Richard Hofstadter’s works contribute to my teaching of American historiography. I am engaged in yet another revisit of his Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. This work is highly critical of American democracy – something those of wealth and privilege view positively as it favors them. Teachers teach American democracy from a grand position — a positive and not through a critical lens, a reason why many see Black Lives Matter as noise and not a condemnation of the falsity of democracy. This country allows public pressure on what is taught in schools – often teaching that the USA is right and the world is wrong. Many of us, including myself, received a bad education regarding the Cold War. At Brooks we do not stand and pledge allegiance to the flag; however, at my last stop and many other schools, this is mandatory. Of course I told my students they were allowed to abstain if they wish. It allowed me to educate them on the myths of God and American democracy — a falsity taught. Hofstadter argues that the nation’s democratic institutions are designed to reinforce the purity of capitalism and evangelical Protestantism, which tends to blind the masses due to their own education. Hence, the expansion of anti-intellectualism is pervasive today, where many elect to ignore reason and logic. Many Christians believe climate change is a myth constructed by scientist for grant funding, since God protects the environment. However, they and other secular folk do not see that wealthy big businesses have convinced them that climate change is a myth in order to save them money.
While a graduate student, I wrote a paper entitled A Marxist Synthesis to Educational Analysis. In this paper, I addressed a shift promulgated by neo-Marxists vis-à-vis culturalist theory. Aspects of cultural theory shaped my educational and pedagogical premise that students must be free thinkers. Furthermore, if they are to become free thinkers, they must construct their own synthesis toward ideas and ideals… not a mere synthesis of their academic environment. Much of my conclusion is shared by Stanley Fish, a wonderful leftist academic who always looked to empower the well prepared student through Socratic discussions. His post-modern analysis toward radical theory, queer theory, and deconstruction has continued to revolutionize education.
As a student, I recall on a number of occasions challenging the status of my campus. Often frustrated by the same white protestant male espousing the same political, ideological, and religious beliefs. From class to class, I watched my anger grow as I sought to understand my own learning and identity from the likes of Richard Wright and W.E.B. Du Bois. I knew they would not sing the same old company lesson plan articulated by one-dimensional institutions. I asked more than once: Why the preachy lessons on moral abstract construct espoused by ONE ideological thought? or, What does the black teacher think? or Where are the black, Asian, American Indian teachers? How about ONE Jewish teacher? Maybe a pro-Palestinian professor? Creating institutions that inculcate the same values and norms does not allow students to become critical thinkers. It is a lie. We (including myself) recycle the same language but, each time we do, we ask students to think critically. Here is what Fish has to say:
…the Academic Bill of Rights, the Student Bill of Rights and the Princeton Student Bill of Rights all speak of the importance of promoting and protecting the academic freedom of students. What could this possibly mean? The only freedom students rightly have is the freedom to vote with their feet if they do not like the syllabus in a particular course. They are not free to demand on the basis of an intellectual diversity or balance or pluralism or some other specious abstraction that the syllabus be changed to suit their personal or ideological inclinations. Nor are students free to introduce into a classroom issues or perspectives that are judged by an instructor to be beside the point he or she wishes to explore. Instructors are free to say to a student, that may be an interesting question, but it is not one we shall be asking here.
The rhetoric of academic freedom for students is a subset of the rhetoric of student rights. But students have no rights, except the right to competent and responsible instruction. They certainly do not have any right to be instructed by a conservative teacher or a liberal teacher or a religious teacher or a white teacher or a black teacher or a teacher of any color. The idea that students have rights often accompanies the idea that students are customers and teachers, providers. Students are not customers and if we survey their preferences and alter our product accordingly, we will not only have betrayed our professional responsibility; we will have betrayed them
Taylor Porchey is a junior at Houston Christian High School; she is also a student in my AP US History course. Feel free to leave a comment regarding her thoughts. I previously posted a post written by Donna Navarro regarding her story and work.
The documentary “Cut, Poison, Burn” presented by Donna Navarro and her family, along with countless other contributors, provided me with a plethora of information and emotion that December 3 night. Cancer is a very personal issue for me, I watched my Aunt Kimmy suffer through Glioblastoma Brain Cancer for 5 years, my Grandfather with Prostate Cancer, my cousin Meredith (Kimmy’s daughter) battle Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and now, as of December 1, Terry (Kimmy’s husband) has been diagnosed with Colon Cancer and his surgery is December 8.
Cancer has hit my family hard, fast, and furious. This wretched disease has brought grief, misery, and discord to my family and what I want the most is justice. The only way I could plausibly get that is through prevention and proper treatment of cancer. I cannot change the past. I have determined for quite some time now that there will never be an ultimate cure for cancer – pharmaceutical companies and the government will not allow it. “Cut, Poison, Burn” has only heightened my fear and broadened my knowledge on the inner (corrupt) political workings of the FDA in regards to cancer care. As to the accusations towards chemotherapy the movie displays, I have mixed emotions. I have seen first hand the horrors of chemotherapy and what the deadly poison does to your body; yet I also witnessed the extension and saving of lives. Is something that does save lives to be persecuted as the movie portrays? I think the director could have done a better job of explaining that this was not a war against chemo and radiation, rather a desperate plea for an alternative method to be approved and recognized as valid by the FDA.
A hard movie to watch especially when it shows the deterioration of Thomas Navarro’s mind, almost to the point of being considered a vegetable. Memories of Kimmy flooded back to me of sitting on her bed watching Meredith feed her an ice cream sandwich the week before she went to Hospice, barely able to lift her arms and able to make only the softest utterances of what used to be the loving words of reassurance, courage, and sheer wit. “Cut, Poison, Burn” will give the public an idea of what living with cancer is like, and the horrors of chemo, radiation, and any other form of treatment. The documentary seems particularly one sided, granted the FDA was given opportunities to present their side, but the support the video gives Dr. Burzynski is overwhelming, it would have been nice if other methods of treatment were explained as well. Regardless, a touching story with unnerving insight.
The following post was written by Donna Navarro; she is one of the biggest activist in the nation when it comes to the health care industry. Her influence has reached as far as the congressional floor of Washington; her connections to major U.S. figures are ubiquitous; I have known and worked with Donna for almost 8 years. I offer this post as a means of balance and objectivity. I have yet to see this film which opened earlier this year in L.A. I do intend on watching it on the campus of Houston Christian in the coming weeks. Once I have seen it and done my research, I will have to make a decision about American health care. For the record, I do endorse Obama’s universal health care bill. While some might find this film controversial, I applaude its efforts at offering the masses information. Remember, information deemed vital to the public that is silenced or with held is a form of fascism.
“Controversy is only dreaded by advocates of error.” Benjamin Rush
It seems to me that my take on Medical Freedom has become more and more of a controversy in my life. Why do people not get that all I want is for the American people to have freedom of choice, the freedom to choose the modality of treatment for their disease/illness.
Cong. Dan Burton (IN-R,) is introducing a Bill for medical access called, HR2736 “Access to Medical Treatment Act”. You can go to www.govtrack.us to track where the Bill is at in real-time and/or see who your representatives and senators are in order to contact them to support medical freedom.
“Cut Poison Burn”, a documentary on the corruption of the medical establishment and how it is one big monopoly. The film raises issues that have been long ignored, there needs to be serious dialogue in finding a solution and not bury our heads in the sand.
You can go to www.cutpoisonburn.com to view the trailer and go to facebook to press ”Like”.
The documentary is being shown at Houston Christian High School on Nov.30th and Dec. 3rd at 7:30pm in the Chapel. You can purchase tickets on line at www.cutpoisonburn.com. The tickets are $12.00 each and part of the proceeds go to cancer charities, you can see the list on the website. Please come see the most important film of your life.
I got quoted here in a piece entitled, Students at ultra-right Harding University planned a conference on poverty, but school administrators had other ideas by Alexander Zaitchik.
Alex noted my blog post entitled, Dear ASI of Harding University. In this post, I pointed to the hypocrisy of ideology. How can an institution profess to teach free thinking when in essence, it promotes a sense of conformity? Alex quoted me when I wrote this a year ago: “The role of the academy is to promote discourse, not to indoctrinate students with only one point of view. Why do conservative schools feel they must espouse conservatism to the point of anti-intellectualism?”
I am not sure I would characterize Harding as being ultra-right, but it is a very conservative institution. Though I do not think Harding is a fascist school…as noted by Alex’s ultra-right reference, there are a number of students and faculty members who would disagree with me.
I came across this statement from one of my favorite undergraduate professors. As noted below, it was made by Harding University’s first president. He stated:
All progress of truth – scientific truth, political truth, or religious truth – all truth – has depended on free speech and progressive teachers who were not afraid to teach their honest convictions.” – J.N. Armstrong
Harding, like a number of conservative institutions, has a particular right of center point of view. I guess I love this because it was made by a “highly” conservative university leader. Moreover, though I am questioned less of late for my ideological and intellectual beliefs, there are still a small few that fear my mind. Thus, the notion of a Christian teacher being open-minded about intellectual and political arguments can be a tough pill for some. I am fortunate that this is not an issue on my campus, nor among my students. The ability to love free thought and the diversity of thought reflects the true identity of a secure person. I say this only to say this: People fear what they cannot understand, or what they have closed their minds to understanding. I am fortunate that my students nor my colleagues are this way. They might see things in a different way, but they at least listen.
We all know how I feel about Fox News. This note was circulated on my very Republican campus today; I love the person that sent it out; she is bright and professional; however, if I sent a pro-Obama and pro MSNBC note like this one — I would be called on the floor for it. As the White House stated, I too think of Fox as the strong-arm of the Republican Party. I will run poll updates at the bottom of this post.
Vote For Fox News On NPR Poll
If you do not agree with this, please disregard. If you keep up with Fox, you will know how the White House has been at odds with them. Please take the time to read this short note, and vote if you are prayerfully led to do so.
If you haven’t heard this, the White House is accusing Fox News of not
being a legitimate source of news, calling them biased, etc. They
have tried to block Fox reporters from news conferences, etc., but the
other news networks are fighting back (in favor of Fox) and caused the
White House to back down. NPR has put a survey online for us to voice
our opinion. If you want to vote in this survey, go to the link below
and cast your vote. Currently it is 71% in favor of the White House,
but there are not that many votes ……… less than 2,000 all
together. Let’s show them how we feel about honest conservative news
11/01 at 10:30 AM
Neither side. They’re both trying to play this “feud” to their advantage. 2% (14,986 votes)