Richard Lamm is a tenured professor at the University of Denver, the same place where 29 professors in their College of Law denounced the inquiry into Ward Churchill on the grounds that academic freedom to say even that which is unpopular must be held sancrosact. So what happened when Mr. Lamm submitted an article to the Universities administration-run paper, The Source, posed as an answer to an affirmative action official’s article on white racism? It got denied.
|::::::::||Too Controversial for the University of Denver
Richard D. Lamm
Academic Questions, Fall 2004
I started teaching at the University of Denver in 1969 and, except for serving as Colorado s governor for 12 years, have been there continuously. I became a full tenured professor in 1973.
Some time ago I submitted the attached article, Two Wands, to The Source, the university newspaper run by our Vice Chancellor for Communications. The article was in response to a particularly offensive screed on white racism by one of our affirmative action officials. I felt it should not go unanswered.
The Source is run by the administration, separate from our student newspaper. To my amazement, the article was turned down as too controversial. I protested to no avail. So I confidentially went to our provost to get the decision reversed, and was doubly shocked when he agreed with the vice chancellor that the article was too controversial. Next stop was the chancellor of the university, who has been a friend for 25 years. Ever the diplomat, he said he did not think of it as censorship and also refused to reverse the decision. I argued at length about academic freedom and that controversy was what universities were all about.
I recounted that I had attended the University of Wisconsin when Joseph McCarthy was senator and observed first-hand courageous academic administrators standing up to the power of the U.S. Senate, time after time risking their careers to protect what is the most basic freedom on a university campus. I reminded him that I come out of the liberal wing of the Democratic party and my first job out of law school was as a civil rights attorney. Our family marched in Selma. Certainly this was a viewpoint that deserved to be heard.
I argued and argued to no avail.
Make sure you understand what this man is saying. This is no fan of Rush Limbaugh. This guy is squarely in the Left side of the spectrum, and he’s got an activist history, too. There’s no way this man can be dismissed as just another conservative drone. His article, titled “Two Wands” is an insightful examination of the root causes (gotta love that phrase, don’t ya?) behind the lack of academic and economic success by minorities in this country.
|::::::::|| Let me offer you, metaphorically, two magic wands that have sweeping powers to change society. With one wand you could wipe out all racism and discrimination from the hearts and minds of white America. The other wand you could wave across the ghettoes and barrios of America and infuse the inhabitants with Japanese or Jewish values, respect for learning, and ambition. But, alas, you can t wave both wands. Only one.
Which would you choose? I understand that many would love to wave both wands; no one can easily refuse the chance to erase racism and discrimination. But I suggest that the best wand for the society and for those who live in the ghettoes and barrios would be the second wand.
This article is a real must-read on the matter of the effects of racism on academic/economic success. And it’s quite frankly an indictment on the matter of academic freedom on college campuses these days. An article denouncing white racism as the reason for minority lack of success – even though not all minorities exhibit this lack of success – is considered just fine for publication but a response as well thought-out and written as Lamm’s is dismissed by the same academics who scream about protecting academic speech. There’s no hiding the Left-wing bias on this one.
Hat tip: Instapundit
Noted by both Power Line and Little Green Footballs, the most recent issue of Masthead has a wonderful article by Phil Boas of The Arizona Republic. The piece is titled, “Bloggers: The light at the end of the newspaper’s tunnel” and carries the subtitle “Engaged bloggers are voracious newspaper readers, too.” Jokes about whether we represent the way out of darkness or the front end of an oncoming train aside, the article so clearly sums up the promise and peril of bloggers for the newspaper industry that it’s hard to actually excerpt here. For just a taste, however:
|::::::::||It’s customary for anyone writing to the uninitiated about blogs to define them. This is a journalism trade publication and you are no ordinary reader, so I’ll spare you the customary definition.
Instead, I’ll define blogs as they relate to you.
They are your Nemesis in the making.
If you’ve remained nonplussed as they took down Dan Rather and four of his Black Rock colleagues, if you haven’t the slightest interest in acquainting yourself with the blogosphere, don’t move an inch. You won’t have to. Bloggers will be knocking on your door any day now. Or knocking it down.
To many of you, bloggers are a presumptuous rabble-amateurs elbowing their way into the publishing world. You may not know them, but they know youyour face, your manners, your prejudices, your conceits.
They’re your readers. And, God help us, they’ve become the one thing we’ve always begged them to become …
Yeah, that’s gotta scare the pajamas off a few editors here and there. Boas goes on to describe how newpapers have managed to keep even their most engaged readers under control by virtue of the speed of postal communications and that letters to the editor and the like could be printed or not at the editor’s whim. Not so with blogs. As both of the 2 worthies I linked to above have proven, blogs offer the ability to open that letter to the editor to the world. There are hundreds of newspapers in the country that would seriously consider illegal acts to get a readership like LGF or Power Line, to say nothing of the Titans of the blogosphere like Instapundit and Drudge. (Yes, I know: some argue that Drudge isn’t a blog, but work with me, here.) The bottom line is that editors can no longer simply pocket someone’s letter and allow the issue to die in silence. Just ask CBS about that plan of action. The blogs aren’t all poison for the MSM, however, as Boas explains.
|::::::::||If you listen closely, tuning in to the conversation beyond the oft-expressed contempt for mainstream media, you’ll find the blogosphere actually needs mainstream media. We provide most of the coverage that starts the conversation. And by carrying the conversation further than we do, the blogosphere makes mass media vital.
The bloggers are demanding better standards and less bias-not unreasonable demands given journalism’s current track record. But they’re also creating stimulating and often irresistible discussion around the news we produce.
Journalism tomorrow, thanks to forces like the blogosphere, will grow more competitive. The best journalists will flourish. The mediocre will be exposed and washed out.
That’s not something to lament. That’s progress. We are living in the Information Age, when government and business are increasingly dependent on knowledge. It was inevitable that a knowledge-based culture would demand better, faster, more reliable information.
We’re about to provide it, even if we get bruised in the process.
So true. The fact of the matter is that while I have a good view on event local to my house, I have no ability to collect news in, say, Ecuador. I am dependent upon the media for the raw material I use to write my opinions and analysis and I’d have no issue with that at all if I could trust them to provide that raw material with some purity. Tell me what happened, actually. Leave the editor’s biases for the editorial page. News reporting should be all about the facts and as much of the facts as can be had. Omission of material that doesn’t fit the message the MSM wants to send about an issue is the largest problem the blogosphere has with them. The second being a biased choice of language and literary construct. Fix these issue and you’ve got a reader for life in me. And, I suspect, in the rest of the bogosphere as well.
We do appear to be living in interesting times. Ecuador’s Congress voted yesterday to remove President Lucio Gutierrez after declaring that his lack of performance of his duties had rendered the office vacant. Protests against Gutierrez have been going on there for over a week as Ecuadorans have come to feel that he is acting in violation of their constitution.
|::::::::||The protests were fueled by allegations that Gutierrez meddled with the courts in a move to amass power. Demonstrations surged over the past week and late Tuesday night 30,000 protesters marched on the palace, demanding Gutierrez’s ouster.
The rapid events were only the latest in a long history of political instability in Ecuador, where two other presidents have been forced from office since 1997. Gutierrez himself led the rebellion that toppled President Jamil Mahuad in 2000.
Gutierrez was elected two years later on a populist, anti-corruption platform. But his left-leaning constituency soon fell apart after he instituted austerity measures, including cuts in food subsidies and cooking fuel, to satisfy international lenders.
Opponents have accused him of trying to consolidate power from all branches of government. On Friday Gutierrez dissolved the Supreme Court in a bid to placate protests after his congressional allies in December fired most of the court’s judges and named replacements sympathetic to his government. That move was widely viewed as unconstitutional.
Their legislators have sworn in Vice President Alfredo Palacio as the new President and Palacio has, in turn, sworn to the people to neither pardon nor forget the people who have so raised their ire. Time will tell, I suppose. Gutierrez’s supporters are planning counter-demonstrations. This is a volatile situation and history has shown that South American countries tend to get down to shooting fairly quickly in this kind of circumstance. I have no knowledge of the actions Gutierrez has taken nor do I know whether he’s guilty of what he’s accused of. It’s entirely possible that the people demanding his ouster were and are correct in so doing. As I watch this event unfold, I can only hope that those in charge are able to chart a course for their country and their people that avoids as much bloodshed as possible.