IDEOLOGICAL INDOCTRINATION: That's what's happening at American University's School of International Service, where so many classes are forums for teaching anti-Israel, anti-US ideology, instead of presenting an objective curricula. I was scanning through all the assigned books for the scheduled Fall 2002 classes, and even I was shocked to see the precious few number of genuine scholarly works. I was so frustrated after making this query -- I mean, a lot of people's political opinions come into fruition in college -- that I decided to write a letter to the school's dean, Lou Goodman. Below is the letter:
Dear Dr. Goodman:
Ever since enrolling in an SIS (School of International Service) class last year, I have become painfully aware of the ideological bias prevalent within the department. Classes on conflict resolution and cross-cultural communication predominate, preferring to emphasize the optimistic view of global relations over the realpolitik. Textbooks by the leftist professors Edward Said and John Esposito are often assigned, rarely counterbalanced by their ideological and scholarly opposites, such as Bernard Lewis. A friend of mine had a (adjunct) SIS professor who proudly labeled herself with every radical ideology out there, from Marxism to "vegetarianism." I had my own eye-opening experience with the school.
In my "Analysis of Foreign Policy" class last fall semester, I was informed by Professor Philip Brenner on Sept. 6 that "perhaps Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are only bad from a Western perspective. Think about it." Five days later, 9-11 transpired yet Prof. Brenner insisted that, as tragic an event as this was, clearly the US had performed equal acts of terror in recent history. I withdrew two days later.
The latest travesty comes from a course titled "International Relations of the Middle East I" (SIS-571). The course sounds innocuous enough, until you note the professor teaching the course is Clovis Maksoud, a virulent opponent of anything Israel and former head of the Arab League -- hardly a body of democracies. Whether you agree with his views or not, I find it hard to believe that a man with his background could objectively teach about the Middle East without propagandizing. Clearly, you are aware of his background and clearly any reasonable person would not expect him to be an appropriate professor to teach about international relations in the Middle East, considering Israel plays such a huge role in that topic.
As dean of the school, it is your prerogative to set curriculum, hire teachers, and create an agenda as you see fit. If an unbalanced, ideologically-tinged curricula is what you deem appropriate, it is entirely within your role to see it implemented. But, as an educator, it should be your responsibility to ensure that all students are getting a fair and balanced curricula, free of the ideology prevalent in other areas of society. It's fine for professors to have their individual views and to share them with the class, when appropriate. But it's not acceptable when their views become the curriculum for the class.
At one time, I considered transferring into SIS, hoping to learn about the power politics that affect foreign policy throughout the world. I hoped to read primary and secondary
source material from a wide range of sources, so I could formulate my own ideas about the workings of the world. Sadly, this wasn't the case. My personal idealism is over, dampened by the harsh reality of what passes for academia in the School of International Service.
Josh Kraushaar, junior/CAS
Seeing as how I am a double major in Economics and Law, the following is of particular concern.
The economics department doesn't have that much better of a record. Out of the eight microeconomics sections being taught at American U, five of them include textbooks by Chomsky, Roy and another Chomskyite -- none of them professional economists and radical leftists to boot! And microeconomics is a prerequisite for all economics majors.
Luckily, I was never indoctrinated by Chomsky or his idiot followers, and instead had the good fortune of reading books written by economists without an agenda. (Go figure, right Chomsky?)
For those who aren't aware, Noam Chomsky is a former linguist who advocates what is essentially a welfare state, and is somewhat of a Socialist himself. However, he enjoys the fortunes of capitalism as he owns four boats and several luxury cars as has been well documented on the blog, Little Green Footballs.
I guess Noam needs those boats and luxury cars more than his Socialist friends do.