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The Unpatriotic University: Duke By: Chris Arabia and Jean Pearce
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 07, 2003


In addition to boasting nationally renowned academic and basketball programs, Duke University is quietly developing an international reputation for academic excellence in something else: Marxist studies. Or, shall we say, pro-Marxist studies. At Duke, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for students to escape their instructor’s fervor for Communism, socialism and fiery rhetoric opposing capitalism and the American way of life; this is true both in the classroom and out.

If students take more than one religion, politics, literature, art history, English or history course the odds are fairly good they’ll have Marxist theory rammed down their throats by a collection of instructors whose Marxism-intensive courses are often cross-listed across several departments, in case students had any inclination toward escape.

These days, Duke’s lesser known attractions include a six-course-minimum program in literature called Marxism & Society, which it awards students a certificate for completing, and a "Program in the Study of Sexualities," in which course after course ties feminism to Marxist theories, practices and ideals. A prowl through the university’s course offerings suggests that Duke professors have found clever ways to tie Marxism to just about any subject you can imagine.

Requiring students to read Marx and other writers who’ve expanded upon his doctrine might make sense as part of courses that chronicle the many theories and ideologies that have influenced politics and history in the last century. But if there’s one trait that marks the Marxist courses taught by the Duke cabal, it’s the complete absence of any other viewpoints. Courses like "Utopian Writing," "Collective and Collectivization," "Chicana Feminism," "Money, Sex and Power," "Frantz Fanon and the Network Society," "Marxism and Society," "Marxism and Fredric Jameson," and "Socialist Realism," are a few among the dozens of Marxism-based classes taught each semester. Other courses like "Methodology of Art History," "Crisis, Choice, Change," and "Political Freedom," hide Marxism du jour behind blander course titles.

The Duke community’s reverence for Marxism goes beyond mere course listings. Not too many years ago, wannabe professor Michael Hardt had trouble finding a job. With a Ph.D. from the University of Washington at Seattle, he lacked the narrow specialization and Ivy League education that academic departments look for. Then Hardt teamed up with Antonio Negri, an Italian philosopher and suspected terrorist mastermind serving a 13-year prison sentence in Rome, to write the book "Empire," a Marxist treatise on globalization published in 2000 with rave reviews from academia. Hardt was quickly offered a professorship and tenure at Duke, and now teaches the Marxism & Society program at the university with Duke professor Fredric Jameson, the openly Communist literature department chair at Duke who is widely regarded as America’s foremost Marxist literary critic and writer. Hardt and Jameson’s work is standard assignment in most of the classes listed above as well as dozens of others taught by leftist professors around the country.

It is often difficult to tell where the faculty’s classroom teaching ends and extreme leftist political activism begins. Merely indoctrinating students during classtime apparently isn’t good enough. In their free time, the same pro-Marxist instructors have formed activist groups with students on campus to further promote their anti-capitalist, anti-American views.

The faculty leadership roster of the joint student/faculty activist group Duke Divest reads like a who’s who of university Marxism when cross-referenced with Marxist course listings. Among the group’s 40 faculty members are Hardt, Jameson and Duke literature professor and women’s studies department director Robyn Wiegman, who is scheduled to give a public lecture at the UCLA this winter entitled, "Sex and the Troubled Life of Feminism and Queer Theory," a subject she has taught extensively about at Duke. Also a member of the group is Asian and African Languages and Literature visiting associate professor Becky Thompson, who was instrumental in inviting Laura Whitehorn to give a campus speech for which she was compensated. As previously reported at FrontPage, Whitehorn is a violent left-wing extremist who served 14 years in federal prison for her role in the terror bombing of the U.S. Capitol to protest the liberation of Grenada.

Duke Divest’s apparent purpose is to strengthen America’s enemies in the Middle East by effecting the university’s complete "divestiture" from Israel, including companies or other influences that do business with or interact in any way with Israel or Israelis.

That the group has demonstrated itself to be fiercely pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian and anti-American is no surprise given the list of student members of the group, many of whom, unlike their leftist professorial leaders, have first and last names of Arab origin.

Not long ago, these activists staged a propaganda event billed as a forum to promote the launch of Duke Divest. Despite the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all of the participants in the so-called "forum" predictably towed the pro-Arab, anti-American party line. Audience members heard condemnations of Israel’s "blatant inhumane treatment of the Palestinian forces" but nary a word regarding Israeli military restraint and Palestinian bombings that target civilians. Others drew meandering parallels to the South African divestment campaign.

Professor Kenneth Surin defended the panel’s lack of actual diversity by reminding the audience that the purpose of the event was to promote their campaign. While the Duke Chronicle acknowledged audience complaints of bias, its coverage hinted at disapproval of "a contingent of pro-Israelis" for "firing a slew of directed comments during the question-and-answer session" and making "irreverent remarks."

Billing itself as an Islamic public outreach program, Duke’s Center for the Study of Muslim Networks (CSMN) is actually yet another leftist bastion. CSMN’s website prominently features three "faculty viewpoints" that unanimously side against the U.S. in the war on terror.

CSMN Co-Director Ebrahim Moosa, a Duke religion professor, publicly declared last November, "The world is in mortal threat with the United States being allowed to strut around like a colossus." In another piece he wrote for the New Straits Times-Management Times in March, Moosa called George Bush and Tony Blair "the Christian Taliban" and described the war against Iraq as "unjust American atrocities on the Iraqi people." Ironically enough, Moosa took refuge in America and accepted his position at Duke after Islamic fundamentalists in his native South Africa attempted to kill him by firebombing his house a few years ago. Since then, he’s dedicated his energies to castigating the very country he fled to for protection.

Religion Department Chairman Bruce Lawrence, who is also a member of the Duke Divest, has called for a "jihad that would be a genuine struggle against our own myopia and neglect as much as it is against outside others who condemn or hate us for what we do, not who we are." Beyond blaming the victim, he also implored the survivors to embrace a word that, rightly or wrongly, connotes actions such as 9/11. He was unable to resist rationalizing 9/11, suggesting that bin Laden viewed the attacks as a defense against American imperialism.

Another CSMN professor, Miriam Cooke, cited the American way of life for causing 9/11, forwarding the bizarre thesis that Afghans "easily transformed their capitalist ideology into its religious underside and wrapped it in the rhetoric of Islam" and then "directed their anger and hatred at the centralized state apparatus."

Cosmetically diverse but intellectually monolithic, the CSMN professors unanimously agreed that the U.S. should have eschewed military confrontation with Afghanistan. Taliban Mullahs might agree, but Afghan women might disagree. People interested in further expressions of sympathy for our enemies could have attended the CSMN "Axis of Evil Film Festival," which commenced on February 26.

Duke’s hard left orientation predictably extends to its black studies programs. Most recently, former Clinton castoff Lani Guinier delivered the keynote remarks during the university’s celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. Considering Dr. King’s penchant for judging people by the content of their character, Guinier was a curious choice. Her radical support of racial quotas—judging people by the color of their skin—and the overhaul of our electoral process were so extreme that even Bill Clinton, dubbed the first black President by leftist fellow traveler Toni Morrison, had to withdraw Guinier’s nomination to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

During her remarks, Guinier distorted Dr. King’s legacy by misidentifying her divisive leftist policies as a continuation of King’s work in race relations. After blasting the 5th Circuit’s 1996 decision to curb quotas in Texas universities, Guinier sang the praises of the Texas 10 Percent Plan, which guarantees the best students in every high school a place at Texas or Texas A&M—regardless of race. She undoubtedly forgot to mention the 10 Percent proponent who signed the bill: then-Governor George W. Bush.

Guinier’s dubious contribution to campus discourse was by no means an isolated occurrence; past civil rights speakers have included the likes of Diane Nash, a former activist whose civil rights organization eventually fell victim to the ambitions of Stokely Carmichael. Winning a 1967 invitation to undermine the U.S. war effort by visiting North Vietnam, Nash blazed the treasonous trail for Jane Fonda.

Duke’s campaign against the American way predictably extends to other departments as well. In addition to co-sponsoring the Whitehorn visit, the Women’s Studies Department regularly endeavors to demonize males and to drive a wedge between the sexes. This fall, women (and men) can demean themselves by sitting through a course that equates "gender" with sickness, weakness, and insanity. The Department also offers credit toward its major to students who pass a course on sex in music videos and the movies.

Though unable to offer a degree to its adherents, the Program in the Study of Sexualities offers a chance "to engage the importance of sexuality from an interdisciplinary perspective." It also promises that "its comparative framework challenges the disciplinary chauvinism" that often arises between frivolous social courses on sex and more academically substantive subjects.

Incredibly, Duke relies in large part on Defense Department grants while simultaneously condoning and even promoting anti-American and anti-military attitudes. According to the university’s 2001 long term strategic plan on research, the Pentagon provides approximately 29 percent of Duke’s non-medical research funding.

"Duke is unusually dependent on the Department of Defense for its funding," the report concludes. Without military money, Duke might have to survive with 29 percent less left-wing extremism.

To its credit, Duke permits ROTC to operate on campus and did not banish its programs in deference to the intellectual hooligans of the 1960s. Including its Naval, Air Force, and Army contingents, Duke ROTC had over 100 enrollees in 2002. Security agencies such as the CIA are also able to recruit without university harassment.

Of course, the left would love to eject military recruiters. In its rambling manifesto, the Duke Progressive Alliance describes the U.S. military as a means "to promote American interests through the mass murder of innocent civilians" and opposes ROTC’s presence on campus. DPA spans the spectrum of leftist angst; it portrays the freest, most successful nation in the world as an oppressive dungeon while seemingly praising every orientation and point of view - except patriotism. Just like its sponsor university.




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