There is a species of radical leftist that believes the main purpose of taxpayer-funded universities is to indoctrinate students in radical left-wing ideology. Such people believe the only legitimate form of scholarly research and teaching is to force upon students the ideas and agendas of the left because only these represent correct thinking.
For them, the highest form of academic inquiry is to engage in one-sided advocacy. They believe faculty members at universities should be hired mainly, if not exclusively, on the basis of their devotion to radical leftist ideology.
They believe classrooms should be arenas in which students are immersed into leftist NewThink.
They believe student grades should reflect the extent to which the student toes the ideological line of the radical left.
They believe academic conferences and research forums should be restricted to those who advocate the left’s political agenda, while non-leftist dissident thought should be suppressed and barred.
Most important of all, they believe those who dare criticize the radical tenured left should be silenced and denounced.
The totalitarian left believes taxpayers are morally obligated to fund the teaching of extremist ideology in the classroom, including by people advocating the demise of those same taxpayers and of their country.
It is the job of citizens, insist the academic leftists, to sit back passively and pay for the far left to operate propaganda centers, while the radicals collect their cushy salaries as payment for advocating their anti-Israel agenda.
It is the job of universities, the tenured left maintains, to criticize (actually to demonize) the state of Israel – just as long as no one is permitted to criticize those critics of Israel.
Nowhere is this ideological extremism so clearly on display as in the Department of Politics at Ben-Gurion University (BGU), a pseudo-academic propaganda and indoctrination center disguised as an academic department. It is not the only such department in Israel or at BGU, but it may well be the worst.
Last year an international panel of experts appointed by the Israel Council of Higher Education (which oversees and funds universities) called for shutting down this BGU department altogether, due to the abysmally low quality of its work its having replaced serious scholarly research with one-sided advocacy.
The far left faculty members in the department denounce Israel in unison, and some call for world boycotts of Israel. In response to the CHE criticism of the departmental obsession with one-side advocacy, BGU hired three new politics faculty members in order to generate diversity and pluralism – but the three new ones are also leftist radicals.
Students in political science classes at BGU who dare to express pro-Israel opinions tell of being penalized and harassed by the faculty. The single non-leftist faculty member who taught in the department was fired a few years back for incorrect thinking.
Diversity and pluralism in the department consist of people of various ethnicities, genders, heights, and weights all advocating leftist and Marxist ideas. Diversity of thought is mercilessly suppressed, and serious academic standards are trashed.
In recent weeks, the totalitarian left has been circling its wagons in solidarity with the Department of Politics at BGU. Leftist-dominated academic associations are flooding the press and the CHE with angry demands to defend the right of the Department of Politics at BGU to engage in “advocacy” and leftist indoctrination.
Recruited by members of BGU’s politics department, foreign members of the academic left and Israeli tenured radicals have been leading the campaign to defend the BGU propagandists.
The campaigners demand that the right of BGU leftists to indoctrinate and propagandize at taxpayer expense be defended against CHE criticism and interference. The defenders of the department insist that “positivism,” i.e. actual scholarly research, is only one legitimate strand of academic activity in political science, meaning they really want ideological indoctrination to be the “alternative” function of academics.
A recent one-sided conference devoted to advocating political advocacy as the proper calling for academia was held at Ben-Gurion University. Participants were greeted by BGU President Rivka Carmi, who regularly insists she is not aware of any one-sided advocacy or indoctrination activities held at BGU. This is the same Carmi whose belief in pluralism was manifested in her firing Prof. Yeruham Leavitt because he dared express a politically incorrect opinion about children being raised by homosexual couples.
And so the Orwellian inversions continue. Under the campaign to defend the right of BGU radicals to indoctrinate students in anti-Israel ideology, pluralism and diversity are achieved by maintaining a department in which only far leftists may teach.
Academic freedom is achieved by suppressing the right to criticize anti-Israel extremists. The highest form of scholarly research is the promulgation of hate propaganda and anti-Zionist advocacy. Diversity of ideas is achieved by suppressing all non-leftist thought.
And the highest form of public responsibility and accountability is when taxpayers are coerced into paying for the inculcation of extremist ideas that the taxpayers themselves reject and abhor.
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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