"ILLIBERAL EDUCATION: THE POLITICS OF RACE & SEX ON CAMPUS" (DINESH D'SOUZA).
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Chapter-by-chapter summary of work arguing against universities' bending to minority group pressures. (Primarily Chapter 8).... More...
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Chapter-by-chapter summary of work arguing against universities' bending to minority group pressures. (Primarily Chapter 8).
This study will provide a summary of Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, with a major focus on Chapter 8, "Illiberal Education." The book is the author's argument against the tendency of American universities to bend their policies and practices to fit the "politically correct" pressures of minority groups. D'Souza argues that such pressure groups and university officials who bend to that pressure are destroying the very foundation on which the liberal principles of higher learning depend. He is pessimistic about any meaningful change in the near-future which would alter this "illiberal" trend. Chapter 1, "The Victim's Revolution on Campus," the author declares that he is sympathetic to the struggle of minority students for equality and justice, being a first-generation
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Thistrend toward hunting for bigotry under every word and gesture, saysD'Souza, has created a kind of self-conscious madness on Americanuniversity campuses, is not effective in stopping racism or sexism, and, infact, has created a backlash: Nobody will say so, but the truth is that a large number of students and faculty have simply had it with minority double standards and intimidation. All "Western" culture isviewed as destructive, unjust, etc., while all non-Western culture isidealized. Chapter 1, "The Victim's Revolution on Campus," the author declaresthat he is sympathetic to the struggle of minority students for equalityand justice, being a first-generation immigrant from India himself.However, he argues that the policies such students are forcing theuniversities to adopt will not advance the cause of justice or equality. It is a revolution on behalf of minority students. Illiberal Education. D'Souza offers reforms such as "nonracial affirmativeaction," based on socioeconomics, and "choice without separatism,"referring to funding of groups based on intellectual rather than racial orsexual "proclivity" (253). Its mission is to put an end to bigoted attitudes which permit perceived social injustice to continue, to rectify past and present inequities, and to advance the interests of the previously disenfranchised (13). He does argue against many current policieswhich hurt highly qualified students and do not help less qualifiedminority students. There were otherstudent demands, but Atwater's ouster was the most controversial. The university meets its minorityquota, but the result is a high drop-out rate for minority students, and aseparation on campus of students into racial and ethnic groups. What actually occurred was unfairness inthe admission of certain students who were themselves minorities: "GivenBerkeley's definition of diversity as proportional representation, theuniversity's mandate seems clear: more blacks and Hispanics, fewer Jews andAsians" (31). D'Souzaargues that such pressure groups and university officials who bend to thatpressure are destroying the very foundation on which the liberal principlesof higher learning depend. The result is not a"balanced" curricula among the various cultures and philosophies of life,but a curricula slanted against Western culture and all its real andalleged biases. However, D'Souza is not optimistic about theimplementation of such reforms, because of intimidated administrators. D'Souza says he is not against the idea of cultural diversity. D'Souza's argument is that this shift in curricula isculturally biased rather than culturally balanced. The author does not condone suchovert racist behavior, but he argues that censorship is not the answer.Such efforts to "regulate and enforce a social etiquette have created anenormous artificiality of discourse among peers, and thus have become anobstacle to that true openness that seems to be the only sure footing forequality" (156). Chapter 5, "The New Censorship," covers efforts to censor racistspeech at the University of Michigan. From the student's point of view, D'Souza says that a liberaleducation includes the hope to shape themselves as whole human beings, both intellectually and morally. Race relations have been worsened,says the author, as the result of this illiberal education, instead ofbeing improved. D'Souza examines six incidents at six universities which typify thisrevolution. BibliographyD'Souza, Dinesh. These roles allow them to recover the sense of meaning, and of place, which otherwise seems so elusive (242). D'Souzaargues, once again, that he empathizes with the students desire forjustice, but he feels their methods are counter-productive: "After thetakeovers ended, the black community remained as troubled and fragmented asever" (122). Primarily, the authorestablishes what a liberal education is, why it is important and valuable,and why the six examples from six universities show trends toward notliberal but illiberal education. Chapter 8, "Illiberal Education," summarizes the ideas in the bookand draws broad conclusions from the examples. One major problem to D'Souza is that universities, in their desire toexpand the minority student population, recruit students who are not ableto finish their university education. Inresponse, white students form an outlook D'Souza calls "the new racism."Minority students respond by seeing themselves as victims: They tend to see their lives collectively as a historical melodrama involving the forces of good and evil, in which they are cast as secular saints and martyrs. D'Souza goes on to argue that universities in the United States forthe most part do not give the student such a liberal education. Until they change their policies, universities are likely to see a dramatic increase in racial tension and racial incidents, with a corresponding upsurge of violence. Hedoes say that "the question is not whether universities should seekdiversity, but what kind of diversity" (23 ). To thecontrary, because of the fear of appearing culturally, racially or genderlybiased, university officials have instituted rules and policies based on"closed-mindedness and intolerance" (229). Chapter 6, "The Last Shall Be First," covers the efforts by DukeUniversity to change curricula and faculty hiring policy to conform tomulticultural demands. Such policy also "contributes to separatism and strainamong racial groups on campus" (58). The Rigoberta of thechapter's title is a Latin American peasant whose oral autobiography"embodies a projection of Marxist and feminist views onto South AmericanIndian culture" (72). This is an irony in thisaccusation, of course, because the minority groups behind such policieshave claimed to be pursuing an end to just such closed-mindedness andintolerance. Chapter 2, "More Equal Than Others," explores admissions policyat Cal Berkeley, and the changes brought about in the effort to create"fair" policies for minorities. The curricula changes have been designed to reflectthe view that all values and cultures are relative, that there is noabsolute truth. Brimming with idealism, they wish to prepare themselves for full and independent lives in the workplace, at home, and as citizens who are shared rulers of a democratic society. However, the illiberal trend ineducation has created a crop of university students who display notdiversity of mind but seem to display striking agreement on all the basic questions of life. Diversity of mind, saysD'Souza, is the desired diversity. It is meant to transform the university "in the name ofmulticulturalism and diversity" (133). Indeed, they appear to regard a true difference of opinion, based upon convictions that are firmly and intensely held, as dangerously dogmatic and an offense against the social etiquette of tolerance (231). The same situation exists in the classroom. This study will provide a summary of Dinesh D'Souza's IlliberalEducation: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, with a major focus onChapter 8, "Illiberal Education." The book is the author's argument againstthe tendency of American universities to bend their policies and practicesto fit the "politically correct" pressures of minority groups. Chapter 3, "Travels With Rigoberta," deals with student protests fornon-Western, non-white-male-oriented curricula. Chapter 4, "In Search of Black Pharaohs," D'Souza covers protests attraditionally black Howard University to oust the Republican Party ChairmanLee Atwater, a conservative politician in the habit of using raciallydivisive tactics, from the university's board of trustees. New York: Free Press, 1991.----------------------- 1 It is D'Souza's argument, then, that not only have the newpolicies not helped minority groups, but they have brought about greaterintolerance than existed previously. In short, what they seek is liberal education (229). These changes have been in admissions policy,paying for college, learning and teaching, campus life, student behaviorand language. The hiring policy changed to fit a minority quota system.In both cases, D'Souza argues that the result is negative: "Courting thelatest intellectual fashions," Duke has "adopted strategies which havesorely depreciated traditional academic standards to the detriment of itsstudents' academic prospects" (193). The worst is yet to come (228). In other words, more qualified students of minority groupswill be edged out by less qualified students from other minority groups.However, a high rate of affirmative action students drop out. Minority activistsincreasingly dominate curricula choices, which increases representation ofwomen and minorities on reading lists, but, argues D'Souza, the result isnot necessarily positive in terms of education. The authordoes not argue against some sort of policy which would level the playingfield of higher education. D'Souza lists examples of such protests and the changes brought aboutto appease minority students. He is pessimistic about any meaningful change inthe near-future which would alter this "illiberal" trend. Chapter 7, "Tyranny of the Minority," covers incidents of allegedracism and sexism committed by faculty members at Harvard University.
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