Monday, April 23, 2012

Mary Grabar: Kennesaw State: Choking on Che

By Mary Grabar

This first appeared here! I would like to thank Mary for allowing me to publish her work. RK

While many of us may be used to seeing images of Cuban Communist mass executioner Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the T-shirts of youth who are testing the waters of rebellion, we wouldn’t expect an English professor to be quoting favorably from one of his speeches at an academic conference.

Yet, that is what Kennesaw State University Lecturer Khalil Elayan did at a March 16 conference on “world literature he co-directed. He quoted from a 1960 speech to doctors in which Che claimed “almost everything we thought and felt in (the) past period ought to be deposited in an archive, and a new type of human being created.”

Elayan was relating Che’s Stalinist directive of creating new types of human beings to the current political situation regarding the so-called Arab “Spring” and its presumed outgrowth, the Occupy Wall Street movement. For Elayan, certain literary texts taught in a certain way can help create such a new type of human being.

The real purpose of the conference was to advance Marxism through world literature classes. And there was nothing too subtle about the objective, including the call for papers and announcement on the English Department website, which quoted from the Communist Manifesto:

“The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. ... The individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.”

That is part of the quotation that the conference organizers used.

Elayan’s co-director, Assistant Professor Larrie Dudenhoeffer, was only slightly more subtle. He focused on revolutionary drawings for their mockery of Christianity.

The other six papers I heard advanced, in various ways, the latest incarnation of Marxism in the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movement. Echoing Elayan’s claim that a new non-Western democracy needed to be instituted, the other panelists used literature to tear down hallmarks of Western civilization and democracy, including traditional families and sex roles, and American exceptionalism (to be replaced by “global citizenship”). Even the long titles of the papers are meant to put a gloss on the real agenda of such conferences. You can read them as well as an overview of their gist in my original Minding the Campus article.

Georgia citizens should be outraged. But they should also expect blowback.

The ready and rehearsed professorial response to objections to such conferences is that common citizens are incapable of understanding the scholarly nature of such gatherings, and that any criticism infringes on their “academic freedom.” So far, they’ve used the jargon of theorists like Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida to obscure their agendas. Now they expect us to believe that Che Guevara is a credible literary authority.

Another common response by the professoriate is that such conferences are intended to test new, controversial, and esoteric ideas, and do not convey what is being taught in the classroom. Baloney. One other Kennesaw professor, Melissa Keith, discussed using radical “adult-themed” feminist poetry in classes of “mature” students. You can bet that if a professor is favorably discussing Che at a conference, he is doing the same among 19-year-olds, arbitrarily determining their “maturity.”

The boldness with which Marxism was promoted at this conference surprised even this 20-year veteran of academia.

But the situation has changed for the worse. Radicals have driven just about every other professor from academia and now rule despotically.

And today they have an anarchist movement called Occupy Wall Street, funded by anti-American billionaires and unions.

They continue to revise the history of Communism and present it to impressionable undergraduates, even in literature classes, as they lure them to the Communistic Occupy movement.

The question remains: Why are Georgia taxpayers paying the salaries of Elayan, Dudenhoeffer and their ilk?

Mary Grabar, Ph.D., a college English instructor and writer, lives in DeKalb County. She writes about education for various publications and her own site, www.dissidentprof.com.

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