Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Firing of Ward Churchill...

...was long overdue and is entirely fitting. Hank Brown, president of the University of Colorado, explains his decision to fire Churchill (at last):
Controversy -- especially self-sought controversy -- doesn't immunize a faculty member from adhering to professional standards. If you are a responsible faculty member, you don't falsify research, you don't plagiarize the work of others, you don't fabricate historical events and you don't thumb your nose at the standards of the profession. More than 20 of Mr. Churchill's faculty peers from Colorado and other universities found that he committed those acts. That's what got him fired.
Precisely. As I once wrote, apropos l'affaire Churchill,
[e]ducators are paid not only to educate but also to educate well. Perhaps the Churchill affair will serve as a reminder that gratuitous titillation isn't education.
But l'affaire Churchill holds a broader lesson than that:
[A]lthough Ward Churchill and his ilk are despicable human beings, I don't care what they say as much as I care that they represent what seems to pass for "thought" in large segments of the academic community. Clearly, universities are failing in their responsibility to uphold academic standards. Left-wing blather isn't knowledge, it's prejudice and hate and adolescent rebellion, all wrapped up in a slimy package of academic pretentiousness.

The larger marketplace of ideas counteracts much of what comes out of universities -- in particular the idiocy that emanates from the so-called liberal arts and social sciences. But that's no reason to continue wasting taxpayers' money on ethnic studies, gender studies, and other such claptrap. State legislatures can and should tell State-funded universities to spend less on liberal arts and social sciences and spend more on the teaching of real knowledge: math, physics, chemistry, engineering, and the like. That strikes me as a reasonable and defensible stance.

It isn't necessary for State legislatures to attack particular individuals who profess left-wing blather. All the legislatures have to do is insist that State-funded schools spend taxpayers' money wisely, by focusing on those disciplines that advance the sum of human knowledge. Isn't that what universities are supposed to do?
Yes, it is.