Skip to comments.Newt Targets Tenure: Proposals to Fire All "Anti-American" Professors (note source)
Posted on 03/13/2005 8:48:53 AM PST by billorites
On February 25, the prominent Republican thinker Newt Gingrich gave a speech at the leading conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Gingrich, who is a former Congressman and Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives, is now preparing for his presidential run in 2008.
His sharp comments on Professor Ward Churchill and the future of academic freedom in the U.S. were reprinted in the conservative magazine National Review :
"Ward Churchill is a viciously anti-American demagogue. He has every right to free speech, and I support his free speech. We should give him free speech by not paying him. You don't need tenure in this country anyway. The idea that he would be oppressed without tenure is nonsense. There are 75 whacked-out foundations that would hire him for life. Dozens of Hollywood stars would hold fundraisers for him. His life will become a film by Michael Moore. The question here, is `What obligation does society have to fund its own sickness?' ...Tenure did not exist before the twentieth century, and we had free speech before then. You could introduce a bill that says, proof that you're anti-American is grounds for dismissal."
Let's break this down: Gingrich is calling for a law that will empower the government to fire professors on political grounds.
And, of course, in keeping with nature of Republican double-speak: he insists that imposing loyalty trials on universities is not any threat to "free speech."
To make this argument, Gingrich is deliberately pointing to the distinction between "free speech" and "tenure."
Free speech refers to the legal right of someone in the U.S. to speak or say their views without being jailed or censored by the government . It is based on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Tenure is part of the protection of free speech that has to do with intellectuals. Tenure protects thinkers and researchers from being fired for what they say or write, once they are attached to universities as "full professors."
It sets up universities to be an especially protected zone of inquiry and debate.
This modern institution of tenure has its roots in the important struggle during the European "Middle Ages"-- where university communities literally fought against having their members tortured or burned at the stake by government and church authorities. (In those days, under the rule of absolute monarchs and papal authorities, whole areas of investigation like human anatomy, astronomy, chemistry, and medicine were often considered heresy, witchcraft, subversive and illegal. (Just one example from that history: Servetus, the man who discovered that blood circulates through the lungs, was burned at the stake in 1553 in Geneva, officially for his heretical views on the Holy Trinity.)
So now, in the twenty-first century, Gingrich is calling for the abolition of tenure. This amounts to a frontal assault on the very notion that universities should be a zone dedicated to open and unrestrained inquiry and debate.
This is a deliberate stab into the very heart of "academic freedom." Of course everyone who is familiar with university life knows that there is intense politicking and pressure at every university (after all, we do live in class society!); and U.S. history is full of examples where the government and the ruling class intervened to suppress controversial radical anti-system views on campus and persecute radical thinkers and professors.
But carrying out Gingrich's proposal would deeply change the fabric of intellectual life. It is a call to return to an intellectual Dark Ages--where thought was legally enslaved to the powerful.
A few days after his AEI speech, Gingrich appeared on Fox's "O'Reilly Factor." It was just a few days before the University of Colorado was formally considering charges against Ward Churchill, and Gingrich again weighed in, to increase the political pressure on the school.
Gingrich again called for firing Churchill from his professor's job, and specifically for the political content of Churchill's writings about 9/11. And Gingrich specifically argued that universities that take government funds (i.e., the so-called "taxpayers' dollars") should have political standards on who can teach and what they can say (or even write) publicly.
GINGRICH (misquoting Churchill's article on 9/11): But to compare the 3,100 people who died in that attack on 9/11 to Adolf Eichmann, I think, is so despicable, so hateful, so anti-American that the taxpayers of Colorado shouldn't be paying his salary. I think it's that straightforward..
O'REILLY: Doesn't that say to the rest of the world we are an oppressive society because, if we tolerate someone like that, does--don't--that just strengthens our freedoms here.
GINGRICH: Bill, I can tolerate his saying it, but, as a taxpayer, I don't want to pay for it. Taxpayers don't have to pay for lunatic professors to have a salary to miseducate their children. If he's having classes where he tells young Coloradans that Americans who died from a terrorist attack were like little Adolf Eichmann's, I want him fired. Why would you want somebody like that paid by the taxpayers?
O'REILLY: I'm not sure that...
GINGRICH: Now, if a private school wants to hire him, fine, let some private school pick him up, you know.
O'REILLY: OK. I'm not sure that he said that in the classroom. If he did, I'd be with you. We give everybody the presumption of innocence. This was an essay that he wrote. We don't have any reports that he brings this kind of extreme outlook into the classroom. If we get it, I'll change my opinion. But right now...
GINGRICH: All right.
O'REILLY: Right now, I don't want to punish the man in the eyes of the world. I want to kind of say, look, we despise him, we shun him, he's a pariah, but we're not going to take retaliatory action.
GINGRICH: Bill, I'm shocked at your thought, though. We're not crushing him. We're simply saying he...
O'REILLY: Oh, come on.
GINGRICH: ...shouldn't earn a living--he shouldn't...
O'REILLY: He lost his chairmanship, and now you want him to lose his job? That's crushing the man. And I'm not feeling sorry for him. I'm just saying that's what it is. You boot him out of there, that's -- you know, you're crushing him. But, look, why do you think that a college like Hamilton and a college like the University of Colorado at Boulder would even entertain the man in the first place?
GINGRICH: Because the American left has an entire litany of despising America, talking viciously about America, saying really destructive things. I mean, just watch Michael Moore's tours across Europe where he slams America again and again and again, and the American left--this is a totally acceptable way to talk about America, and that's why, I think, it's a good time to draw the line in the sand and say we don't have to pay them. I'm not asking for censorship. I'm just saying taxpayers don't have to pay people who say these kind of hateful and vicious things about America.
O'REILLY : Well, he is a tenured professor. You know that. They can't fire him.
GINGRICH: But tenure is a purely artificial construct invented early in the last century. It has no long-term meaning. It is not a constitutional right. And somebody who says the things he said, I think--if he's not prepared to withdraw them and apologize for them, I can't imagine why the taxpayers ought to pay his salary.
O'REILLY: Well, the regents are meeting at the University of Colorado on Thursday, and we, of course, will follow that story.
(Full transcripts of this Feb. 1 interview are on Gingrich's own newt.org)
Extreme methods and demagogy are on full display. We have to learn to recognize them and answer them.
The work and beliefs of Ward Churchill, a scholar and activist with a life's work on the genocide against Native Americans, is distorted down to some sound bite about "Eichmanns." And Churchill is turned into a stand- in for all of academia (which as a whole is under fire here).
The value of tenure--and the whole importance of open inquiry--is dismissed with a cynical wave of the hand. The freedom of debate is reduced, in a know-nothing way, to a bizarre budgetary matter.
Millions of people are being told to think, "Why should my tax dollars go to teaching ideas that I don't agree with!"
(Just think what the intellectual and scientific world would be like if those standards were really applied!! What kind of evolutionary theory would get taught? What kind of quantum physics? What kind of history and politics? What would philosophy look like? What about poetry, art and filmmaking?)
According to Gingrich, firing radical professors for off-campus writings will not chill "free speech" in the larger society--which, if you think about it five seconds, is ridiculous. And it is, in fact, the opposite of the truth: since chilling free speech and research (especially radical and challenging speech!) is exactly his conscious political intent !
And then, as the punchline, out pops a real-world political agenda:
Gingrich, influential Republican leader and tactician of law-making, is actually proposing a specific bill here that would set up loyalty trials for university intellectuals .
Just making this extreme proposal is intended to "make people look over their shoulders"--starting with those whose work defies those now in power, but including those in authority who have to decide whether to hire or fund controversial thinkers.
Tenure cannot be taken away from those who already have it (barring malfeasance on the part of individual faculty members)...it could only be denied to future hires. That would make an academic career much less attractive to the best and brightest, and would do nothing about the proportion of leftists coming out of graduate schools.
Right now one problem with universities is the high proportion of courses being taught by part-time adjuncts and temporary hires...eliminating tenure would make faculty turnover much more common, without any increase in intellectual diversity, and probably make for an academically poorer experience for the serious students at a given institution.
You still appear to be clueless about the hiring process, which will in no way be affected by the end of tenure, becuase universities are NOT concerned with price or effectiveness. If they were, removing tenure might (and I still underscore MIGHT) make a difference. But I know some VERY conservative schools with tenure, and it didn't affect their price structure.
Now, explain to me again how even without tenure, the liberal faculty who sit on all the search committees and report to the liberal administrators have an incentive to a) keep and b) hire new conservative faculty?
Churchill, you mean, not Gingrich, right?
Commies for Churchill. I am shocked, shocked!
For ex., at my school our department had 20 full-time tenured faculty about 20 years ago. Now we have 16, but two or three of them are really functioning part-time because they serve other "programs" and only teach one course in history and often don't serve on our committees, etc.
A "union cartel" argument would make sense IF---but only if---faculty salaries were increasing faster than a) inflation and b) other outlays in the administration. But it isn't close. Most big state schools have 2% salary increases. We have been lucky---we are at about 3%. Admittedly, our benefits costs have skyrocketed (as have all industries and companies). But Vedder shows a consistent DECLINE in the $$ going to faculty, even accounting for bennies. Instead, administrators, and especially "programs" such as psychological help, "special needs," English as a Second Language, and so on have driven costs through the roof. So viewing tenure as a "union card" is marginally correct, at best.
However, it usually never gets to that because most of the conservatives are weeded out in the search committee process. Very few conservatives get through these committees
Sounds like the conservatives are already "out".
Can you tell me why we have tenure at all? I have really never understood it. What does it accomplish? Thank you.
Likewise---this didn't happen, but it's a good analogy---say Charles Murray had been an untenured academic in a PC state when he wrote "the Bell Curve." He would have been fired for daring to speak heresies.
Sooner or later, tenure does protect legitimate research from social impingement. It allows science to "go where the evidence leads."
While I believe in markets and personally think I would have no trouble competing in a truly open market, I do see the value of tenure in times of social upheaval.
No data, just an anecdotal whining.. I do that..
I hate un-win-able scenario's and when the bad guys win..
I am only open to when the good guys win..
Tenure is just a chess move.. but a good one.. and it puts the good guys in double check.. The good guys shouldn't need tenure.. True, that a bad administration is the source of most of the malfeasance.. This tenure thing could capture attention of the rubes, like me, to a real problem..
Parsing intellectual discussions about the intricacys of running a University will bore the hell out of normal people.. Churchill (and others) being able to run rough shod over logical discourse is hard to touch .. BECAUSE HE IS TENURED.. tenure has BECOME sacrosanct to Universitys.. Touch THAT and you have them by the balls even if they don't have any.. Ok. one ball, the other ball is MONEY and Grants .. Harvard is rife with Churchills.. like Chomsky.. as is Berkeley.. and a buttload of other University's..
The subject of "TENURE" is a touchstone.. not the whole answer but it can be a catalyst for action.. Because one thing is certain a catalyst is needed for change to occur.. The "University's" cannot and will not help itself/themselves.. it must be forced upon them.. Socialism and socialists are NOT open to competing ideologies.. never have been, and never will.. and the system is run by hard core socialists.. not DUPES..
Oooh, poor baby.
Newt hit a sore spot?? Like your @ss?
I say replace "fire" with "indict."
Freedom of Speech has nothing to do with tenure. There are limits to free speech. Is a tenured Professor allowed by law to stand up in a movie theater and scream "FIRE!" There are limits that must be set and adhered to. The courts decide which is which.
Again, the solution is not tenure---it's irrelevant. The solution is to eliminate all funding for STUDENTS. It begins, and ends, as with everything, with the consumer.
And this is not "unwinnable." It is realistic, and until you get a grip on reality, whining about tenure is a smokescreen for adopting policies that truly enact change.
Really... And the chances of that happening soon ARE.?. ZERO, of course..
Have about the chances of that happening as killing Social Security.?...
Inflaming the old entrenched brain washed socialists..
Nah!.. Attacking Tenure is the WAY.. It won't KILL the roaches but it does turn the light on in the kitchen scattering the roaches for the baseboards..
Abrogating tenure as sacrosanct in the education bible sends a message..
The message: We're watching you.. and are presently reviewing education spending in general and federal and state sponsored GRANTS in particular.. The very drama of it all will inspire many parents to review the dispensation of the funds they THROW at the people educating their KIDS.. Corporate sponsored GRANTS can be handled at a later time.
Because they cannot be trusted, that is the administrations cannot be trusted.. The "ENRON" of education has not happened yet.. Abrogating tenure although cosmetic it is still the Elephant with its nose in the tent.. THEN the "ENRON" expose of education just MIGHT happen... Heads can ROLL and the socialist cabal running the place can be eviscerated..
Did I say the "ENRON" of education.. Ah! yes.. I did..
I Want to be the first to use that term... and hopefully not the last..
(A Curly(Howard) shuffle, and a poke in eyes to you my man, [exit stage right])..
Nope. Tenure is irrelevant. It begins with consumers, as with everything.
Denial is not a river in Egypt.. The consumers are serfs..
Its the administration's perks that must be overthrown..
The Education "ENRON" is LOOMING... can you hear it..
Just as with "ENRON" its the golden parachutes they are protecting..
Also; like "ENRON" its the higher-ups that must attacked..
The consumers are clueless.. like cross-eyed chickens..
They can cluck all they want they will lay eggs they have no choice in the matter, they are chickens afterall.. TENURE gathers the eggs.. and Socialism cooks the omelet..
What is so sacrosanct about tenure? Does that give you the right to publish anything which is conceived out of thin air? Or to spew any propaganda in your poisoned mind,to your students. True, education should be the expression and opportunity to widen your horizons, but most universities now operate in a very narrow and restricted political horizon.
The education, especially in Liberal Arts,being taught at the universities is loaded with political propaganda and our students, who obviously represent our country's future, should not have to be a captive audience to these screeds without some prospective penalty to those who spew it.
Your answer is the consumers are stupid: this, of course, is what the Dems always say with every election loss. The consumers know exactly what they want, and right now they are emphasizing COST over value (i.e., the quality of the education).
There is NOTHING in tenure/hiring stats that indicates it would have much of an impact on the problems.
No facts, true, but I do like to make my "betters" drool with their tongues hanging out.. lisping is just a perk.. it gives me a sense of empowerment.. You are my "better", true.. I'm just a "serf".. a really extreme extremist..
"Do I not bleed like you, or feel pain when pricked", or "feel helpless when un-enabled".?.
Actually, NO, I don't..
I'm a hard head.. I could break things with my head. I'm so dumb that I post mainly for Lurkers.. There are a hundred Lurkers for every poster out here..
Can you feel the earth shaking preparing for the education "ENRON" expose'..
I can.. feels good too... OH! the credit card debt that will lie unpaid when tenure is absolved and heads roll.. makes me almost orgasmic at the thought.. The big houses in default.. The IRA's unrequited, the financial ruin of the left wing professors and RINOs.. makes me jump for joy.. Sure, a few so-called conservatives will be hit too but like they say.. You gotta break some eggs to make an omelet..
The education "ENRON" expose' is begging to HAPPEN...
Collegiate Affirmative action hiring IS racism..
An affirmative action slot placement is the same.
(Jaws theme with tar and feathers and villagers with pitchforks)
And, I rest my case.