Discrimination in footnotes

women-149577_640Two geographers have written an academic article arguing that scholars should not cite research by so many experts who are “white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered [meaning someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were born with].

To footnote such people contributes to the “system of oppression” known as “heteromasculinism.”

It is true that in the academic world it helps a scholar’s career the more often he or she is cited by other scholarship.  These authors say that scholars should promote the work of women, gays, racial minorities, and trangendered individuals by quoting them and citing them in footnotes.

Here is my question:  How are we supposed to know?

Scholarly articles don’t give the sexual preference of their authors.  Or their race or preferred gender identity.  The APA stylesheet, in an effort presumably to prevent discrimination against women, already forbids the use of first names.  Instead, you give the person’s initials.

A field like geography, in which the authors of this article are working, involves objective research about objective places.  Say a graduate student is writing a dissertation about glaciers in Antarctica.  What if not enough transgendered geographers have been publishing on that topic?What if mostly white men have been spending time in that cold terrain and gathering the most relevant research?

Is the research topic now to be less important now than the private lives of the researchers?  Should style sheets now include identity markers?  And what would those look like in a bibliography?

Jones-Smith, E. G. [black, female, lesbian, transgendered] (2016).  Glacier formations of the South Pole.  Journal of Geography, 9: 224-257.

Rosenberg, S. L. [Jewish, male, cisgendered] (2017).  Glaciers today.  NY: Columbia University Press.

Maybe there should be an asterisk with that second reference, or a notation:  Do not use.  Actually, the publishers shouldn’t even print or peer review a book or a study by a white male scholar, since no one should refer to it, lest they contribute to “heteromasculinism.”

[Read more…]

Student suspended for disagreeing with Muslim professor

male-213729_640Muslims believe that Jesus was not really crucified.  According to the Qur’an, 

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah“;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power.  (Qur’an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158)

This is taken to mean either that Allah substituted someone else for Jesus, making the other person look like the “prophet,” or that he created an illusion so that a spirit-shape only appeared to be Jesus, which was the teaching of some Gnostics.  In any event, Muslims believe that Jesus, while He existed and was a great prophet, did not really die on the Cross, but that He was rather taken up into Heaven.

At Rollins College, a Muslim professor, in light of his religious commitment, claimed outright that Jesus’s crucifixion was a hoax.  A Christian student took issue with that and argued otherwise.  Whereupon he failed the class and got suspended from school.

Let me offer some perspective based on my four decades as a professor:  In a secular school, professors may talk about religion, including their own, as long as it is relevant to the course and as long as they do so objectively, without imposing their religious views on their students.  In discussing Milton, even when I was teaching in a secular college, I could talk about the Christian concepts of creation, fall, and redemption.  “This is what Milton believed.  You need to know this to understand Paradise Lost.”

The professor here could say, “We Muslims don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross.”  That would be interesting and could prompt some illuminating discussion.  But in claiming outright that Jesus’s death was a “hoax” and then punishing a student for disagreeing, in accord with his own Christian religion, the professor was clearly “imposing” his religious beliefs on the class.  Professors aren’t supposed to do that.

But what about issues of diversity?  Wasn’t the student being insensitive to the professor’s religious beliefs?  Cultural diversity, sensitivity, tolerance, etc., are supposed to manifest themselves in the way faculty members treat students!  Not the way students treat faculty!

Faculty members have the power here.  It’s their job to treat their students appropriately, including showing respect for their religious sensibilities.

I don’t know the whole story.  Maybe the student was disruptive, disrespectful, and breaking other campus rules.  But treating Muslims equally means holding Muslim professors to the same standards as Christian professors in the way they handle their religious beliefs in their classes. [Read more…]

U. S. History as oppression studies

The National Association of Scholars, an organization of conservative academics, has put out an FAQ page on what is wrong with the new Advanced Placement U. S. History exam.  It sums up well the problems also with the Common Core, contemporary text books, and the state of the history profession in general.

The point is not that America doesn’t have skeletons in its closet and that we need to study those bad parts of our history.  It’s that these have become the only emphasis, and that other important facets of our history (the concepts behind our constitution) and just facts in general (why we fought World War II) are left out. [Read more…]

Universities recruiting girls to have late-term abortions

The University of Hawaii and the University of Washington-Seattle are recruiting girls as young as 14 to have second-trimester abortions, as part of a research study on those kill-and-dismember procedures. [Read more…]

The value of Christian colleges

A major secular educator, David Coleman, spent some time at Wheaton College, which taught him that Christian colleges have an important part to play in American higher education.  Michael Gerson quotes him, after the jump. [Read more…]

Claiming religious exemption without the religion

The National Labor Relations Board has said that colleges, in general, must allow professors to join a union.  To objections by church-related institutions, the board said that religious institutions may be exempt only if its professors actively promote and carry out a distinctly religious mission.  If the professors in a church-related institution do NOT carry out that mission–as many church-related but only nominally Christian institutions make a point of saying–then they can not claim a religious exemption.   This poses a problem for the host of church schools that have gone secular, but it strengthens the position of theologically conservative schools.  Mark Bauerlein explains. . . [Read more…]