FSM’s Third Annual ‘America’s Most Dangerous College Courses’
by JASON RANTZ
January 6, 2009
Another year has passed, and more dangerous college courses have popped up across the country in some of our finest (and not-so-finest) institutions of higher learning. Where it was once expected of a student to learn for himself, using a fair and honest look at the issues of a course, it is now par for the course to regurgitate the spewed opinions of professors in order the get the best grade possible. When once you were asked to analyze a set of facts and come to your own conclusion, you are now asked to read biased and dishonest texts and listen to your professor tell you what his or her version of the facts are, and how you should think about them.
As was the case with the first two installments of this list, courses are judged on a variety of criteria and are representative of similar courses at many other schools:
1. The course must focus on the issue or issues detailed in the syllabus or class description. That is, a math course with a professor who may rail against President Bush or President-elect Barack Obama will not be considered;
2. The course must also express an agenda far beyond any honest or accurate academic cause. That is, professors who teach courses that lie, manipulate facts, propagandize students, or express a dishonest and fact-deficient extremist view on the class topic, will be considered;
3. Courses will be evaluated as if the reader of the course description was an incoming student. That is, they will judge the course only by the contents of the syllabus and whatever info they can reasonably find about the professor; and
4. Courses that may be required as part of a “core” curriculum will also be considered if they offer nothing more than to stroke the ego of the professor’s fascination with silly topics that offer little academic value to students.
Clearly the term “dangerous,” in this context does not mean after a student takes a course, they will become violent activists that take to the street in arms; the term simply refers to the dangers of churning out students who are not capable of thinking for themselves. We do not want Math majors to come out of college thinking 2+2=5, nor should we want students with degrees in social sciences to believe President Bush might have had a hand in 9/11.
Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism at Swarthmore College: We should have responded to 9/11 with a heart to heart with Osama. Persecuted gays should try to show Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the value of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Israel should write a letter to the leadership of Hamas and ask them to stop sending missiles into crowds – and then give up their homeland for the sake of peace. Sure, these ideas sound ridiculous to those of us living in the real world, but they’re par for the course for Swarthmore’s peaceniks, who show a stunning misunderstanding of the world’s dangers and how to deal with them. We can let them study nonviolence and pretend it could work – or has ever worked with actual terrorists without compromising everything the negotiator stands for – but we’d be in a heap of trouble of someone who bought into this nonsense was ever in a position of power. Professor George Lakey promises to teach students how to “build on promising nonviolent cases to construct hypotheses and even venture into policy alternatives.” Since nonviolence doesn’t work with terrorists who object to our very existence, this may be one tough class.
American Immigration Law at DePaul University: In Professor Anna Law’s course at DePaul University, it seems more attention is paid to a liberal agenda on security and endless freedoms for purported terrorists, than to a fair look at the issue the students are supposed to study: immigration law. Of the two required texts, one is David Cole’s Enemy Aliens: Double Standards And Constitutional Freedoms In The War On Terrorism. No, it’s not just a look at immigration, but a far-left excoriation of the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 national security issues. No required texts offer a defense of the Patriot Act, nor do there appear to be any readings that take a conservative look at the issue the way Cole’s book takes a liberal look at the issue. All you need to learn about immigration law I can teach you in this one sentence: it is illegal to enter our country without permission, bypassing our laws. Get in line, and we’ll welcome you – so long as you do not have nefarious purposes, of course. Introduction to U.S. Political Culture at the University of Oregon: While Professor Joseph Lowndes does attempt to at least appear fair – he offers a few conservative texts to counter the overwhelming liberal papers students must suffer through – it’s hard to take seriously an academic who, on his personal website, calls former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin “a kind of George Wallace in drag.” No fair-minded student would go to this professor for any lecture on political culture.
Collegiate Sexualities at Occidental College: Professor Jeff Tobin at my alma mater is no stranger to this list – and the lists of many others documenting the absurd college courses that this professor teaches. There is something downright creepy about a middle-aged man talking to freshmen (some of which are mandated to take this course as part of a “core” curriculum) about hooking up with each other or last night’s mandatory reading of Boink: College Sex by the People Having It. Tobin simply appears to be a professor who uses terms like “heterosexist” and “intersexed” just to get administrators to believe he’s doing something more than engaging in crude conversations with barely legal teenagers. According to Amazon.com, Boink includes “graphic confessions, and no-holds-barred nude pictures of real university students” – students will surely learn oh-so-much in this ridiculous course.
Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University: There is no need to take a course for an entire semester to get an introduction to gender and sexuality studies; in fact, I’ll introduce you to it right here. Gender and Sexuality Studies, whether here at Brown or elsewhere, is where confused students with a chip on their shoulders (usually hardcore Feminists and gay-rights activists) go to vent and get a degree which will not prepare them for the real world or help them get a job. An angry Gender and Sexuality Studies graduate with no job? Look out – that’s dangerous.
Wiseguys, Whackos and Whiners at Alfred University: Attempting to legitimize legitimately insane ideas, this Alfred University course wants its students to rethink what they consider “nuts.” This seems representative of the notion that every belief (except conservative beliefs, of course) should be respected and treated equally – even, as this course will “study,” that of “revolutionary anarchism,” “race nationalism,” and many other controversial “riffs” the professor finds on – no kidding – random websites and in independent films.
Whiteness and Racism at Mount Holyoke: Professor Sandy Lawrence enjoys it when her classes are criticized by conservatives; it means she and her other liberal academic friends can laugh at the coffee shop while grading essays on why white people are to blame for the world’s problems (racial and gender inequality, class warfare, tsunamis, etc.) and go on about how silly conservatives aren’t as enlightened as they are. Well, I’ll give her another laugh with her inclusion on this list for a course that, like so many others in the underdeveloped and decidedly nonacademic “whiteness studies,” seeks to blame whites for anything having to do with past and current racism. Indeed, the course description blames whites for interfering “with the educational attainment of children of color”. These courses often dismiss racism from non-whites because, well, non-whites don’t have any “power.” Like many other academics in this field, Lawrence is more likely than not suffering from white guilt and treat African-Americans like second-class citizens that are not smart enough or capable enough to overcome past racism. Can someone send her a copy of Shelby Steele’s White Guilt please? She’s doing more harm, to those she wants to help, than good.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Jason Rantz is President of Rantz Productions, LLC and the executive producer of the nationally syndicated, legendary radio program the Phil Hendrie Show.