Archive for the ‘Academic Freedom and Integrity’ Category

The Rise of Virtual Shirt Movements

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

In a 2010 post, I wrote about the history of “shirt movements” like the Blackshirts and the Brownshirts, and how these violent thugs drove more moderate associations and leaders from the public square in the 1920s, 30s, and thereafter, allowing Fascist and other totalitarian movements to take power.

Thanks to Twitter and other social media, it is now possible to mount a virtual shirt movement of hundreds of thousands of participants (but usually a much smaller, but very vocal group) to marginalize individuals and one’s political or social opposition.

Since this virtual shirt movement phenomenon is still immature, many individuals are shaken when seemingly thousands of persons virtually gang up on them. However, as this phenomenon does mature and become better understood, we may see a situation in which only virtual reactions involving one million or more participants will be taken seriously, and only if they sustain themselves over time. Universities are especially susceptible to relatively small virtual shirt movements.

Right now, virtual shirt movements seem very powerful. This power may degrade as it is better understood, and as information countermeasures are established.

A virtual shirt movement may seem “fierce,” but these “virtually fierce” ones eventually can be virtually discredited and even ignored as their manipulative efforts are themselves revealed and better understood.

But if virtual shirt movements are taken too seriously and are allowed to succeed, we will see the makings of a new virtual fascism or totalitarianism. One sure harbinger of Fascism is a group of thugs who drive their opposition from the public square, virtually or otherwise.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Richard Dawkins, Mark Tushnet, and the Rise of the “PC Fatwa”

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Earlier, I commented on what I satirically termed a “fatwa” by Richard Dawkins when in 2012 he called upon his atheist followers to mock Catholics who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

On 5/8/16, Harvard constitutional scholar Mark Tushnet issued what I am now calling a “PC fatwa” to treat conservative Christians as Nazis.

Political correctness, or PC, first advanced benignly within university culture over the past decades as a polite way of avoiding conflict among students and scholars of divergent backgrounds and points of view. But it gradually became a malignant orthodoxy banning opposing points of view, and has now metastasized across government and society.

Those like Richard Dawkins and Mark Tushnet who speak for the PC orthodoxy now issue their own PC edicts, or “PC fatwas.” A future age will view these edicts, and PC orthodoxy, as regrettable mistakes.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Talk: Growing as a University Research Center Leader and Manager

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Here is a recording, dated 3/7/14, of my copyrighted talk entitled “Growing as a university research center leader and manager,” which was presented as a session on center management and leadership skills during the 2014 meeting of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations held at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LXXVIII

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Censored and canceled commencement speakers should turn around and podcast videos and publish texts of their canceled addresses simultaneous with the cancelation, and leave these podcasts and texts on the Web for years tagged to the keywords of the censoring university.

This action would not only draw peak interest for their talks, but also permanently rebuke the respective censoring faculty and students.

Such action may dampen the influence of self-appointed censors.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LXXII

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Those who know religious people and religious society in their contradictory complexity and feel betrayed by religion sometimes naively turn to science or to politics, without knowing scientific or political society to a similar point of complexity and betrayal.

No significant human endeavor is completely free from betrayal by its adherents. When one sees no such betrayal, one lacks deep knowledge of that given human endeavor.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Science and Religion Vs. Run-of-the-Mill Hedonism

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Another outtake from my run-of-the-mill hedonism essay–

It is sometimes useful to turn the “What are we doing instead” question back on the atheism that claims to live by science, since good science, like religion, is very often ignored as the guiding driver of human activity. Those who claim to follow science rarely successfully apply it both in public policy and in personal life (e.g., diet and exercise). There is more scientific knowledge available in our era than any other, yet bandwidth, and consequently brain-width, flows instead to violent games and to pornography.

Science, like religion, is constantly being ignored and betrayed. For example, research shows that educating prisoners reduces recidivism. But legislatures continue to discount these findings for the sake of “throw-away-the-key” populism, and rarely adequately fund prisoner education. Consider betrayals like the Tuskegee and Guatemala experiments, where rogue scientists infected many poor people with disease without their informed consent, or Alfred Kinsey’s shielding of active pedophiles during his research, or the numerous annual ethical infractions unearthed worldwide by thousands of scientific ethics panels and institutional review boards. (See, for example, the many Determination Letters issued by the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).) Ethical scientists bear a heavily-tangled bureaucratic self-reporting burden due to infamous “mad scientist” rogues who prompted such regulatory intervention.

True religion and true science potentially share a common animus to run-of-the-mill hedonism. Both science and religion share common ethical foundations. From what particular moral source do we learn scientific infractions are wrong, other than the Biblical commandments not to lie, not to steal, and not to kill?

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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In Loco Helicopter Parentis

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

The following is an outtake from my run-of-the-mill hedonism essay–

Some colleges try to fight run-of-the-mill hedonism to a draw. At many campuses during major entertainment events where alcohol is served, “spotting the ambulance” reveals the contradictory dynamic. The ambulance in this case, often tastefully tucked around a corner, represents just about the last vestige of in loco parentis or the parental commonsense proposition in collegiate life, for near the ambulance are emergency medical technicians and student affairs staff: the alcohol poisoning rescue squad. Their job is to make sure no one dies at the event. This squad wades into the crowd when an imbibing student collapses at risk of cardiac arrest, and runs interference with the student’s friends who don’t think there is anything really wrong and who think they can all “handle it,” and gets the ill student quickly to the emergency room where the student’s life can be saved. The rescue squad represents a firm point of contradiction to our Zeitgeist’s rejection of parental responsibility, despite systematic efforts by civil libertarians over the greater part of a century to reduce parental authority. The rescue squad stands in loco helicopter parentis, whom, it turns out, colleges need after all.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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An American Professor Who Sent a Colleague to Death in the Gulag

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

The witticism attributed to Henry Kissinger that academic quarrels are so intense because there is so little at stake does not reveal the sometimes life-and-death nature of such disputes. Universities have been the hotbed of conflict since their founding. King Louis IX sent in the royal archers in 1255 to quell attacks against the Dominican friars prior to the seating of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris. History provides many other examples of riots and mayhem at universities. Occasionally, one learns of acts of deliberate murder.

I recently found a striking example of an American academic who wrote his friends in the Soviet Union circa 1927 complaining about a visiting professor who was then arrested upon return to Russia, and later sent to the Gulag and ultimately to his death.

The victim was a friend of Pitirim Alexanderovich Sorokin, one of the greatest sociologists of the 20th Century, born of a nomadic tribe called the Komi in the north-east of European Russia, who was by 1927 working at the University of Minnesota. He invited a fellow Komi, a noted economist named Nikolai Dmitriyevich Kondratiev, to visit the University of Minnesota. Here’s the story of Kondratiev’s demise, from Sorokin’s colleague Carle G. Zimmerman:

Kondratieff (sic), an agricultural economist and student of business cycles, visited Minnesota in 1927 and stayed with Sorokin. A number of prominent American scientists were pro-communist at the time. One was a forester at the Ag campus where I had an office. He upbraided me for associating with Sorokin and Kondratieff and told me he was going to send a report about Kondratieff back to Russia. Later I learned that Kondratieff was arrested immediately after returning to Russia from the trip to see American universities. However, he was not given the final “treatment” until the Stalinist purges of 1931.

Sorokin, the World’s Greatest Sociologist: His Life and Ideas on Social Time and Change, University of Saskatchewan Sorokin Lectures No. 1, 1968, p. 19.

Both Profs. Sorokin and Zimmerman moved from Minnesota to Harvard, where they achieved great distinction, and Minnesota lost thereby the corresponding opportunity for such distinction.

I find the story above a rather amazing example of how an unnamed American Stalinist true-believer professor contributed ultimately to the death of a distinguished colleague.

So perhaps academic squabbles are not so inconsequential after all. . .

I’ve added some of the information above to the Wikipedia page for Kondratiev, so history can remember. Here is the permanent Wikipedia link for my changes, just in case this information is vandalized or removed from the Wikipedia article.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Linking Academic Freedom with Religious Freedom

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

When it comes to articulating freedom of thought and religious freedom, few equal Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, who put the matter succinctly:

“I wish the intellect to range with the utmost freedom, and religion to enjoy an equal freedom; but what I am stipulating is that they should be found in one and the same place, and exemplified in the same persons.”

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,” Preached on the Feast of St. Monica, Sunday after Ascension, 1856, in the University Church, Dublin.

Very few Catholic academic leaders have articulated the link between intellectual/academic freedom and religious freedom as did Newman.

In 2009, in the heat of the Notre Dame/Obama honorary degree controversy, I wrote an essay containing the following:

The startling omission of the relationship between religious freedom and academic freedom is not only apparent in Notre Dame’s governing documents, but was missed in four of the most important joint statements made by Catholic universities, with Notre Dame’s significant participation, from 1967-72: the 1967 “Land o’Lakes Statement: The Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University,” which was later adopted by many US Catholic colleges and universities; the 1968 “Kinshasa Statement on the Catholic University in the Modern World of the International Federation of Catholic Universities;” the 1969 “Rome Statement on the Catholic University and the Aggiornamento,” which was produced by the Congress of Catholic Universities; and the culminating 1972 document of the Second International Congress of Delegates of Catholic Universities, “The Catholic University in the Modern World,” which did mention respect for religions other than Catholicism, and freedom of conscience, but again not religious freedom explicitly. Ex Corde Ecclesiae (1990), the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, directly addressed, albeit briefly, freedom of conscience. But Benedict XVI’s April 17, 2008 Catholic University of America Address to Catholic Educators went directly to the heart of the question underlying considerations of freedom, by stating that “Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in–a participation in Being itself.”

From Albert J. Schorsch, III, “Notre Dame’s Forgotten Freedom,” 2009, at www.sanityandsocialjustice.net

Full texts of the documents named but not hyperlinked above can be found in American Catholic Higher Education: Essential Documents, 1967-1990, Alice Gallin, OSU, Ed., 1992, Notre Dame Press.

Near the end of my 2009 “Notre Dame’s Forgotten Freedom” essay, I wrote the following:

We must expand our conversations about Catholic universities beyond “bunkered” positions to reflect our Catholic universities’ role in establishing, defending, and maintaining religious and other freedoms, and to consider how academic freedom serves these other freedoms. From Pope Benedict’s profound insight into freedom as participation in Being itself, we can build a revised foundational document for Catholic universities in the next generation that explicitly relates religious freedom to academic freedom, and allows universities, their faculties, and students, to explore specific ways in which they can exercise these freedoms simultaneously.

The relationship between academic freedom and religious freedom should be complementary. This question should not simply be limited to universities founded by religious denominations.

Academic freedom does not exist in a vacuum for the sake of those so freed, but can serve to strengthen other human freedoms, especially religious freedom, which generates a free and open society.

By the way, that sermon of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman–

“Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,” preached on the Feast of St. Monica, Sunday after Ascension, 1856, in the University Church, Dublin

–It’s a masterpiece.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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On University integrity within a corrupt political environment

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

What I shared with my University colleagues earlier in October, 2010, and in an edited version on 11/3/10:

The author recalls the constitutional debate over the political independence of the University of California to seek a path for the moral independence of the University of Illinois.

Of interest to colleagues might be a few quotes from the convention leading up to the California Constitution of 1879, by a non-partisan, Columbia U.-educated San Francisco attorney, University of California regent, and civil rights advocate named Joseph Winans, who argued that the University of California be set up as a “public trust,” governed by an independent board of regents, separate from the corrupt California legislature.

To those who opposed such a public trust arrangement, Winans held that they “would not only throw the university into the hands of the Legislature, but make it the plaything of politics. . . as long as it is made subject to legislative caprice; so long as it can be made subject to the beck of the politicians; so long as it can be made to subserve sectarian or political designs, it will never flourish.” According to Winans, California’s university “must be beyond all power of assault and subversion.” Separately, Winans stated that he wanted UC to be structured outside of “all pernicious political influences.”

In the end, after a contradictory, topsy turvy battle, Winans’s position prevailed, and the University of California was structured as a public trust. The California Constitution read that the University would be “subject only to such legislative control as may be necessary to insure compliance with the terms of its endowment and the proper investment of and security of its funds.” According to the California attorney general, the University was a virtual fourth branch of government as a “constitutional corporation. . . equal and coordinate with the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive.”

Sources:

Douglass, John Aubrey, 2000. The California idea and American higher education 1850 to the 1960 master plan. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, pp. 67-69.

By the way, the 1880 state appropriation to UC was $10,000, or 8% of the total operating expenses, which arguably approaches the effective contribution, factoring in funds in arrears, of the State of Illinois general revenue funding of the U of I in a given month.

In part because of the lack of such a public trust arrangement in Illinois, over the past century and one half, our own University has been pressured to be a political jobs bank, to be a purchasing machine, to be a cash line of credit for the state, to accept buildings it did not plan for or need or couldn’t afford to maintain, to accept numerous unfunded mandates, to be publicly shamed in the integrity of its admissions and earlier its scholarship process while the legislative rascals who compromised the University walked away scot free, to be regulated at a higher standard than the Illinois Legislature would ever impose on itself and at an increasing rate inversely proportionate to the decline in state funding–and more–while University administrators have had to grin from time to time, and act as if they liked it.

That the U of I, including UIC, has accomplished all that it has is a testament to the savvy determination of its leadership and to the integrity of its faculty. However, the state of corruption in Illinois requires an ever more vigilant public attitude toward state government.

Therefore, the independence from political corruption of the U of I, including UIC, should be at the top of every government reform agenda in the state, no matter what one’s political persuasion. Independence from political corruption should not be limited to admissions, but include hiring, purchasing, scholarships, real estate, research, investment, in short, every kind of human value that can be turned by enterprising scoundrels into a political pay day.

While the U of I cannot be constitutionally independent of the political mess in the state–and may never be–it can be morally independent, by pursuing its missions of teaching, research, service, and economic development with absolute focus and integrity.

If we of the University transform ourselves along these lines, we can also hope to transform the state.

Never underestimate the transformative power of a university.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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