Chastisements

Polemicist hereby chastises...

"If, when a man has fallen into habits of idleness, of daydreaming, and of sloth, putting off his most important duties continually til the morrow, another man were to awaken him one fine morning with the heavy blows of a whip, and were to whip him unmercifully, until he who was unable to work for pleasure now worked for fear - would not that man, the chastiser, indeed be his benefactor and truest friend?"

-Charles Baudelaire
 Intimate Journals

 

July 1991; page 2; Volume 2, No. 7
Polemicist

Joseph Horn
Rightist Zealot

In the past this journal has rebuked Horn repeatedly for his vengeful, demeaning attitudes toward minorities, women, and generally, students. But Horn - a former associate dean of liberal arts and darling of newly installed interim tyrant Dean Robert King - also deserves scorn for his association with rightist groups that systematically attack academic freedom. The most recent example was Horn's speech at the June 6 & 7, 1991, Accuracy in Academia conference.

Accuracy in Academia became the object of universal scorn in the mid-80s, when the organization annouced plans to pay "auditors" to "monitor" university faculty with Marxist, feminist, or other dangerous and subversive views. AIA continues to this day publishing critiques of specific professors classroom lectures and textbooks in its national publication Campus Report and local right-wing student newspapers, many run by the Madison Center for Educational Affairs (see article, page four). The organization's stated goals sound like though of other rightist groups today complaining of "political correctness" on campus, indoctrination in the classroom, etc. But its overly political agenda and wild-eyed redbaiting alienated all but the lunatic frindge among conservatives. Other conservative campus groups like the National Association of Scholars (NAS) learned from AIA during this same period, and explicitly set out to achieve the same goals by organizing faculty at the university level, arguing that AIA's tactics had discredited the organization.

At its annual conference in June, Joe Horn - who was elevated to the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars after the English 306 debacle at UT - declared himself an "expert" on reverse discrimination, and spoke on the topic, "Affirmative Discrimination on Campus." While Horn cheered on the crowd (made up of about one-third students) to combat their "politically correct" opponents by any means necessary, many milled around and talked during his presentation, according to sources at the conference. (The professor was squeezed into the schedule between P.J. O'Rourke, who gave a luncheon address entitled "Give War a Chance," and a panel discussion including students who encountered resistence from "P.C." elements at their schools after forming a white students union.)

While Horn's participation in the conference is instructive - we should not underestimate the significance of the presidents of UT's local NAS chapter working with the radical right - his presence at such an event calls into question his group's commitment to "reasoned scholarship in a free society," as its literature declares. More accurately, as the squelching of the proposed English 306 syllabus demonstrated, Horn's regressive political goals are laid (CK) bare by his attempts at networking among national rightist groups. No one is fooled, Joe, by your pleas that you only support "reasoned scholarship." Any fool (even Bob King) can tell that if anyone at UT-Austin is promoting an expressly political agenda, it's the Texas Association of Scholars and its president, Joe Horn.

Wall Street Journal
Relativist, Apologist

We take executive compensation issues ("Dollar" Bill's directorships, Kozmetsky's junk bond history, Mettlen's S&L dance) seriously. In a recent editorial, the Wall Street Journal responds to people like us.

"Over the years we've tended to dismiss executive-compensation issues as mostly demagogy. If a handful of baseball players gets paid multiple millions for a few years in their 20s and early 30s, we don't see why a handful of executives shouldn't be paid multiple millions for a few years in their 50s and early 60s. And even the highest CEO salary is trivial compared to a corporation's cash flow, let alone the general economy. Would that other more important issues received equal attention."

If you can think of other fruitful comparisons (CEO leveraged buyout debt compared to the national debt, CEO life sentences in prison compared to the total years of prison time currently being served by all convicted criminals, for example) send us your suggestions. We may print them, if we remember, next fall.

Dollar Bill
Scholar

Polemicist congratulates Bill for finally making General in his very own educational military. In the new and revised Strategic Plan for the University, 1992-97, Bill places himself at the center of a military-style process for "maneuvering forces into the most advantageous position prior to actual engagement." According to the introduction to vol. III, The Strategic Planning Process, "resource allocation is equivalent to positioning of forces," and the strategic planning effort "is centered" in the Strategic Planning Institutional Steering Committee, chaired by "Dollar" Bill himself.

Cunningham, challenged by "the state's population, its social development, its commerce and its technology" devotes most of a large volume to a series of studies, in which the University lays out its prognosis for the future of Texas, and its role over the next several years. A lengthy dissertation on "social problems," heavily footnoted to such illustrious academic sources as USA Today, and the Austin American-Statesman, notes that terrorism is a serious social problem for universities.

Quoting an article from Futures magazine, the document notes that "universities are a major recruiting ground for terrorist groups ... [and that] a group of competent and qualified scientists and engineers could be recruited for the special purpose of building an atomic weapon or advising on techniques of nuclear sabotage and extortion." The study goes on to quote the same source again, advising that "governments and security forces would be wise to plan for the 'worst possible' terrorist contingencies."

The section on "private disobedience" from The Futurist is also worth quoting at length, as it identifies animal rights activists (among others) as particularly dangerous to the private sector and to University research centers. These activists, drawn from the middle and upper classes, are venting their frustration at the "curtailment of upward mobility," according to the Futurist. On the subject of student activism, the plan notes that a "pletora of activist groups composed of people who view themselves as reformers with higher and more enlightened values than others...believe that opposition to their principles stems from selfishness, ignorance, bigotry, or even evil. Many see themselves as the 'progressive' force overcoming the 'oppressive' dominance of 'selfish' profit-oriented business values, 'dehumanizing' corporations, 'blind' technology, 'crass' materialism and 'commercialized' vulgarity. They turn issues into ideological, spiritual, or moral imperatives, or they treat these issues as too important to be subjected to compromise or cost-benefit analysis." (our emphasis)

Citing an article from USA Today on animal rights protests at Case Western University, where a professor "received death threats after a pro-research article was published last year," the strategic plan goes on to blandly advise that "three strategies used to deal with terrorism are crisis response and management, improved defenses and wider intelligence networks."

Bill Livingston
Graduate Dean, Sycophant

Gushing with sympathy for Margaret Thatcher's final tumble from power in British government, Bill wrote to the House of Commons in early January to invite her to give this year's UT commencement speech.

"I see my own reaction to the past months' events as that of an alter ego," Bill writes, further noting that after first feeling disappointment and resentment, he has finally begun "to accommodate [himself] to the new situation," and suggests that in time she will probably do the same. As perhaps a kind of compensation, he wants "to make you an offer that you just can't resist."

Asking that she join "a varied and distinguished company" of commencement speakers - like bankrupt defense contractor Bobby Ray Inman, Lloyd Bentsen, and warmonger George Bush - Bill points out that she will enjoy a "colorful, exciting and meaningful ceremony" from her position on the stage. Her speech, however, doesn't have to be on any of the usual "lofty (and sometimes tedious) themes - duty, civic responsibility, education..." that usually provide a focus for University graduations. Instead he suggests more tempting topics, like "conservatism in an era of change" or "freedom, welfare and socialism."

Despite Bill's offer to cover all Maggie's expenses, fly her son Mark and his wife down from Dallas for the occasion, and pay her a modest $10,000 honorarium, she didn't come. Neither did James Baker, another fine choice who turned down an invitation to lead UT graduates into the future. Thanks for small mercies.