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Aug 3, 2004 8:54 pm


The AAUP on World Affairs



The World Congress of Education International--an umbrella organization of teachers' and professors' unions from around the world--just wrapped up its fourth annual conference, in Porto Allegre, Brazil. The United States was represented at the conference by delegations from the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the AAUP.

The conference passed a remarkable resolution on world events proposed by the delegation from Spain. Although claiming to address the question of how to prevent “indiscriminate, unjustified and irrational violence resulting in the random murder of civilians, workers and students” seen in the 3/11 attacks in Madrid and the 9/11 attacks in the US, the resolution focused mostly on educational theory and criticizing US and Israeli foreign policy. To its credit, the NEA refused to vote for this resolution; the AFT, after initially demanding amendments, backed down and voted yes. But as the sole organization at the conference representing college professors, the AAUP endorsed the measure wholeheartedly.

It would be nice to think that a resolution of a professors’ organization dealing with a critical international issue at least would have some internal intellectual consistency. Think again. So, how do the world’s academic unions propose to prevent terrorism?

1.)By seeking to"promote education for peace and intercultural learning as the best antidote to racist and fundamentalist phenomena in order to prevent social conflict and the recourse to social violence." This, of course, is the agenda of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, which calls for replacing liberal arts education with a diversity-based approach for the “21st century.” It’s nice to see the AAUP standing up for the liberal arts ideal.

2.)By denying Israel a right to self-defense. The resolution demands"strict application of the UN resolutions regarding Palestinian territories." Well, at least the next time there's a suicide murder in Israel, the victims' families can be comforted with the knowledge that the AAUP has sympathy for them.

3.)By making misleading comparisons. The group condemns “the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the use of terrorist acts as a political weapon, whether individually, by a group or by a State, as well as the military attacks perpetrated by countries under the pretext of fighting international terrorism.” Is the AAUP saying that the invasion of Iraq constituted “the use of terrorist acts as a political weapon . . . by a State”? The resolution is written so vaguely that it’s possible to draw that inference.

4.)By championing the Kyoto accords. The resolution advocates an international “policy capable of confronting extreme poverty and environmental destruction.” Just a guess here—but I rather doubt that Osama bin Laden’s agenda depends one way or the other on the Bush administration’s environmental policies.

Regardless of one’s position on the war in Iraq, it seems to me hard to make the case that the war in Afghanistan didn’t represent a legitimate strike against international terror. The AAUP, however, seems to disagree.

The resolution contains so many non-sequiturs and intellectual fallacies that it would be lucky to receive a D in most classes. Shame on the AAUP for supporting it.

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Derek Charles Catsam - 8/4/2004

KC --
Were I feeling snarky, re: your penultimate sentence I'd comment that maybe grade inflation has arrived at Brooklyn College . . .
dc


Richard Henry Morgan - 8/4/2004

There was a time when the AAUP could be counted on to do the right thing. Compare AAUP actions in the Rainey case to statements by AAUP personnel in the Gribben fiasco at Texas.

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