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Students Are Not Blank Slates

September 30, 2002

Re "The Battle to Win Hearts and Minds Has to Begin at Home," Commentary, Sept. 26: How often must we go down this road? The U.S. has been educating its citizens in colleges and universities for how long? And how many of these deluded and leftist graduates are aligned with our enemies? Really, Norah Vincent and Lynne Cheney are a hoot. Apparently, I and my neighbors were able to withstand the insidious indoctrination and get good corporate jobs, start businesses and achieve positions in the professions. Additionally, we are mortgaged to the eyeballs while trying earnestly to pay for our kids' college educations. We buy computers and cars and shop, shop, shop. I'm scratching my head as I look around and try to figure out who among us are the moles these dear ladies seem to fear.

I always thought colleges and universities crowded out stuff like U.S. history to make room for business courses. Did it occur to the dear ladies that if the curriculum should suddenly reaccommodate the history department, just maybe the outcome would be something other than what they envision? Or will history professors have to pass muster with the ministry of truth? Sounds like that is the agenda if Lynne Cheney gets her way. I think most of us aspire to the American dream, and once we are out of school and making our way in the very conservative world of the middle class it is good to know that there was a time in our lives when we could explore the alternatives. Hands off, ladies.

Kurt Mueller

Costa Mesa

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What is most disturbing about Vincent's commentary is not its tacit endorsement of another round of McCarthyite witch hunts of college faculty, but rather her assumption that college students are docile, blank slates waiting to be "indoctrinated" by their professors. I taught college for several years, and I can assure Vincent that my students, from Indiana to California to New York City, tended to be far more conservative than I am. It's telling that Vincent gives statistics on the political leanings of faculty but not students. If students are being indoctrinated by leftist professors, where are all these brainwashed college graduates who hate America?

Students take courses in college to learn about the subject matter. They are perfectly capable of recognizing that a professor, say, of physics, has no particular expertise in politics, and they are able to disregard any political comments that instructor might make. Vincent's contempt for young people, under the paternalistic guise of "protecting" them, is stunning.

Kenneth Brewer

Goleta

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Vincent is agitated because a very high percentage of the professors in our best universities are liberals. She should think again about what her data are telling her. If highly educated, well-informed people are rejecting libertarian conservatism, Vincent should ask herself: "What is wrong with conservatism that such learned people reject it?" Self-analysis can be more useful than criticism.

Porter Ewing

Van Nuys

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