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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail