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Susan Greene’s column in today’s Denver Post ( discusses the current CU Board of Regents, and the choices Coloradans have. Sue Sharkey, a Republican reactionary in the 4th Congressional District running for regent of our flagship university, states that “[c]ollege graduates are more likely to be liberalized than non-college graduates.” Her solution to this unacceptable result of receiving a higher education is to impose upon it her ideological agenda. Steve Bosley, a current regent, was one of four to vote no on “Preserving the Independence of the Board of Regents,” a vote on whether to appeal an appellate court decision that regents cannot ban concealed weaons on campus. At a Tea Party rally, Bosley said, “We’re the storm troopers. The storm troopers are going to take back America.”

One important measure of a civilization is how much it appreciates and cultivates the gift of human consciousness, and how sincerely it aspires to be a bastion of wisdom and compassion. The term “a liberal education” refers to our tradition of striving to ensure that as many of our young people as possible are guided through an exploration of human knowledge, learning about humanity, who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. Our universities are indeed our temples of human knowledge and thought, where we go to learn and to create new knowledge, to investigate the complexities and subtleties of our world and universe, to improve our ability to act wisely.

Not only is America under attack by self-proclaimed  “storm troopers” admittedly determined to undermine our commitment to providing a broad and comprehensive education to our young people, but they are currently the majority on the Board of Regents of Colorado’s flagship university. When a large and vocal minority, passionate, angry, militant, motivated by the desire to catalyze and assist the contraction of the human mind and the human heart, by the rejection of wisdom and compassion, by the advocacy of ignorance and belligerence, succeed in taking over our temples of wisdom, our institutions for cultivating human consciousness, it is not hyperbole to suggest that this is a threat to the very foundation of what it means to be a civilized nation.

Coloradan’s do have a choice this November. As Susan Greene wrote,  “The at-large race is a statewide referendum on what we want the regency to be.” By extension, it’s about something more than that as well: It’s a statewide referendum on what kind of a people we want to be. Melissa Hart, the CU Law professor who is a Harvard Law graduate and former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, represents the choice to be a civilized people committed to wisdom and compassion. The alternative is to allow one more victory of a movement determined to force America to worship at the alter of ignorance and belligerence. Let’s not falter in the face of this truly consequential challenge.

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  • bagzzaf:

    So we’re clear, you make the claim in your closing sentences that the Tea Party movement is determined to force America to worship at the alter of ignorance and belligerence? Is that truly your stance?

    “The alternative is to allow one more victory of a movement determined to force America to worship at the alter of ignorance and belligerence. Let’s not falter in the face of this truly consequential challenge.”

    The #1 statement on your About Colorado Confluence Page reads:
    1) This blog is intended to be the confluence, the “flowing together,” of diverse people, thoughts, and modalities. All are welcome, of all ideologies, from all walks of life. It is where political debate, social analysis, and cultural explorations are invited to converge, a meeting place for knowledge, analysis, and imagination.

    Is calling a national groundswell movement ignorant and belligerent how you value diverse opinions?

  • 1) The ideology to which I was referring is not coextensive with “The Tea Party” (which is why I did not name it as such), though there is considerable overlap. “All views are welcome” does not mean that critical thinking is prohibited, but rather that each can make his or her own case, as he or she sees fit, always addressing issues, and never attacking individual participants.

    2) All views with the purpose of improving the quality of our shared existence are welcome, including views associated with the Tea Party, if they are presented in a way that shows their commitment to that purpose. Please feel free to present your views in that spirit, and in that way (remembering that this is a “bile-free zone,” meaning that you can state why you think some ideology does not contribute to our collective welfare, but direct your anger at the ideology rather than at any individuals who adhere to it).

    3) Yes, it really is my stance that there is a movement in America “determined to force America to worship at the alter of ignorance and belligerence.” Some of its members come from the left, some from the right, some even from the middle. Some are in the Tea Party, and some are vehemently opposed to the Tea Party. Some in the Tea Party are reasonable people of goodwill who, like me, are opposed to this movement to which I am referring. The divide is not between the named political parties, movements, and ideologies, but rather between reasonable people of goodwill striving to contribute to the public welfare, and those who oppose them. And, yes, this blog is committed to being on one side of that divide, and to defeating those lined up on the other side of it, though it is only right and proper that we debate which is which from time to time.

    4) Valuing diverse opinions is not the same as valuing all opinions. By way of analogy (and not comparison), Naziism was “a groundswell movement” as well. But I don’t value genocidal opinions. I don’t value hateful opinions that fall short of being genocidal. I don’t value opinions that are socially disintegrative and based on satisfying the needs of some with indifference to the welfare of others. “A confluence,” in this case, means that productive ideas seeking our common welfare are invited to flow together, from whatever ideological region they might come.

    I hope you will participate, and make your arguments about why the values and beliefs you hold dear are the ones which best serve humanity’s interests. That would be a valuable, and valued, contributation.

  • bagzzaf:

    The problem I have is that you simultaneously want to advertise this site as tolerant and bile-free, but apparently have no problem labeling those with differing views with words such as “ignorance”, “belligerence”, “reactionary“ and even describing swaths of individuals with statements such as:

    “When a large and vocal minority, passionate, angry, militant, motivated by the desire to catalyze and assist the contraction of the human mind and the human heart, by the rejection of wisdom and compassion, by the advocacy of ignorance and belligerence, succeed in taking over our temples of wisdom, our institutions for cultivating human consciousness, it is not hyperbole to suggest that this is a threat to the very foundation of what it means to be a civilized nation.”

    It becomes difficult to take your stated desire of a bile-free zone and a confluence of varied viewpoints seriously.

    In many of your other posts you (rightly) describe many of those that have varying viewpoints as good people that view the world in a different way. If there are people that would like to see a more balanced (i.e. diverse) curriculum or presentation of conservative viewpoints AS WELL AS liberal viewpoints from the faculty, it doesn’t make them “motivated by the desire to catalyze and assist the contraction of the human mind and the human heart, by the rejection of wisdom and compassion….” On the contrary, diverse experiences and perspectives is EXACTLY what we should be advocating in a liberal education. Of course suggesting that a more balanced faculty and curriculum would threaten the very suggestion of what it means to be a civilized nation is hyperbole.

    In many of your other posts you seem able to make the distinction between the possibility of somebody having a viewpoint different than yours being a decent human being as opposed to being a rabid ideologue intent on destroying the world as we know it.

    Do I consider myself a Tea Party activist, no. Nor do I consider myself a republican or a democrat. I’d describe myself as fiscally conservative and socially libertarian. There are times that I find myself sympathetic to what certain democratic candidates or politicians say, but slightly more often to what republican candidates/pols say (although I think they are often pandering to a part of their base much of the time). That the Tea Party Movement is currently rocking the boats of and currently under the skin of both establishment democrats AND establishment republicans tells me that the establishment bi-factional political ruling class is concerned the movement is resonating with the voters. They should be concerned, it’s the first time in a while that their two-party biopoly has been threatened.

    I’ve mixed it up with numerous posters on the Denver Post boards, but it’s always been on what they’ve posted and the positions they’ve supported. I have no problem calling somebody a hypocrite when they’re being hypocritical or a liar when they’ve been caught in a lie. What I always try to do is stay away from classifying others as members of offensive stereotypes or broad categorizations. Typically, posters provide MORE than enough materiel needed to point out the weaknesses in their arguments without resorting to the type of hyperbole and name-calling that I believe you’ve resorted to in your first post in this thread.

    Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe, what Sue Sharkey’s intentions are actually to “catalyze and assist the contraction of the human mind and the human heart, by the rejection of wisdom and compassion, by the advocacy of ignorance and belligerence”. Perhaps she’s attempting to take over “our temples of wisdom, our institutions for cultivating human consciousness.” Ultimately, her diabolical plan may just be to threaten “the very foundation of what it means to be a civilized nation.”

    Perhaps. But I seriously doubt it. I think that it’s more likely that she merely views the world differently than you do.

  • Your concerns are duly noted. However, we’re not playing a game of one-upmanship here. Attributing to me having made remarks specifically about one individual that were not made specifically about that individual is a rhetorical ploy, not engagement in productive discourse. Please, I would love for you to continue to participate, and to argue your positions, but I am not the topic here, you are not the topic here, not even Sue Sharkey is the topic here. What policies and systems of analysis best serve our collective welfare is the topic here.

    Now, to address the portions of your post that were on-point: You argue, reasonably enough, that there is nothing wrong with trying to off-set the alleged liberal bias in academe with conservative viewpoints, and that having regents pursuing that agenda just restores a balance that is otherwise lacking. But the entire purpose of the academy is to avoid starting with the conclusions, and tailoring the process to arrive at them. Scholarship, most quintessentially embodied in scientific methodology, is procedural in nature, not substantive; the substance is meant to follow without prejudice from the procedure. To impose any qualifications on what the outcome of that academic process should be is to affirmatively undermine it’s value, and what distinguishes it from mere dogma.

    Is academe, as it is currently constituted, free of bias, free of prejudice, all process and no preconceived substance? Of course not. But the residual biases exist because, despite the methodological design to avoid it, biases enter into the process. Some of the ways this happens can probably be diminished, such as the pressure to “publish or perish” causing a desperate need to produce something, even if it’s junk, which leads to trying to accelerate the process, which leads to imposing preconceived notions on what it should produce. Refining the procedure to reduce biased outcomes is fine; insisting that some ideological outcome is underrepresented and therefore must somehow have its representation increased is the antithesis of scholarship.

    Since I believe, as a scholar, that imposed preconceived conclusions on scholarly processes is the antithesis of scholarship, and that scholarship, as a robust producer of information characterized by relatively high signal-to-noise ratios, is a major force in the healthy growth of human consciousness, and that a robustly growing human consciousness is the cornerstone of what it means to be truly civilized, then it is not, to me, hyperbole to identify this agenda as a threat to “the very foundation of what it means to be a civilized nation.”

    But that is not the only reason that I identify it as such. Civilization, as I am defining it, is that which produces human welfare, human satisfaction, human progress toward a society characterized by increased health, decreased poverty, increased sustainability, increased social justice, decreased annui, increased joy and wisdom. These things, in my view, are increased by increasing our sense of being members of global humanity, and decreasing our reliance on in-group/out-group and fundamentally individualistic modes of thought. Those who believe that profound inequities are irrelevant are, for me, on the wrong side of this divide. Those who villify people from other countries who migrate toward opportunity, even if illegally (the only way they can), are, for me, on the wrong side of this divide. That is why I referred not just to the contraction of the human mind, but also of the human heart.

    I understand that you disagree, and respect your right to disagree. But I cannot and will not respect that ideology with which I disagree, that I perceive to be a force that diminishes us, diminishes our welfare, and diminishes our spirit.

    Even so, for me, it doesn’t have to be personal; I am amenable to friendships with people who hold what I consider to be odious beliefs, because such people are not necessarily odious people. As long as people commit themselves to striving to be reasonable people of goodwill, then they will be a force for good in the long run, no matter what they hold true today. I may be the one to discover that I have been misguided, and that my conclusions are all in truth the dysfunctonal ones. And that would be a joyful day, because my contribution to humanity’s welfare would become a more positive one as a result.

  • I should add, regarding your suggestion that when people disagree, their views are “just different”, not better and worse (“she merely views the world differently than you do”): I’ve always marvelled that an ideology that so fervantly embraces moral and epistemological absolutes relies so heavily on moral and epistemological relativism. Opinions are not, in the end, all equal, and truth is not, in the end, the midpoint between the major opposing ideologies. If I put two clinically delusional individuals in a room, and they begin to argue, the truth isn’t some compromise between their delusions. If one believes that everyone is possessed by extraterrestrial aliens, and the other believes that full-blown aliens are breeding among us, the truth is not that possessed individuals have been breeding for generations, having full-blown alien children, who are now also breeding among us. And if you throw a more mainstream mind into the mix, the truth isn’t some compromise between that new addition and either or both of the delusional individuals.

    If a physicist argues with a layperson over the nature of physical reality, the truth is probably closer to the physicist’s beliefs than to the layperson’s. Often, however, these distinctions are not made so relatively transparent by the aid of degrees and credentials (and, often, even when so, those aids in transparency of relative expertise are mocked rather than acknowledged). The lack of such signifiers does not, however, mean that no such distinction in real expertise exists. Some arguments are just better informed, and better reasoned, than others. But those that adhere to the others will generally be slow to realize or acknowledge it.

    So, yes, Sharkey sees the world differently from me. But there is no a priori reason to assume that the difference isn’t significant, or that the truth, or perhaps just wisdom and compassion, doesn’t reside rather dramatically closer to one node than the other.

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