Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Smearing of Doctor Jonathan Bean Continues

The doctor's accusers are finally bringing their evidence, such as it is. It looks more and more that the other professors at SIU are trying to deny that racism can occur in non-white people, and striking out against someone who says "No, this can happen and does happen more often than you think." Because of their philosophical differences on who can be racist, they want Dr. Bean out of the faculty. At the end of the article, the writer claims Dr. Bean created a "hostile environment" for minorities. Don't the black students at SIU have the gumption to challenge something that they believe is factually inaccurate? The last time I checked, they did. The article's author also makes use of a rant directed at Robbie Lieberman to help smear Dr. Bean some more. Dr. Lieberman was pretty much an avowed socialist when I was at Southern and her parents were members of the old Communist Party USA. The rant directed at her would have been appropriate in an article about her, but not in dealing with Dr. Bean.

Dr. Bean is doing some striking out of his own as well. The excerpted emails portray him as very bitter about the whole situation. No, he's not taking this situation lying down, but he's also not taking it professionally. He has a right to be angry, but needs to understand that the public is watching him. He's not helping his case any by being outraged and hyperventilating. I do find some irony in making this a free speech issue as well as an academic freedom issue. Then again, if academia can allow for Ward Churchill to spew about the World Trade Center victims being "little Eichmanns" how can they not allow someone like Jonathan Bean to raise questions about racist attitudes in minority communities?

I also have a question for Dr. Marji Morgan, my old Department chair: if Dr. Bean acted in this manner, and had been using sources that you found suspect, why did you nominate him for the College of Liberal Arts Teacher of the Year award? Would there not have been a trail of incidents like this where he used questionable material? If there was such a trail, why did you ignore it? I met you in 1998, when you were still Department chairwoman. Did you not see what was going on? Did you not want to leave your office and pop over to Doctor Bean's office (which was right across the hall when I graduated in 2000) to see what he was using for sources? Where was your peer review, Dr. Morgan? The fault lies with you for giving him an award that he didn't deserve if you didn't check his sources.

In all, though, this looks like it's boiling down to a difference of where racism can and cannot exist in society, and who may or may not discuss it. Dr. Bean is portrayed in this article as displaying attributes found in a stereotypical white man from the South. In fact, he's just using the same tactics that left-leaners have used for years, just in reverse. It's a taste of the academic left's own medicine. It's much like Jonah Goldberg said in his talk earlier this year at Northwestern. It's a matter of "free speech for me, but not for thee."

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