Friday, July 15, 2011

When Will California Get Adult Supervision?

Heather Mac Donald over at City Journal points to some examples of how the University of California is supposedly in deep financial trouble:
California’s budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. “Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,” the university system’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month, in advance of this week’s meeting of the university’s regents. 
Yet while scrapping what used to be considered academic programs because of financial problems, they are bulking up in other areas:
In March, the Academic Senate decided that the school would no longer offer a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering; it also eliminated a master’s program in comparative literature and courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature. At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.” Training computer scientists to compete with the growing technical prowess of China and India, apparently, can wait. 
She gives some examples of hiring that would be absurd in the best of times, but now?
In 2010, Berkeley announced the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, funded in part by a $16 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The “new” initiative duplicates existing “equity” projects, not least the Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative, established by Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau in 2006. This latest initiative boasts five new faculty chairs in “diversity-related research”—one of which will be “focused on equity rights affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” according to thepress release, and “will be one of the first endowed chairs on this subject in the United States.” 
This all fits with the madness of California.  As the July 15, 2011 San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Public schools in California will be required to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans starting Jan. 1 after Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a controversial bill to add the topic to the social sciences curriculum.
Read more:
What contributions, exactly, have transgendered Americans made to our history?  There are certainly contributions that have been made by the other categories, but because throughout nearly all of American history homosexual sex was a criminal offense (at times a capital offense), the vast majority of LGBT Americans are probably unknown--unless you want to start playing the game of insisting "Lincoln was gay" and similar idiocy that has become popular of late.

What is a bit more worrisome is the provision of SB 48 that prohibits "adopting textbooks or instructional materials" that reflect "adversely upon persons" because of their sexual orientation.  This is already California law with respect to "race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry," and would not seem terribly controversial.

But what happens if a teacher has her students read a classic history work, such as William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?  Shirer's honest description of the sexual orientation of Ernst Roehm, the leader of the Sturmabteilung who played a major role in helping Hitler rise to power, could certainly be read as violating SB 48.  Could a textbook, or even a teacher, mention John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer, and acknowledge their sexual orientation without violating SB 48?  Or John Maynard Keynes's pursuit of little boys?  I rather doubt it.  I mean, you could, but it seems a bit hazardous--and that's the goal of this, I suspect: to cause a chilling effect on speech in the classroom.  Only positive, uplifting images of LGBT people in history will be allowed.  Certainly not the complexity of real people, who are mixtures of good and bad.

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