Identity Politics

Oct 04, 2018 |  NAS

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Identity Politics

Oct 04, 2018 | 


In the Fall 2018 issue of Academic Questions, the special issue “Identity Politics,” our contributors examine the irony that the belief in universal ideals without cultural support has led to their disintegration. 

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Can We Talk? Life Under the Frankfurt Rules 
J. Scott Kenney, Memorial University of Newfoundland Robert Paquette, Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization Elizabeth Corey, Baylor University

Like many faculty today, J. Scott Kenney finds himself marginalized by the university’s current brand of social justice intolerance. Locating today’s violations of free speech and divisive identity politics in the writings of Frankfurt School doyen Herbert Marcuse, Kenney leads off this conversation with a warning to stand up to the “purveyors of false tolerance” before “our fragmented civilization loses all coherence.” The discussion is joined by Robert Paquette and Elizabeth Corey, who provide a somewhat different take on the influence of Marcuse and the origins of the current malaise.


Shedding Humanity, Shredding the Humanities
Anthony Esolen, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

An incident with a student provides the occasion for Anthony Esolen’s exposition of how identity politics has made humanities education nearly impossible and the “very notion of a common good nearly inconceivable.”


The Pathology of Identity Politics 
Nicholas Capaldi, Loyola University

Nicholas Capaldi contends that the practitioners of identity politics want to return the West to the immutable communities of the classical or medieval periods. People drawn to identity politics, he says, are “lost souls” who reject individualism and have failed to make the transition to modernity.


Diversity and Exclusion
George R. LaNoue, University of Maryland

Diversity is perhaps the most overworked phrase on university campuses today. It appears in mission statements, hiring documents, admissions criteria, course descriptions . . . in short, everywhere. Yet the term is ill-defined, and colleges make little attempt to engage the public about what it means. Owing to its myriad possible interpretations, diversity is easily used to favor specific political perspectives, resulting in the exclusion of those “non-diverse” students, faculty, and administrators who would offer campuses real viewpoint diversity.


Why are Nondiscrimination Statements Not Diverse? 
David Rozado, Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand Stephen Atkins, Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand

Employing a content analysis of mission, diversity, and non-discrimination statements of elite U.S. universities, David Rozado and Stephen Atkins find that remarkably few have explicit protections for viewpoint diversity, while racial diversity enjoys almost universal protection.


Disconnect: Kentucky and the Political Ideology of its Public Universities 
Ben Foster, University of Louisville

University campuses are often highly unrepresentative of the political jurisdictions in which they are located, a testament perhaps to higher education’s unwavering commitment to independent thought in a politically polarized country. This circumstance becomes less admirable, however, when colleges are publicly funded—ostensibly, a reflection of the public will—and are themselves deeply involved in partisan politics. Ben Foster’s analysis of political contributions shows not only that public university and college-affiliated donors in Kentucky lean heavily to the left, but that academic programs and policies of dubious educational value appear to flout the public will.


Disabling Academic Standards: Learning Disabilities and Time-and-a-Half Testing 
Joshua F. Drake, Grove City College

Efforts to accommodate people with disabilities at universities may be harming the integrity of college credentialing. Part of what colleges and universities report to future employers and graduate programs is a student’s innate ability to learn. Joshua Drake believes that time—to complete a degree or 248 S. Forman to take a test—is essential to academic evaluation and that by allowing time accommodations universities may not be providing an honest appraisal of a student’s abilities.


Argument by Epithet 
Mark Bauerlein, Emory University

Mark Bauerlein identifies a major shift in how the Left practices politics. In the 1980s and 1990s, leftists focused on convincing people that conservative ideas were products of “false consciousness” or mechanisms of oppression deployed by the privileged. Today, with leftism the veritable default position of our major institutions, the Left no longer bothers engaging conservative ideas, instead preferring the direct character assassination and personal vilification of conservatives themselves. Nowhere has this shift been more obvious than in the attacks on current U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.


Paul Loeb's Campus Takeover 
Mark Zunac, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater

Mark Zunac traces the insidious rise and surreptitious nature of the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP), the brainchild of 1960s radical Paul Rogat Loeb. Sold to colleges and universities as little more than a program that encourages civic engagement and responsible citizenship through electoral participation, Zunac exposes CEEP as a tool for electing Democrats and pushing progressive policy goals.


Measuring Sexual Assault on Campus: The Clery Report Challenge 
Dan Subotnik, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center at Touro College

Dan Subotnik’s careful dissection of the most widely used surveys on campus sexual assaults indicates that the problem might be something less than the scourge it is often portrayed as. In particular, Subotnik’s analysis of data from reports arising from the “Clery Act,” the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, may even provide cause for optimism.


International Student Recruitment Abuses 

Craig Evan Klafter, American University of Myanmar

International students often provide U.S. colleges and universities with excellent academic talent and real diversity. But Craig Evan Klafter believes that many U.S. campuses have begun to see these students as commodities, relying on the revenue they bring to fill continually expanding budget gaps. Unfortunately, Klafter writes, “Some have compromised academic standards and skirted accreditation requirements to recruit those students.”


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