Central Connecticut Counterculture

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

When I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jay Bergman of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), I couldn’t help but wonder, what’s a nice guy like this doing teaching in a school like that?

When he complained in a letter to the local newspaper about the lack of intellectual diversity at CCSU, he cited as an example the day-long forum on slavery reparations in the United States held by the African Studies Program (ASP). Dr. Bergman pointed out that the same department was entirely mute on the subject of the enslavement of Africans by Africans taking place to this day in the Sudan, and for this analysis got a stinging rebuke in that same newspaper from the chairman of the African Studies Program at CCSU.

“The protests against reparations stand on the same platform that produced apartheid, Hitler, and the KKK,” the chairman and a colleague said. “Bergman and his colleagues’ cloaked-daggered statements suggest that blacks do not have the intellectual capacity to decide what is best for them and how injustices should be remedied. It is unfortunate that the blind rage of hatred against black skin holds so many minds captive both in academic gowns and pinstripe suits, as well as white hoods.”

That same African Studies Program remains mute on the human rights abuses of the government of the African nation of Zimbabwe, Dr. Bergman told me. Indeed, I could find no recent mention of it in the ASP’s Africa Update.

Nor does the blinkers-on approach to learning end there. “When students hear from most professors on most issues, they get what the Communist Party used to call ‘The Party Line,’” said Dr. Bergman, who specializes in the history of the Soviet Union. “In 14 years at CCSU, no program has featured a speaker who takes the pro-life view of abortion or who is in favor of gun rights.”

“When two students sent a letter to a lesbian professor denouncing homosexuality, it brought on a faculty protest.”

Few faculty members spoke up in Dr. Bergman’s defense when the Africa Studies Program head viciously attacked him. The president of the school privately commended him for his work and publicly disagreed with Dr. Bergman’s comments on the lack of intellectual diversity at CCSU.

The president of CCSU has been having a few problems of his own lately, mostly self-inflicted. As The New York Times reported this past March, “Richard L. Judd, the university president since 1996, has been accused of borrowing material from at least three sources without attribution when he wrote a Feb. 26 article for The Hartford Courant about the conflict between Greece and Turkey over the island of Cyprus.” One of those sources was The New York Times editorial page.

Dr. Judd’s indiscretions predated the flap over the editorial. As The New York Times reported, “Mr. Judd was reprimanded by the board [of trustees] in 2002 after using flashing lights on his car and pretending his university identification was a police badge to pull over a motorist in Newington.” Dr. Judd is retiring in July.

Dr. Bergman himself is a distinguished professor of history who has published more articles than many of his colleagues have read. The school he works for has racked up other, more dubious distinctions.

“The Women’s Studies Department openly declares itself to be an arm of the feminist movement,” Dr. Bergman points out. “Expand your education,” the department’s web page urges. “Empower your voice. Enlarge your mind.”

One way in which the department tried to do this was via a conference last fall entitled “Breast Unveiled,” which promised to explore “the cultural, cinematic, medical, and media views of the female breast.” When I asked the media contact for the event if many men attended the conference, she laughed and said, “There were a few.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.