Intellectual Assault

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Joseph Yeager, the author of the new book, Intellectual Assault: Academic Anti-Americanism and the Distortion of 9/11. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval Russian history from the University of Missouri. He is a member of the National Association of Scholars’ Argus Project, a watchdog group which keeps an eye on excesses and abuses in academia.

FP: Joseph Yeager, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

What inspired you to write your book?

Yeager: I was inspired by curiosity, Jamie, and a certain knowing suspicion.

Soon after 9/11 the professors and academic administrators began making their presence felt among the commentariat. Their sudden ubiquity was due partially to the media which understandably solicited opinions from experts about the tragedy, but it was also due to the egomania of a people who believe they are smarter than everybody else and thus deserve to be heard.

And what I heard was frankly quite disgusting. I’m sure your remember it well: America was to blame for 9/11; the terrorists and the society from which they sprang were actually righteous victims of American aggression; America is actually a terrorist state, so by what right may we punish the Taliban and al-Qaeda, ad nauseum.

These outrageous statements from the academics filled me with a desire to see if such views were outliers which received an airing precisely because they were so odious, or if they were the coin of the academic realm. As I suspected, and as my book makes clear, the academic anti-Americanism we witnessed after 9/11 is closer to being the rule than the exception on America’s campuses.

FP: So what is the prevalence of anti-Americanism in academia?

Yeager: For my book I did in-depth research on every single college and university website in American academia. I printed literally thousands of documents containing opinions about 9/11 from the faculty and administration. And while I did encounter a handful of academics who expressed sensible views about 9/11, and a fair share of others whose views might be characterized as cautiously critical of the terrorists and the Islamo-Arab world, the undoubted preponderance of opinion was that the United States was at fault and that the people of the Islamo-Arab world were victims meriting sympathy. The contours of this anti-Americanism are far more multifaceted than that statement suggests, but it does get to the heart of the matter. And based upon my research I suspect that perhaps two thirds of the academics, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, are basically anti-American.

FP: Does academic anti-Americanism vary significantly from state to state, region to region?

Yeager: Very little, Jamie. As I point out in my book, academia should be thought of as an anti-American archipelago. College and university campuses are essentially islands of Leftist radicalism in a great ocean of moderation and common sense. Moreover, these islands are closely linked to one another by a shared culture that is transmitted to future professors and administrators during their undergraduate and especially graduate years. Newly minted Ph.D.s go thither to California and Maine, Florida and Washington, Missouri and Wyoming, and they reinforce and replicate the anti-Americanism and Leftism they’ve swallowed throughout their years as students. Consequently, a tenured professor at Princeton will have far more in common with an instructor at Northern Arizona than he will with a pizza maker in Trenton; the Vice Provost at South Alabama will share more with the President of Stanford than he will with a physician in Birmingham. The surrounding political culture really has very little effect on the mental world of the university.

FP: How is 9/11 a lens through which we can understand academic anti-Americanism?

Yeager: The 9/11 attacks are so important for understanding academia precisely because they put the professors on the defensive for a change. Hence, the terrorists were constituents of academia. They were non-white, they were not Christians or Jews, they were from Third World nations and they were from parts of the globe that are comparatively impoverished, even if the actual terrorists themselves were anything but poor.

And these constituents of academia managed to unite American citizens, at least temporarily, in a conviction that the terrorists were evil and that they and their supporters had to be destroyed by military force. The academics were of course, aghast. How could Americans be so filled with hate? How could they rebel against pet academic nostrums such as “conflict resolution” and out-and-out pacifism? Did they not learn anything from the Vietnam War?

But most interestingly I believe the academics felt that the very notion of “diversity” was under siege. The terrorists were in no uncertain terms exemplars of diversity. And suddenly Americans were turning a gimlet eye on Islam and the Islamo-Arab world. They were also questioning the wisdom of easily acquired student visas, and open-door immigration policies.

This was too much for academia to stand. Believing their diversity ox was being gored, the professors and administrators sallied forth to defend the bearers of diversity and to attack Americans as rubes and racists. They even constructed a totally fallacious backlash by common Americans against Muslims and Arab-Americans where none existed. Rather than mass pogroms against these minorities, there were very isolated hate crimes which quickly petered out. My book deals with these issues in some depth.

FP: What is the biggest problem in US higher education?

Yeager: Believe it or not, Leftist propagandizing in the classroom, and even overt discrimination against conservatives on campus are not the biggest problems. Far more significant is the relatively subtle but ceaseless skewing of virtually every field in the social sciences and humanities to the left.

Because these fields are so ideologically unbalanced, so lacking in views emanating from anywhere on the political spectrum other than the far left, there is an inevitable drift of scholarship leftward. Liberal and Leftist assumptions about scholarly issues and problems, liberal and Leftist points of departure and ways of looking at the world are never even questioned. Indeed, the research questions which serve as the basis of scholarly projects almost inevitably stem from a liberal/Left foundation.

And how could they not? There are simply not enough centrists and conservatives in academia to even illuminate the liberal/Left bias, let alone to raise a din that would inspire greater self awareness among the majority scholars.

What results is a lifeless intellectual universe where poor scholarship is produced and indeed, the distinction between scholarship and propaganda is blurred. American students are thus getting a pathetic excuse for an education, and are paying ever more for this woeful product.

FP: So what can be done about all of this?

Yeager: As long as Americans are essentially apathetic about what goes on in academia the problem will only worsen. American citizens must recognize the seriousness of this situation and they must do something about it. And make no mistake, they have the power to make a difference.

Money, as always and everywhere, is the lifeblood of academia. Cut off the money supply and the academic power brokers will take notice and make changes. Concerned citizens should write their state representatives demanding accountability in academia on pain of voting for challengers should the incumbents not apply the heat. Alumni should cease donating money to their alma maters and make clear why they are no longer giving. Small businesses and corporations could help the cause as well by no longer requiring college degrees for work that can be done by high school graduates. The use of bachelor’s degrees as a winnowing device simply funnels a steady supply of students (and money) to the very people who would like to see this country crash and burn. The professors and administrators don’t much care for Americans; why should we continue to provision their sumptuous gravy train, with no strings attached?

FP: Joseph Yeager, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

  • ajnn

    Hire people without college degrees: that is an excellent suggestion.

    • Chiggles

      Yes, but it will never happen. The culture of credentialism is too entrenched here. The managerial class likes things as they are — they had to go to college so by God you have to as well. Can't have undegreed riffraff rising to the top on merit, after all. The professoriate, meanwhile, wants to make it ever harder to get anywhere in life without a sheepskin; if they get their way even forklift operators and tow truck drivers will have to do four years at State U. before pursuing their livelihood — four years during which they will be forced to study Chomsky and Zinn and take "women's studies" and "middle-eastern studies" and learn that in WW2 the U.S. and Germany were allied against the USSR and Hitler was a Jew who gassed six million Palestinians.

  • Alexander Gofen

    Worse: Some "academics" literally promote the "9/11 internal job" conspiracy "theory", reproducing the most vulgar pieces of unscientific reasoning of ignoramuses. I even had to develop a no-nonsense brief rebuttal to argue against them:

    However the problem is much bigger than rotten universities. The conservatives in our country were trapped into a false belief as though under our great Constitution everything which freely evolves is right and just reinforces the country. However, as our Founding Fathers noted, it could be right only with the right people (i.e. God fearing Christians and Jews).

    In the 20th century the tsunami of infectious Marxist ideas and trends swept the entire planet, and KGB exploited it, helped by the fellow travelers in the Free world:

    It is difficult even to fathom what it must take to repair the damage.

  • Diann

    Send this to the academics in your life. Their responses will be fascinating.
    I suspect we will be shocked by how firmly the falsehoods about 9/11 are believed.

    • scum

      Which falsehoods Diann? The one that says Saddam was responsible? LOL LOL

  • scum

    9/11 put professors on the defensive? Actually, 9/11 was a telltale case of BLOWBACK, which the left had been warning about before the attack. Get your gears turning the right way dude.

    • Joseph Yeager, Ph.D.

      Blowback? Why then have Vietnamese, Chileans and Nicaraguans not destroyed skyscrapers in Manhattan? If Leftist theories of blowback were correct, these groups should have committed terrorism against US citizens long ago.

      • Just Guessing

        But, none of those examples, Mr. Yeager, involve the circumstance of divinity as a supporting cast. It is the unique nature of "holy land" and the perceived occupation and desecration of it (wrongly perceived or otherwise) that has very much to do with the difference between that which led to 9/11 and the Tet Offensive. That, and let's face it: Vietnam was a civil war.

        I believed our initial actions in Afghanistan after 9/11 were well warranted. Unfortunately, that action was muffed badly when the Neocons stole George Bush's intellect. Most everything that followed from 2003 to recent history has been folly, and at great expense.

        • Joseph Yeager

          Re: Your First Paragraph

          To a significant extent I agree. Which only proves my point that 9/11, contra what Leftists believe, was rooted far more in the culture of the Islamo-Arab world than in the policies of the United States.

  • solemnman

    Generations of students ,from the middle east and Africa ,learned ,from their left-wing proffesors in western universities,that the basket case conditions of their societies was not caused by ineptitude,lack of enterprise ,lack of expertise and the corruption that prevails in their countries but by western imperialism.The induced self pity turned to rage , a desire for revenge and terrorism-as a means for dominating the world .

    • bryan

      So, capitalism needs a bailout? Why do companies rely on government welfare? Why do lobbist spend so much money on candidates? To direct foreign policy? Don't we have Social Secruit? Why is the United States forever in these countries affairs, to do justice? What happened to the Justice in the Suddan and in the Congo? facts and evidence exist that demonstrate that post-colonial societies walked into independence with huge debt lefted by the former imperialist regimes, when international law reads that all debt should be erased. Not only did the newly independent states inherited astronomical debt but also they didn't own the natural resources and infrustructure, how can these nations develop when the world banks directed by Unites States Government, not the people, blocks the development of third world countries. You can't avoid the transnational companies that are runing the politics and economic while United States government, not the people, military support their aims and goals

  • solemnman

    i meant professors!!!!

  • blotto

    Cut off government funding for universities as long as they have "studies" and multicultural studies programs. Cut off funding for any college that supports AA/EEOC policies.

    Cut off financial aid for students and force univerisities to fund their students. Force states to enact an oversight into the hiring practices of universities and colleges.

  • Bruce

    The Liberal Arts professoriate see the world in mostly abstract, Marxoid terms. They have long-hated the rough-and-tumble, practical world of Capitalism that has carried America through the Industrial Revolution and the Westward expansion. While all this was taking place the low-paid, low-in-demand Professors of English sat sulking, aggrieved, and unloved in the faculty lounges of remote universities. Now, still largely superfluous, in a still practical world they are getting a measure of revenge by puposefully contaminating their middle-class students bourgeoisie minds with Marxist propaganda.