February 6, 2019
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
FEMINISM and ANTI-RACISM in Academia…the End of America?
I pass on two items this morning.
The first is a news article detailing an incredible—almost unbelievable—epic “troll” of fashionable, politically-correct academia and supposedly prestigious academic journals by three serious academics who revealed the unseriousness, the ideologically-driven and fanatical nature of what passes for scholarship these days…and the hysterical reaction to their spoofing by those same outraged minions of modern “higher education” when they found out what had happened to them.
What Dr. Peter Boghossian, Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University (Oregon) and two fellow professors, did was create a number of scholarly-sounding essays, replete with detailed notes, all written in the prolix and mind-bending pseudo-language that characterizes so much of what passes for scholarship in our society. The difference was that Boghossian’s essays—his “scholarship”—were totally bogus, made up, and, on the face of it, totally ridiculous. Yet, since his topics were all centered on “racial oppression” and “historic toxic masculinity,” they were quickly lapped up by some of the more significant academic journals who supposedly offer educated commentary and analysis of the problems in our society—and the horrible burden we carry as inheritors of that hateful and oppressive Western culture.
When those journals, and Dr. Boghossian’s university, found out about what had happened, they howled like wounded coyotes caught in a rancher’s barbed wire fence. They had eagerly accepted fraud because it favored their ideological objectives and because it was written in such a way that literally no one down in eastern North Carolina’s rural Johnston County could understand a word of it.
Indeed, maybe one should find a clever attorney to see if charges of “language abuse” couldn’t be launched against those who spew out such gobbledegook.
The second article was written by a friend of mine, Dr. Bella d’Abrera, an Australian scholar who holds a doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Dr. d’Abrera has done superb work in the history of Tudor English history (her trilogy on Henry VIII and Queen Mary stands out) and in investigating the Spanish 15th century. She recounts her experiences in defending what is termed “Western Christian civilization,” the extremely negative reactions she has received, and the undeniable fact that the near-entirety of academia now does its damnedest to attack, misinterpret, and undermine that tradition.
I have written previously about the utter decadence in higher education and its perversion, and my major argument has been that although we complain about the state of our culture and our politics, and although we know and admit that education—in particular, college education—is a critical battlefield, mostly all we do is talk.
Presently, for example, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill flagrantly ignores North Carolina’s Monuments Protection Law of 2015, with its just terminated Chancellor Carol Folt unilaterally ordering the removal of the base of a century’s old monument to veterans from that university who volunteered during the War Between the States. In August 2018 a mob of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and Communist Workers’ World Party radicals tore the statue down—Folt and her administration not only refused to enforce the state law and the laws against the destruction of public property, they directed campus law enforcement not to interfere with the lawlessness.
At present a timorous and cowardly UNC Board of Governors—composed almost entirely of Republicans—looks for a way to placate the radicals and somehow skate by the state statute, hoping no one will look too closely.
The actions of UNC at Chapel Hill—a public university supported by the taxpayers of North Carolina—are representative of a mindset, an ideological template, that most college administrators exhibit. It mirrors their belief that they no longer depend on the citizens who pay their salaries and foot their bills, but rather they must jump when the most radical, most vocal and most fanatical members of the “university community,” whether students or faculty, demand it. The only question they have, essentially, is: “How high?”
All the election victories, all the superb scribbling, even the construction of effective walls along the southern border—all of that will be to no avail to save our country if major and drastic steps aren’t taken to reform, and reform drastically, our educational system.
My dear friend and mentor, Dr. Clyde Wilson, perhaps the South’s pre-eminent historian and a holder of a PhD from UNC, has suggested that the only solution would be, as he states it somewhat sardonically, “to napalm” UNC and the other public universities. In a way, I do find the idea attractive! But realistically, I would prefer legislative action and more involvement by our elected lawmakers—restructuring academic programs, insistence on and supervision over real “diversity” in hiring, and the creation of and support for outlying and semi-independent “institutes” that could counter the ideological and post-Marxist poison that now is drowning the hallowed halls of once great and admired institutions of learning.
Without that, without strong reform, no matter the Wall on the border, our culture—our civilization—is lost. At present the fanatical ideological maniacs control academia and most of our education, from grammar school to grad school. If that authoritarian hold isn’t broken, the future is lost.
Professor Tricks Academic Journals Into Publishing Joke Papers
Satire has become impossible
Mon, Feb 4, 2019
As political correctness continues its meteoric rise and career-lynchings increase, a university professor now faces firing after his spoof academic papers were published, fooling (then embarrassing) leftists.
Portland State University philosophy professor Peter Boghossian recently attempted to expose how ludicrous political correctness has become. Unfortunately for him, his attempt succeeded all too well—and now he may be out of a job.
Over the course of a few years, Boghossian and two academics produced 20 hoax essays, collectively called “the Grievance Studies” experiment, that were written to be as ridiculous as possible and designed to appeal to small special interest groups made up of mostly far-left scholars.
Seven of Boghossian’s bogus studies were accepted for publication by social science journals, including a feminist rewrite of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The journal Gender, Place, and Culture bit on a piece claiming to study “canine rape culture.”
In that study, Boghossian and his colleagues charged that, “dog parks are rape-condoning spaces and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against ‘the oppressed dog’ through which human attitudes to both problems can be measured.” Boghossian’s team even claimed to have “tactfully inspected the genitals of slightly fewer than 10,000 dogs whilst interrogating owners as to their sexuality.”
In another eagerly accepted article, the hoaxers demanded that the world of bodybuilding recognize “fat bodybuilding, as a fat-inclusive politicized performance.”
For his efforts, which once brought to light should have caused academia to engage in some self-analysis, Portland State University moved to fire Boghossian.
“I truly hope the administration puts its institutional weight behind the pursuit of truth, but I’ve been given no indication that’s what they intend to do,” Boghossian said.
All of the journals involved are part of the dubious field of “grievance studies.” Some in the mainstream media attempted to rationalize and defend academia’s attachment to the most extreme, and in these cases totally fabricated, areas of identity politics that focus on gender and race.
A group of 11 Portland State professors and one graduate student published an anonymous letter in the student newspaper Vanguard, which featured a menacing image of Boghossian equipped with a Pinocchio nose. They charged Boghossian’s team with repeated “fraudulent behavior violating acceptable norms of research in any discipline” and castigated the beleaguered professor for inviting James Damore, who was fired by Google for exercising his right to free speech, to an event at the university.
“Boghossian has not only indicated his less-than-collegial attitude through his hoaxes,” they charged, “but has actively targeted faculty at other institutions. None of us wish to contend with threats of death and assault from online trolls.”
Some in the academic world displayed a degree of rationality. Yascha Mounk, a Harvard lecturer in government, condemned what he viewed as unfair attempts to undermine the hoaxers.
“Even if all of the charges laid at the feet of Boghossian [and the two other authors] were true, they would have demonstrated a very worrying fact,” Mounk wrote. “Some of the leading journals in areas like gender studies have failed to distinguish between real scholarship and intellectually vacuous as well as morally troubling [expletive deleted].”
In a recent YouTube video, Boghossian read out an email from Portland State, which threatened an investigation and sanctions against him.
“I think that they will do everything and anything in their power to get me out,” he stated. “And I think this is the first shot in that.”
Boghossian’s case is merely the latest example of political correctness run amok on college campuses across the country. Earlier this month, it was widely reported that Washington, D.C.’s American University would be hosting a multisession seminar aimed at getting faculty to combat “white language supremacy.” The seminar will also propose “alternative” methods of assessing writing other than quality, such as “labor-based grading contracts.”
While even the most unthreatening and lukewarm “conservative” voices have been denied the opportunity to speak at various universities, some astonishingly anti-white figures have been welcomed.
Christian evangelical Wheaton College, not a typical leftist institution, permitted Emory University philosophy professor George Yancy to speak there in 2017, in the esteemed Billy Graham Center on campus. His speech was filled with expletives and hateful declarations like, “To be white is to be racist.” Stephens College, a women’s college in Columbia, Mo., recently announced that it will “admit and enroll students who were not born female, but who identify and live as women.” All-women Mount Holyoke College canceled plans to change its logo due to protests that it could be perceived as not being inclusive to transgender students.
Boghossian merely demonstrated what is obvious: In today’s America, satire is impossible while a frighteningly authoritarian political correctness rules the day.
Western Civilisation “Not Welcome Here”
written by Published on
In 2017, following the wishes of the late Paul Ramsay, a businessman and philanthropist who made his fortune in the healthcare industry, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was set up in Australia. Paul Ramsay was deeply concerned that Australians are not being taught about Western Civilisation either at school or university. So he left part of his $3.4 billion fortune so that something would be done about it. As the Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs, I have been keeping a close watch on developments.
The Ramsay Centre has devised a Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation based on great books and works of art, to be taught in partnership with universities. Since its launch however, the Ramsay Centre has encountered almost nothing but open hostility and resentment from potential university partners.
At the University of Sydney, staff some months ago launched a ‘Keep Ramsay out of USYD’ petition. The same staff are currently having conniptions because their Vice–Chancellor has now announced that he’ll consider taking the Centre’s $64 million grant if it gives the university complete control over the curriculum, the reading list, and the academic appointments involved with the Bachelor of Western Civilisation.
If you're opposed to Sydney University joining up with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, please sign and share the petition here on our new campaign page. A petition signed by lots of people – staff,…
— Nick Riemer (@NickRiemer1)
Prior to this, the Australian National University pulled out of negotiations at the 11hour when its Vice-Chancellor cited concerns about academic autonomy following a very public and acrimonious pushback against the program from several ANU academics and the Tertiary Education Union.
* * *
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a University of St Andrews alumni drinks in Melbourne. The evening began promisingly enough. A smart bar hotel bar, eight individuals of various ages and occupations, gathered together with the prospect of a pleasant evening of reminiscing ahead. Amid the usual exchange of pleasantries, I discovered that my one of my fellow attendees was a senior university administrator. When he learnt that I am currently the Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation at the Institute of Public Affairs, I detected a slight look of discomfort. Any that might have existed at the commencement of the evening vanished as soon as he asked me what I thought about the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.
The rejection of a Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation is predicated on the absurd notion that anyone who wants to talk about or study Western Civilisation must be a white supremacist. In some academic circles, Western Civilisation is held responsible for all evils in the world, past, present and future.
“I think it is probably a sensible decision of ANU not to pursue negotiation in this regard because there's always going to be a much-slanted history that's about the superiority of the white race and not the devastation of the black race.” Dr Hannah McGlade
— ABC The Drum (@ABCthedrum)
Earlier this year, the Dean of Arts at Newcastle University wrote a piece for in which she stated that Western Civilisation is and that it’s too ‘white’ to teach in multi-cultural classrooms. The University of Sydney academics leading the charge, claim that the BA will “.’” At a National Tertiary Education Union forum, former University of Sydney chair, sociologist and gender theorist Raewyn Connell, told her audience that the curriculum “has racism embedded in its agenda.”
When I articulated to my fellow alumnus that I had not been surprised at the response from Australian universities—given the antipathy displayed towards Western Civilisation by many academics—he did not think this hostility to be a bad thing. When I added that I thought all students studying an undergraduate degree in history, or any humanities degree for that matter, should be required to do a foundation course in Western Civilisation, he was shocked and horrified. From his point of view, knowing about what happened during the Scientific Revolution or the Enlightenment is an irrelevancy and a waste of students’ time. For him, history is about ‘issues,’ not knowledge.
It was at this point that I realised that just how far universities, especially the humanities departments, have strayed from their original purpose. From the Renaissance until the 1960s, the humanities, derived from the expression ‘studia humanitatis’ or the study of humanity, made it their purpose to make sense of and understand the world through the great traditions of art, culture and philosophy. There appeared in the 1970s and 1980s however, a range of ‘new humanities’ subjects which rejected this tradition. The new humanities were underpinned by a range of radical post-structuralism and post-modernist theories which had been conjured up in the previous decade by a predominantly French group of philosophers such as Jacques Derrida, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, as well as the psychiatrist, Jacques Lacan.
The new humanities maintain that for the last 500 years, Western Civilisation has got it wrong when it comes to knowledge, truth and science. These fields tend to claim that both knowledge and truth are not absolute, but are relative. For example, there is no objective truth and truth is dependent on who is speaking it and in what context. Insofar as science is concerned, they claim that scientific theories don’t really provide us with what we could call knowledge but are actually “invented” rather than discovered.
History as a discipline best exemplifies the influence of the postmodernists and their ilk on the humanities. Many historians have enthusiastically embraced the idea that truth is no longer within the historian’s grasp and that it’s impossible to use history to add to knowledge about humankind. This is the kind of thing which would normally signal the death knell for any discipline, but historians have risen from the ashes and have forged for themselves a new purpose—the attainment of social justice.
This is not social justice in the Enlightenment sense, which meant equality before the law and equal rights, but social justice in the activist sense, where the ultimate goal is to achieve perfect equality by destroying ‘oppressive’ institutions and rearranging society. The historians’ new role is to tell the inequality narrative of the oppressed and the oppressor through the lens of class, gender, and race. Matthew A. Sears, associate professor of classics and ancient history at the University of New Brunswick believes that ancient Greek sculptures epitomise racism and white supremacy, and that history is “about politics,” it’s main purpose being to “better understand the human condition and shed light on questions of contemporary relevance.”
Partisans assail historians for judging the past by today’s standards. Here’s why they’re wrong—Even by the standards of their day, many heroes of Western civilization engaged in immoral acts, by and via
— GreekHistory Podcast (@greekhistorypod)
This approach has its origins in the nineteenth century, when Georg Hegel constructed his worldview of history into a narrative about stages of human freedom. His was the view that history was simply the process of moving towards the realisation of such freedom. Later that century, Karl Marx’s built on Hegel’s new paradigm with his theory of historical materialism, proposing that society’s productive capacity and social relations of production determined both its organisation and development.
Both Hegel and Marx essentially denied the role of individual human agency, treating the past as the product of inexorable forces and trends which were primarily of a material and economic nature. “Society” wrote Marx, “does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.’’
Karl Marx essentially created the template of identity politics for the study of history with his notion that human society is in a constant state of struggle and a zero-sum contest for power. In the 1960s, his model was adopted by British historian Eric Hobsbawm who deliberately re-wrote the history of the “long 19century” as being a century of class struggle. Hobsbawm successfully transformed history as an academic discipline into a vehicle for social policy.
Since the 1970s, historians have embraced Marx’s template and applied it to their own particular historical fields, re-writing the past from the point of view of class, gender, and race. These new histories have gradually replaced the traditional canon of historical subjects which once upon a time formed the basis of an undergraduate degree in history in Australia.
In 2017, a taught in Australian universities revealed that 244 of those subjects were devoted entirely to class, gender, and race. Many were a pastiche of identity politics in which the stunning complexity of the past is increasingly reduced to a very limited range of themes. Students at Melbourne University can take ‘A History of Sexualities’ in which they discuss “how the gendered body and sex have been simultaneously linked to social liberation and control.” At the Australian National University, students can consider “the concept of ‘race’ within the contexts of the development of scientific knowledge in ‘Human Variations and Racism in Western Culture, c. 1450-1950.” A keyword search of all the history subject descriptions taught in 2017 reveals that there were more instances of the words and than there are or
What is more, a perusal of the University of Sydney’s history faculty staff profiles reveals that 20 of the 32 staff have variously identified gender and sexuality, racial thought, women’s history and power as their current historical fixations. The left-wing leitmotifs of class, race, and gender have replaced the essential core subjects which explain the political, intellectual, social and material basis of the history of Western Civilisation.
This approach is not only boring and repetitive, it is fundamentally anti-intellectual. Students in Australia are not being given a “positive formation” by their universities, which is exactly what the Ramsay Centre is attempting to rectify. Instead, they are being taught a narrow, one-dimensional view of the world seen through the prism of identity, over a curious and inquiring three-dimensional view of the world which opens the mind.
Students studying the humanities are not only finishing their degrees with a distorted view of the world in which the past is viewed as a contest between the oppressors and the oppressed, but they are imposing this particular worldview on society as they find employment in schools, government, and the corporate world. These days, for example, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to work out where gender departments finish and governmental departments or the corporate world begin, so blurred are the lines between them.
Since the 1960s, universities have been leading their students fairly and squarely down a path of un-education, unlearning and enlightenment, and they should be called to account. Now these students, filled with an ideological fervor and driven by social justice, are leading the rest of society down the same path, whether society wants it or not.