Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Latest Culture War Skirmish -- Stomping on Jesus at Florida Atlantic University

The skirmish of the week in the ongoing culture war between those who would preserve and those who would weaken traditional Judeo-Christian cultural values broke out at Florida Atlantic University.  Often the dust-up involves a cowardly teacher asserting his power position over powerless students just trying to get a grade and not cause trouble.  In covering this story (link), Dennis Prager calls the modern indoctrination-prone university "left-wing seminaries", referring to the quasi-religious nature of the modern leftist/ultra-liberal movement.

At this particular school there is a teacher, one Deandre Poole, who also happens to be an official with the local Democrat party.  This fellow happens to be black, so undoubtedly he's familiar with the current cultural ethos on sensitivity and diversity.  However, apparently he doesn't feel cultural sensitivity should extend to Christians.

Florida Atlantic Univ Teacher Deandre Poole
Poole ran a classroom exercise in his Intercultural Communications class which involved students being asked to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper, then to place it on the floor and stomp on it.  All no doubt in furtherance of some important purpose in this guy's head.  One student refused to participate and supposedly told the teacher that the exercise was inappropriate and that he should stop it.  Apparently stomping on Mohammad was not part of that day's exercise -- the teacher must have been saving that for another time.

This story followed the usual trajectory in skirmishes like this.  Step One -- defiance.  First, the University defended the teacher and the exercise on the grounds of some gobbledygook about it fulfilling the purpose of education, [speak now like Yul Brenner] etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  The school also denied that it was taking any disciplinary action against the student, but this turned out to be a lie, because at the same time a Florida Atlantic beaurocrat, one Rozalia Williams, informed the student in writing of pending disciplinary action (link), ostensibly for his non-cooperation but more likely because he went public with the whole affair.
However, according to a letter written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams, [student] Rotela is facing a litany of charges – including an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”  “In the interim, you may not attend class or contact any of the students involved in this matter – verbally or electronically – or by any other means,” Williams wrote to Rotela. “Please be advised that a Student Affairs hold may be placed on your records until final disposition of the complaint.”

Florida Atllantic Univ Dean Rozalia Williams
The administrators at Florida Atlantic don't seem to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.  They send the student a hostile disciplinary letter yet deny it to the press.  They're mendacious and stupid -- with university leaders like this our children are in the best of hands.

Interesting is the role a teacher from a Catholic University played in this (link), although the anti-Christian values espoused by some at supposedly Catholic institutions are getting more commonplace these days (witness Notre Dame's honoring (link) of Barack Obama, a prominent defender of partial birth abortion and infanticide (link)):
[Florida Atlantic] Communications department director Noemi Marin had earlier defended the assignment, saying, "while at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate."The exercise came from an instructor's manual written by St. Norbert College communications professor Jim Neuliep. The assignment was part of a chapter about dealing with the power of certain words."This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings," the exercise states. "Most will hesitate. Ask why they can't step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture."
FSU Assoc Professor Noemi Marin
"The exercise is a bit sensitive", says professor Marin.  Ya think?  Wait till they get around to stomping on Muhammad or Martin Luther King.  That, of course, will never happen, since the point of the leftist exercise is to weaken Christianity, the perceived religion of those in power -- white males -- as viewed through the prism of race/gender/class.

Step Two -- the reaction, which was swift and widespread.  Too busy waging their cultural war by bullying their students, the brain trust at this University apparently is unaware of the power of the internet.

Step Three -- the apology and retreat.  It's very important to remember that the first response of the University was to defend the teacher and punish the student.  Initially, the school issued a weak pseudo-apology if anyone "took offense", but now after the Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott asked for an investigation (link) of the incident the school is in full tactical retreat (link):
On behalf of all of us here at FAU, we are deeply sorry for any hurt that this incident might have caused our students, people in the community and beyond,” says Charles Brown, senior vice president for student affairs, in the recording. “As an institution of higher education, we embrace academic freedom. But with that comes a level of responsibility which we did not uphold.” Brown went on to promise and swear that FAU faculty will never use the exercise again. He then swore that the school would take no disciplinary action against any student concerning the incident.
The school's retreat is surely just tactical, and it will regroup to repress another day.  The forces of liberty, light, and tolerance must forever stay vigilant.

John M Greco

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