Friday, February 27, 2009

The Ayers-Dohrn Paradox

Once again Zombie, with his photo-essay on William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, demonstrates the future of journalism. I particularly like the explanation of the the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox:

It was quite clear that every single person there (except me) idolized these two unapologetic violent revolutionaries. The entire store was packed full of people.

But we ran smack dab into what I call the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox, which is:

Ayers and Dohrn gained fame as violent revolutionaries willing to commit murder and other terrorist acts in order to overthrow the United States. For that, they were greatly worshipped by the far left. Now, in their sunset years, they’re trying to re-cast themselves as “respectable” left-wing professors with “reasonable” opinions, who have long ago sworn off violence. And so, at these events, neither of them ever mentions their violent heyday, except rarely in passing. Instead, they focus exclusively on their current obsessions: Introducing Marxist thought into schools, and closing down the prison system. However, almost no one who goes to see Ayers and Dohrn gives a damn about hearing monotonous lectures on these particular topics: instead, their fans idolize them because of their violent revolutionary past. So at these events, the audience (as in this case) is full of far-far-far-left radicals who came in order to hear overheated revolutionary rhetoric. But instead, what they get is a boring professorial monologue. If Ayers and Dohrn were nothing more than your run-of-the-mill leftist professors, no one would go to their appearances. They’re coasting on their violent reputation, while at the same time trying to distance themselves from it. And that is the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox.

Another paradox is how leftists think people like Ayers and Dohrn are "great" instructors. One of the most common attacks I get is how leftists are horrified that I might actually be teaching students from a traditional perspective, abjuring indoctrination, and demanding clarity of thought and excellence in work product.

One of my students, who transferred to Berkeley some time back, noted in an e-mail how professors there caved to students' culture of entitlement, essentially dumbing-down the curriculum:
It's funny that you write to me now ... [I was] just reflecting today on how your classes provided such an excellent foundation for the political science courses ... taken so far. I'm actually in my second semester in Berkeley so I still have about a year and a half left until I graduate and go to law school ... Academically I think Berkeley is overrated; they hardly require critical thinking or analysis and make us rely heavily on readings and honing the skill of regurgitating them. I wish the grading was more difficult and we weren't babied so much here but I guess the demographics of these students give them more of a sense of entitlement to an A grade than the students in Long Beach.
Wouldn't want too much "critical thinking," you know ... students might figure out that folks like William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn - and many of their ideological comrades at "elite" campuses around the country - are intellectual frauds indoctrinating students into a morally bankrupt ideology of moral relativist death and destruction.