WSU’s Politburo enforces dogma

October 22, 2005

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said of pornography that although he could not intelligibly define it, “I know it when I see it.”

The same might be said of bias at Washington State University. Incidents of bias are forbidden at WSU, but are bias incidents easier to identify than they are to define? I am far from certain that forbidden acts of bias are anywhere near as universally recognizable as obscenity. And I doubt that there is anyone in any position of authority at WSU whom I would trust to judge bias crimes.

A poster found all over campus encourages victims of bias to report that crime.

“STOP Discrimination, Harassment, Hate, and Bias at Washington State University!” the poster exhorts its readers. The sign then encourages victims or witnesses to report such incidents and promises that: “The Center for Human Rights will respond to or investigate all such incidents as appropriate.”

Raul Sanchez is the director for WSU’s Center for Human Rights. He is in charge of enforcing WSU bias prohibition, but he’s not sure he could define the policy in a manner that would allow the university to make good on its threats. “We’re not enforcing a nonexistent code; it’s more of a popular description,” he conceded.

When pressed, he decided that bias means favoritism, although I’m reasonably confident he wasn’t referring to affirmative action. But as long as he’s asking, I have an incident of bias to report. The WSU College of Education is clearly biased in favor of America-hating left-wing Democrats and is enforcing its policy of ideological purity.

To earn a teaching certificate, a student must prove that he or she “exhibits an understanding of the complexities of race, power, gender, class, sexual orientation and privilege in American society.”

Observers of the modern ideological cesspool will immediately recognize that “understanding” in this context means conforming without qualification to the entire America-hating platform of the far left wing of the Democratic Party. It means that before one is permitted to teach, one must recite by rote the theories and views of Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore.

If, God forbid, I wanted to be a teacher, my genuine understanding of those complexities would exclude me from the profession. I believe that most racial disparities are self-inflicted, and I can prove it. I believe the same about poverty, and can cite Census Bureau statistics that support my point of view.

But those who enforce WSU’s standards judge understanding not in terms of a grasp of issues, but rather by the facility to repeat clichs as catechisms.

In other words, to qualify as a teacher, one must appreciate and teach what a cruddy country the United States is.

Class, power and privilege? How Marxian can we get?

For that matter, how Stalinist can we get?

Ed Swan, a 42-year-old education major, was recently threatened with dismissal for failing to recite his catechisms faithfully. He opposes affirmative action when it is manifested as racial or sexual preferences in hiring or college admission. He believes that men and women are constitutionally different and that homosexuals do not make the best parents. His first belief is settled law in Washington, the second provable and the last is far from decided.

But all Ed Swan’s beliefs contradict the catechisms, and until the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intervened, he faced excommunication. Who says faith is forbidden on campus? You just have to worship the official religion.

Sanchez admitted that in spite of what WSU’s poster boasts, he really cannot enforce bias crimes. “I think that if we use any terms that are vague or ambiguous we may be sending vague or ambiguous messages and we need to think if that is the right thing to do,” he said.

Ambiguity would seem to describe the College of Education’s character crimes as well.

Sanchez, Ed Swan, College of Education Dean Judy Mitchell and I could probably agree that we had all seen obscenity. But I doubt that we would agree on “the complexities of race, power, gender, class, sexual orientation and privilege in American society.”

Because reasonable people can disagree, the character requirements that WSU enforces for its teaching certificates are vague and ambiguous, unless one adheres to the dogma embodied in those catechisms.

Schools: Washington State University Cases: Washington State University: Use of Dispositions Theory to Enforce Ideological Orthodoxy