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ISSUE 117 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/27/2004

Group attacks faculty

By Carl Schroeder
Staff Writer

Friday, February 27, 2004

Last week, a conservative St. Olaf student group called Counterpoint launched a coordinated smear campaign against St. Olafs professors and administration. Their intellectual diversity crusade culminated in a Feb. 21 Star Tribune article in which Counterpoint members claimed that St. Olafs classrooms are liberal indoctrination chambers where faculty members persecute students who voice conservative opinions.

Its no secret that many St. Olaf professors lean left politically. However, the American Heritage dictionary defines liberal as tolerant of the ideas and opinions of others. Counterpoints sensational allegations were baseless attacks on the integrity and professionalism of St. Olafs faculty.

At last Octobers Political Action Committee-sponsored civil liberties debate, Patrick Buchanan ridiculed Nadine Strossens lack of concrete proof that anyones civil liberties had actually been violated by the PATRIOT Act. Right-wing readers ought to pause here and take a good look in the nearest mirror.

Now, Counterpoint, can you name me one St. Olaf professor who was hired on the basis of their political beliefs? How about one St. Olaf student who has ever had their grade lowered for voicing a conservative opinion in class?

If not, stop slandering our schools reputation and making unfounded accusations against our professors and administration in major metropolitan newspapers.

Maybe now would be a good time for Counterpoint to come up with a compelling message other than our message is being suppressed. To find out what sort of intellectual diversity St. Olafs flower-child faculty is concealing, I went to Counterpoints heavily advertised Peace Through Strength teach-in last weekend. The session, which featured University of St. Thomas Professor and 1930s aficionado Scott Johnson, had two major themes: 1) Winston Churchill was a great man; and 2) Nazis are evil.Pretty controversial stuff, if you ask me.

To be fair, Im almost certain there was an intended subtext hinting that Saddam Hussein is also evil. However, since the current leader of the free world has been hammering home that point for the past 18 months, I fail to understand how thats an alternative message.

The truth is that intellectual diversity is just another meaningless catch phrase conservatives periodically invent to intimidate people who disagree with them. Perhaps youve heard one of George W. Bushs recent favorites: activist judges, used in his State of the Union Address to attack the Massachusetts court that legalized gay marriage. I was surprised to hear the Presidents harsh words towards activist judges, considering that Bush owes his current job to five who work in Washington, D.C.

Then again, transparent hypocrisy appears to be a hot fad among extremist conservatives. If the Right Wing is going to pretend to be champions of diversity of opinion, then maybe it wasnt such a good idea for them to throw an infantile hissy fit and question the Lefts patriotism when we raised objections to the Iraq war last March.

Which reminds me, Counterpoint, while youre out looking for proof of intellectual persecution at St. Olaf College, would you mind keeping an eye out for Saddam Husseins weapons of mass destruction?

Heres a helpful hint for keeping both searches short: start with your imagination.

Staff Writer Carl Schroeder is a junior from Minneapolis, Minn. He majors in music composition.

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