clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Hey, so remember how I was talking about critical authority? And how I'm declaring that I have it now? Well, it doesn't just apply to music, no no no. it also extends to politics. And with this in mind, let me present the first in what might be a series, which will be called assume the position, in which I will explain how you should think about a certain political issue. This one will be about retardedly anti-Israel professors.

As is seemingly always the case when it comes to Israel, both sides are being idiots. On the one hand, as is suggested by the way I put the topic, the professors are just being stupid, basing their positions in a kind of kneejerk anti-Americanism, and then presenting them based on a (I hope) consciously innaccurate view of Israel, blaming the country as an entity where it's far more sensible to say, "maybe we shouldn't be quite so strenuously supporting quite so murderous a particular political leader." And we won't even get into the whole romantic notion of the PLO issue right now, because that's not really the point. There seems to be more than enough evidence in the film of professors saying things that are just straightforwardly wrong, and beyond that, of taking an extremist position in a situation where neither extreme seems like a particularly sensible place to be; that there's no moral center anymore in that conflict is a huge part of the problem.

On the other hand, the students need to stop being such goddamn pussies. Look, folks, argue back. If you don't have the courage to oppose stupid ideas, you don't really belong in college. And beyond that, don't say the professors should be fired, because then you're saying someone should be fired for their political beliefs, and you realize that's a bad idea, right? There's a reason we have tenure, and as soon as you start getting rid of it, it will very quickly go the opposite way, and you'll end up in a situation much like the one we seem to have in public schools right now where talking about politics is verboten, and that seems like just a really bad idea for an institution of higher learning.

So should you want to assume the position, here's what it is:

  • The professors are/were being morons. Not only are their positions wrong, they are expressing them in highly unprofessional and anti-intellectual ways.
  • But they should not be fired, because that would be firing someone for their political beliefs, and that's a bad idea.
  • In the future, hiring and tenure committees should be aware of this problem, and try not to hire and/or give tenure to professors that have dumbass political beliefs and express them in ways that are dictatorial rather than open to debate. [REVISION: They should do this if students at the particular university can convincingly, intelligently, and calmly make the case that the committees should do this, or course, not just reflexively. Also, this is not to say that professors should be rejected for their political views, just that if they're bad teachers or lazy thinkers--which behaviors it sure seems like some of the professors at Columbia are exhibiting--they probably shouldn't be hired or retained, because that ain't good no matter what the subject. While ideally a professor would take a moderate view of the situation, certainly both the mainly pro-Israel and mainly pro-Palestinian cases can be made with a modicum of intelligence and respect, and as long as they can do this, fair enough.]
  • Students should be aware of these tendencies in certain profs and should avoid their classes if this bothers them.
  • Remember that there is no place in the entire universe more sensitive about difference than colleges, and if you can't cut it there, you delicate little flower, do you really think you're going to be able to change the world? [REVISION: Plus, both sides could really stand to remember that students aren't brainless automatons, either, and are fully capable of not agreeing with their professors, no matter what crazy-ass beliefs they espouse. I know a few professors who can attest to this, although in their cases it would be nice if the damn kids would actually learn something.]

  • Future topics include malpractice insurance and, oh I dunno, cucumbers.