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Academia and activism

August 04, 2007

Re: "Expelling academia's crackpots," Opinion, July 30

Although I disagree with his characterization of the 9/11 victims as "little Eichmanns," Ward Churchill should be defended against the "little McCarthys." According to Gregory Rodriguez, it was not enough for the University of Colorado to expel Churchill after a prolonged and open-ended fishing expedition. Better to do it because his ideas happen to be outside the political mainstream. In academia, as in the media, only those political views that fail to conform to today's sedate, bipartisan centrism are branded as "ideological." Meanwhile, the thought police of the Democratic and Republican establishment get to foment political witch hunts while pretending that they somehow stand above ideology. Rodriguez complains about the "presence of activists posing as scholars on college campuses." We are left to wonder about the activists posing as journalists in the media.

Emanuele Saccarelli

San Diego

The writer is an assistant professor of political science at San Diego State University.

Rodriguez proposes a radical solution to a small, old problem. Academic fraud has a rich history. The appropriate response to these problems is to refute them. This is the path that conservatives took in law schools through the Federalist Society. The remedies that conservatives seek in response to their concerns in colleges are quite different. They are promoting the closure of entire departments and starting groups in many universities to intimidate liberal professors. They never mention conservative crackpots. Once this infrastructure is in place, it is hard to control. This is a small problem that doesn't require such a drastic, dangerous solution.

Robert Lee Hotchkiss

San Diego

As a creature of the left, I wholeheartedly agree with Rodriguez, except on one point. I fail to see what's left-wing about identity politics, because it breaks up a natural working-class constituency into competing groups. The sooner the left abandons identity politics, the sooner it will have a mass following.

Charles Berezin

Los Angeles

If Rodriguez is right that we shouldn't tolerate "shoddy professors who can't sort fact from ideology . . . particularly at taxpayer expense," I have a more important question: Why are we taxpayers continuing to tolerate a U.S. president who obviously can't differentiate between fact and ideology?

J.D. Hunley

Rialto

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