A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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A FORUM FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND VIGOROUS DEBATE, CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY
[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ].
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Censorship Redux, and the New—Same Old, Same Old—NEH Leadership

The following short essay was censored by Doug Lederman, editor of InsideHigherEd.com, who wrote when I asked if he'd blacklisted me as persona non grata, since he'd censored me on four different occasions: "When you post comments that do not engage in ad hominem attacks and are on point, I'll post them. In the meantime, be well." Well, my comments were always on point, though usually quite critical. Also, I avoided ad hominem. To no avail, I immediately pointed out an ad hominem, published by Lederman, authored by someone else: "Since I think George Steiner is a fraudulent windbag, he’s perhaps a bad hypothetical example." Lederman obviously didn't seem to mind that clear example of ad hominem. Negative critique is not ad hominem. Calling a lifer politician, for example, a lifer politician was not ad hominem when in fact the politician in question was indeed a lifer politician. Calling someone a white male was not ad hominem, if that person was in fact a white male.

In any case, the article instigating my comments below was written by Scott Jaschik (see www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/04/leach). Perhaps many citizens were unaware how rampant censorship just might be in America and, in particular, in academe. I brought that to Jaschik's attention. But he too didn't give a damn. He was being paid...

It was sad for me to learn that a lifer politician, James A. Leach, was Obama’s appointee to the NEH. Leach served in Congress for 30 years, as an Iowa Republican, then ended up teaching at Princeton. It would have been interesting to determine how much wealth he acquired from so much “public service,” as the politicians liked to euphemistically refer to it. More political connections were precisely what the “humanities” did not need! Imagine how disconnected somebody like Leach, who spent an entire lifetime kowtowing, networking and teamplaying up the elite ladder of “success,” would likely be from common writers and artists, not to mention the rare dissidents amongst them. After all, Leach’s career was based on anything but dissidence. What kind of “culture” would he end up pushing, if not more unthreatening, unquestioning, unchallenging happy-face culture?

“I believe in standing up for culture, rather than warring on culture,” noted Leach. An independent thinker would have to wonder what that statement meant, if anything at all, especially in the absence of a concrete definition for “culture.” Would Leach simply continue to define culture as necessarily PC, for example, and otherwise entirely unthreatening to the bourgeois status quo? Quite likely! Underscore Leach’s denigration of criticism, questioning and challenging, and vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, with that simple term “warring.”

“I respect peer review and will go out of my way to respect peer review,” noted Leach blindly obedient to that particular institution. Yet the entire peer-review system needed to be examined. Who were the peers? How were they selected? What kind of citizens were rejected as possible “peer” reviewers? What were its intrinsic flaws? The mid and lower-level cultural apparatchiks (i.e., the “peers”) would likely remain essentially the same under Leach or anyone else politically appointed by the Washington power structure. They always tended to be of the established-order variety and quite rejecting of hardcore critical culture regarding it. Business as usual, or rather culture as usual, would likely continue.

The “important public discussions” that Leach wanted to promote would likely be different, but only on a superficial level, than those promoted by his predecessors. Clearly, rampant PC and consequent diminishing democracy in the nation’s institutions of purported higher learning would certainly not be one of those discussions, nor would the increasing censorship by established-order mandarins under the guise of “moderation.” The very praise by the Association of American Universities for the Leach appointment clearly indicated the likelihood of the same old, same old NEH backing of the nation’s academic-dressed business leaders.

“Scholars,” for the most part, had always been playing an important role in society; that of, see-no-evil, hear-no-evil established-order cogs. How else to explain the overall business orientation of and copycat corporate model adopted by the nation’s universities?

Leach would be a defender of the humanities, but only of the humanities deemed palatable by the nation’s oligarchs, of whom he forms an integral part. CENSORED!

6 comments:

Charlotte W. said...

I wouldn't write off Leach too fast Tod. Jim Leach is not like many Republican politicians. He was well liked by Iowa people of both parties.

He's a gentle and wise man who just might be able to do better in that job than others before him.

G. Tod Slone said...

Culture run by lifer politicians, even purportedly nice ones, is a bad idea.

G. Tod Slone said...

It appears my comments are to be censored since they have still not been posted on Inside Higher Ed. Do you think Leach would protest that censorship? I don't think he would. Besides, how does a simple citizen today actually get the attention of a lifer politico even if but for a few seconds?

Charlotte W. said...

Would you really expect any head of NEH to protest your being censored at that Inside Higher Education website? Is there some connection between the two that would lead you to expect that?

I found a Washington Post story about Jim Leach that gives a good look at Jim Leach and a few of his comments about the appointment. I think he will be good for that position.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/03/AR2009060302839.html

Have you seen any other opposition to the Leach appointment?

G. Tod Slone said...

The comments that form this blog were indeed censored by Inside Higher Ed. I think most people would be surprised how much censoring goes on in this country. Sure, the censors prefer calling it other things, but it's the same thing. I would not expect any cultural apparatchik to protest censorship incidents, if such protest when against the grain. I'm sure Leach will be no better and no worse than anyone else at that helm. What he'll do is continue the business of bourgeois culture as usual. I'll look at the article. Thank you Charlotte.

G. Tod Slone said...

Keep in mind that politicians manage to stay politicians when they create a base of happy voters, who tend to be made happy when their particular projects and ideologies are well oiled with taxpayer money.