[The book contains] interviews with seven Arab-Americans in their 20s about their experiences and difficulties in the US. There’s appreciation of freedoms in the US, and deep resentment at feeling or being discriminated against post-9/11....
The title of the book is drawn from communist WEB DuBois’ same question in 1903 in his treatise The Souls of Black Folk. The current book consciously draws a parallel, ridiculous on its face, between the horrible and pervasive discrimination and injustices that Blacks were subjected to a century ago and Arab-Americans today.I can't imagine wanting freshman to get the message that they are about to be indoctrinated. On the up side, for freshman: If the school makes it clear right in the first week, you may still be in a position to quit and get your tuition back. If they're subtle about it — and it's so easy to be subtle about it — you're drawn into it. Clear efforts at indoctrination are repugnant. One recoils. It's like evil-tasting poison. The evil taste is a great benefit. You reflexively spit it out.
The author asserts “The core issue [of Middle East turbulence] remains the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” that the post-1967 history of the entire area is essentially that of “imperialism American-style,” and that the US government “limits the speech of Arab Americans in order to cement United States policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Again, preposterous....
Online I found two professors who protested to the college president. One, retired from Brooklyn College, said: "This is wholly inappropriate. It smacks of indoctrination. It will intimidate incoming students who have a different point of view (or have formed no point of view), sending the message that only one side will be approved on this College campus. It can certainly intimidate untenured faculty as well."
So now I'm picturing the Brooklyn College freshman, hurling "How Does It Feel" against the wall. In the movie I'm inventing in my head, the soundtrack is Bob Dylan — how does it feel — as The Freshman stomps out of Brooklyn and into a life without higher
For them that must obey authorityWe were talking last night: Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you need death staring you in the face to take that question seriously?
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to beDo what they do just to be*
Nothing more than something they invest in
Maybe you don't need death staring you in the face to ask whether you have the courage to be true to yourself and not just to do what others expect you to do. And how much courage does it take when those who expect you to do what they want are so crude about it? But if you don't do what they want, what will you do? Where else is there to go?
What would I do if I were there where you are, dear Freshman? Because I'm old, and I've already made a lot of choices, I don't want to tell you what to do. This post began with the old man's point of view: Bruce Kesler saying he's got lots of money and he's cutting Brooklyn College out of his will to express himself. But what should a young person do? I'm still an old person answering that question, but I was driving through the bohemian section of an American city the other day and thinking... oh, just about what I was thinking in the early 1970s: I want to live the artist's life. That doesn't mean you need to be an artist, but there is an art to living, and you are more a work of art than a thing you invest in. Yet even if the main thing you want — in this awful economy — is to be something you invest in, a radical left-wing indoctrination is a godawful investment decision.
And I still haven't said that I got to Kesler via D.G. Meyers via Instapundit. Meyers says:
In my experience, few if any of the Brooklyn Collge freshmen will even bother to open the book. I can remember the title of the book that was assigned to all incoming freshmen at U.C. Santa Cruz the year I went up there (it was Arthur Koestler’s Act of Creation), but that’s the sum of what I remember about the book. I bought a copy, but never heard it discussed anywhere on campus. Same for the various books that were assigned to incoming freshmen at Texas A&M University over the years. After the English department made a fuss over choosing them, they were never mentioned again.Yes, but it's not that easy: Brooklyn College also assigns its book in a required English course. I remember the book that was assigned for orientation week to freshmen at the Residential College (at the University of Michigan) in 1969: Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle." 40 years later, I can't think of a book I'd rather read. In fact, it happens I was rereading it yesterday.
* I've corrected that line in "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" after cutting and pasting the lyrics from the official Bob Dylan site. I was surprised to see the line "cultivate their flowers to be." It didn't have the right number of syllables, and it didn't lead properly into the next line, and I didn't remember ever hearing it. Meade questioned it too and played the original recording to get to the very familiar line (which also makes a lot more sense). It was weird seeing "cultivate their flowers" — which I took as an allusion to Voltaire's "we must cultivate our garden" — because Meade, with whom I share a love of Dylan, has made a life out of cultivating flowers, and cultivating flowers is something you're more likely to do if you've chosen to defy disrespected authority and see yourself as much more than something you invest in. Not that you can't build up great wealth by starting a gardening business.