It’s not just because my name appears in it that I felt impelled to cite Jonathan Cohen’s lengthy, brilliant comment on Ron Radosh’s column today. Cohen writes in part (but definitely read it all):
The left wing of the Democratic Party is made up of liberal interest groups whose initial involvement stemmed from humane concerns but whose continued involvement was driven by much more personal concern of how politics could advance their own lives. Eric Hoffer is reported to have written something to the effect that causes begin as movements, evolve into businesses and end up as rackets. Left wing aggression in the academy is essentially a racket, where it is driven by the desire to use “correct opinions” as a weapon to secure all the benefits small and large that were formerly apportioned as a reward for good scholarship,teaching and honest service in promoting good teaching and scholarship. Victim politics has become the basis for demanding positive tenure outcomes, merit raises, promotions, appointment to important committees, creation of staff positions, growth of administrative staff, the inventions of departments and programs outside traditional disciplines and above all the creation of a pervasive ideology that says that all this self-aggrandizing activity is justified by the claim all objections to any of this is the result of a deeply ingrained institutionalized culture of prejudice and oppression. This ideology has become so self-evidently obvious that the unwillingness to confront its obvious stupidity gives academic life the feel of a cult rather than a place were ideas can be discussed in an open and honest way.