7. Academic Freedom In Jeopardy

I have some comments inspired by Dr. Wm. Alexander Hamilton's recent article in the Anadarko Daily News.  I always read his articles and I am partly in agreement with his "Academic Freedom:  Dead at Yale."  Political science textbooks are pointing out that academic freedom is in jeopardy in all universities because of power groups which try to gain control.

I entered college after the Korean War and was on campuses as a student in the 1950s, 1960s and in the early 1970s.  I encountered the radical protests, riots and violence rampant in those years.  Some of the students in philosophy departments were actually dedicated to Marxist (Communist) philosophy.  Others distributed Communist literature and proclaimed victory for the so-called classless society.  Presently, Marxism appears to be falling apart, far from victory.

In teaching for 24 years in the university system, western civilization has been in my teaching load.  Dr. Hamilton mentions "dark periods" in western civilization.  Some of those critical periods were spreading civiliation and faith with the sword, and the endless wars and lack of freedom of religion among European nations.  The founders of our republic fought against these European hangovers.  A few of the many other problems are the subjugation of women, maltreatment of minorities, rabid nationalisms, lack of freedoms and some surprising things such as the controversy over grotesque art, and the idea that such art is really not art at all.  We are in for many changes in western civ textbooks.  Professors at Yale or any other place can't stop the evolution of civilization regardless of the direction it takes.

Greek philosophy and other philosophers, especially in England and Germany, greatly influenced Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and others.  I agree with Dr. Hamilton that America is a tremendous nation.  I think the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are two of the world's greatest documents.  But they are given meaning only when we truly live up to the meaning of our great creeds, and that certainly includes keeping academic freedom alive and well.

Richard Benefield

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