Sunday, January 10, 2010

Television Learning, “Disrespect”, and the U.S. Psyche: The Unlikely Discourse

I recently had the misfortune of attending Baldwin-Wallace College. Baldwin-Wallace is a private school that costs roughly $30,000 per year to attend. The school has been named as one of the top 15 schools in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report for the entirety of the last 10 years. Its considered to be an iconic “liberal arts college.” It’s the kind of college that is considered to be the ideal school for a child of the middle class in the United States.

In addition to preparing its students for a career, the college is also “training us how to think.” Among it courses offered at the institution is a course with the call number LAS 150, entitled “Enduring Questions for an Inter-Cultural World.”

Though it is historically affiliated with the Methodist Church, the college is definitely not a “Christian College” or a “Bible College.” The campus appears to be quite liberal on its surface, with a strong LGBT organization, and policy of non-discrimination for that community. The college has also hosted various well-known leftist speakers such as Michael Eric Dyson and Noam Chomsky. Cornel West is slated to appear at B-W in the spring.

If one were to believe what the likes of David Horowitz print in his books such as “The Professors” and “One Party Classroom”, I, a young Marxist-Leninist should have been in paradise. The courses in Sociology, History, Political Science, Psychology, should all have been indoctrination in the teachings of Marx, Lenin, and Mao.

According to media, and many of the students who attend Baldwin-Wallace, it has a “liberal bias.” Supposedly Professors are pushing a “radical leftist agenda” down the throats of students.

My experiences in attending the college for 4 years will tell a very different tale.

The English Language is Biased?

First, I will start with a field that is specifically non-political. Having tested out of the introductory English course, I was moved to take the only remaining required course in the department. I took “Introduction to Argument and Exposition.” This course was supposed to teach students how to frame arguments clearly, and make logical arguments for our beliefs. The course was slated as being a place to learn how to write persuasive texts and make a case for one’s political beleifs.

Seems fine.

The course was taught by a middle-aged adjunct faculty member. She began the course by proclaiming to her students: “One of my goals in this course is convince you to think more like a Libertarian.”

When she learned that I was a Communist she seemed to think this was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Countless classes were spent not discussing English, writings styles, but rather with the class frustratedly listening to attempts to argue me out of my political beliefs via “argumentuam ad nausem”, a forensic technique in which one makes the same arguments non-stop, manipulating their opponent into attempting to refute the point in as many ways as possible.

One wonders what the response would have been if the Professor had begun the course saying “My goal in this course is to make you think more like a Communist.” One also wonders what would have happened if a student was interrogated about being a right-wing Christian during the course material.

Even the content and structure of the course was a bit bizarre. Rather than teach us how to write articles, and frame arguments as the course was slated, instead each class we read and discussed an article from the Atlantic Monthly. We of course, did not discuss the syntax, diction, rhetorical techniques etc. of the articles. Contrarily, we discussed the political ideas expressed in the articles, and exactly how they were wrong or right according to our Professor’s limited “Libertarian” viewpoint.

We also read a certain book as if it were some kind of ground-breaking manifesto, that being the book On Paradise Drive by right-wing New York Times Columnist David Brooks. In this lovely text I learned that all leftist arguments against capitalism are based on an inherent dislike of “McDonalds, Barnes and Noble, and Boob Jobs.” I also learned in Brooks work that the rural areas of the U.S. are good because the inhabitants are not intimidated and afraid to express “God Talk” in language. Ironically, Brooks also took a chapter to explain to me why the college I was studying was dominated by “radical” and “Marxist” professors.

The Professor rambled numerous times about how the U.S. was breaking down as we moved away from the great capitalist system and suppressed the rights of the individual for the good of the collective. I would have learned more than I did in this course, if I had stayed home and downloaded and audio-book of Atlas Shrugged and napped with it is as background music.

I learned very little about “Argument and Exposition.” Contrarily, I learned about how to defend my beliefs in a hostile environment. I also learned how to be hated by your fellow classmates because you won’t just “shut up” and be indoctrinated.

Political Un-Science

Of few leftists I met at B-W, most were in the political science, my major. These leftist professors was hell-bent on not appearing “too liberal” or “indoctrinating his beliefs.” I recall how countless times Professors nearly begged students to argue you with them in order to present “balance.” However, they were met with silence.

Though, from conversation later, I learned that their student evaluations were filled with angry rants about how the course was “liberal propaganda.”

I signed up for one course called “Gender and Law.” The Professor was an adjunct who practiced law. She informed us that the course would educate us as to how “the reforms to family law of the 1960s have hurt men, women, and children by destroying the sacred institution of the family.” She also reassured us that “this isn’t going to be one of those feminist courses where we learn about how evil men are.” At least had the common sense to drop such a course, seeing that I would learn very little. At the time I took this course, I learned it was considered to be a “Diversity” course.

In the numerous courses I took in which we learned about Marxist ideas, rarely did Marxists get to speak for themselves. Occasionally we would read selections from the early philosophical writings of Karl Marx. When studying comparative governmental structures we never read the key book The State and Revolution which lays out the basis for a Marxist-Leninist State.

In one case we learned about the political system of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by watching a piece from the TV program 60 Minutes. The piece did not interview a single Pro-DPRK person, or government official from the regime. The piece was a one sided attack on the DPRK.

When I called the piece biased in our follow up discussion, I was loudly told by a fellow student in the back of classroom that I was “brainwashed.” The attitude seemed to be “How could any sane person not see a 60 Minutes documentary that interviews only people from a single perspective as anything but honest journalism, dignified scholarship, and irrefutable truth?”

In some of the more theoretical political courses, I got to read the writings of John Locke, as well as Thomas Hobbes. It seems that the age old debate of “capitalist democracy v. monarchial feudalism” rages hard through B-W’s hallowed halls. Perhaps B-W can be transformed into a tourist attraction or a museum spot for young people.

School children can be brought to B-W to listen when learning about the late 1700s.

The teacher can even narrate for the kids:

“Listen Children, these are the very debates they were having in the time of Thomas Jefferson and Jean-Paul Marat. Listen to how good these actors are, that they can keep a straight face while acting as if this a ‘profound discussion’ about whether serfdom should continue or not.”

Historical Lies

If one reads how Colleges and Universities are portrayed, one would expect that our only textbooks were the works of Howard Zinn and Herbert Apetheker.

Contrarily, in the two courses I took in history, the opposite was the case.

The most frustrating course I had was the course in the History of Europe from 1790-1940. I learned among other things that the French Revolution was a crime against humanity with no historical purpose, that Charles Darwin invented “race theory”, and every minute detail about Adolph Hitler one can imagine.

No other political party in Germany other than the NDSAP was ever mentioned. The Spanish Civil War, for the purposes of the course, never happened. Neither did the Paris Commune of 1871, the mass revolutions of 1848, the German revolt of 1918, the Irish Struggle for Independence, or many of the events that might bare a mention in a 3.00 course.

I did learn that “Socialism” was invented by Robert Owen, and had “hatred of religion” as one of its key concepts. I also learned Marie Antoinette was a victim of the brutal rabble of uneducated French buffoons, and the same about Czar Nicholas’ family in Russia.

I learned that Hitler’s Germany was an economic success, but that the USSR was a hellhole worthy of nothing but two slides of starving Ukrainians with no analysis whatsoever of the context of such events.

Learning Without Thinking...

Were their liberals and leftists at B-W? Oh yes. In Philosophy, Art History, Political Science, and Sociology one could find quite a few leftists. However, they were apologetic for their views, and very reluctant to let them be known in class. Nearly every statement or presentation of any leftist material was followed by a lengthy apology and request for conservative material to counter such views.

I wish the Libertarian English Professor or the Jerry Falwell Worshipping Law Professor had the same apologetic and unnecessary openness to criticism as the few apologetic Marxists.

Is this small liberals arts college supposed to be a Socialist Propaganda school? If that’s the case, who needs Bob Jones University. One can get a full education about the war on the family, the evil Bolshevik plots against America, the Darwinian roots of Racism, the personal details of Hitler’s sex life, and the need for U.S. expansion at an accredited institution in the Midwest.

Glenn Beck need not “fear for the Republic” any longer. The Universities he loathes for teaching the merits of John Maynard Keynes, still teach the evils of Marxism and Revolution, and their predecessor, Free Thought and non-conforming ideas.

Keep in mind that the classes I took at Baldwin-Wallace were in the “liberal” fields of the humanities and social sciences. I shiver at the thought of what one would learn in the famed Business classes. Through word of mouth I have learned that the merits of the Taft-Hartley Law and proof that Obama is a Socialist are in some of the curriculum.

Yet, the students at this college all walk around saying “This is a very liberal college.” To so many of them “Liberal” means that Marxist ideas are even presented as viable. The college is “liberal” because it wasn’t a FOX news presentation 24/7.

This says a lot of frightening things. This shows that the discourse in the Colleges and Universities is not only far from liberal, but it is under attack despite its extreme anti-Marxist and anti-leftist slant.

The fact that so many thought the college was “so liberal” is a frightening thing.

Also, the primary enforcers of the closed mindedness were not the faculty, but the students. I learned that most of the students at the college hate debate in any form in class. They disliked the idea of challenging ideas presented by Professors.

I was told verbatim on numerous occasions by fellow students that “disagreeing with a professor is disrespectful.” The idea of so many students raising disagreement with a professor was immoral. I heard countless times from my fellow students that Professors are “smarter than us” and “have the degree.” Students badly disliked anyone who forced them to do anything other than sit an being indoctrinated with whatever the views of a professor are.

Even the conservative students who disagreed with a Professor from the right never argued with them. Countless times I heard statements in support of Gay Marriage, in support of Abortion Rights, etc. from “liberal professors” and never a peep from conservative students.

Though they wrote angry rants about being propagated to in their evaluations, rarely if ever did a see a defense of right-wing ideas in class except from professors. Even my leftist comments were never argued with by my fellow classmates. Rather, I simply got bizarre hateful e-mails, and childish rumor mongering in response to my “disrespect.”

This is why U.S. society is the way it is. We train children from their youth to shut their mouths and their minds. Children are taught not to “talk back” to their parents. In Elementary School Academic Standards we learn that “authority figures only want to keep us safe.” On TV we learn about how protesters are insane and crazy for speaking out against the government.

We have learned to treat ideas like we treat television. One cannot argue with a TV program, as it cannot hear you. One can only sit and watch it drone on, and “learn” from it. Perhaps is the only thing that can save the mind of U.S. population.

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