Obama doesn’t have a Ph.D., either: How many universities will be scrambling to offer him a gig next year?
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
The arrogance of the academic left where faculty lounge discussions are superior to actual experience.
Cooking up a scheme with Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon on a 2008 episode of “30 Rock,” Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy says, “We might not be the best people.” She chimes, “But we’re not the worst.” Then both of them say, in tandem, “Graduate students are the worst.”
Graduate students develop, or metastasize, into college professors — the kinds of college professors who, at Northwestern University, more or less quashed the appointment of a retired three-star Army general for being too American, or something.
Gen. Karl Eikenberry was tapped by the university to lead its new Buffett Institute for Global Studies, a position he seemed easily to have earned by having actual knowledge of the globe.
Eikenberry was ambassador to Afghanistan. He was deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels. He has lived in Hong Kong, China and South Korea, and taught in Rwanda.
Yet faculty and grad students led a revolt against the appointment, assuming that being a military man automatically meant Eikenberry was a warmonger (actually, he has expressed deep misgivings, while serving as ambassador from 2009 to 2011, about the extended nature of President Obama’s military adventure in Afghanistan: Would President Obama be denied a Northwestern appointment for being too militaristic?). They also sniped that, having served the US overseas, Eikenberry might actually think in terms of US interests, and we can’t have that.
A graduate student named Charles Clarke supported a petition to block the appointment of Eikenberry with these words: “An ex-US general will likely think about international politics in terms of war and from the perspective of the US’s interests, and the research agenda will be negatively skewed as a result. Instead, why not appoint someone who will encourage research that is less belligerent and tainted by US bias?”
“As faculty who are deeply committed to academic integrity,” chimed in 46 faculty members in a letter, “we believe that it would be irresponsible to remain silent while the University’s core mission of independent research and teaching becomes identified with US military and foreign policy.”
Amid the hostile climate, Eikenberry, who had bought a house near the Northwestern campus, withdrew.
Eikenberry does not have a Ph.D., which some professors declared to be disqualifying. But Eikenberry’s position wasn’t to be academic: It was an executive and management one. He wasn’t expected to spend his time producing obscure papers on microtopics for publication in unread journals. He no more needed a Ph.D. to run a global studies institute than you need to have a Ph.D. in government to lead the United States of America. (Note that Obama doesn’t have a Ph.D., either: How many universities will be scrambling to offer him a gig next year?)
Northwestern effectively blackballed someone for being perceived as pro-military and pro-US (ah, now I think I understand why hiring Obama wouldn’t be an issue for Northwestern).
Northwesterners are upset that their academic mission would have been indirectly tainted by association with someone who formerly worked for the Amerikkkan military.
So why on Earth do they allow their research to be directly tainted by the same source?
Northwestern, like virtually every other university, receives millions in federal funding. If the profs and grad students genuinely think “US interests” are pernicious, they should either renounce all federal funding or move to some other place that isn’t soiled and poisoned by US dollars. At the Central University of Venezuela, for instance, these academics could sleep with a conscience shorn of any connection to what President Eisenhower so prophetically termed the military-industrial complex — a few years after serving as president of Columbia University without a Ph.D.
No, the Northwestern professoriate, and universities in general, aren’t going to stop taking dollars from the US. They’re just going to continue to mistake dogmatism, prejudice and closed-mindedness for academic ideals. Which is why, back here in America, and even over at “30 Rock,” academics have become a joke.