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The extreme left-wing bias of American academia is well documented. Thus, it is not at all surprising that our nation’s university presses – nonprofit publishing houses that are ideological extensions of their parent institutions – invariably serve as platforms for the dissemination of far-left dogma. Each year, they produce hundreds of tracts extolling the virtues of pacifism, radical environmentalism, open borders, and socialism, while delivering an endless stream of literary assaults on capitalism, American culture, and Western civilization generally. Because these books carry the implied intellectual legitimacy of the colleges and universities with which their publishers are associated, their influence on policymakers, opinion leaders, and even the general public can be considerable – even though the sales of such books are, by industry standards, typically meager.
Whereas commercial publishers focus on producing books that will have broad popular appeal and generate profits, university presses deal mainly, though not exclusively, in scholarly works (monographs) that are geared toward a small audience of specialists in certain concentrated fields of research. A large percentage of these books are sold in hardcover editions to libraries. The American Association of University Presses (AAUP), under whose umbrella these academic publishing houses are counted, currently includes 125 members, of which 95 are affiliated with public and private research universities in 40 separate U.S. States and Canada. The remaining 30 are situated variously in Belgium, China, Egypt, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, and the Netherlands.
In 2005, the most recent year for which a complete set of statistics is available, AAUP members collectively published 10,159 new book titles, an average of 81 titles per publisher. That same year, AAUP members reported $267 million in total book sales, an average of $2.1 million per publisher and $26,370 per title. At an average per-copy sale price of $41, the typical university-press title sells approximately 643 copies. All told, book and journal sales account for about 85 percent of AAUP member revenues. Another 10 percent comes from the publishers’ respective parent institutions (which, in the case of public universities, means taxpayers), and the remaining 5 percent derives from government and foundation grants.
A survey of the books that university presses across the U.S. are currently featuring in their catalogs and on their websites, reveals a host of titles promoting doctrinaire leftism in a variety of disciplines:
A particularly hot topic for university presses nowadays is global warming. In Worst Case Scenarios, published by Harvard University Press, author Cass Sunstein – President Obama‘s regulatory “czar” – discusses how Americans ought to prepare for the looming disaster called “climate change.” Another newly released Harvard production is an update of Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming, “revised throughout to reflect the latest science and with a new conclusion that shows how the scientific consensus caught fire among the general world public.” That description, in light of the devastating “Climategate” revelations about the global-warming crowd’s deliberate falsification and concealment of inconvenient evidence, is nothing short of delusional.
Approaching environmentalism from a different angle is Images of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a University of Alaska Press book that presents an “emotionally evocative and beautifully fierce” collection of “lyrical essays and stunning panoramic photographs” paying “homage to a vast and remote land that remains untamed by technology and undisturbed by human development.” The book’s purpose is to argue against U.S. oil drilling in Alaska’s ANWR region by tugging on readers’ heartstrings rather than by engaging their brains.
Baylor University Press, meanwhile, has blended environmentalism with religion in The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation. Here, author Richard Bauckham takes issue with the biblical “mandate of human dominion given in Genesis 1,” which, he writes, “has too often been used as a justification for domination and exploitation of the earth’s resources.” Taking up a similar theme is Baylor Press’s Greening Paul: Rereading the Apostle in a Time of Ecological Crisis. This book aims “to read the Pauline literature from an ecological perspective,” challenging the Bible’s “anthropocentric worldview that gives humanity license to exploit the earth for our benefit.”
While university presses may be distressed by the dangers of climate change, they are apparently unconcerned about any threat from radical Islam. Indeed, the University of Chicago Press has published The Fear of Barbarians: Beyond the Clash of Civilizations, wherein author Tzvetan Todorov “argues that the West must overcome its fear of Islam if it is to avoid betraying the values it claims to protect.”
Meanwhile, the Canada-based University of Alberta Press has published The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam, billing it as “the perfect starting point for students and academics looking to understand ‘Political Islam’ in contemporary Arab and Muslim societies.” The book’s editor, Ibrahim Abu-Rabi’, is an anti-Semitic demagogue who says that “the Nazi Holocaust has been “exploited fully” by “the Israeli Zionist state since 1948”; that Jews seek to frighten the Palestinians with the implied threat of a “mini holocaust” which may be carried out against the latter; that “militarism” has “defined the nature of the Israli state from 1948 until the present time”; and that “Israel has exploited Judaism in a very negative and violent way” in order to advance its own “project of hegemony and project of dispossession of the Palestinian people.” Abu-Rabi’s book features the work of such luminaries as: (a) Abdullah Azzam, the late Muslim scholar who was an influential figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, a leader of Hamas, and a mentor to both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri; (b) Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, a Shiite spiritual leader of Hezbollah; and (c) Ahmad Bin Yousuf, a political advisor to Akram Haniyya, who served as an advisor to the late terrorist Yasser Arafat.
Regarding issues on the home front, immigration occupies the thoughts of many in the scholarly community. The University of Arizona Press, for example, has recently published several books on the topic. One of these, Dead in Their Tracks, focuses on what it terms “America’s killing field” – that portion of the Arizona desert where many Mexicans, in the process of trying to sneak across the U.S. border in pursuit of “a better life,” have died of heat and sun exposure, making the region “the deadliest immigrant trail in America today.” Crossing with the Virgin elaborates on this theme, urging readers to “see past political positions to view migrants as human beings,” and lamenting that “over the past ten years, more than 4,000 people have died while crossing the Arizona desert to find jobs, join families, or start new lives.” Similarly, Between The Lines – a “collection of letters between undocumented immigrants in California and their families back home” – seeks to put “a human face” on illegal immigration, a topic which too often “has been presented as a monolithic abstraction” rooted in “political rhetoric and fear.”
In contrast to the presumably benign trend of illegal immigration, capitalism, according to the scholar-authors of America’s university presses, poses a grave threat not only to our nation but to the planet at large. From Predators to Icons, a new release by Cornell University Press, contends that ruthless “predation” traditionally has been the key to economic success in United Stated States. Another Cornell title – an updated edition of Jennifer Clapp’s Toxic Exports – asserts that as a result of “investment relations in the context of a highly unequal world,” business firms in “rich industrialized countries” routinely ship “toxic waste and hazardous technologies” to “poor countries” that are “ill equipped to manage the materials safely.” In a glowing review of the book, UC Santa Cruz professor Ronnie Lipschutz lauds Clapp for having exposed the ugly truth about the “hazardous wastes generated by contemporary industrialism and capitalism.”
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