Archive | October 2015

BGSU Chapter President and Colleague Coordinate Presidential Poll in Ohio

ACADEME BLOG

At Bowling Green State University, Melissa Miller and David Jackson, both faculty members in the university’s department of political science, have worked with the university’s office of communications and contracted with Zogby Analytics to poll likely Ohio voters on their preferences among the presidential candidates of both parties.

This poll is the first sponsored by BGSU. According to Jennifer Sobolewski, the university’s communications manager, the total cost of the poll was $9,500. She suggested that the poll will “raise BGSU’s visibility.”

BGSU is located in Wood County is a swing county in Ohio, which has become one of the most consistent swing states in the nation with a substantial number of electoral votes.

In an article on the poll published in the Toledo Blade, Miller points out that “Wood County’s record of voting for the winning presidential candidate is second longest in the state, after Ottawa County. Wood County last…

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Ben Carson Is Very Much Opposed to Political Correctness but a Proponent of Campus Censorship of Free Expression

ACADEME BLOG

As Tyler Kingkade has illustrated in an  article published yesterday by the Huffington Post, Ben Carson has frequently railed against “political correctness” and, in particular, against the attempts to silence conservative voices of college campuses:

For example, Carson compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany last March, before saying, “I know you’re not supposed to say ‘Nazi Germany,’ but I don’t care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”

In 2012, Carson said: “[People] need to rise up, they need to say to political correctness: ‘Take a hike. This is who we are, this is what we believe in, these are principles that allowed us to become the pinnacle nation in the world in record time and we’re not about to throw them out of the window…

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On Ben Carson’s Advice to Those Confronted by a Mass Murderer

ACADEME BLOG

When our son was younger and we were watching a television show or a film that happened to feature any gunfire, he would wonder out loud why a person who had been shot had not simply dodged out of the way of the bullets. He had apparently watched any number of cartoons in which characters escape bullets by stretching their bodies in extremely elastic ways around the flying bullets.

So, when I heard Ben Carson say that, if confronted by a mass murderer while in a group of people, he would urge them to rush the gunman because “he can’t get all of us,” it recalled my son’s childish notion that bullets can somehow be escaped if one simply remains calm and determined and concentrates on avoiding the bullets.

But Carson is an adult, and despite all of his advocacy of second-amendment rights, he seems to have little appreciation for…

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The Early Presidential Debates in a Single Chart

ACADEME BLOG

Debate Topics

It is very encouraging to see the discussion of student debt early-childhood education, at least on the Democratic side, and the fact that standardized testing has been included among the topics not yet discussed by either party.

From our perspective, it would be very helpful to see a discussion of the efficacy of corporate “reform” of public education, the mounting scandals involving charter schools and for-profit higher education, and the broader issue of the preservation of public education as an enduring and necessary public good, rather than a more ephemeral corporate commodity.

It would also be very helpful to see a discussion of unions on the Democratic side–a discussion that might include the very clear connection between a middle-class standard of living and labor unions, the effects of “right to work,” and the push-back against the exploitative expansion of contingent employment.

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Why is ABC Hiding from the Public the Ugly Truth about the Treatment of Refugee Families?

ACADEME BLOG

The author of this post is Ana Fores Tamayo, and it is a somewhat edited version of what was was originally published on her blog Adjunct Justice on September 18 [http://adjunct-justice.blogspot.com/2015/09/why-is-abc-hiding-from-public-us-dirty.html].

When Pope Francis touches US soil, he will begin a whirlwind tour through the northeast corner of our vast country. So, he decided to hold a virtual audience with several parts of the country that he would not be able to visit during his brief sojourn here.

Via satellite then, he spoke with students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city; with the homeless and with those dedicated people who work with them in Los Angeles; and finally, with parishioners from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, many of whom have led the efforts to show that the refugee crisis in the United States is a humanitarian crisis, not a political issue to be exploited.

A one-hour special covering these papal visits…

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Sometimes a Single Statistic Is a Terrible Revelation

ACADEME BLOG

Over the past decade, any number of commentators have noted the striking differences between our national discussions of and our national responses to terrorist attacks and domestic gun violence. In fact, that contrast has now been referenced so frequently that it has become something of a truism.

But, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, has highlighted a statistic that should breathe new life into that truism and give it fresh dimension.

It is a statistic that should profoundly disturb every American, whether they are gun owners or not. Moreover, it should make us much more determined to move beyond the current impasse—beyond the well-rehearsed talking points–and to treat this issue with the great seriousness that it not only deserves but demands.

Here is that statistic:

Since 1970, nearly 1.35 million Americans have been killed by firearms.

As a point of…

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Academic Freedom Is Ultimately Tied to the Right to Vote

ACADEME BLOG

Cecil Canton, my colleague on the CBC Executive Committee, has passed along this “Weekly Commentary” from Jesse Jackson, Sr., about the erosion of voting rights in Alabama. Very ironically but very predictably, once the Supreme Court ruled that the states subject to federal monitoring under the Voting Rights Act had moved beyond the need for such oversight, their state governments have quickly resurrected many of the strategies that they had employed to suppress the African-American vote during the Jim Crow period.

And as Cecil states in his e-mail, “Clearly, as academics we justify protecting what we do by saying that we teach our students to be able to more effectively participate in our democracy. If that is true, then we need to be first in the fight to protect the most essential part of that democracy: the franchise! Especially in those places where it is most under attack and for…

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Let’s at Least Talk Realistically about Guns

ACADEME BLOG

In a comment on my recent post “Four Things to Know about the Debate over Guns,” a reader quoted John F. Kennedy and George Washington on the value of an armed citizenry as a hedge against government tyranny.

Yet, in the post itself, I never suggest eliminating gun ownership. I simply present statistics. Though I do agree that those statistics should be a cause for great concern, the person who posted the comment did the extrapolating, not me.

In actuality, the reader may have been responding as much to another comment on my post as to the post itself, but we have all seen these sorts of canned responses to any suggestion of “gun control.” Apparently, those who see government tyranny lurking around every corner have no similar concerns about NRA indoctrination.

In any case, some sort of modest restrictions on access to unlimited firepower are now clearly needed because…

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Self-Promotion Indistinguishable from Stupidity

ACADEME BLOG

Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, is desperate to attract any acknowledgement of, never mind genuine interest in, his presidential ambitions. So, it is hardly a surprise that he would insert himself into the debate over gun access following the mass murder at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

Never mind that Jindal’s own state has the most unrestricted access to guns, the highest rate of gun violence, and the highest rate of gun deaths in the nation. When the father of the Oregon murderer spoke publicly on the tragedy and expressed great dismay that anyone should be able to acquire an extensive arsenal of guns and ammo as his son had done in a relatively short period ahead of the murders, Jindal saw his opportunity to be both pro-gun and anti-immigrant in the same breath.

Jindal must have immediately taken note of the fact that the father of the Oregon murderer…

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Distinguishing between Tolerance and Intolerance Used to Be Easier

ACADEME BLOG

John Wilson and April Kelly-Woessner have been having a very thought-provoking exchange on the relative tolerance or intolerance evident in the views of today’s young adults in comparison to earlier generations at that age.

Somewhere in the mix of all of these issues, one probably has to account for the broader cultural influence of a Far Right rhetorical strategy that has become commonplace over the last several decades, but has become much exaggerated since Obama was elected president.

In other posts to this blog, there has been a discussion of what a “balanced” viewpoint means—and, more specifically, a discussion of the media’s conflation of fair coverage of all viewpoints with an almost mathematically equal coverage of all viewpoints. As much as anything else, this practice has made the lunatic fringe seem much closer to the mainstream than it has in most periods in our recent national history.

That rhetorical strategy…

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