Academia and activism
Re: "Expelling academia's crackpots," Opinion, July 30
Although I disagree with his characterization of the 9/11 victims as "little Eichmanns," Ward Churchill should be defended against the "little McCarthys." According to Gregory Rodriguez, it was not enough for the University of Colorado to expel Churchill after a prolonged and open-ended fishing expedition. Better to do it because his ideas happen to be outside the political mainstream. In academia, as in the media, only those political views that fail to conform to today's sedate, bipartisan centrism are branded as "ideological." Meanwhile, the thought police of the Democratic and Republican establishment get to foment political witch hunts while pretending that they somehow stand above ideology. Rodriguez complains about the "presence of activists posing as scholars on college campuses." We are left to wonder about the activists posing as journalists in the media.
Emanuele Saccarelli San Diego The writer is an assistant professor of political science at San Diego State University.
Rodriguez proposes a radical solution to a small, old problem. Academic fraud has a rich history. The appropriate response to these problems is to refute them. This is the path that conservatives took in law schools through the Federalist Society. The remedies that conservatives seek in response to their concerns in colleges are quite different. They are promoting the closure of entire departments and starting groups in many universities to intimidate liberal professors. They never mention conservative crackpots. Once this infrastructure is in place, it is hard to control. This is a small problem that doesn't require such a drastic, dangerous solution.
Robert Lee Hotchkiss San Diego
As a creature of the left, I wholeheartedly agree with Rodriguez, except on one point. I fail to see what's left-wing about identity politics, because it breaks up a natural working-class constituency into competing groups. The sooner the left abandons identity politics, the sooner it will have a mass following.
Charles Berezin Los Angeles
If Rodriguez is right that we shouldn't tolerate "shoddy professors who can't sort fact from ideology . . . particularly at taxpayer expense," I have a more important question: Why are we taxpayers continuing to tolerate a U.S. president who obviously can't differentiate between fact and ideology?
J.D. Hunley Rialto
ACLU's stance on objects of worship
Re "A safety hazard or special treatment?" July 30
The Times misrepresented the ACLU's position with regard to prayer rugs. The ACLU believes that the state should not pay for religious symbols or objects of worship, including prayer rugs, microphones to broadcast the call to prayer, rosaries or crucifixes, but it can -- under limited and appropriate circumstances -- pay for items that genuinely are designed to protect health and safety. In fact, this issue would be simpler if the government were providing prayer rugs, which have a clear religious purpose. Instead, the government is building foot baths, which are not inherently religious: They are not blessed, cannot be desecrated and are open to everyone for any purpose.
Not every government expenditure to promote safety is unconstitutional simply because it has an incidental benefit to worshipers. For example, when the pope visited Hamtramck 10 years ago, the ACLU of Michigan did not oppose the use of city funds for security because the motive and effect was to ensure the pope's safety, not to promote Christianity.
Kary L. Moss Executive director, ACLU of Michigan Detroit
Interpreting the 2nd Amendment
Re "Gun control under fire," editorial, July 30
Although gun violence is a deplorable aspect of our society, a narrow reading of the 2nd Amendment that would allow gun bans would not prevent even a fraction of the crime or injuries caused by guns, despite assertions to that effect in your editorial. For the clearest evidence to the contrary, simply take a look at the effectiveness of the law at issue: Gun crime is no less a danger in Washington now than it was before the law. This should not surprise anyone. Criminals who would be willing to use guns to commit crimes would pay just as little respect to laws about gun ownership as they do to the other laws they break.
Richard Schwartz Encino