Congress Weighs Anti-U.S. Biases At Key Colleges: Columbia, NYU Cited in Testimony · 30 June 2003

Columbia, NYU Cited in Testimony
By Timothy Starks - Staff Reporter of the Sun

WASHINGTON -A House subcommittee yesterday held a public hearing to investigate whether anti-American views pervade federally funded international-studies programs on college campuses -- including Columbia and New York University -- and to get ideas for what, if anything, should be done about it.

The hearing came as Congress moves to renew the Higher Education Act, and as a key group of Senate Republicans considers whether Congress should intervene in an attempt to impose ideological balance on college campuses.

The House hearing raised questions about academic
freedom and free speech. Much of the debate revolved
around the question of how much of what is being taught is undermining American foreign policy. Specifically, the hearing examined Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which funds international studies programs.

The chief critic of the programs at the hearing, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanley Kurtz, singled out two New York institutions that he said fostered anti-American sentiment: Columbia University, the employer of Professor Edward Said, whom Mr. Kurtz said was the founding father of anti-Americanism in international studies programs, and the Hagop Kevorkian Center of the New York University, for its Web site, which features essays critical of American foreign policy after September 11, 2001.

Mr. Kurtz, also a contributing editor to National Review Online, said "the ruling intellectual paradigm
in academic area studies" is Mr. Said's "post-colonial
theory," which holds that instability in the Middle
East can be blamed on Western meddling. Mr. Said, in
the 1978 work "Orientalism," "equated professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th century European intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires," Mr. Kurtz said. He blamed those views for a boycott by international studies associations of the National Security Education Program, which enlists students into national security-related agencies after graduation in exchange for support for their foreign language studies.

Mr. Kurtz also highlighted a series of critical essays on the Kevorkian Center's Web site, one of which criticizes America's "murderous sanctions on Iraq." Columbia University, the Kevorkian Center and Mr. Said did not respond to requests for comment from The New York Sun.

The university officials who defended the programs said Mr. Kurtz was taking a narrow view, and that he had many of his facts wrong. Middle East Studies Centers make up only about $4 million of the $86.2 million in programs funded by Title IV, a lobbyist for the American Council on Education, Terry Hartle, said. Mr. Hartle's organization represents 1,800 universities, but he testified yesterday on behalf of more than 30 higher education associations. Mr. Kurtz was also using a small number of examples to illustrate a point, Mr. Hartle said.

Mr. Said's theory "reached its apex of popularity more than a decade ago and has been waning ever since," Mr. Hartle said. "Indeed, historians and political scientists rarely find this theory useful." The director of the Center for International Studies at Duke University, Gilbert Merkx, said he collaborates with national security agencies and he was elected co-chairman of the Title VI National Resource Centers group - a symbol of their moderation. Mr. Kurtz skirmished with the university officials when Mr. Merkx said he was unaware of any boycott of the National Security Education Program, and when Mr. Hartle said he was taking a narrow view by focusing on Middle East Studies programs - Mr. Hartle said post-colonial theory was "dominant" in South Asian Studies programs and elsewhere.

Mr. Kurtz pressed the lawmakers to take action. "Free speech is not an entitlement to a government subsidy," Mr. Kurtz said. "And unless steps are taken to balance university faculties with members who both support and oppose American foreign policy, the very purpose of free speech and academic freedom will have been defeated."

Under questioning by members of the House subcommittee, the university representatives rejected Mr. Kurtz's suggestion that the government create a permanent oversight board to monitor bias. "It's difficult to determine whether that would work," Mr. Hartle said. "It could tilt one way or the other depending on who was in the ideological saddle at the time."

> Mr. Hartle said a visit by the Department of Education to any university where claims of bias were made, followed by the compilation of a report, would be a better model. Mr. Kurtz dismissed that as ineffectual. He also suggested a reduction in funds to get the attention of universities.

When the lawmakers left the hearing, one, Rep. Timothy Ryan, a Democrat of Ohio, praised America as a country where even programs critical of the government could get government funding. He took the most visible interest in the debate, vigorously questioning the witnesses. The subcommittee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa of Texas, took the opposite approach: He completely ignored the "Questions of Bias" aspect of a hearing entitled "International Programs in Higher Education and Questions of Bias," instead asking questions about ethnic diversity within those programs. Afterward, he declined to say what he thought of the bias debate.

The lawmaker who chaired the hearing, Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Republican from Georgia, said afterwards that he came to no conclusions about the level of anti-American sentiment on campus. The committee and its staff would get together and discuss possible legislative action, he said.

The question of bias in the academy has been raised more than once this year by Congress. In a meeting this March with Jewish activists to discuss antiSemitism and anti-Israel bias on campus, Senator Santorum of Pennsylvania and other lawmakers discussed the possibility of offering an amendment to the Higher Education Act reauthorization making ideological diversity a component of federal funding on par with gender diversity.

New York Sun, June 20-22, 2003 (Front page)