Critique of “Thought 101

By September 12, 2003

Posted with permission of author.

The article, “Thought Reform
101: The Orwellian implications of today’s college orientation,” is a mildly
interesting, overly defensive, self-serving attempt to undermine our efforts
to challenge the centrality of Euro-centric white male scholarship, social norms,
and historical interpretation.

The author, Alan Charles Kors (distinguished Harvard educated professor of
European intellectual history), is understandably threatened by proliferating
attempts to inject alternative cultural socialization into predominantly white,
Euro/American-centric educational institutions. I wonder, for example, if Prof.
Kors gives appropriate credit to the African civilizations that informed the
origins of early European intellectual development — somehow, I think not.
(See, for example, the work of European-American scholars such as Ivan Van Sertima,
Chancellor Williams, or Martin Bernal, whose “Black Athena” traces the African
linguistic origins of greco-roman mythology, or those who document the influence
of Egyptian mathematics on that giant of European intellectual history, Pythagoras.)

The true irony to me is that Prof. Kors presents his Euro-centric philosophy in a social context that embraces
and rewards his particular brand of scholarship (establishment academia), launches
assaults at those who try to bring alternative perspectives to college campuses
(Dr. Nichols), and does all this under the guise of defending a “free thought
and free market” ideology.

Prof. Kors reveals himself to be as bigoted and closed minded as the infamous David Horowitz.

His absurd references to Lenin and Mao – invoking America’s impression that Soviet and Chinese socio-political
culture is draconian, dull, drab, oppressive, homogenous, and failed – reveal
the weakness of his argument and the political agenda behind it. By trying to
link non-Euro-centric educators with the “evil Communists” – invoking
capitalism’s unfettered right to global hegemony – Prof. Kors is launching an
ideological assault against those who would dare to challenge white privilege
(as if exposing members of a society founded on principles of white supremacy
and the primacy of European intellectual history to mandatory cultural awareness
programs was somehow a fundamentally bad, anti-capitalist thing!).

Something that he, a white male, may not realize is that people like me go through mandatory white cultural sensitivity
training every time we open our front door and walk out into contemporary American
society. If the courses of Dr. Nichols and others offend him enough to write
a long-winded, useless piece of drivel like his “Thought Reform 101”
article, perhaps he has a glimpse of the frustration people of color feel and
inherit through the intergenerational psychology of ideological oppression.

Sounds like he is trying to defend “free thought” … just as long as you don’t challenge his comfort

Luke Jones

Indigenous Nations Network