The Worrisome Educator

Penn State University's "Department of Counseling and Psychological Services" has a video presentation that should leave any decent American shocked, saddened, and yes, even enraged.  Credit David French of National Review Online for posting what might be the most definitive four minute expose on the tragedy of higher education in America.  Indeed, Penn State's shameful video production of "The Worrisome Veteran" can provide all Americans some priceless insights into the kind of surreal institutions liberals create when left unchecked.

"The Worrisome Veteran" is part of Penn State's "Worrisome Student Behaviors" video series which is designed to provide faculty and students the ability to "minimize risk" when encountering problematic students on campus.  Each video presents actors reenacting possible confrontations that may occur in various environments and suggests appropriate responses. The subtitle of the "Worrisome Veteran" presentation is: "I deserve a better grade or else . . ." In other words, to the progressive staff at Penn State, students who are veterans returning from the war in Iraq are simply potential criminals who've forgotten how to reason politely.

How can conservatives learn something about our educational establishment from this awful video?  Let me count the ways.

First, as the performance opens the frightened English professor, a woman, is discussing the threatening student with her division dean, an African-American man.  Within seconds then viewers are encouraged to conclude that the perpetrator is a conservative white male - the pariah of higher education.  As the scene gently cuts away from the dean's office to the professor's classroom guess who the offending veteran is?  A white male.  The geniuses at Penn State know what a safe target is, and he's not a woman or a minority.  In other words, progressives own the moral high ground in education.

Second, the female professor tells the dean that having the veteran in her classroom makes her feel "uneasy."  It seems that the veteran student's term paper has not improved over the course of several drafts and he's become somewhat threatening.  The dean tells her to "get out" of the classroom "quickly" and "call the police" if he crosses an unspecified line.  During the course of their conversation however the dean never asks the professor about the paper or its content.  He never asks to see any of the drafts.  He never asks her to defend herself and her low grades.  Indeed, other than "poor grammar" the professor never offers any specifics about the standards she uses to measure performance.

In short, the conversation between the professor and the dean turns into a twisted inquiry into the female professor's "feelings" and not an examination of fairness and standards as they apply to the student.  On the other hand, never once did either the dean or the professor consider the "unease" the student veteran, named Matthew, may have felt in combat or in watching a buddy die from his wounds.  This is not relevant to his grade, but surely a "sensitive" faculty member, as an American too, might have shown more patience in the presence of this returning warrior. 

Third, it's no wonder many veterans returning to college are angry.  It has been my experience that the vast majority of collegiate faculty, especially in the social sciences and humanities, are progressive utopians who privately snigger at patriotism and the military.  Many of these professors and their progeny earned their spurs throwing cold, insensitive insults at troopers returning from Vietnam decades earlier.  They freely disparage America and the military in classrooms without considering the price that has to be paid for that freedom on the battlefield.  I must admit that my favorite part of the video is when Matthew confronts the mushy professor about his grade - an unusual experience for her I'm sure.

Fourth, when Matthew finally does confront his professor in the classroom he says the following:

"You've made it very clear in your class how you feel about the war and you're taking it out on me."

Surely Matthew cannot conclude with certainty that his poor grade is a product of his professor's political views, but what the heck is his professor doing in an English class making "very clear" her views on the war?  Would the dean be concerned if the English professor "made it very clear" in class that she opposed homosexual behavior?  Or that she openly supported the war?  Parents sending their children off to college this fall should know that a left-wing politicization of the classroom is endemic. That means in classes from English to Communications professors are less concerned with training students and more interested in displaying their hip ideology on their sleeves.

Fifth, the female professor is portrayed as an innocent, vulnerable lamb being threatened by the white male wolf.  It's odd then that the timid professor would be pummeling her students in class with her blatant opposition to the war.  The sensitive, progressive educator may not be a "little Eichmann" underneath but many are nothing more than "little Ward Churchills" -- cold-hearted and self-centered ideologues who would welcome America's demise. 

Sixth, I have found through experience that conservative professors are much less likely than liberal professors to grade a student down for his or her political views.  Conservative professors are also more likely to entertain and encourage opposing viewpoints in the classroom. On the other hand, liberal students are also much less likely to welcome debate from conservative students than vice versa. 

For example, I remember lecturing once on the abortion issue.  After a discussion of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood I brought up the pro-life organization Birthright.  When I tried to explain that Birthright encourages young women to have their babies and helps them with food, baby clothes, mentors, and adoption services several young women in the class shouted out: "This is propaganda, this is propaganda!"  So much for sensitivity and tolerance.

In conclusion, was Matthew the war veteran graded down for loving his country?  Probably.  As reported at American Thinker and elsewhere, a Department of Homeland Security report has targeted "disgruntled military veterans" as having the potential to "boost the capabilities of extremists - including lone wolves or small terrorist cells - to carry out violence."  The report says nothing however about extremist professors in the classroom who "boost the capabilities" of young radicals bent on undermining the pillars of American culture.

About 2,300 years ago the Chinese philosopher Han Fei Tzu (sometimes dubbed the Chinese "Machiavelli") recognized that radicals in the classroom are the most serious threat to a state's existence.  A state could not last long, said Han Fei, if its politicians and scholars were "giving ear to doctrines of universal love" during a time when national survival meant being realistic and suspicious about the intentions of its enemies.  George Orwell said the same thing about British "pacifists" during World War II: their pacifism was more a product of their underlying anti-British feeling than it was of their purported anti-war sentiment.

While Ronald Reagan was busy tearing down the Berlin Wall, leftist educrats were busy over here constructing a more lasting and, for America, harmful one.  The future of conservatism depends on this more important project of liberation.