Benno Schmidt, what university are you a trustee of?

Benno Schmidt has an oped in the Wall Street Journal that’s filled with a lot of nonsense. The sun also rises.

But this passage caught my eye:

The greatest threat to academic freedom today is not from outside the academy, but from within. Political correctness and “speech codes” that stifle debate are common on America’s campuses.

Schmidt is the chair of the Board of Trustees at CUNY. CUNY is the home of Brooklyn College. Brooklyn College is the home of my department. My department was the target last semester of powerful New York City politicians who were angry about our co-sponsoring a panel on the BDS movement. Some of them even threatened to withhold funding from CUNY in response.

I know Benno’s a busy man, what with being the chairman of “a worldwide system of for profit, private K-12 schools.” But that whole BDS thing was kind of a big deal. Even the mayor of New York knew about it.

Instead of pushing for golden parachutes for CUNY’s chancellor, maybe Benno ought to read his daily briefing.


  1. Allen Ruff July 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm | #

    And how about the CUNY’s recent hiring of Gen. David Petraeus? It all a connects, as they say.

  2. neffer July 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm | #

    Schmidt’s article was an interesting one – something worthy of serious debate. You, instead, focus too narrowly on one paragraph.

    As for the BDS campaign, it is the demented work of bigots. While I realize that you are no friend of Israel, there is a difference between criticism and BDS Antisemitism.

  3. Roquentin July 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm | #

    I have to snicker at how the author tries to make this about “bias” in academia, as if the information he and Daniels wanted to disseminate was somehow impartial. This is about ideology, plain and simple. I find even more absurd, maybe even downright Orwellian that the conversation about “academic freedom” is started by a politician’s desire to purge Howard Zinn from the curriculum.

    • neffer July 31, 2013 at 5:25 pm | #

      Banning authors is not much of an idea, although Zinn’s book has greater fame than it deserves. That it is on a least of reading as if it were a source or anything but propaganda amazes me. Not just me. I recall reading what Michael Kazan wrote years back. He thought it was trash, as well.

      At least in areas where I have read what Zinn bases his assertions, I think Zinn more or less walks away from the calling of an historian. In particular, I note his treatment of the progressive era. He relied on James Weinstein’s The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State. Zinn simply ignores evidence presented that contradicts Zinn’s theory, essentially claiming that Weinstein supports his thesis when he does not.

  4. Will Rubenstein August 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm | #

    Schmidt was also heavily involved with Edison Schools, one of the trailblazing outfits of for-profit sleaze in K-12 education before the neoliberal ed reform movement (Gates, Walton, Teach for America, Michelle Rhee, “Waiting For Superman,” etc.) started in earnest with its efforts to give K-12 privatization/deregulation its current “think of the children!” sheen. At least he seems to have given up on any pretense of saving-the-poors-from-their-failing-public-schools as long as Avenues’ business model depends on $40K per year in private tuition.

  5. BarryB August 2, 2013 at 11:38 am | #

    Good points, Corey. You make them, and you move on. And I”m glad you didn’t waste energy on refuting on all the nonsense in Schmidt’s piece. Like a high school valedictorian’s collection of platitudes, it would take far too much time and space to refute everything in it, and when you finished the rubbish heap would still be there.

  6. jonst August 3, 2013 at 9:31 am | #

    Leaving aside everything I dislike and distrust re Cook and his hypocrisy, while it is not the “greatest threat” to academic freedom, “Political correctness and “speech codes…” are a significant threat. And to more than just “academic” freedom

  7. jonst August 3, 2013 at 11:23 am | #

    sorry, wrong Benno, I meant Schmidt, of course, not Cook.

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