FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Search for a Token Right-winger

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

There is more than one way for a university to receive national recognition. One is to employ a faculty member who receives a Nobel Prize for his discovery.  The other is to be governed by a Chancellor who proposes a folly. The University of Colorado, has done both.  It makes a citizen proud.

Thomas R. Cech was a professor at the University of Colorado in 1989.  That was the year that the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to him and Sidney Altman for their discovery, as stated in the press release announcing the award “that RNA (ribonucleic acid) in living cells is not only a molecule of heredity but also can function as a biocatalyst.” Dr. Cech’s receipt of the prize was accompanied by the usual favorable publicity that accompanies such an award and redounded to the credit of the University of Colorado where he had been a distinguished member of the faculty since 1978.  (Dr. Cech left the university in 2000 in order to become the president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md., a post he recently announced he was leaving in order to return to the University of Colorado.)  Stories of his receipt of the Nobel Prize were published, as one would expect in all the major newspapers in the world including the Wall Street Journal.  Now, thanks to the discovery of a solution to a problem that does not exist by G.P. “Bud” Peterson, its Chancellor, the University of Colorado has returned to the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

 

In mid-May it was reported that the Chancellor had concluded that what the University of Colorado needed was an endowed university chair for a Professor of Conservative Thought and Policy, Conservative Thought he apparently believes, being somewhat different from normal thought, a belief in which he may actually be correct.  Hoping to bring the university accolades similar to those brought by Thomas Cech when he received the Nobel Prize, Chancellor Peterson announced that he was hoping to raise $9 million to fund such a position. His proposal did not go unnoticed. It appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and was accompanied by an actual photograph of the Chancellor on the second page of that paper, a sign of greatness bestowed on but a distinguished few.

The University of Colorado is 49th in the country in terms of per student state funding which accounts for less than 10 percent of the university’s total budget.  Some may wonder whether  a better use could be found for $9 million than the creation of a chair that is described as the first of its kind in the nation and the topic of which could easily be covered within the existing course curriculum at the university.  The answer is not hard to find.  It could.  And its discovery would remove from the conversation the mockery to which the Chancellor and his proposal have been subject.

Tom Tancredo, one of the more amusing examples of the sort of mindless wonders that inhabit the halls of Congress and, briefly, a candidate for the president of the United States, dislikes things intellectual as much as the next man.  In a letter to the University he offered to become the first occupier of this chair if it is funded.  He was, of course, only joking. In that same letter he suggested that a 20-foot high fence be built around the university, similar to the fence he has longed to see built on the border between the United States and Mexico.  That, too, was a joke.

On a more serious note,  other conservative commentators have criticized the idea.  David Horowitz, who lives in mortal fear of liberal professors and has identified the 101 most dangerous academics in the country, is quoted in the W.S.J. article as saying that creation of one token chair will brand the individual like “an animal in the zoo.”
One  name that has surfaced as a candidate to fill the chair is columnist George Will. Upon learning of the new position he said:  “Like Margaret Mead among the Samoans, they’re planning to study conservatives.  That’s hilarious.  I don’t think it would be a good fit.”

Bud Peterson did not intentionally play the fool and  probably doesn’t think it’s hilarious. He was just looking for a way to leave his mark.  There are almost certainly better ways.  Perhaps some of his advisors will suggest them.  And all is not despair in the academy.  Tom Cech is returning and his return will bring good cheer to its denizens.  Sadly, the consequences of the Chancellor’s folly will have many returns, all of them less felicitous than the return of Mr. Cech.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at:  Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

 

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail