Author’s Note: The email referenced in this column was composed by Chris Moore of East Carolina University, Michael Behrent of Appalachian State University, Jason Sturdevant of North Carolina State University, and Altha Cravey of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Please feel free to email these public servants with your thoughts.
Dear Faculty Forward Network (firstname.lastname@example.org):
I received your recent email on educational inclusiveness and diversity with great interest. I have written three books, spoken on 88 university campuses, and written approximately 1000 columns on the subject in the last 13 years. This was the first time I’ve ever been contacted by your organization. Therefore, I assumed you were writing about something important and that you had something meaningful and intelligent to say. Unfortunately, after reading your short correspondence, I realize that I was mistaken on both counts. That’s a harsh assessment so please allow me to explain:
Your email begins with the following patronizing assertion:
“Anyone who has taught in a university knows that education cannot occur without an inclusive environment that promotes diversity to the fullest degree possible.”
That is just demonstrably false. Former UNC President Tom Ross and his administration spent millions of dollars fighting a seven-year legal battle in which they sought authority to deny tenure and promotion to UNC professors for viewpoints published in online columns. Not one of the professors in your organization criticized Ross for that wrong position on academic freedom. In fact, many of you defended him when he was fired. You even had the audacity to call his firing “political.”
Your rank hypocrisy elevates academic dishonesty to a Zen art form. It is also conclusive refutation of the claim that “anyone who has taught in a university” knows about the importance of an “inclusive environment that promotes diversity.” It only shows that you know how to bury your “progressive” heads in a place where the sun doesn’t shine when your political allies are trying to purge your political enemies from the university system.
Your hypocrisy continues in the very next paragraph:
“UNC-Chapel Hill is dedicated ‘to teaching a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.”
When you wrote that sentence, included that quotation, and sent it to me via email, you were apparently unaware that in 2003 I caught UNC-Chapel Hill systematically trying to throw Christian groups off campus for refusing to purge their constitutions of references to their orthodox Christian beliefs. Nor do you seem aware that in 2004 I found a plaintiff to challenge that practice. Thanks to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the plaintiffs won a federal injunction against UNC in 2005.
That injunction had the effect of temporarily stopping UNC from trying to throw Christian groups off campus based upon their clearly established right to freely associate in accordance with their own religious convictions. UNC would resume their unlawful efforts just a few short years later.
It is worth noting that the plaintiffs I found for ADF had a mostly minority membership. At UNC, it appears that the zeal to exclude Orthodox Christians exceeds the commitment to include minorities in that “diverse community” you keep mentioning.
In the same paragraph you state the following:
“North Carolina Central affirms its ‘commitment to academic excellence in a diverse educational and cultural environment.’”
As you know, North Carolina Central is a historically black college. In other words, its primary purpose is to provide an environment where black students can go to school with other black students and avoid interacting with whites whenever possible. If you keep trying, you might be able to find some example of UNCs commitment to diversity. So far you just keep highlighting its hypocrisy.
Finally, you end this torturously idiotic paragraph with the following:
“Appalachian State seeks to ‘promote a spirit of inclusion.’”
Once again, you failed to do your homework. In 2006, an Appalachian State professor threatened to have a student prosecuted for simply expressing his disagreement with same-sex marriage. Fortunately, I got the student lawyered up – again with the help of ADF. When the university got wind of the suit they had to remove the provision of the handbook that allowed for students to be expelled simply for expressing their core religious convictions.
The very idea that it took an impending lawsuit to change their oppressive speech code was appalling. Before we intervened, Appalachian State appeared willing to let a homosexual professor intimidate and potentially expel a teenaged student simply for disagreeing with his same sex marriage advocacy on one isolated occasion. That is not what I call promoting a “spirit of inclusion. It is what I call promoting a spirit of totalitarianism.
So why exactly did you decide to write and enlighten me on diversity and inclusion? It all became crystal clear in the next paragraph:
“Margaret Spellings embodies the corporatization of higher education – she’s a political appointee instead of an educator or academic.”
So let me get this straight (at the risk of sounding heterosexist). You object to the new UNC system president Margaret Spellings for two reasons. First, she came from corporate America. Second, she served in the Bush administration.
Once again, you are ignoring history. Before Tom Ross was president, UNC was under the leadership of Erskine Bowles. As you know, Bowles was a member of the Clinton administration. Before that he was a corporate executive. So your real objections to Spellings must be something other than what you stated. What could those objections be? Before answering that, let me state a couple of my conclusions:
1. It appears to me that you think Democrats should control the UNC system whenever the Democrats are in control of Raleigh.
2. It appears that you also think Democrats should control the UNC system whenever the Republicans are in control of Raleigh.
If that is true then why don’t you just stop referring to it as the UNC system? Why not just call it the DNC system?
If someone ever challenges you on this rank hypocrisy just remind him you are committed to “diversity” and “inclusion” and “de-politicalizing” the system. Don’t let the fact that you don’t understand what those words actually mean keep you from repeating them mindlessly while your colleagues nod in agreement and rock back and forth like a bunch of catatonic schizophrenics.
Fortunately, buried beneath your lies are your true objections to the Spelling’s appointment. They are, so to speak, spelled out in the very next paragraph:
“It is also disturbing that Margaret Spellings would be considered to run a diverse, highly respected university system when she used her position as U.S. Education Secretary to divide America, having once described same-sex marriage as a ‘lifestyle’ to which ‘many parents would not want young children exposed.’”
As a preliminary matter, let me remind you that Spellings is not being asked to run a “diverse, highly respected university system.” She is being asked to run a system that used to be diverse and highly respected until it was destroyed by its Democratic leadership.
There can be no denying that Spelling’s predecessor Tom Ross did two things that undermined diversity within the system and respect outside the system. First, he lost the longest, most expensive, and highly publicized legal effort to curtail academic freedom in UNC system history. Second, and at the very same time, he presided over the largest academic fraud case in the entire history of the nation. UNC’s fake African American Studies courses were taught by a virtual army of highly trained academic imposters.
But, in your view, both of these sins are forgivable. Why? It is because Tom Ross supports same-sex marriage. And that is all that really matters. In fact, there is no other issue that matters more than approval of homosexuality. It has become an ideological litmus test for employment in the UNC system. If you are identified as opposing it you are declared academically ineligible. Even a fake degree in African American Studies will not be enough to save your bacon.
Note also that in your twisted view one does not even have to oppose same-sex marriage to be disqualified from leading the UNC system. All you have to do is state the empirically undeniable truth that “many parents would not want their children exposed” to such a lifestyle.
There is no denying that such a statement is true. But UNC professors are no longer committed to proclaiming the truth or even committed to allowing the truth to be proclaimed freely. They are committed to imposing ideological litmus tests that ensure one thing: That everyone agrees with everyone at the risk of being excluded from the educational environment in the name of diversity and inclusion.
And you are the people who claim to be leading us forward and preparing our children to function in our constitutional republic? God help us all.