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Mitch Daniels vs. Howard Zinn. Daniels Wins.

July 20th, 2013 - 3:47 am

Did former governor, now university president, Mitch Daniels seek to censor the late Howard Zinn, a Communist prof who wrote the anti-American bestseller A People’s History of the United States? No, but that’s what the  AP suggested. “Mitch Daniels looked to censor opponents,” ran the headline. “[E]mails obtained by The Associated Press show Daniels went out of his way during his second term as governor to destroy what he considered liberal breeding grounds at Indiana’s public universities.” The second bit appears to be true. And congratulations to Mitch Daniels for his efforts at swamp-clearing. Public universities should not be breeding grounds for any ideology, Left or Right.

The AP writer doesn’t get that, of course.  But it’s important that more dispassionate souls recognize that there is no connection between Mitch Daniels’s effort to depoliticize the university system in Indiana — a task that, given the ideological complexion of American higher education, meant showing leftists (the AP calls them “liberal,” but actually they are illiberal leftists) the door — there is no connection, I say, between that effort and the “censorship” he was alleged to have been engaged in.

The AP story is a sort of hit job, intended to discredit Daniels, who is coming up for his six-month review as head of Purdue University. Its actual effect, on me, anyway, was to increase my already high esteem for the man. Here is a chap that not only saved the state of Indiana from the fiscal nightmare that leftist-run states like Illinois and Michigan are suffering (remember Detroit?), but he is also someone who can spot a Communist fraud at 100 paces and isn’t afraid to say that left-wing propaganda is not the same as history and should not be purveyed as such on the taxpayer’s dime. Zinn’s book, wrote Daniels in one of those emails, “is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.” That’s exactly right.  Also right were Daniels’s efforts to remove it from the curriculum: “Can someone assure me,” he asked “that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”

Turns out it was being taught at Indiana University, but that’s hardly a surprise. Zinn’s exercise in anti-American agit-prop — the historian Oscar Handlin called it a  “deranged fairy tale” — is far and away the bestselling book of American history in the country. It has sold more than 2 million copies and is used in high schools and colleges across the country. Again, Daniels’s response was spot on: “This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session.” (Readers interested in a fuller version of my take on Zinn can find it in this piece for National Review.)

Note well, Daniels doesn’t say Zinn’s book oughtn’t to be allowed to be published. He doesn’t want to censor the book. He merely says it shouldn’t be taught as history.  He would, I’d wager, say the same thing about The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  And he’d be right.

The Left is skirling that Mitch Daniels wants to deny academic freedom. No, he wants to support it. But he understands that academic freedom is not a license to engage in political propaganda. It is the freedom to pursue the truth. This is a point that Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, gets exactly right.  “Academic freedom,” Wood writes in a column on the controversy for The Chronicle of Higher Education,  ”is a principle that thrives only when it is sturdily woven together with academic responsibility. That’s what Daniels in his plain-speaking e-mails called for.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Capitalism is a pejorative Marxist term for something best known as the free market. It's not a theory at all. It's the way things work when government stays out of people's lives except to do the things that only goverment is capable of. The fact that you repeat such nonsense tells me that the influence of Zinn et al remains as pervasive and disruptive as ever. Did you read this article or do you just like to spout this nonsense regardless of the facts?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is merely the end game of cultural marxism's march through education. When there's nothing left but moral relativism, there's literally nothing left. The personal becomes political and vice versa,all view points are equally valid so end the end none are anything more than the individuals perception. Of course they never try it out with something like gravity, at least not successfully, but it allows "teaching" by anecdote as opposed to serious course work.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“Objectivity is impossible, and it is also undesirable. That is, if it were possible it would be undesirable” (Howard Zinn).

"Postmodernism maintains only that there can be no independent standard for determining which of many rival interpretations of an event is the true one." (Stanley Fish; "Condemnation Without Absolutes" 10/15/01 NYT)

If true, then how does anyone know anything? How does one *know,* for instance, that academic freedom is here being impinged? How does anyone even know what the concept, 'censorship' means? Or even the concept 'knowledge'?

Indeed, the really fundamental question here is how did Zinn and how does Fish *know* that objectivity is impossible and that truth is subjective?

The answer is provided by Fish: "Instead, we can and should invoke the particular lived values that unite us and inform the institutions we cherish and wish to defend."

How do they *know* that?

For Kantian nihilist Zinn, truth is impossible; for Dewey pragmatist Fish, truth is impossible, but can be replaced--asserted, actualized, whatever--by consensus.

Now I wonder if what they're saying is, well, um, er, true.

PS. Truth is the correspondence between Identity (existence) and Identification (consciousness).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (31)
All Comments   (31)
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The university as a haven of free speech, like the Internet, gives an equal voice, and an equal opportunity, for dunderheads and the aparatchiks of entitlement, communism, and all other happily offendeds.

Roger, you'll love this - http://www.fredoneverything.net/Reseg.shtml.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In a world, the world of the Australian school child, where sexism is the issue in Shakespeare, global warming in geography, the stolen generation in history and recycling is science, is it any wonder that my daughter, my top of the class daughter, thought Poland was next to Thailand and has anyone heard of Beethoven? The side effect of this caring about injustices curriculum in Australia is knowing very little about history, geography, music and art. How to reverse it? If I say that screening Al Gore's movie at school and making the kids cry is wrong then I become the biased political one. I think the best start is to go for enforcing the showing of both points of view to the students. It's a start.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't think you'll be surprised to hear that Australia is not the only place to have hugely inadequate education. Theodore Dalrymple, a few of whose medically-oriented articles appear here at PJM, has been publishing scathing articles about the British educational system for years in books and other websites. He reported that he had given thousands of his patients simple tests while he was still practicing medicine and found almost none of these patients knew just when World War II was; guesses ranged anywhere from 1914 to 1960 for the start and end dates. He reported that British children knew of only two prime ministers: Margaret Thatcher andTony Blair but NOT Winston Churchill. He found that his patients couldn't do arithmetic either and only a half dozen out of many hundreds of patients could correct mutliply six times seven. I should note that Dalrymple only reported his results for patients that had been entirely educated in the UK; I expect that patients who were fully or partially educated outside the UK may have been even more poorly educated. Also, Dalrymple went through this father's school textbooks when his father died and was astonished at how difficult they were. He felt that none of today's students could have done this work and precious few of the teachers either!

Dalrymple's essays were written a few years ago and things may well be even worse now. I'm Canadian and I spoke to a young man the other day who was in his early 20s. He said that he had studied what an essay was and how it was supposed to be structured but he'd never written one in his entire school career. He also volunteered the information that his similarily-aged co-workers could not multiply by two.

America may well be in similarly desperate straits. I saw a game show a few years back where a contestant had to name any of the three ships that sailed with Columbus on his first voyage to the new world: her guess was the Titanic! Another contestant on the same show was asked to identify a popular singing group containing four men named John, Paul, George and Ringo; it was a multiple choice question and the correct answers, the Beatles, was given as one of the options but he chose The Village People.

You might be assuming that schools are just getting harder and harder since we attended but the opposite is true. Material that was once done in primary school is now done in high school or even university. My mother, who never went past the eighth grade, did problems like "A westbound train leaving Philadelphia at 3 PM encounters an eastbound train that left Chicago at 1 PM. At what time do they meet?" before she left school. I did that kind of problem around the middle of high school. I believe that these questions are now not considered until university.

As you say, assignments are all about demonstrating sensitivity and political correctness. Dalrymple reported assignments for students to write about the life of French farmer's wives in the 1500s but says that students were only told about the sexism built into the society at the time; they were not told anything about major events at the time, like who was the King, what wars France fought in those years, what technology existed, etc. etc.

I really can't dispute those who say schools aren't about education at all any more but are instead about political indoctrination.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hey, support from a fellow member of the Commonwealth, thanks. It's like some disease. My oldest did the industrial revolution and Watt and Brunel weren't mentioned. Instead it was how your great great grandmother would have felt. One more. A friend's son is in 4th year medicine and he says that it's around 30% sensitivity lessons and that the students are worried about their own competence. Medicine! I think the root of this pretty appalling educational problem and quite a few other problems too is the belief that caring and compassion trump action. That having self esteem will make them learn. No, the self esteem comes after the work. OK, I sound curmudgeon-like here but something's wrong, badly wrong.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I see dry humor is not your forte. My position on animal rights is only Humans have rights, given by G-d, and maybe my dog (who is a lot smarter than many people I've met) and some of his species but not all. On the environment, we should use it for all its worth. As for chickens, we're stuck with factory farms to meet demand; Colonel Sanders wiped out free range chickens a long time ago, as George Carlin once noted.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Comment above was in reply to Oregonian1 re the Perdue joke ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Apparently free range chicken jokes are more prevalent that I thought ...
Enjoy this comedian http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxNzgL3fSk
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Turns out it was being taught at Indiana University, but that’s hardly a surprise." That's because IU (best known for Alfred Kinsey and Bobby Knight) is where the left-wingers go, and Purdue (most famous graduates are Neil Armstrong and John Wooden) is where the smart kids go.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is merely the end game of cultural marxism's march through education. When there's nothing left but moral relativism, there's literally nothing left. The personal becomes political and vice versa,all view points are equally valid so end the end none are anything more than the individuals perception. Of course they never try it out with something like gravity, at least not successfully, but it allows "teaching" by anecdote as opposed to serious course work.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Its even worse than that though, because to leftists only leftist viewpoints are valid, and if you dare to say something they don't agree with, you are guilty of hate speech, and get driven out of academia. They only use that "everything is valid, and you should not censor different opinions, and we need academic freedom" excuse if you challenge a leftie professor/book on specific facts, and they know you are right on the facts, and know that others might realize you are right on the facts.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Zinn isn't just poisoning American minds with his nonsense. I'm Canadian and the last time I was in Chapters/Indigo, probably our biggest bookstore chain, I saw a couple of copies of "People's History". If I were a Leftist, I'd probably have set up a picket sign to protest over carrying this book.

I don't know if any of the schools here use this book as a text but it wouldn't particularly shock me. I was truly shocked and appalled when I heard that the most (or second-most) widely accessed writer in our public libraries was Noam Chomsky.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You said "if [you] were a Leftist, [you'd] probably have set up a picket sign to protest over carrying this book [People's History]." Can you clarify what you mean by "leftist?" Normally, people of the left would support Zinn's book, not picket against it. The term "left-wing" originated during the French Revolution in reference to the Jacobins, and heck, Rousseau was even referred to as the Father of the Left, or at least the Father of the Modern Left.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, you raise a good point. I've conflated two things that don't properly go together.

I really just meant that I was appalled by seeing Zinn's book being sold as if it were an accurate history book. To me, that should merit protest signs, just as Leftists march and demand the arrest of George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
AP always acts the same. It would be a huge surprise if they didn't defend a Communist.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I still see copies of Zinn displayed prominently in just about all of the retail bookstores that are still open. One of the things that has given me comfort as these establishments go the way of the dinosaur is that the leftists that run and work in them will have to find other ways to poison their (our) environment. You don't. see much of Zinn in used book stores. No one who does any real reading has any desire to take in the foul stench coming from his decaying corpse of a brain.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“Objectivity is impossible, and it is also undesirable. That is, if it were possible it would be undesirable” (Howard Zinn).

"Postmodernism maintains only that there can be no independent standard for determining which of many rival interpretations of an event is the true one." (Stanley Fish; "Condemnation Without Absolutes" 10/15/01 NYT)

If true, then how does anyone know anything? How does one *know,* for instance, that academic freedom is here being impinged? How does anyone even know what the concept, 'censorship' means? Or even the concept 'knowledge'?

Indeed, the really fundamental question here is how did Zinn and how does Fish *know* that objectivity is impossible and that truth is subjective?

The answer is provided by Fish: "Instead, we can and should invoke the particular lived values that unite us and inform the institutions we cherish and wish to defend."

How do they *know* that?

For Kantian nihilist Zinn, truth is impossible; for Dewey pragmatist Fish, truth is impossible, but can be replaced--asserted, actualized, whatever--by consensus.

Now I wonder if what they're saying is, well, um, er, true.

PS. Truth is the correspondence between Identity (existence) and Identification (consciousness).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
May I suggest a middle ground between "consensus" and "truth", which is stipulation. I suggest this is the heart of modern western society, the money part of the enlightenment and the reformation(s).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
PPS. "Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver’s (man’s) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). This means that although reality is immutable and, in any given context, only one answer is true, the truth is not automatically available to a human consciousness and can be obtained only by a certain mental process which is required of every man who seeks knowledge—that there is no substitute for this process, no escape from the responsibility for it, no shortcuts, no special revelations to privileged observers—and that there can be no such thing as a final “authority” in matters pertaining to human knowledge. Metaphysically, the only authority is reality; epistemologically—one’s own mind. The first is the ultimate arbiter of the second." (Ayn Rand; “Who Is the Final Authority in Ethics?” The Objectivist Newsletter, Feb. 1965, 7: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/objectivity.html)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
PPPS. Therefore, throwing Zinn (his (so called) textbooks) and his ilk out of academe is *not* censorship of but is in fact justified by *academic* freedom. The adjective, "academic" refers to a place of learning. One cannot learn from those who declare learning impossible. There is no such freedom in academe--or in any school, for that matter--to assault, infect and destroy the minds of students with teachings that declare ignorance a virtue and contradictions as facts.

Thus, Daniels (& other public leaders) are justified in removing teachers and materials from *public* schools & universities that promote such, in the same way as a surgeon is justified in sterilizing an operating room.

Or as one is justified in removing a blind man from the pilot's seat in the cockpit of an airplane about to take off.

Or in firing an incompetent employee from any enterprise.

Or in removing any inept politician from office.

QED.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm glad to see the author characterize academic freedom as a privilege rather than a right. Academic freedom is defined and conferred in statutes, charters, regulations, and contracts and does not inhere from the 1st Am. freedom of speech. I think the whole notion of academic freedom in publicly funded education is foolish except at the highest levels in public universities, and it should have strict limits even there.

There is no scholarly inquiry going on in K-12 or Bachelors' level education. In K-12 a teacher is a public employee with a government conferred teaching credential teaching in a government owned classroom and delivering a government approved curriculum. The difference between the school teacher and the school janitor is the teacher requires a credential which entails a more prolonged study to acquire and his/her work has a greater consequence of error than does the janitors'. Boards of Education should reflect the views of the people, should be answerable to the people, not the teachers' union, and teachers should be meaningfully answerable to the Board. The sad fact is that practically every school board in the country is union chattel.

Argue with a teacher on course content and sooner or later they'll resort to academic freedom and freedom of speech as reliably as the religious will ultimately resort to faith. Constitutional freedom of speech protects a private actor from a governmental actor interfereing with his/her speech. A public school teacher or administrator is a governmental actor and the 1st Am. exists to protect us from them, not vice versa. Especially since K-12 attendance is compulsory, almost custodial, it is the students who have a Constitutional guarantee that the teachers and administrators not interfere with their speech. There is a spot on 9th Circuit case setting out the limits of public employee freedom of speech from a few years ago involving Garcetti's dismissal of a subordinate attorney. Basically says that when you act in the course of your duties you are the government speaking, not an individual with private speech rights.

Public colleges are a little different first because attendance is voluntary, but I think that is really a distinction without much difference. Yes a college sophomore can walk away from his Western Civ class because he doesn't like the professor's politics, but he still has to have Western Civ to get a degree. But the college professor is no different on the freedom of speech issue from the K-12 teacher. At the public college and university level if the privilege of "academic freedom" is to be conferred I suggest that it only be conferred to those professors actually involved in scholarly inquiry and research, which would pretty much limit it to professors doing research or teaching/advising post-graduate students doing scholarly inquiry and research.

Since Republcans control over half of the state governments, maybe we should start to exercise more control of the public universities associated with those state governments. If we paid half as much attention to who gets elected or appointed to university boards of regents as we do to whe gets elected to city councils, maybe our universities wouldn't be such leftist vipers' nests. My state's Board of Regents is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature. Republicans have controlled at least one and mostly both bodies of the Legislature since the early '80s. We've had a Republican Governor for the last decade now, during which Republcans had effective control of both legislative bodies. Yet, our university system provides a sinecure for half the former Democrat elected and appointed officials over that same over 30 year period. Hell, the Chancellor of the Juneau campus is the former head of the Democrat Party. A former Democrat Lt. Gov. was the head of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University, which is one of the foremost "think tank" and reseach organizations in the State. Former Democrat appointees are peppered throughout the University's organization. Wouldn't take much to fix it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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