Indoctrination at Brandeis · 06 July 2004

By Thomas Ryan--FrontPageMagazine.com, 07/07/04

The following is the second part in a series of articles on Peace Studies departments at our nation's universities. The author has previously critiqued the program at the University of Missouri. -- The Editors.

Across the nation's universities, Peace Studies programs are indoctrinating students with leftist ideology. Brandeis University and its Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies Program (PAX), is a case in point.

The stated objective of PAX is to "examine the many meanings of 'security,' to investigate the nature of power and political participation, and to develop ideas and ways of addressing conflicts that honor the integrity of all parties involved." "Honoring integrity" may in fact be a courtesy extended to all parties, except in cases where America is involved. In her article "Blaming America 101: A Lesson in 'Peace Studies," Lisa De Pasquale states, "Peace Studies courses are focused on the general principle that every conflict and social injustice is America's fault…." PAX at Brandeis is no different, with professors regularly espousing anti-American rhetoric, utilizing literature with a strong anti-Western bias, and encouraging impressionable students in Brandeis classrooms to take part in anti-American activities, such as mass civil disobedience.

The professors in PAX, as with their colleagues in the Peace Studies departments in other American universities, deride their country and promote anti-Western thought. One such professor, Gordon "Gordie" Fellman, Professor of Sociology and Chair of PAX, has assumed the conspicuous and ever-prevalent position that the responsibility for all foreign hatred of America lays on the shoulders of America itself. Sympathy for Islamic terrorists is a theme that underlies much of Fellman's teachings and writings, as he believes that all of the world's ills were created by America and its allies. Fellman has stated, "The only rational way to address [terrorism] is to acknowledge the humiliations inflicted by centuries of colonialism and imperialism…which appear to underlie the complaints against the West. Some people who identify with Islam appear to be determined either to restore the former glory of Islam somehow through force, or at least to have the humiliations and degradations inflicted upon Islamic cultures by the West avenged…." Fellman also describes terrorists as feeling hopeless, and justifies terrorist suicide-bombings as "ways of inflicting revenge on an enemy that seems unable or unwilling to respond to rational pleas for discussion and justice."

Fellman waxes conspiratorial over Operation Iraqi Freedom, claiming the conflict was foreordained by the Bush administration. "This war has been planned since before Bush became president." Fellman has said, "It sets a horribly dangerous example of preemptive war. It is consistent with Bush's violation of all international treaties…For Bush to claim that Saddam is evil for ignoring the United Nations, if he were more self-conscious, he would be talking about himself." Most audaciously, following America's call for a War on Terror following the tragedy of 9/11, Fellman stated, "War is about people being killed. If it's about terrorism and terrorism is the killing of innocent civilians, then the United States is also a terrorist."

Fellman has made his crusade against the War on Terror campus-wide, attending rallies, creating the Faculty Coalition Against the War, admonishing Front Page Magazine Editor-in-Chief David Horowitz, and using the classroom as his own personal anti-American platform. In one particular course Fellman teaches, entitled Marx and Freud, Fellman instructs students to examine "challenges to accepted ways of interpreting the world" and how they are "almost always met with suspicion, disbelief, hostility, and sometimes death…by the Catholic Church, Orthodox Judaism, the erstwhile Soviet government, the United States government, 'free market' ideologists, and other guardians of official ways of explaining the world." In an effort to further indoctrinate students to the merits of Marxism, Fellman states in the syllabus for his course that students must attend three "Marx-related events."

Fellman is notorious for grading his students subjectively, and for making "personal evolution" count for one-third of a student's grade. This phrase refers to how much the student has assimilated and assumed Fellman's worldviews. Fellman expects his students to take up his cause and become America-blaming terrorist sympathizers. And although it's troubling that dissent on the part of the students in response to this type of programming could lead to failing grades at the hands of this radical professor, what's even more disturbing is that ill-informed students subscribing to this rhetoric could choose to express their abhorrence of America in violent and destructive ways.

Other professors in the Brandeis PAX have also been vocal about their disdain for America as well as Western culture as a whole. Professor Dessima Williams, who served as ambassador from the Marxist dictatorship of Grenada, has been particularly critical of what she has called an "assumed dominance and assumed superiority of the analysis and experiences of the West." Williams' involvement with the ruling party of Grenada ceased when Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard-once a Brandeis student himself-viciously murdered half of his fellow cabinet members in an effort to force regime change on the embattled island nation. Williams was arrested in 1984 and questioned about her role in the calamity, but has since created a career as an educator in the United States. Demonstrating her Marxist leanings, Williams has said, "Socialism without democracy cannot survive, but ultimately, neither can democracy without socialism." And concerning the War on Terror, Williams has said, "One of the simplest reasons to oppose war is that war hurts people." Williams fails to acknowledge how the political coup carried out by her former comrades in Grenada "hurt people," including the Minister of Education, Jacqueline Creft, who was pregnant at the time of her execution. She has also failed to recognize the fact that the terrorist threat that faces our nation has as its goal not merely to "hurt" our nation, but to completely destroy it.

Turning the tables by branding the United States a "terrorist" through incongruous reasoning, rather than reserving the label for Palestinian suicide bombers and the 9/11 hijackers and their ilk, is just one way the PAX sways sympathy for terrorists and generates distrust for America. But the department not only blithely orates this loathing through statements by its faculty, but also encourages active involvement in anti-American activities with the purpose of demeaning American values and principles.

The Brandeis PAX offers two courses aimed at instructing university students in the ways and means of radical protest. Protest, Politics, and Change: Social Movements is one course in Brandeis' repertoire for indoctrinating students to the inner workings and merits of civil demonstrations. The course description states that "(s)ocial movements, originally viewed in the context of riots, panics, fads, and other 'collective behavior' deemed relatively 'irrational,' have since the 1960s and 1970s more often been viewed as akin to other (relatively rational) political activity...Today, it can be argued that, in many societies, some social movements represent the enlightened self-interest of the general public better than do mainstream institutions and leadership." The course in fact instructs students how to go about organizing a protest, stating in the class syllabus that an emphasis will be placed "on the tactics, strategy, and potential of 'nonviolent struggle,' including both relatively 'spontaneous' popular action and planned campaigns, as a political technique of growing international significance and promise."

Textbooks and literature that this course uses include: Doing Democracy: The MAP (Movement Action Plan) Model for Organizing Social Movements by Bill Moyer (not to be confused with Bill Moyers) et al., which is a blueprint for civil disobedience, outlining the eight stages utilized by civil movements, and the four roles that activists play in protests and demonstrations; and Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics by Sidney Tarrow, which "puts forward a theory of collective action" regarding protest, rallies, and social movements in general. With these readings, students are encouraged to seek "(o)pportunities to apply lessons learned to the challenges of strategizing for (or against) selected existing or potential movements."

Another course offered by Brandeis is Democracy and Disobedience. The course description states that the historical, real-world protests it examines include "several contemporary examples of non-violent resistance, in particular, non-violent resistance in opposition to world trade agreements in Seattle, Washington, D. C., and Prague, disobedience in China and Northern Ireland, and the use and/or abuse of civil disobedience at abortion clinics." The leftist nature of this course is apparent when it presumes to describe protests that would attract leftist activists as "non-violent resistance," and activities such as abortion clinic demonstrations as "civil disobedience" that may be abused.

Other required reading includes In Defense of Anarchism, in which author Robert Paul Wolff argues an ethical case against government and makes a philosophical case for social anarchism. In another text popular on college campuses, Jihad vs. McWorld, author Benjamin Barber argues against the influx of capitalism and western ideologies throughout the world and blames the Arab world's rising anti-American sentiment of the success of American businesses such as McDonald's - success made possible only by the indigenous consumers of those foreign countries.

Students embracing the radical ideologies of their professors have taken their message outside of the classroom, creating such groups as the Activist Resource Center (ARC). The ARC at Brandeis is a "coalition of students and student groups committed to taking action for social justice, peace, and equality." The ARC serves as campus clearinghouse for activist information, providing the community with details of civil demonstrations, protests, rallies, and marches. Members of ARC point to the university itself as justification for their anti-American/anti-military directive. "The Brandeis tradition of social justice mandates us to speak out against the war," said ARC leader Jocelyn Berger. "During the Vietnam era, Brandeis was a hotbed of activist activity, with the national student strike headquartered in Professor Gordie Fellman's office."

Just as Palestinian schools teach overt hatred of Israel, many universities across the country are educating students to take on a troubling aversion to their own country, the institution of the United States government, and the principles on which this republic was founded. Although Peace Studies departments of colleges and universities claim "peace" as their objective, it is increasingly evident that their "call to arms" in the name of their anti-American message could have violent repercussions. As threats to the United States increase, professors, college classes, and entire university departments with anti-American agendas need to be scrutinized, not only for the educational welfare of students, but also for the security of our nation. With the threat of terrorism looming as the summer season fast approaches, the FBI is currently searching for Aafia Siddiqui, a 31-year-old Pakistani neurological scientist and alleged al-Qaeda operative, who the agency believes may be planning a high-profile attack on America in the coming months. Siddiqui is a graduate of Brandeis University.

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You may email Thomas Ryan here.