish


From today’s NYT :

Scholarly publishing has never been a big business. But it could take a financial hit if a proposed federal law is enacted, opening taxpayer-financed research to the public, according to some critics in academic institutions.

The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, proposed last week by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, would require 11 government agencies to publish online any articles that contained research financed with federal grants. If enacted, the measure would require that the articles be accessible online without charge within six months of their initial publication in a scholarly journal.

Phi Beta Allah


A sorority for Muslims:

Forget everything you thought you knew about Greek life. These women came curious about a new kind of sorority, one that could change stereotypes of Muslim women, one based on Islamic beliefs: no drinking, no socializing with men.

The Duke divide


In today’s Wash Post, a big piece on Duke, lacrosse, race, and class:

Outsiders have compared the story of race, class and sex in the magnolia South to a Tom Wolfe novel. But to many on the NCCU campus, it seems straight from the mouths of grandparents and parents who passed along cautionary tales about how justice worked: A black woman’s cry of rape was seldom believed, and whites always walked.

Sophomoric (errr


New York City has shut down an exhibition by Brooklyn College “fine arts” graduate students which included a sculpted penis, a caged rat, and a sexually charged video featuring women dressed as nuns – on grounds that it was not “appropriate for families.” The exhibit – which the college’s provost, Roberta S. Matthews, says she and her fellow administrators will be “proud” to reinstall on campus – was set up in a building that is an honored World War II memorial.

A great hoopla about artistic freedom will of course now ensue. But, in the city’s defense it should be noted that the “artiste” who created the rat display was always allowed into the memorial to feed her rat.

How exhilarating to learn once again that our public higher education dollars are financing such lofty projects in our campuses’ advanced degree programs.

Protesting Secretary Rice


The anti-Condi Rice campaign at Boston College is picking up steam.  The following letter has been electronically signed by more than 1, 300 students, faculty, and alumni:

An Open Letter to Father Leahy and the Boston College Administration,

It has recently been announced that Condoleezza Rice will be speaking at this year’s commencement ceremony and receiving an honorary degree from Boston College.   Although there are some individuals on campus who support this decision, there is a growing movement among students, faculty, and staff who are opposed to the BC administration’s invitation to Dr. Rice and insulted by the extension of an honorary degree to a Secretary of State who supports morally  reprehensible policies both at home in the United States and abroad.  The BC administration’s decision to award the Secretary of State with an honorary degree morally condones these unjust policies at best, and at worst endorses them.   Consequently, we have come forward to voice our particular concerns as they relate to this problematic decision in an effort to raise awareness and initiate dialogue about an appropriate response.On multiple occasions, the BC administration has cancelled events claiming that they ran contrary to Catholic and Jesuit values.  As a Catholic, Jesuit, University, we have the moral imperative to uphold the ideals of peace and social justice.  Yet despite the Vatican’s vehement condemnation of the Iraq war, Boston College is honoring one of its chief architects. This is an example of how the BC administration has clearly been inconsistent in its invocation of Catholic values.While we are not in favor of censorship on the basis of Jesuit ideals, we feel that the gift of an honorary degree extends beyond the limits or invocation of free speech and into the realm of  acclamation and endorsement by Boston College.  A commencement speaker in particular is meant to embody the spirit of our university in order to commemorate its graduates’ final experience as BC students.   We do not believe Condoleezza Rice fulfills this role, and we ask the university to rescind its invitation to Dr. Rice and the offered honorary degree.

Boston College Students Opposed to Condoleezza Rice’s Invitation

Rev. Paul McNellis, an adjunct professor of philosophy at BC, mocks these Liberals’ newfound
veneration for Catholic doctrine.  ‘’This is the only time these people have cited [the Vatican] on
anything,” he said.

Meanwhile, a counter-petition has sprung up here.

Re: Civil RIghts


Anthony is so right below, at how black leaders twist racial preferences into a matter of civil rights. As with so many other issues today, the effort is to squelch any disagreement and make the disagreeing individual seem not only wrong but evil (racist, etc.). I think it was Mary Ann Glendon who identified this trick as trying to put things “beyond politics.”  But we’re not falling for it.

A Court Ruling in North Carolina


Late yesterday we received word that a federal judge in North Carolina had dismissed a Christian fraternity’s lawsuit against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (My employer, the Alliance Defense Fund, represents the fraternity). This decision represents the latest chapter in UNC’s long-running battle against religious liberty on campus. The public first became aware of UNC’s disrespect for basic First Amendment rights in late 2002 when it sought to “de-recognize” (a university euphemism for “ban”) several Christian groups because those groups reserved leadership for, gasp, Christians. After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education launched a highly effective public campaign, the university backed away.


Less than two years later, UNC was at it again, this time de-recognizing a Christian fraternity for (oh, the horror) limiting its membership to believing Christians. A second public campaign did not succeed, and the fraternity filed suit.


In March, 2005, the court granted a preliminary injunction against UNC’s expansive non-discrimination policy and, shortly thereafter, the university revised its policy to permit student groups to “select their members on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs,” yet it strangely still prohibited religious student groups from discriminating on the basis of “religious status.” (This is a strange distinction . . . is there a difference between religious belief and religious status? Can a person believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior yet say his religious status is Hindu? Religion is a set of beliefs, which of course makes it fundamentally different from the immutable status of race or gender). Regardless of the vague policy, the university has now recognized the fraternity, permits it to limit its membership to Christians, and has substantially revised and improved its nondiscrimination policy. In other words, the fraternity won its case.


Because the current policy is still vague, however, the fraternity did not drop its lawsuit and sought permission to challenge the new policy as written. In a 37-page opinion, the court refused the fraternity’s request and dismissed the case, holding that the “resolution of all issues” and the “relative success for the Plaintiffs” rendered the case moot. Moreover, the court would not permit the Plaintiffs to amend their complaint to challenge the new policy, finding that the policy was an “acceptable and thoughtful balance” of the various interests involved. While we of course disagree with this conclusion, the critical facts still work in the fraternity’s favor: As a result of the lawsuit, they are now recognized, and a substantially improved (though still imperfect) policy is on the books.


The university has of course spun this outcome as a vindication (despite the injunction and despite the policy change), with the Chancellor saying in a statement: “We believe this ruling affirms the university’s central position since the case began. There is value in having a non-discrimination policy at a public university.”


This statement is absurd. The plaintiffs never challenged the existence or value of non-discrimination policies at public universities. They simply argued (and the judge agreed when he granted their motion for preliminary injunction), that non-discrimination policies can’t be so broad as to deny religious organizations the right to use religious principles when selecting its members and leaders.


This issue is being fought in courts across the country, and may more court rulings will be coming down soon. Stay tuned.

Who Lost the Books?


Stuart Kelly has written The Book of Lost Books, a tale of books that have disappeared through destruction, etc., or books that never got written in the first place.

Kelly laments the loss to civilization caused by destroyers of books–fascists, religious zealots, relatives of authors, and others.

He does not include among the destroyers the postmodern academics who have radicalized and trivialized literary studies, and willfully rejected–lost for future generations–the great classical books.

The latter have been held to account, however, in works such as Who Killed Homer?, Plagues of the Mind, and Bonfire of the Humanities: Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished Age.

“The History Boys” (and Their Teachers)


There’s a character named Irwin in a new play, “The History Boys.” In instructing his students in how to get into elite colleges, Irwin counsels cynical glibness and standing out from the herd–no matter if perversely.

He tells his “history boys” to forget principle and instead reject conventional wisdom out of hand. As an example he cites Stalin: “Generally agreed to be a monster, and rightly. So dissent. Find something, anything, to say in his defense. History nowadays is not a matter of conviction. It’s a performance.”

Writer Charles McGrath says Irwin is “just so slick that these days he wouldn’t be caught dead in a classroom.”

Would that this were so. But it isn’t.

Out-Of-Touch Faculty


What planet does leftwing Columbia University professor Todd Gitlin inhabit? “Most national media,” he believes, “tilt so far to the right as to parody themselves.” Here is a sample of his and other academics’ recent bizarre utterances.

Civil Rights, Then and Now


Despite their unshakeable habit of invoking the name of Martin Luther King Jr. at every opportunity, most self-proclaimed “civil-rights leaders” these days just can’t help but illustrate the glaring differences between their agenda today and the goal of the civil-rights movement in the 1960s.

At an NAACP fundraiser to fight against the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (which would ban racial preferences in that state), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee used the language of liberation, but the context made her words ring hollow. Stating that “a hand up is not a handout,” she warned that ending racial preferences in Michigan would place “shackles” on minorities in the state. This is the new thinking: that treating minorities equally under the law would be an active infringement on their rights, because they need the help of the state to succeed. What a poisonous thing, for this mentality of victimhood to be pushed so vigorously by a woman who is looked to as a leader and a role model in the African-American community, which so desperately needs to hear a message of self-empowerment.


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