Public Intellectual Rejects Scrutiny

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Academics rarely miss a chance, in or out of the classroom, to promote their ideas. What they do far less frequently is invite inquiry.

“When did it happen that professors in the U.S. became like dissidents in the Soviet Union? “ sociologist Laurie Essig writes in The Chronicle Review. “Suddenly what we say is so important that it merits concerted attacks from right-wing bloggers, concerned citizens, and even the GOP.”

“The far right examines our syllabi with fine-toothed combs looking for evidence of both our biases as well as our stupidity and incompetence.” Sometimes we don’t have to comb that much.

Essig teaches sociology and women’s and gender studies at Middlebury College. When she taught at the University of Vermont, one of her favorable reviews on noted that “She oversimplifies theorists and misapplies them to her modern, liberal ideas. “

As you might expect, her unvavorables are even more scathing. “She often makes comments in class like ‘You all got low SAT scores and that’s why you go to UVM,’” one reviewer remembered. “ Expect to be insulted on a regular basis.”

Essig is the author of American Plastic: Boob Jobs, Credit Cards, and Our Quest for Perfection, “a critique of neoliberal capitalism through cosmetic surgery,” as her web site puts it, and Queer in Russia: A Story of Sex, Self, and the Other (Duke University Press, 1999).

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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