Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's wrong with American academia

Left: Jennifer Harris, who sued Penn State for racial and sexual discrimination in 2005. Image source and story: USA Today

Like corporations and families, universities can be pretty sick places. Not that everything is wrong, but I often think we're in the twilight of US academia. Perhaps the future will belong to the best universities and institutes of Australia, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere.
I'm just starting off a list here. Will add future posts as more reasons occur to me.
With regard to discrimination and intolerance, liberals need not feel smug. Many of them are equally culpable in the wholesale silencing and bullying of those whose views don't match their own. Others are too busy forwarding outraged emails against this, that, and the other to innumerable listserves to actually take a stand or lobby for anything on their own campus. Too many theoretical feminists, theoretical queers, and theoretical postcolonialists out there. Multiculturalism is greatly appreciated in American academia--but it's not recognized unless it's expressed in the American idiom, accompanied by the right amount of scripted enthusiastic interest in everyone you're introduced to. Obviously, it's harder to recognize what you're saying as multiculturalism if you wear a distracting headscarf or shalwar-kameez while doing it.

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