Monday, March 13, 2006

Idiot Non-issue

Jay Bennish returns to teaching today. For those of you not following the news lately, Jay Bennish is a high school teacher in Colorado who teaches World Geography. During a class after President Bush's State of the Union address, Bennish declared:

"He started off his speech talking about how America should be the country that dominates the world. That we have been blessed essentially by God to have the most civilized, most advanced, best system and that it is our duty as Americans to use the military to go out into the world and make the whole world like us.

Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler use to say.

We're the only ones who are right. Everyone else is backwards. And it's our job to conquer the world and make sure they live just like we want them to.

Now, I'm not saying that Bush and Hitler are exactly the same. Obviously, they are not. OK. But there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use. Very, very 'ethnocentric.' We're right. You're all wrong."

Turns out that one of his students taped his presentation. The student told his father about it, and then his father shopped the tape to the conservative radio talk shows and the Faux News Channel (sorry, the Fox News Channel).

Needless to say, the conservative punditry went ballistic, to the degree that the school board put Bennish on administrative leave with pay. Sean Hannity, in particular, went crazy (or more crazy, I guess). He called for Bennish to be fired for "comparing our President to Hitler in a time of war." He had the student, Sean Allen, on his radio show and TV show multiple times. He praised Allen for making the biggest contribution to education in years because all the left-wing teachers know that their comments will be taped and made public.

Fortunately, more rational heads prevailed, and, much to the chagrin of the right-wing chatterers, Bennish was reinstated.

Still, the episode is frightening because it is the latest in a trend of academic McCarthyism. David Horowitz, a former member of the New Left who has now travelled the country trying to get state legislatures to mandate the hiring of more conservative faculty and teachers, just published a book through conservative book publisher Regnery entitled The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Acedemics in America. In it, Horowitz argues that U.S. universities are run by left-wingers -- 50,000 of them, as he claimed on "Hannity and Colmes" -- and here are the 101 most dangerous of them. Horowitz has little evidence on which to back up his claims, but, in the conservative world, evidence is far less important than how often and how loud you can make the charge.

The problem is, if you repeat the Big Lie long and loud enough, people begin to believe it.


Blogger dscar said...

I agree that the situation is a non-issue. I also agree that, if the transcript is correct, then Bennish certainly didn't say anything on the tape that was off-the-wall.

I'm inclined to give a head-nod to the possibility that Bennish probably mentioned something at earlier times that prompted the student to bring a recorder to class in the first place. Nevertheless, with what we have in front of us Hannity's approach does appear to be a bit... extreme.

Now, having said that, there is a problem with liberal biases in classrooms. There is a severe lack of diversity in political ideologies in academia as a whole (that irony is not lost on many people).

College administrations and administrators have institutionalized insane liberal policies that, quite frankly, legitimize a lot of junk science in areas such as Environmentalism, Gender and Race Studies, to name a few.

Horowitz, for his part, is an asshole of the highest order. He is, however, correct on a lot of things. The unchecked liberalism that runs rampant through academic administrative policies is, I'm afraid, one of them.

In this case, though, I'm glad that Bennish is back at work.

3:59 AM  

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