Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lee Todd's fear of real diversity at UK

The Family Foundation of Kentucky recently challenged University of Kentucky President Lee Todd to explain why it was that, despite his rhetoric about "diversity," there seemed to be little or no ideological diversity in some of its own departments--little diversity, but plenty of political activism going on at taxpayer and student expense.

In a recent Kentucky Kernel article, President Todd responded to our challenge by appealing to "academic freedom." "Free and open inquiry," said Todd, "is at the very heart of what institutions of higher learning are supposed to do ... We shouldn't attempt to regulate such inquiry."

Where does President Todd get the idea that real diversity and academic freedom are at odds? And why, when he and his university spend so much time talking about diversity, is there so little of it among the faculty on his own campus?

We called on the Gender and Women's Studies department to produce just one scholar on its allegedly diverse staff who deviates from the left-wing political orthodoxy that predominates in the department. The first response from the department was a tirade from Prof. Ellen Riggle, the associate director of the program, in which she portrayed our call for a demonstration of diversity an "attack on education in general."

How can someone who claims to support diversity say at the same time that calls for demonstrating diversity are an "attack on education"? We thought diversity was supposed to be good for education.

We pointed out how the department's own website proudly boasted of a number of professors in the department who were involved in left-liberal groups such as the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the pro-gay rights "Fairness" Alliance, but could cite none who had affiliations with similar conservative groups.

Why was it, we asked, that all of the political activism among UK faculty seemed to be in one direction?

Once again, the response from faculty members was an angry rebuke against anyone who questioned the liberal party line. Dr. Melanie Otis was so upset with our challenge that she called it "targeting all faculties engaged in the scholarship that contributes to the elimination of social justice."

In other words, Otis seems to suggest, real diversity is a threat to her political agenda.

Why is it that those who talk so much about diversity get so upset when you ask them to demonstrate it themselves? Why are they so scared of the very thing they claim to support?

Kentucky taxpayers need to know that their tax dollars will not be spent on indoctrinating students in one set of political beliefs, and UK students deserve more than be presented with only one viewpoint on matters as important as family and gender.

In another recent article on this controversy in the Lexington Herald-Leader, former director of the Women's Studies program Dr. Joan Callahan characterized our call for diversity as "McCarthyism." But last time we looked in our history books, "McCarthyism" was a reference to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose rantings resulted in people not being hired because of their political beliefs--a process called "blackballing."

In other words, Dr. Callahan, while characterizing calls for diversity as "McCarthyism," was defending a department which appears to be doing exactly what the real McCarthy actually did: exclude people whose political beliefs deviate from the prevailing political dogmas.

In fact, we thought it was instructive that the only faculty members the Kernel could find to comment on our challenge to the department were left-wing professors. The Gender and Women's Studies program isn't filled with left-wing political activists, they seem to be saying, and the program has plenty of left-wing political activists willing to say so.

It sort of proves our point, doesn't it?

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