Academe branded unpatriotic

November 23, 2001

Dozens of US academics who doubted their government's response to September 11 have been cited as examples of "how universities are failing America".

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, whose founding chairwoman is Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice-president, published more than 100 statements by Americans, including Noam Chomsky and Jesse Jackson, in Defending Civilisation , a report that bemoans academia's lack of patriotism.

"College and university faculty have been the weak link in America's response to the attack," says the report. "We learn from history that when a nation's intellectuals are unwilling to defend its civilisation, they give aid and comfort to its adversaries."

The ACTA describes itself as a non-profit educational organisation "committed to academic freedom, excellence and accountability on college and university campuses", and the encouragement of a "free exchange of ideas".

The statements made on American campuses include Rev Jackson's "we should build bridges and relationships, not simply bombs and walls" speech at Harvard Law School, and Professor Chomsky's statement that "the only way we can put a permanent end to terrorism is to stop participating in it".

The report concludes: "Rarely did professors publicly mention heroism, rarely did they discuss the difference between good and evil, the nature of western political order or the virtue of a free society. Indeed the message of academe was clear: 'BLAME AMERICA FIRST'."

Islamic and Asian studies courses expanded dramatically in the wake of September 11. But Mrs Cheney commented: "To say it is important now (to study Islam) implies that the events of September 11 were our fault, that it was our failure that led to so many deaths and so much destruction."

One listed academic is Barbara Corrado Pope, emeritus professor of women's studies at the University of Oregon. She described the list as "a dangerous attack on universities".

Details: www.goacta.org

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