Tuesday, February 06, 2007
On this day:

Indoctrination 101

To find the latest example of leftist ideology masquerading as scholarship, we don't have to go very far. Undergraduates at the University of Alabama had an opportunity this semester to register for a new class called "Modern Gay America." From the Crimson White:

Suzy Chandler found an accepting community in her history class.

The sophomore in New College, who is gay, said she is enrolled in a Modern Gay America class at the Capstone. Chandler said she heard about the class through Crossroads Community Center, and decided to enroll. She said being able to see where she fits into history is one of the many benefits of the class.

"Most of us have found community in this class," Chandler said. "And there are straight people here, but they are our allies."
It's clear that by "allies," Miss Chandler doesn't mean those among her fellow students who share a love of history. She means her ideological compatriots.

In fact, this course has little to do with the scholarly study of history, but is instead entirely devoted to the advocacy of a very narrow view of history in which truth is less important than dogma. The course syllabus lists the following "expected learning outcomes":

1) To acquire an appreciation of the diversity of American identities and experiences particularly the lost history of Gay and Lesbian history, identity, and growth in a culture that ignored, or forget them.

2) To understand a range of cultural artifacts: novels, plays, autobiographies, memoirs, photography, film, painting, and music that one can utilize in the study of the development of an individual and unique Gay and Lesbian community during the 20th century.

3) To understand the connections between such diverse cultural spheres as popular entertainment, consumer culture, the fine arts and broader American cultural values. We also want to look at how Gay and Lesbian people working in secret helped to shape the different emerging American cultural moment that was the 20th century.
Those are the "expected learning outcomes" of a support group, not a history class.

"Modern Gay America" may be a topic worth studying, but only in an environment free of ideological blinders and removed from political advocacy. Furthermore, it should be a subject reserved for graduate or post-graduate work. The focus of undergraduate education should be exposure to a broad-based curriculum in the humanities, the sciences, mathematics, and history. For college students to be familiar with the text of the U.S. Constitution is essential. For them to be familiar with the subtexts of the Wizard of Oz is optional.

The introduction of hyper-politicized elective courses into the college curriculum detracts from more serious intellectual pursuits and undermines public confidence in higher education. For those undergrads who are keen to learn about modern gay America, I'd suggest buying a subscription to The Advocate.