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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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1/06/2005

Academic Freedom

A young Kuwaiti Arab Muslim writes a disturbing article in Front Page Magazine today. Here's the gist:

I wrote an essay defending America’s Founding Fathers and upholding the US constitution as a pioneering document, which has contributed to extraordinary freedoms in America and other corners of the world - including my corner, the Middle East.

Professor Woolcock didn’t grade my essay. Instead he told me to come to see him in his office the following morning. I was surprised the next morning when instead of giving me a grade, Professor Woolcock verbally attacked me and my essay. He told me, “Your views are irrational.” He called me naïve for believing in the greatness of this country, and told me "America is not God's gift to the world." Then he upped the stakes and said "You need regular psychotherapy."
front page magazine
Unbelievably the Professor has filed a grievance against Mr. Al-Qloushi for, as Dean of Students Don Dorsey put it, ""Professor Woolcock feels harassed by your having mentioned his name to the media.""

I wrote the following to Dean Dorsey. I suspect his inbox is filling up as the Front Page story was picked up by Powerline.

Dear Dean Dorsey,

I have had the rather unpleasant experience of reading the Front Page Magazine account written by Ahmad Al-Qloushi . (http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16550)

It appears Mr. Al-Qloushi has a rather clearer understanding of the principles upon which your Republic was founded than does his professor.

Writing as a Canadian I am more than a little dismayed that any college would entertain a grievance from a professor about a student exercising First Ammendment rights.

What your professor's actions have done is put Foothill in the eye of the same sort of media storm which overwhelmed Dan Rather. Somewhere at Foothill there must be someone who can recognize the Alice in Wonderland quality to this story.

I am hoping it will be you and that you will use your office to protect Mr. Al-Qloushi's right to dissent.

Years ago, when I was an undergraduate, an Eastern European professor of political theory assigned Alexandre Solzhenitsyn's "Warning to the West". It was very clear the prof thought the book the best thing since diced beets. I did not. In fact I thought it was an exercise in proto-fascism. Which I wrote and failed the essay. I protested the mark and there was a perfectly reasonable, academic discussion. I made my points, he made his; we disagreed but my mark went to an "A".

In the academy people disagree; that disagreement is not about therapy, it is about the respectful exchange of ideas. A professor who does not understand this has no place in an academic institution.

Yours,

Jay Currie

(I am posting this letter to my blog www.reviewing.blogspot.com)