Backlash: Sometimes It Hurts So Good

NAS Responds to the AAUP

Peter Wood

The left wing press and its allied organizations seldom pay much attention to the National Association of Scholars (NAS). They typically pay attention to those whom they classify as “right wing” only when those miscreants rattle the status quo. In the world of higher education that is not so easy. The left has such deeply-entrenched dominance that the status quo sits in place like the Great Pyramid of Giza. Yet the recent pro-Hamas rallies and encampments; the recent de-campment of Claudine Gay and others who made a practice of signing their names to other peoples’ work; the recent revelations of medical schools and science departments that have compromised their fundamental missions in favor of racial preferences; the decision last year by the Supreme Court to strike down the biased admissions policies of Harvard and UNC; Florida’s conspicuous rejection of the whole woke regime and similar steps in a dozen other states—all of this has led to a growing apprehension that the peace and security of the leftist regime in higher education may be a little more fragile than its supporters have long supposed.

I am not among those who think the Great Pyramid is on the verge of collapse. Yes, the American public is getting weary of it and it faces both demographic and financial challenges, but Pharaoh Khufu can rest in peace for a while longer.

Still it is heartening that the New York Times recently called me for a comment on a Harvard story. That’s new. What is even more heartening is that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) just published a 145-page report warning of the terrible things that conservatives might do to the sacred grove. It is titled Manufacturing Backlash: Right-Wing Think Tanks and Legislative Attacks on Higher Education, 2021–2023 and was authored by the AAUP’s Director, of the Center for the Defense of Academic Freedom, Isaac Kamola. I don’t know Isaac, but he is identified on the Trinity College website as an associate professor of political science. His interests include “the political economy of higher education, African anticolonial theory, and critical globalization studies.” He published Making the World Global: US Universities and the Production of the Global Imaginary in 2019 and Free Speech and Koch Money in 2021.

Isaac, I welcome your attention to our work and that of allied organizations. Manufacturing Backlash has some small errors of fact when it comes to NAS, but I realize you had a lot on your hands and I don’t expect perfection. My bigger complaint is that you devoted barely more than a page to the National Association of Scholars while showering other organizations with generous helpings of odium. You missed something here. NAS is indeed a relatively low-profile organization but we are far more insidious than you realized. We are the folks who invented Proposition 209 in California, the ballot referendum that took down racial preferences in the Golden State in 1996.

We have been a significant player in every important effort to rid the law of Justice Powell’s 1978 diversity decision. We are the folks who blew the whistle on the Chinese Communist Party’s Confucius Institutes and other efforts to insinuate itself in American universities. We played a quiet but considerable role in laying out the case against Claudine Gay. We have undermined the leftist status quo in higher education for decades with the persistence of Morlocks. You really should be more alarmed about us than you are. Not that I’m going to hand you the goods on a silver platter.

But I do want to thank you for raising the alarm. No doubt this will be mutually beneficial. You can help the AAUP stir some fretful concern about the woke faculty. And you can help NAS and its allies show that the left is, if not yet panicked by our incursions, at least sufficiently worried to call us out.

Let me know if I can help. I’d hate for this new AAUP report to fall like most other AAUP reports into the oblivions of public indifference.

Photo by sharafmaksumov on Adobe Stock

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