The Worst School in America · 07 September 2007
Misuse of the classroom by … allowing it to be used for political indoctrination … constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.
University of California Regents, “Policy on Course Content,” as amended September 22, 2005
Nestled in a redwood glade on cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, the University of California at Santa Cruz is one of the most picturesque campuses in America. Its 15,000 students attend classes in 62 majors at 10 colleges, in an environment that would seem an ideal locale for the contemplative life. In the hard sciences, it can be said that Santa Cruz handsomely fulfills its academic expectations. Its physics program is ranked among the best in the country, while its Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, which houses the Lick Observatory, is a world class scientific institution. But inside the classrooms of its liberal arts division something besides the life of the mind is being nourished. In these environs, UC Santa Cruz is beyond any doubt the most radical university in the United States, its curricula anything but academic.
Emblematic of the politicized state of this public institution was the appointment in February 2005 of Denice Denton as university chancellor. A professor of engineering, Denton had made a name for herself as a radical feminist and anti-war activist. In her brief career as chancellor she made an additional mark f as one of the academics whose angry protests led to the resignation of Harvard president Larry Summers. Denton’s intemperate behavior extended beyond politics, leading to a series of scandals (a $600,000 renovation of her university residence and a $192,000-a-year university post for her lesbian lover) which brought her career to an abrupt end. The blowback from these and other episodes, along with her tortuous private life, culminated in her suicide on June 24, 2006, barely eighteen months after her appointment.
On the other hand, the regency academic radicals have established at Santa Cruz will continue without her. The school’s most celebrated faculty member is Angela Davis, a lifelong Communist, who retained her membership card even after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Davis is one of seven designated “University Professors,” a title normally “reserved for scholars of international distinction.” Davis has never produced nothing in her academic career besides ponderous Marxist political tracts. Her real distinction is to be a tireless agitator for radical causes, including a personal crusade to abolish the “prison-industrial complex.” In Davis’s view, all criminals who are members of racial or ethnic minorities are to be regarded as “political prisoners” and victims of American racism, and should be released. Davis’s holds an academic chair in Santa Cruz’s “History of Consciousness” program, which awarded a Ph.D. to Black Panther Party leader Huey Newton. Newton’s sole academic credentials were his radical rap sheet and a political tract exculpating the criminal organization he headed as a victim of government persecution. Santa Cruz accepted this worthless document as his doctoral thesis.
The “Department of Community Studies” at Santa Cruz is a typical example of the cornucopia of radical studies programs available to its students. One department offering is “The Theory and Practice of Resistance and Social Movements,” whose contents are described in the Santa Cruz catalogue in these terms: “The goal of this seminar is to learn how to organize a revolution. We will learn what communities past and present have done and are doing to resist, challenge, and overcome systems of power including (but not limited to) global capitalism, state oppression, and racism.”
An entire Santa Cruz curriculum devoted to similar revolutionary agendas is also one of the oldest and most influential Women’s Studies programs in the country. Its creators have renamed it the Department of Feminist Studies to reflect their real agenda which is to provide a training center for political radicals. The chief architect of these academic programs is Bettina Aptheker, a former Party comrade of Professor Davis and a well-known Berkeley radical in her own right. Like Huey Newton, Aptheker received her PhD from the Santa Cruz History of Consciousness program, which allowed her to submit as a “scholarly” thesis, a collection of political articles previously rejected by the Communist Party’s publishing house because of her deviation on the “woman question” (Aptheker is a lesbian activist).
In a recently published autobiography, she described her initial reluctance to take on an academic career, and explained how she overcame her hesitation when Marge Frantz, a lecturer in American Studies at Santa Cruz and, like Aptheker, a Bay Area Communist, advised her: “It’s your revolutionary duty!” Aptheker was duly made the instructor for the “Introduction to Women’s Studies” course in the fledgling program: “I redesigned the curriculum and re-titled it, ‘Introduction to Feminism,’ making it more overtly political, and taught the class in the context of the women’s movement.”
According to Aptheker, most of her students “were activists themselves” and nothing remotely academic entered her lesson plan: “Teaching became a form of political activism for me, replacing the years of dogged meetings and intrepid organizing with the immediacy of a liberatory practice,…” This abusive approach to education was made possible by the abdication of university authorities and the shirking of their legal obligations to students and the public.
In its formal regulations, California’s public university system makes clear that its campuses must observe clearly defined academic standards and that political indoctrination is an abuse of its classrooms and students. This is a contract not only between the university’s faculty and its administration but between the university and the public, whose taxpayers support it. While professors are “free within the classroom to express the widest range of viewpoints,” university regulations require that these viewpoints must “accord with the standards of scholarly inquiry and professional ethics.” The “Standing Orders of the Regents,” passed in September 2005, make unmistakably clear that political indoctrination and partisan interest have no place in the university curriculum and that the regents are obligated to maintain its standards:
[The Regents] are responsible to see that the University remain aloof from politics and never function as an instrument for the advance of partisan interest. Misuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination, for purposes other than those for which the course was constituted, or for providing grades without commensurate and appropriate student achievement, constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.
In the liberal arts programs of the University of Santa Cruz, however, the violation of this policy and the consequent abuse of the institution and its students is a routine fact of academic life.
In contravention of the Standing Orders of the Regents, the clear purpose of the Community Studies program (as described on the departmental web page) is overtly political rather than academic: “The UCSC faculty offers courses related to social justice -- including broad structural and social changes and community based organizing...”
“Social justice” is the term for a wide range of causes favored by the political left and the curriculum offered by the Department of Community Studies is explicit in reflecting these agendas. Listing several “social justice domains” on which courses in the department are based, the departmental website provides several telling examples of politicized curricula. Thus, the areas covered by the Community Studies program include “labor studies, including the history of the working class,” “youth cultures, youth activism and empowerment,” “race and racism” “cultural work in social change,” “gay and lesbian issues,” “social justice, sustenance and sustainability in agro-food systems” “resistance and social movements.” That this is explicitly a training program for political activism, not a course of scholarly inquiry, the departmental statement makes clear: “The [Community Studies] major provides an opportunity for the student who is committed to social justice to work on a full-time basis beyond the university.”
Students who do not subscribe to this leftwing party line are automatically excluded by the subject matter (as framed by the department) from opportunities offered to student radicals who adhere to its partisan orthodoxies. The entire process is a violation of the students’ academic freedom and every academic standard set by the Regents of the University, although no university official seems to care. By requiring students to adhere to a political orthodoxy, the Department of Community Studies also violates the fundamental contract between the Regents and the taxpayers of California, who are funding, unbeknownst to them, a training program in radical politics.
Theory and Practice of Economic Justice
Instructor: Mary Beth Pudup, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Studies.
“Economic justice” is an ideological not an analytical term. This course is an exercise in leftwing propaganda about the constitution of a just economic order. Professor Pudup’s academic degree is in geography not economics, and is thus not even qualified to teach this course. From her published academic resume, it appears that she has published a single scholarly article on subsistence agriculture in Appalachia, and her major book-length publication is not a volume she wrote but one she co-edited on Appalachian culture in the 19th Century. It is not evident how this minimal record of publications would qualify her for tenure at any major university, let alone for a departmental chair.
As might be expected, Professor Pudup’s course is a one-sided critique of free-market capitalism. The course ascribes the unequal outcomes of competition to the inherent injustice of free-market systems, rather than to the unequal distribution of natural abilities. The link to radical activism is also explicit in the syllabus, which is fixated on the “economic justice movement in the U.S.,” and its “targeting of inequalities arising from contemporary capitalist structures such as the labor market, credit market, and housing market.”
Because students taking courses in the Community Studies program are also required to do volunteer work in line with the program’s mission to develop future political activists, students in this course are encouraged to sign up with organizations that are part of the “economic justice movement.” Among the organizations suggested by Professor Purdup as appropriate for students is the Coalition of University Employees, a clerical union within the University of California system. In other words, the taxpayers of California are funding a program that trains agitators whose goal is to raise the costs of a university education. Another recommended organization is the anti-free trade activist group Corpwatch. The plain objective of the course is to conscript students into the frontlines of the radical “economic justice” movement.
Instructor: Mike Rotkin, Lecturer & Field Study Coordinator in the Department of Community Studies.
This recently offered course sets out to turn students into political organizers for radical organizations. It has no other agenda. Students are required to understand the “theory and practice of community organizing,” and to that end must do “a minimum of four hours a week of practical organizing with a community group.” Assignments for the course are designed to encourage students to think like political activists and organizers. In the first such assignment, students are asked to “develop or explain your community group’s organizing strategy,” while in their final paper they are required to produce an “overall organizational, strategic, and tactical approach to the solution of some social or environmental problem.”
Books assigned for the course uniformly reflect the political agendas of the radical left. A core text is Reveille for Radicals, by Saul Alinsky. A second, Activists’ Handbook by Randy Shaw, enumerates the strategies and tactics for effecting “progressive change.”
Yet another, Making the News: a Guide for Activists and Nonprofits, is written by environmentalist radical Jason Salzman and instructs activists in ways they can “creatively manipulate the media.” Besides these required books, students are also encouraged to draw lessons in political organizing from radicals such as Howard Zinn, Abby Hoffman, and the late labor organizer Cesar Chavez.
The professor for this course, Mike Rotkin is not an academic but a longtime member of the Santa Cruz City Council and self-labeled “radical” who describes himself as a “political activist for life.”
Feminist Organizing and Global Realities
Instructor: Nancy E. Stoller, Professor of Community Studies.
Professor Stoller was signatory to a U.C. petition urging the university to divest from Israel, and was seen by students tearing down fliers announcing an upcoming talk by a visiting lecturer, Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch. Her research specialties are gender and health, politics of non-normative sexuality, and grass roots organizing. She is currently involved with several community based action-research and organizing projects addressing the impact of incarceration on individual and public health.
In keeping with the department’s mission to train political activists, the first half of the course is devoted to the required text: Women’s Activism and Globalization: Linking Local Struggles and Transnational Politics. This is a compendium of essays by feminist anti-globalization activists co-edited by Stoller, the course instructor. There is no evidence to suggest that students are exposed to critiques of feminist theories about globalization, as would be fitting for a professional course, nor is there any indication in Professor Stoller’s academic resume that she is qualified to teach about the global economy. Professor Stoller’s expertise is women’s health in American prisons and a characteristic publication by Stoller is “Lessons from the Damned: Whores, Junkies and Queers Respond to AIDS.”
The second half of the course, students are informed, is designed to “prepare you more specifically for your activist work in the fields of gender and sexuality.” The aim of the course is not simply that students should study feminist theory, but they should practice it as political operatives – at taxpayers’ expense. The instructor, Nancy Stoller, explains in her syllabus that her course is not merely an introduction to feminism, but “an introduction to the theory and practice of feminist organizing in a global context.” (emphasis hers)
Women’s Health Activism
Instructor: Nancy Stoller
This course’s political agenda, already adumbrated in its title, is spelled out in the course description provided by Professor Stoller. The course, she explains, “is designed for students interested in a feminist approach to women’s health.” Elsewhere, Professor Stoller adds: “In this course, the emphasis is on activism—making change, especially from the grass roots” (emphasis hers).
In keeping with this mission, assignments for the course require students to support feminist activism. Research papers, accordingly, “must be focused on activism. They are not to be about an illness per se or a theoretical analysis of a problem. They must focus on organizing by women…concerning a threat to women’s health.” Examples of topics the Professor finds appropriate include profiling a “currently active California feminist health organization,” or conducting a “national comparison of feminist activism concerning a specific feminist health challenge.” In other words, the course is designed to familiarize students with feminist dogmas and the organizations and campaigns that attempt to put those dogmas into practice. This instruction in radical political agitation is provided under the rubric of an academic education funded by the taxpayers of California.
Books assigned in the course are written exclusively from a radical perspective. Representative of these texts is Killing the Black Body, in which author Dorothy Roberts claims that the federal government is waging a racial war against the “reproductive rights” of black women. Another assignment is “The Vagina Monologues,” by feminist author Eve Ensler. Instead of examining the work critically, students are required to select a section from the play and perform it in front of the class. This was no doubt the procedure in religious monasteries during the Middle Ages in which students were required to perform Morality Plays exemplifying church doctrine. A collection of feminist writings is also required. A representative article from the reader, which students read in the “global organizing,” section of the course is titled, “Not feminist, but not bad: Cuba’s surprisingly pro-woman health system.”
Men and Feminisms
Instructor: Scott Morgensen, former lecturer in the Department of Community Studies.
This course, taught by a onetime graduate student, is no longer offered at UCSC, but is included because it reflects the department’s conception of its curricular mission and also because Morgensen was obviously a prize student in the departmental program. The stated goal of the course is to enlist students, especially male students, in the cause of political, specifically feminist, activism. The primary objective of the course, as announced in the catalogue description is “invigorating students with possibilities for grass-roots feminist social justice activism.” Accordingly, the course is geared toward a “feminist social justice work,” towards “teaching feminist analyses of the social construction of gender,” and then “spotlighting activist organizations which address questions of men and feminisms.” In other words, this is a first a training course in radical dogmas and then an advertisement for radical organizations that attempted to put the dogmas into practice.
Instructor: Max Boykoff, graduate student.
The term “environmental justice” is a leftwing catchphrase for political activism, encompassing such tested radical formulas as economic redistribution. Among the questions students taking this course are asked to consider are the following:
How do rights-based movements of distributive justice relate to various environmental problems? How have environmental justice movements worked to combat asymmetrical power relations as well as social, economic and political inequality? Have environmental justice movements actually dealt appropriately with issues of race, class, culture and gender inequalities?
The syllabus continues: “Readings in this class will trace the early historical roots and conceptualizations of ‘environmental justice’ as a mechanism for change, but also its more current engagements with culture, equity, and power.” Uncritical promotion of radical ideology is thus the principal, even sole aim of this course.
The texts assigned further this purpose rather than promoting a critical, scholarly disposition towards the subject. The author’s preface to one of these required texts, Environmentalism Unbound, describes the book’s purpose as “helping to plant the seeds for a new kind of environmentalism that can contribute to a new type of social agenda” and “challenging the structures of power within the contemporary urban, industrial, and global order,” which, in the author’s ideological view, preclude environmental progress. The enemy of the environment is defined as “expansive, resource-based capitalism.” It is difficult to see how a book dedicated to mobilizing environmental activism and promoting radical prejudices can provide a scholarly analysis of the “environmental justice” movement.
Another text for the course, Dead Heat: Globalization and Global Warming, provides an equally ideological treatment of its subject. Global warming, according to the authors, is not a scientific question but a subset of the social justice movement: “In this book, we argue that the battle against global warming is key to the larger battle for global justice…” While meteorologists may argue about the severity of the problem and the extent of its consequences, indeed while the problem itself is a contested issue, the authors assume that the threat is real, that it is lethal and that it is directed at the poor: “The science clearly shows, in mercilessly numeric terms, that…the consequences of global warming will soon be quite severe, and even murderous, particularly for the poor and vulnerable.” The authors acknowledge that some might be skeptical of their alarmist claims, but only to dismiss them in an unscholarly manner: “But the skeptics can go to hell, and we’re basically going to ignore them,” they write. This is political stump speech not academic discourse, but it reflects the tenor and character of this course.
Theory and Practice of Resistance and Social Movements
Instructor: Paul Ortiz, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Studies.
It is a measure of how acceptable political extremism has become in the department of Community Studies that it offers a course on organizing a revolution (of course an “anti-capitalist” revolution) without considering that this might not be consistent with academic standards. Appropriately, the syllabus is introduced with a quote from the communist writer C.L.R. James. The syllabus then goes on to state: “The goal of this seminar is to learn how to organize a revolution. We will learn what communities past and present have done and are doing to resist, challenge, and overcome systems of power including (but not limited to) global capitalism, state oppression, and racism.”
One section of the course, presented under the title “Women in Struggle; Gender and Organizing,” requires students to read about the communist Worker’s Party of Brazil. Another section, titled “Capitalism, Slavery, and Internationalism,” centers on such traditional radical themes as “liberation theology” (i.e., religious Marxism), “radical Christianity,” and “anti-capitalism.” Yet a third section of the course, titled “Workers’ Culture, Religion, and State Terror,” focuses on “[o]rganizing against multinational corporations; sustaining a movement in a one-party state; surviving state and corporate-sponsored terrorism” and addresses “the question of armed insurrection.”
Typically, no contrary perspective (for example, about the social catastrophes that radicals have been responsible for, or the enormous benefits of the free market system), are given a serious hearing. Instead, students are provided with a glossary of terms which preclude any such open-ended skepticism: “[C]apitalist societies,“ the class glossary explains, “breed on hierarchy and inequality.” The professor, Paul Ortiz, describes himself as “as a historian/activist of social change,” but to judge from the outlines of his course, he the historian aspect is mere window-dressing. His curriculum is a textbook example of the kind of academic abuse that the University of California’s academic freedom policy proscribes.
It would be perfectly permissible for MoveOn.org or a training school for the Green Party to offer courses such as this. What is not permissible, under the academic freedom guidelines of the University of California is for such a one-sided, sectarian and ideologically restricted program of courses to be offered – and at tax-payer expense.
Instructor: Bettina Aptheker, Professor, Feminist Studies and History.
The professor for this course, Bettina Aptheker, has taught Women’s Studies at Santa Cruz since 1980 and is the principal architect of its politicized curriculum. Aptheker is a graduate of the History of Consciousness program at Santa Cruz and has taught courses in Women’s Studies since 1980. As Aptheker has detailed in her autobiography, Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel, her mission in entering academia was to further her political goals. Specifically, she hoped to form the “juxtaposition of Marxism and feminism into a unified field theory of liberation.”
Aptheker’s course is designed to introduce students to a “gendered analysis of philosophical, scientific, historical, economic, political, and cultural issues from feminist perspectives…” Professor Aptheker summarizes her course as an attempt to synthesize feminist theory and to make it more “accessible” to students. In other words, the purpose of this course is to immerse students in a sectarian ideology. This is hardly the proper function of an academic curriculum. Aptheker’s course is a one-sided overview of this politically charged subject, with no critical apparatus and no offering of texts skeptical of its agendas.
Feminist Methods of Teaching
Instructor: Bettina Aptheker
Aptheker has described her teaching philosophy as a “revolutionary praxis,” a Marxist term of art for political organizing. According to Aptheker, the crux of her approach is to break down the distinction between subjective and objective truth, what Aptheker refers to as “breaking down dualisms.” This old-fashioned Marxism and is particularly useful to her agendas, because it allows her to inject a “women-centered perspective” into the curriculum to correct what she claims is the “male-centered” bias of traditional university study.
One way that Aptheker has succeeded in putting this approach into practice is by training students on the basis of politicized criteria rather according to the precepts of a scholarly discipline. “Feminist Methods of Teaching” is geared toward undergraduate students who assist in teaching her introductory course on feminism. While the University of California regulations require faculty to evaluate students solely on the basis of criteria related to their academic performance, this course adopts an opposite approach. As they “conduct sections and evaluate student papers,” would-be teaching assistants in Aptheker’s course are urged to focus on such supposedly critical criteria as “racial diversity,” and “violence against women.” It is far from obvious what academic merit there is in such criteria, or how they can be neutrally applied.
Women and the Law
Instructor, Gina Dent, Associate Professor, Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies.
While Gina Dent is listed as a professor of “legal studies,” her faculty biography makes no mention of any academic background that would qualify her to teach law. Her doctorate is in English and Comparative Literature. This course violates the university’s policy that professors exhibit specific competence in the subjects they teach.
Obscured by its neutral title is the fact that this course is simply another exercise in radical feminist politics. To the extent that the law is discussed, it is only to explicate the guiding suppositions of feminist theory, e.g., the notion that complex institutions such as the law should be viewed from the ideologically constrained prism of “gender.” Unsurprisingly, the course is also informed by “critical race theory,” a radical legal theory that integrates Marxism with racial politics. Among its other tenets, the theory maintain that race is a social construct invented by white people in order to oppress racial minorities. Related to this is the course’s underlying theme that “the law” is inherently oppressive. To this end it “examines how the law structures rights [unfairly], offers protections [to the privileged], produces hierarchies, and sexualizes power.”
Assignments for the course are designed not to examine this theory critically but to ratify its political agendas. The course website encourages students to read “feminist jurisprudence,” and assorted “feminist legal theories,” as well as publications from left-wing political groups. Students are directed to an ACLU website assailing the PATRIOT Act as an assault on American freedoms, though its connection to a course on Women and the Law – other than that it is significant agenda of the broader radical movement -- is not apparent. No texts critical of these perspectives are offered to students.
Introduction to Feminist Science Studies
Instructor: Astrid Schrader, Graduate Student.
The course is self-explained as an excursion of feminist politics into the realm of the natural sciences: “We will examine a variety of feminist approaches to scientific methods and practices.” Notably, not a single approach critical of ideological feminism is included in this course.
As a field that relies solely on objective evidence about the natural world, science does not easily lend itself to the yoke of ideology. To overcome this problem, the course includes a full-bore assault on the very idea of scientific objectivity, although its instructor Astrid Schrader is not a scientist or science major but a graduate student in the History of Consciousness program. Hence, her qualifications to discuss actual scientific theories and facts are nil.
Students are required to read essays like “The Science Question In Feminism And The Privilege Of Partial Perspective,” by the radical feminist Donna Haraway, who by coincidence is a professor (and the former chair) of the History of Consciousness at Santa Cruz, and a faculty patron of Bettina Aptheker’s academic career. In this essay, Haraway claims that science has never been truly objective -- the history of science, according to Haraway, has been “tied to militarism, capitalism, colonialism, and male supremacy” -- and calls for “a doctrine of embodied objectivity that accommodates paradoxical and critical feminist science projects,” or a what Haraway terms, in an obvious self-contradiction, “feminist objectivity.” In short, only a “science” that is consistent with feminist prejudices can be considered worthy of the name and genuinely “objective.” And what could be more Orwellian than that?
The History of Consciousness Program at UCSC is among the most famous – or notorious -- academic programs in the country. This is less the legacy of the department’s academic achievements – which are nugatory -- than its association, throughout its nearly three-decade long history, with radical politics and questionable standards. Asked by one of the authors about the degree awarded to Huey Newton in the 1970s, historian Page Smith, the founder of the program, explained that he had created the program “to demonstrate that the PhD is fraud.” Its political agendas are easily discerned in its mission statement, which proclaims the program’s focus on “the intersection of race, sexuality, and gender,” the standard troika of radical academic theory.
HISC 208 A/B.
Instructor: Angela Y. Davis, Professor, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies.
A former Black Panther militant who purchased an arsenal of weapons that found their way into the hands of would-be hijacker whose ill-fated hostage-taking attempted in the killing of three people, including a California judge, Davis was once a vice presidential candidate on the Communist Party ticket and received a Lenin Prize from the East German police state before the Berlin Wall came down. In 1997, Davis founded Critical Resistance, a group committed to dismantling the “prison industrial complex.” In keeping with her opposition to all imprisonment, Davis has called for a “social order that does not rely on the threat of sequestering people in dreadful places designed to separate them from their communities and their families” -- in short, a society where crime, however heinous, goes unpunished. Her book Are Prisons Obsolete? answers the title question in the affirmative, since prisons exist in the United States according to Davis, mainly to target “racially oppressed communities.”
Her course title, “Radical Critiques of Penalty,” reflects its narrow ideological perspective and substance. A “major goal” of the course, according to its catalogue description, is “to identify ways of disarticulating crime and punishment using race, class and gender as principal analytical categories.” Davis provides a more comprehensible definition of what she means in her book Are Prisons Obsolete? where she urges readers to acquire a more “nuanced understanding” of the “punishment system.”
This understanding is as follows: “We would recognize that ‘punishment’ does not follow from ‘crime’ in the neat logical discourses offered by discourses [sic] that insist on the justice of imprisonment, but rather punishment -- primarily through imprisonment (and sometimes death) -- is linked to the agendas of politicians, the profit drive of corporations, and media representations of crime. Imprisonment is associated with the racialization of those most likely to be punished. It is associated with their class…gender structures the punishment system as well. (p.112)” In other words (to translate this linguistic mess) prisons do not exist to serve justice by punishing individuals who inflict injury on others but to carry out the sinister agendas of capitalist elites against minorities and the poor. It is certain that even Marx did not believe nonsense like this.
The main text for Davis’s course is Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by the Maoist sociologist Michel Foucault. A founding text of sorts for the radical anti-prison movement, the book deplores the very “principle of penal detention” and also calls for the abolition of prisons. Another text, Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Battered Black Women, relates the stories of 37 women in Rikers Island prison, and attempts to rehabilitate them as innocent victims who were “compelled” to commit crime in order to “confront the deadly conditions of institutionalized racism, persistent poverty, and violence” of American society. Not a single text assigned in the course subjects such extreme and absurd claims to academic scrutiny.
Instructor: Donna Haraway, Professor in the Department of History of Consciousness and the Department of Feminist Studies.
Professor Haraway refers to herself as a 1960s counter-culture holdover, and ten years ago in her most famous tract – A Cyborg Manifesto – she actually described herself as a cyborg. The thrust of this manifesto is that the line between human beings and machines has been erased. Her latest book Primate Visions, Haraway takes an unexplained leap in the opposite direction, contending that the line between animals and humans is also non-existent. This book received a negative review from a British biological anthropologist in the New York Times, on the grounds that her arguments were – no surprise here -- incoherent. Her course in “Feminist Theory” is organized entirely -- and narcissistically -- around the views expressed in her new book. These views she equates ex cathedra with “feminism.”
“What does feminist theory have to say about species, human-animal co-shapings, and the problem of categories for humans and animals?”, Professor Haraway asks in the course syllabus. She then supplies the answer, explaining that what feminist theory says about human-animal relations is that there is no meaningful distinction to be made between the two, that humans are merely another form of animal, and that any view of humans as fundamentally different from the rest of the animal kingdom is a form of wrongheaded “human exceptionalism.” So much for Greeks, Christianity, the Enlightenment and in fact the entire Western intellectual tradition before 1960. The entire course, Professor Haraway explains, is based on her view that “we [humans] have never been human.”
Books which students are required to read merely reinforce her extreme and personal point of view. One text is Haraway’s The Companion Species Manifesto, which argues that, given their long history together, there is no meaningful distinction to be made between humans and dogs. A similar theme informs the book Beyond Boundaries: Humans and Animals by Barbara Noske, also assigned in the course, which analyzes the “human-animal relationship” to show “poignantly the extent to which humans have come to dominate and exploit animals as mere resources.” The book considers the human-animal relationship “from the animal’s standpoint…to find ways through which animals can have their integrity and subjectivity restored to them while at the same time their Otherness is respected.” This is the ideological cant of Third-World multiculturalism, applied to the animal kingdom. In addition, students are asked to read a collection of quotes assembled from the same ideological sources grouped under the title “Animal Studies Statements Useful For Feminist Theory.”
Corresponding to these ideologically motivated assignments, one section of the course is titled “Ending ‘Human Exceptionalism’” – the very syntax of which is suited to political rather than scholarly agendas. What would be the fate of a student who argued, as most professionals have, in behalf of ‘human exceptionalism,’ given the underlying assumption of the course that there is no such thing? Would the judgment on the student be that he or she “did not understand the course?”
As presented Professor Haraway’s curriculum excludes any perspectives that might challenge her eccentric opinions, which are offered not only as the scientific word on such matters, but the feminist view as well. This is indoctrination, not education, and is designed to be just that.
Foundations in Science Studies
Instructor: Donna Haraway
This seminar, also taught by Professor Haraway, has the same underlying purpose: to promote her idiosyncratic view that there is no significant distinction to be drawn between humans and other animal species. As Professor Haraway, explains in the course syllabus:
My sole and inflexible expectation is that everyone make an heroic effort to bring together—in a serious and sustained way—more than one way of knowing, for example, philosophy and biology; fiction and behavioral ecology; anthropology and cognitive sciences; science studies and animal stories; sociology, physiology, and visual studies; or many other combinations. The premise of this requirement is that taking seriously animal-human encounters necessitates inhabiting theories, methods, histories, and experiences that the animal/human divide—whether that usually found in the human sciences or the natural sciences—presumes and enforces to be separate.
In comprehensible English, students taking this course must accept her claim -- Professor Haraway is “inflexible” on this point -- that humans and animals cannot and should not be understood separately. Such blatant ideological compulsion stands in stark contrast to the standards of professionalism by required by University of California regulations.
Racism and Imperialism
Instructor: Neferti Tadiar, Assistant Professor of History of Consciousness.
This course is predicated on the claim that the “practices of modern imperialism” are motivated by racism. Not content with this charge, the course claims that emergent global capitalism – absent political imperialism – is also racist. Both these views are staples of Marxist theory and, not coincidently, reading assignments for the course consist mainly of writings by Marxist writers like Lenin, C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, and Aimé Cesaire, among others. At the same time, students are assigned no writings challenging the claims that imperialism and capitalism are always and invariably racist. Nor are the imperialisms and racisms of Marxist states such as Soviet Russia examined -- an inquiry that might undermine the premises of the course.
Professor Tadiar has no obvious academic qualification to teach these subjects. She is not a historian of imperialism, nor a political scientist, nor a trained economist. Her academic credential is in comparative literature. According to her academic website, “Her work concerns the role of cultural production and social imagination in the creation of wealth, power, marginality and liberatory movements in the context of global relations.” In other words, her competency for teaching the course is her familiarity with airy theories of “cultural production” and “social imagination,” and the discredited prejudices of the Marxist left.
Like the Department of Feminist Studies, the Department of Politics provides a self-description, which reflects its commitment to agitation rather than cogitation. Its mission statement frankly asserts its commitment to creating an “activist citizenry.”
The Politics of the War on Terrorism
Instructor: Bruce D. Larkin, Professor Emeritus of Politics.
Ostensibly an overview of the “war on terrorism,” this course is in fact a leftwing case against U.S. policy. Students are informed that the Bush administration lied to make the case for the war in Iraq. In support of this allegation, the course syllabus denies that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were carried out by al-Qaeda: “How did Bush and Cheney build the fiction that al-Qaeda was a participant in the 9/11 attacks?” This is a startling formulation, since Osama bin Laden has publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks, providing details that only a planner could know. Students are also told that in undertaking the war, the Bush administration “silenced Democratic critics in Congress,” although exactly how an opposition party can be silenced in a democracy is not explained.
Another section of the syllabus focuses on the Middle East conflict, with the conspiratorial implication that Israeli interests are driving the war on terror. The conspiratorial belief that Israel controls American foreign policy is a longtime theme of the instructor, Bruce Larkin. On his personal blog, Professor Larkin lodges the following complaint about the Bush administration: “They have not explained a connection many suspect: the intimate parallels between their choices and the objectives of Israel’s Likud.” But there are no such parallels, since the Likud intelligence establishment was focused on the threat from Iran and was not in favor of invading Iraq. This is not a scholarly or analytic course on the war on terrorism. It is an introduction to the antiwar, anti-Israel and anti-Bush views of the professor, a travesty of academic inquiry.
America and the World
Instructor: Ronnie Lipschutz, Professor of Politics
According to its catalogue description, this course not only examines the “political, economic, and cultural relationship between the United States and the rest of the world,“ but also includes a “special focus on U.S. involvement in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and the politics and economics of that region as well as the extent to which domestic politics influenced foreign policy and vice versa.” Such a broad focus would prove an ambitious undertaking for a scholar with training in military history, economics, and foreign policy, yet Professor Lipschutz, has expertise in none of these areas. He has a doctorate in “Energy and Resources” from UC Berkeley. The doctorate was awarded by the “Energy and Resources Group,” whose mission is to “transmit and apply critical knowledge to enable a future in which human material needs and a healthy environment are mutually and sustainably satisfied.” In other words, his academic credential was awarded by a program in environmental activism.
“America and the World” is a course in Professor Lipschutz’s political prejudices, which are radical and left. Typical of the required readings for the course is The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, by Chalmers Johnson. Johnson claims that “the United States dominates the world through military power,” that it is “a military juggernaut intent on world domination,” and that American military bases constitute a “new form of empire.” In keeping with this theme Johnson describes his text as a “guide to the American empire as it begins to spread its imperial wings.”
A similar theme is taken up by a second required text, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy by the late William Appleman Williams. Williams was an academic godfather of the New Left. His well-known views of America’s foreign policy are grounded in a Marxist view that the pursuit of foreign markets dictates its directions. Although there is no shortage of contrary perspectives, and Williams’ own work has been subjected to severe review for its faulty logic and insecure factual basis, students taking this course are kept in the dark about such critical perspectives. No books are assigned that deviate from the ideological premises of the instructor.
Thinking Green: Politics, Ethics, Political Economy
Instructor: Ronnie Lipschutz, Professor of Politics
Described as a survey of the “political thought and practice” of the environmentalist movement, this is a course in how to think like an environmental leftist. No critical apparatus is provided students who might wish to take a more skeptical and scholarly view of the subject. Students are required to read works by radical authors such as Edward Abbey, whose book, The Monkey Wrench Gang, is often credited with popularizing “ecotage,” or sabotage and other forms of vandalism and violence in the service of environmentalist extremism. Another book, Eco-socialism by the author David Pepper, states its purpose in these terms: “This book tries to help the cause of eco-socialist politics by describing and explaining the forms of socialism -- particularly Marxist socialism -- and anarchism on which they must be based.” No readings that would question such a perspective are required for the course.
In addition to radical texts, radical environmentalist organizations feature prominently in the curriculum. One section of the syllabus, titled “‘Radical’ Ecologies,” includes an uncritical discussion of groups such as Earth First!, an environmentalist organization notorious for its practice of eco-terrorism. Sections on “ecofeminism,” “ecosocialism,” and “environmental justice” (a term for the anti-capitalist agendas of the environmental left) also reflect the political agendas of the course. In other words, here is another course that is actually a training program in ideological radicalism funded by the unsuspecting California tax-payer.
Social Forces and Political Change
Instructor: Michael Urban, Professor of Politics.
Though couched in academic language, Politics 200 is simply one more training course in political activism:
This seminar concerns the transformation of social forces into political ones. Accordingly, it focuses on the formation, articulation, mobilization and organization of political interests and identities, their mutual interaction and their effects on the structures and practices of states and societies, as well as on the effects of those same structures and practices on them. The major themes under consideration, here, are (1) the social bases of political action—class, gender, race and other determinants of social division and political identity—and (2) the relevant forms of political agency and action, including the development of political consciousness and the representation of interests and identities in the public sphere.
The course seeks to impress on students the virtues of political activism and to shape their political outlook. This is a mission appropriate for an activist organization or political party, privately funded by radicals, but hardly for an academic curriculum, let alone a curriculum in a public university financed by taxpayers. In accordance with the political nature of its mission, all the texts used in the course provide positive descriptions of leftwing activism. One required text, Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics by Sidney Tarrow, draws heavily on Marxism and directs its attention primarily to “peace,” environmental, and feminist movements. Challenging Codes: Collective Action in the Information Age, another text used in the course, encourages “collective action” and “resistance” in all spheres of life. Among the more dubious assertions of this book is its claim that “motherhood” is a form of oppression against which women should rebel. (“The social practice of childbirth, entirely medicalized and managed by the male-dominated health system, still effectively prevents a woman from living the experience of life-giving as hers alone,” author Albert Melucci writes.)
Sections of the course focus on the problems of organizing the political causes the instructor favors. Thus one section examines “resource mobilization and rational action,” while another concentrates on “political opportunity and framing,” while the radical agendas in whose service these tasks are performed remain unquestioned. In other words, this course is yet another ideological playpen for the professor to vent his personal political obsessions, in violation of university standards, funded by the unsuspecting California taxpayer.
To the uninitiated observer, a program of American Studies might be expected to encompass a wide range of academic courses on American history, culture, and politics. UC Santa Cruz takes a different approach. The stated intent of the program is to have students the United States through an ideological prism constructed by the political left, that is through a theoretical framework of “racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, class, and regional dynamics.” Courses offered are rooted largely instructions in identity politics and political activism. Instead of a scholarly inquiry into American society and culture from multiple scholarly perspectives, students are treated to a series of polemical indictments of American society from the perspective of the left and an introduction to radical organizations they might join to advance the agendas of the left.
Asian Americans in Film and Video
Instructor: Rebecca Hurdis, Graduate Student.
Presented as a course on the “history of, and relevance of film and video production within Asian America,” this course is in fact an attack on American society, which is presented as racist in its treatment of Asian Americans. American racism is the common theme of virtually all the texts and films featured in the course. In one assignment students are assigned a chapter from the book Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws and Love by Yen Le Espiritu. In it, the author claims that “racist and gendered immigration policies and labor conditions have worked in tandem to keep Asian Americans in an assigned, subordinate place,” and charges that Asians in the US are subject to “structural discrimination,” as well as “ideological assaults.” In the latter vein, the author alleges that the American film industry is based on “white cultural and institutional racism against Asian males” due to its alleged “preoccupation with the death of Asians -- a filmic solution to the threats of the Yellow Peril.”
Students are also required to read The Joy Fuck Club: Prolegomenon to an Asian American Porno Practice, in which the author, Richard Fung, describes the United States as a “racist society” and claims that Asians in America have experienced “rejection” in the United States “according to the established racial hierarchies.”
A similar theme is central to Asian America Through the Lens: History, Representations and Identities, from which students are required to read a chapter titled “Marginal Cinema and White Criticism.” In this chapter, author Jun Xing alleges that “practices of cultural marginalization and appropriation” are routinely directed towards Asian Americans. According to the author, the recognition that Asian American filmmakers such as Academy Award winning director Ang Lee have received “signifies not a true assimilation of Asians into the American mainstream, but rather a mere repositioning of their marginality in the motion picture industry.” This of course would relegate any recognition of Asian achievement into the category of marginalization. The author blithely proceeds, however, to his pre-ordained conclusion: “The lack of critical attention [to Asian filmmaking] can be attributed to ideological and instructional racism.”
American Prison Literature: 1960 to Present
Instructor: Rashad Shabazz, doctoral student in the History of Consciousness program.
This course is presented as a survey of prison “literature” presented since 1960, but it is clear from the syllabus that its goal is more far-reaching. Thus, the “course also serves in part as a history of radical political movements and economic changes to America’s economy.” On closer inspection, it is to these radical movements -- and their condemnation of the United States and, especially, its criminal justice system -- that this course is, in fact, devoted. Indeed, the primary qualification of the course’s professor, Rashad Shabazz, to teach this subject is his biography as a “prison rights activist.”
Three of the four assigned texts, are by onetime members of the Black Panther Party. Among them is Live from Death Row, a series of commentaries about prison and politics by convicted killer and death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. The book’s running theme is Mumia’s belief that the American justice system is “racist.” In a representative passage from the book, Mumia claims that his conviction and subsequent life behind bars stems from the fact that “American courts are reservoirs of racist sentiment and have historically been hostile to black defendants.” What students would not learn from reading this is that he was convicted for the 1981 cold-blooded murder of a Philadelphia policeman, Daniel Faulkner. Ballistics tests, eyewitnesses, and extensive legal reviews all confirmed his guilt.
Another required is Soledad Brother, a collection of prison letters by George Jackson a maximum security inmate who murdered several prison guards and was himself killed trying to escape. Founder of a notorious prison gang, the Black Guerrilla Family, Jackson uses these letters to vent his view that America is a racist society. “The whole of Western Europeans’ existence here in the U.S. has been the same one long war with different peoples,” he writes in a typical comment. Another text is the autobiography of Jackson’s onetime lover and political comrade, Angela Davis, now a professor at UCSC. Here is an extension of the academic incest at Santa Cruz: the instructor in this American Studies course is a doctoral student in the History of Consciousness program and has assigned the autobiography of its most famous professor without a single critical commentary.
The fourth required text is The New Abolitionists: (Neo) Slave Narrative and Contemporary Prison, an anthology of writings convicted criminals who describe themselves as political prisoners. In the introduction to the book, editor Joy James calls prisoners “slaves” of the “‘master’ state.” According to James, “Prison is the modern day manifestation of the plantation,” a favorite theme of Professor Davis herself. By maintaining prisons, “the United States recreated rather than abolished slavery.”
Although sociology is a traditionally defined academic discipline, the Sociology Department at UC Santa Cruz seems determined to undermine its connection to scholarly endeavors. Central to the mission of the department – according to its official mission statement -- is not any scholarly inquiry, but “social justice,” which is a generally recognized code for a left-wing political agenda associated with the redistribution of resources and wealth. According to the department’s mission statement, these pre-determined political goals are built into the study of sociology:
Sociology combines the elements of a search for social order with a vision of a just, free, and egalitarian society, a vision that may require fundamental social change. Developing an understanding of this double aspect of the sociological tradition, the interrelationship between social order and social change, is one of the teaching goals of sociologists at Santa Cruz.
Since a socialist future is the goal of study in the Department of Sociology at Santa Cruz, it is hardly surprising that the courses offered bear no relation whatsoever to scholarship or academic inquiry.
Issues and Problems in American Society
Instructor: Anthony J. Villarreal, Graduate Student in the Department of Sociology.
On its face, this would appear to be a standard course in sociology, concerned as it is with exploring “sociological approaches to the study of social problems in the U.S.” But the syllabus for the course makes clear that only one “sociological” approach is to be considered: radical political activism. “Our goal [is] not only to critically analyze the world, but ultimately, to change it” a paraphrase of Marx’s famous thesis on Feuerbach. Sections of the course are presented under such titles as “Imagining Local/Global Social Change,” reflecting the instructor’s hubris that, as a graduate student, that he knows – where others have failed – exactly how this should be done.
Of the three texts assigned, not one can properly be described as a sociological text. One, of course, is Are Prisons Obsolete? by UC Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis, the self-described “prison abolitionist,” who has written that prisons are slave plantations and that convicted criminals are political prisoners who should be freed. According to Davis’s text, the American prison system is racist, and prisoners “are sent to prison not so much because of the crimes they have committed, but largely because their communities have been criminalized.” Professor Davis should tell that to the victims of minority prisoners who in their vast majority are members of those same communities.
Another required text is The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them. The author is the radical television journalist Amy Goodman, and the book is a polemical attack on the Bush administration (which Goodman refers to as an “OILYgarchy” that seeks “perpetual control of global oil”). It is also a defense of convicted terrorist accomplice, Lynne Stewart, and convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, whom Goodman calls an “outspoken voice for the thousands of people on death rows around this country.”
The remaining assigned text is Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic, In a typical section, its author Marita Sturken writes: “The way a nation remembers war and constructs its history is directly related to how that nation further propagates war. Hence, the rewriting of the Vietnam War in contemporary films directly affected the manufactured ‘need’ for the United State’s involvement in the Persian Gulf.” In other words, America is predatory society that rewrites its historical memory to better enable it to fight aggressive wars.
In the course syllabus, instructor Villareal claims that “Differences of viewpoints, orientation, and experience are expected and welcomed in class discussions.” Given the relentlessly one-sided reading material provided to students in his course, this merely shows Villareal’s contempt for students who might take him seriously.
Society and Nature
Instructor: Brian J. Gareau, Graduate Student in the Department of Sociology.
In the syllabus for this course, students are told that “many sociologists link the severity of environmental degradation to a particular way in which modern society is organized today, capitalism.” Accordingly the course itself is yet another rehearsal of radical dogmas – yet one more attack on free-market capitalism, this time in the name of environmentalism. The well-established fact that the socialist Soviet Union created by far the most degraded natural environment of any modern society (see, e.g, Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature Under Siege, by Murray Feshbach et al., 1993) is kept out the sight of Gareau’s captive student audience. Students will not learn that the socialist regime in Russia drained the world’s largest inland sea or caused the radioactive contamination of an area larger than Europe. Also kept discreetly offstage are the implications of these epic ecological disasters, which would be disturbing for the purposes of this course, which are not academic but political.
The course syllabus is refreshingly candid about its commitment to a one-sided exposition of radical prejudices, specifically its anti-capitalist agendas: “the course will review theories that are critical of capitalism as a social formation, explain how it functions, and describe its environmental implications.” No texts will be assigned that examine the benefits to the environment of free market practices. Instead, each of the three books assigned for the course is distinguished by its anti-capitalist theme. In Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social, for instance, author Michael Goldman uses the World Bank to launch a broader fusillade against free markets, or what he calls alternatively the “rapacious accumulation strategies of global capital,” “neoliberal capitalism,” and the “onslaught of neoliberal capitalist development.” Marxist writer John Bellamy Foster mounts a similar attack in his book Ecology Against Capitalism, another assigned text, arguing that Marxism is the best guiding theory for environmentalist politics. Marxism provides the recurring ideological orientation for the course, whose sections focusing on “Marxist critiques” of capitalism; the “Greenness of Marxism;” “Marxist Political Ecology;” and “Labor movements as environmental movements.”
All the above-mentioned courses have the complete support of the departments in which they are offered and the approval of the central university administration at UC Santa Cruz. This is the case despite the fact that every single one of these courses is in flagrant violation of the University of California rules on the presentation of course material in an objective and scholarly manner. The departments they appear in are not traditional academic departments at all, but tax-payer funded centers of radical activism, supported by the Santa Cruz administration. Yet they are also supported by the national professional associations and by the accrediting agencies that pass on university curricula. In other words, the curriculum we have reviewed reflects not simply the eccentricities of a few faculty, but a profound and widespread corruption of the academic system itself, and is a sobering measure of its influence and extent.
 Bettina Aptheker, Intimate Politics, p. 473: “I was not sure I wanted a tenure track position at the university with all that that implied about serving on faculty committees, publishing under pressure and attending scholarly conferences
. Op. cit., p. 405
 Op. cit., p. 406
 Policy on Course Content, approved June 19, 1970. Amended September 22, 2005 http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/policies/6065.html
 Interview with one of the authors.
 Hari Kunzru, “You Are Cyborg,” interview with Donna Haraway, Wired magazine, February 1997.