AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: Been There, Done That DATE: 2/28/2005 09:46:00 AM ----- BODY:
Mary Corey might be fun to listen to and even to look at. But as a professor hired to teach all students and not just radicals, she is despicable. Her extreme leftwing bias is not subdued or contextualized or even labeled as opinion. It moves her every word and justifies her every story. There is no way of getting around it. Corey is neither a scholar nor an academic who appreciates the splendor and complexity of history—of comparing sources and contrasting theories, of trying to understand the vast mosaic of the human narrative. She is an ideologue. And she doesn’t care. After all, she has the podium and a captive audience, and the grading power to intimidate. “God forbid I’m one of those professors that pushes her views on her students,” she says sarcastically. And the student captives laugh. (by a UCLA student in Front Page Magazine)
You should've heard the awful silence every time I questioned an opinion on the part of a professor. Especially a female professor in the English department. We're taking a course on American Literature. A survey course. You know, bedrock stuff. Nathaniel Hawthorne, et al. We're reading a book called No-No Boy, which is about the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. I shared with the class a comment by my grandfather after Sept. 11--he was a World War II veteran, part of the "Greatest Generation," and he told me, "This is worse than Pearl Harbor. At least the Japs (sic) used their own goddamn planes. And it's going to be your generation that has to carry the weight of this." I shared it in part because I thought it was an interesting and insightful comment, one that shed light on the human shortcomings of any generation in wartime--after all, if the slack-jawed, Mtv-reared masses of our generation are expected to cope with Sept. 11, how much confidence can we have in our judgements of the WWII generation's decisions?--but also because I knew it would send my professor through the roof. I had reached the point where my outrage had congealed past ennui and into open antagonism. "Beth. You understand of course that what your grandfather said was incredibly racist," the professor said with a strange mixture of pity and anger in her tone. "Your grandfather was being a racist when he said that." Blow it out your ass, lady. I've had enough of your agenda. Same with the TA I mentioned in my post about Tupac, the one who told us that white people shouldn't listen to rap and hip-hop or any other kind of so-called "black music". This same TA and I also argued over Eminem, and the TA's contention was that Eminem was ok because he was managed by a black man, i.e., Dr. Dre, and therefore a white performer was being exploited by a black producer and not the other way around. I'll give you a few minutes so you can figure that one out. You may want to use some scrap paper. Same with the advisor I had, another English professor whom I loved and who gave me great guidance, but still entrapped me in a truly terrible and mystifying conversation in the course of picking out my classes for the next semester about how "as soon as I left the safety of college, I was going to encounter rampant mysogyny," and that "I would someday be discriminated against because of the shape of my genitals." And I thought, er, I thought we were talking about whether to take ENG 491B or C. This is to say nothing of my fellow students, and their political agendas. Thing is, this kind of political skewing and in-class indoctrination happens from the other side of the social spectrum at a place like Bob Jones University, and there is a general outcry. It happens from the opposite end at UCLA or UMass, and well, that's just college. My outrage basically stemmed from the fact that in general, I abhor evangelism of any kind. And whether Christian or radical, evangelism is the same throughout the political spectrum: someone who thinks they have the answer and wants to make it yours. I frankly see no difference between the radical kind and the Christian kind, and both offend me. What I wanted to say to so many of these professors is, if I wanted to discuss issues of social justice, racial oppression, economic disparities among class groups, the American capitalist society, etc., this university has a rich body of offerings through various departments that give me just such an opportunity. However, I am in this course because I had assumed it was about the history of the American novel or about Ernest Hemingway. The way I saw it, I was paying for every minute I spent in a college classroom (or, more accurately, my parents were). And if someone was discussing with me in a course that had been described as concerning some aspect of literature whether or not my grandfather was a racist bastard or whether or not the color of my skin should inform my musical choices, I considered it a case of false advertising, and a ripoff, period. It's not that I don't think politics inform most aspects of our daily lives. It's not even that I disagreed so much with a lot of what was said. But I believe there is a time and a place for political debate, and "ENG 200H: Introduction to English Literature" is probably not one of them.
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