Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Academic Bias in the US

There is a Fulbright Scholar here who is an expert on Angolan history. I asked him today if Dr. Laumann's presentation here on Friday in which the MPLA and Cuba could do no wrong was typical of US scholars dealing with Portuguese speaking Africa. He said that it was not. But, nonetheless the fact that one can be a tenured professor in the US and essentially parrot the official Cuban line without any new original research as if it was objective scholarship still troubles me even if he is in the minority. It speaks of the double standard at US universities regarding communist regimes. No university for instance would ever hire somebody who parroted the old propaganda line of apartheid South Africa and rightfully so. The inability to properly criticize socialism, however, still seems to dominate US academia.


delagar said...

I wasn't there, so I can't speak to what happened. But if he's a tenured professor, he gets to speak, and speak without fear. That's what we mean by academic freedom.

That doesn't mean he gets to speak without criticism. I'd imagine after he published, people would be critical of his work if it contained errors. You, for instance, could publish a rebuttal paper, as could anyone else.

Also, at the academic presentation at which this professor had spoken, you (and anyone else) would be free to raise objections, to ask questions, to raise points you think the presenter is missing. I've been at academic conferences that have been bloodbaths, where various factions went at one another (albeit very politely) from the audience.

Anyway, if he's wrong, next time stand up and say so. Say what about this? What about that work of scholarship? How about this point which you have ignored? I mean, obviously you know all this, because you've demonstrated it at length on this blog & others. So argue with him.

J. Otto Pohl said...

It is not just a matter of being wrong. Do you think people who praise Nazis, Pinochet, Somoza and other right wing dictatorships should be hired and tenured in the US? If not why are devotees to communist dictatorships like the MPLA and Castro different? I guarantee you that no self described Fascist with membership in an extreme right wing political party would ever be hired to teach at a US university yet along given tenure. There is a clear double standard.