Everything you do affects someone else.
• Raymond H. Parks
During the last week or so, I’ve been contemplating how to continue addressing the whole liberal-indoctrination-in-college thing. Sometimes it gets down to “Whom do you believe?” when a student makes a charge and a professor responds. But as it happens many times in sports, as in life, patterns emerge and the choices become clearer.
A couple of weeks ago, I commented on a January 16, 2005 Washington Times story that read, “A 17-year-old Kuwaiti student whose uncles were kidnapped and tortured by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invaders more than a decade ago said his California college political science professor failed him for praising the United States in a final-exam essay last month. Ahmad al-Qloushi, a foreign student at Foothill College near San Jose, Calif., said he was told by professor Joseph A. Woolcock to get psychological treatment because of the pro-American views expressed in his essay.”
In November of 2004, Woolcock asked his “Introduction to American Government & Politics” students to write an essay on one of several topics. Al-Qloushi wrote on one that claimed that scholars “Dye and Zeigler contend that the constitution of the United States was not ‘ordained and established’ by ‘the people’ as we have so often been led to believe. They contend instead that it was written by a small educated and wealthy elite in America who were representative of powerful economic and political interests. Analyze the US constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded the majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest.”
Let me share with you how this is playing out, and why I still side with student Ahmad al-Qloushi.
After reading published excerpts from the essay in question, one has to admit, it could have been written much, much better. It was technically composed by a foreign-born student where English may not be his primary spoken tongue. I have talked to Ahmad on the phone and he sounds like he could be a Valley boy; nevertheless, he writes like your average 17-year-old. He also failed to follow instructions, which will get you flunked any day of the week.
He was asked to analyze from the “text” of the Constitution supporting the Dye-Zeigler dissertation, and not depict its evolution over time. Some of al-Qloushi’s conclusions were opinion not backed up by facts, or just plain incorrect. Based on normal grading criteria, the student may just have deserved the failing grade he received.
Al-Qloushi reportedly responded to his failing grade by saying, “Apparently, if you are an Arab Muslim who loves America, you must be deranged. I didn’t want to be deported for having written a pro-American essay, so as soon as I left his office, I made an appointment with the school psychologist.”
I later received an email from one of Woolcock’s students that read in part, “Professor Woolcock is a hateful man; spending any time with him in his classroom will clearly prove that. After only two weeks in his class I knew, unless I had similar views to his, I would not succeed in the prescribed coursework. The initial reading for his basic survey class in political science is steeped in powerful forms of brainwashing.”
Before I ever knew of the controversy, a story read, “Los Altos Hills, CA (PRWEB) December 10, 2004 — On Tuesday, December 7th, in an ongoing controversy at Foothill College, Political-Science Professor Joseph Woolcock filed a grievance against student Ahmad Al-Qloushi for mentioning Woolcock’s name in the media. Don Dorsey, Dean of Student Affairs, summarized the grievance as, “Professor Woolcock feels harassed by your (al-Qloushi) having mentioned his name to the media.”
The January Times piece concluded “College officials declined to comment, saying it is a confidential matter because Mr. al-Qloushi and Mr. Woolcock have filed complaints.” If confidentiality is the crux of Woolcock’s complaint, then why is the college allowed to publicly use his name? I guess Woolcock won’t bite the hand that feeds him.
Since the whole incident was being investigated internally, I respected the process and made no attempt to contact the parties involved, because I am a columnist and not a reporter. However, the parties have since made unsolicited efforts to contact and give me their sides of the story.
To be honest, I did initially side with the student. Liberal indoctrination in academia is hardly a new phenomenon so I saw little on face value to refute the practice in this case. That is until Professor Woolcock contacted me twice.
The Initial Diagnosis
As a father of two teenage boys who are prone to exaggeration in “crisis” situations, I can see how Ahmad may have become emotional over his failing grade. Whether that emotion can be diagnosed as possible mental instability is one that I may not personally have made based on one incident.
In a recent press release sent to me, Professor Woolcock wrote, “… he (al-Qloushi) expressed in great detail, concerns and feelings of high anxiety he was having about certain developments which had occurred over ten years ago in his country. Some aspects of his concerns were similar to certain concerns expressed in his paper. Based on the nature of the concerns and the feelings of high anxiety which he expressed, I encouraged him to visit one of the college counselors. I neither forced nor ordered Mr. al-Qloushi to see a counselor; I have no authority to do so.”
At the beginning of this column, I quoted my father because a diagnosis of mental instability may have long reaching ramifications on someone’s future career aspirations and should be reached after more than one documented example of teenage angst. An incorrect diagnosis could result in ineligibility from many future endeavors.
While it was notable that Woolcock waited until he had a private conference with al-Qloushi before grading his paper, in my humble opinion, Woolcock’s mental assessment of Ahmed was premature and incorrect. Repressed memory is an affliction the appropriate professionals have legitimized. People can be imprisoned today (rightly or wrongly) when an incident just pops up from the dark recesses of someone’s mind.
I personally have never lived in a country while it was being “violently” invaded, so I know not of the daily fear and anguish of a child seeing family members whisked away never to return. That is something Woolcock could have been more sensitive to.
Al-Qloushi responded to his interaction with Woolcock by adding, “My essay is passionate about America, but it is not ‘emotional.’ Finally, the claim that I was sent to counseling for a war that occurred 15 years ago is just, well, convenient.”
Ahmad al-Qloushi is president of the Foothill College Republicans. That would make him an easy target of campus liberals who claim to celebrate tolerance and inclusion, except when their views are questioned.
A college publication “The Sentinel” claims that rabid, right wing attack dog bloggers like myself have been on some kind of seek-and-destroy mission towards Professor Woolcock. Although the Sentinel claims otherwise, I have never received personal information like his phone number or email address, that is until he contacted me himself.
Given all that you have written about me and without ever talking with me or meeting me, do you think that as a matter of fairness you should now post this Press Release on your website and give it the same prominence you have given your statement about me? Do you think that is the minimum I can ask of you? I await your kind response.
As I said earlier, I was fully prepared to re-evaluate and temper my comments about Professor Woolcock. There are always two sides to every story. Now while I have read about and been told about enough examples of liberal bias in the classroom to believe it exists, I can see how emotions got the best of all involved.
However in a second email from Woolcock, his disposition changed.
Thanks for your response. I am trying to understand your reasoning. According to your message, two “students” called you on their own and relayed information about me which you then developed into a “column”, that defamed, slander and berated me. No independent person confirmed the purported stories you were allegedly told. You never talked with me because you were told the “matter” was being handled internally.
You never met me and knew nothing about me until those “two students” called and relayed information about me. Yet, you went ahead and based solely on hearsay, publicly defamed, slander and assassinated my character. How do you justify your actions in that regard? And how do you even suggest that you “…disagree with some of my methods…?” What methods are you talking about? Have you ever observed a class I teach? When did hearsay become evidence that can withstand the kinds of scrutiny that are at the core of American jurisprudence?
I would like to invite you to remove the column you posted on your website about me that defames and slander me. I think it is only reasonable for you to do so. I am hope you are fully cognizant of the ramifications of your actions.
A Final Exam
To Mr. Woolcock, I’m not one of his 17-year-old students. He has now threatened me, so I say, “bring it on.” But I will respond to his email as I would an examination.
Two students of Woolcock did contact me on their own. They offered first hand testimony as to events that they witnessed. First hand accounts are not considered hearsay. Hearsay is usually defined as third parties relaying descriptions of events they did not personally witness. Based on numerous published reports of indoctrination, intimidation, and death threats offered to conservatives on college campuses, I based my opinion on such. If I were wrong about Woolcock, surely other students who take his classes would have told me of such. I’m still waiting….
Slander is usually defined as fictitious accusations that result in monetary damage. Since Woolcock hasn’t been fired (in fact this whole episode has probably resulted in pop-star status amongst his colleagues and student followers), his use of that accusation is also incorrect.
Based on the first hand experience of one of his students, the use of The New York Times as a daily study aid shows a liberal bias. In a political science class, one would hope “balance” would be the standard operating procedure. Is there a conservative publication also offered in his class as daily reference material or is the Times something he considers middle-of-the-road? If so, I maintain his methods of teaching are slanted left and something I disagree with, especially when his opinions are considered gospel to his students.
Lastly, I am flattered that of all the commentary offered on this incident from all the media entities, print, radio, and television, mine is the one he “invites” to be removed from websites I do not own. I should do so, or else.
If I were a 17-year-old kid whose future he held in his hands, I may be bullied into not only a retraction, but also a removal (censor) of a column. I’ve said a lot harsher things about people more powerful than Professor Woolcock. I was not the one who made his name public; it was media agencies more powerful than the ones I write for that did so, and if he wants a press release run, then he should send it to the media himself. My grade doesn’t depend on obeying the orders of a teacher.
I’m sure I would fail Woolcock’s examination and he’d think I too need counseling.
I’m in good company.
Bob Parks is a former Republican congressional candidate (California 24th District), ex-Navy, single dad, graphic designer, life-long New England Patriots fan, and member/writer for the National Advisory Council of Project 21.