Move over George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Make way for Plato and Socrates.
After successfully routing the “Dead White Guys” some of us still refer to as America’s founding fathers from classrooms in the United States, the multiculturalists have a new target—ancient philosophers. At the annual meetings of the American Philosophical Association (APA), sessions on gay, transgendered and feminist philosophers and philosophies already outnumber panels on the sages of Rome and Greece by large margins. And when they do get inclusive and actually include the ancients, the APA sessions on the sages not infrequently turn on their relevance to gender politics.
At Rutgers, the Summer Institute of Diversity won the Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy programs award from the APA last year. “The program brings together students from universities across the country for an all-expense-paid week of programs, lectures and social activities,” Michelle Nealy writes in Diverse Issues In Higher Education. “The students interacted with some of the leading academic philosophers in the field, including Dr. Jorge Garcia, former chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on Blacks in Philosophy and author of The Heart of Racism: Essays in Diversity, Race and Relativism, and Rutgers professor Dr. Douglas Husak, a leading scholar in criminal law philosophy.” Husak is the author of Legalize This! The Case For Decriminalizing Drugs.
Latin scholar Thomas Fleming takes a different approach. “I created The Rockford Institute Convivium as an extension of my own method of self-education,” he explains. “I spend months not only reading Roman Republican history and Latin literature but studying topography (the study of terrain and street layout and art, until the point has come when my imaginary world of republican Rome has fused with the reality of Rome today.”
“Few of the students may take this adventure as seriously as I do, but most of them read something,” Dr. Fleming writes. “Many learn a great deal, and when they go home, they know how to begin learning about the Roman Republic or the French Revolution or the Scottish Enlightenment or ancient Sicily.” At a minimum, they are not likely to confuse the republicans of ancient Rome with the American political party that nominally controls both the White House and the U. S. Congress.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.