FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Search for a Token Right-winger

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:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
The  FBI: Another Worry in the National Security State
Rob Urie
Establishment Politics are for the Rich
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You
Paul Street
Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Joan Roelofs
The Science of Lethality
Joyce Nelson
Buttigieg and McKinsey
Joseph Natoli
Equally Determined: To Impeach/To Support
Charles Pierson
The National Defense Authorization Act Perpetuates the Destruction of Yemen
REZA FIYOUZAT
An Outrageous Proposal: Peace Boats to Iran
Andrew Levine
A Plague on Both Their Houses, Plus a Dozen Poxes on Trump’s
David Rosen
Mortality Rising: Trump and the Death of the “American Dream”
Lee Hall
Donald Trump Jr., Mongolian Sheep Killer
Dave Lindorff
The Perils of Embedded Journalism: ‘Afghan Papers’ Wouldn’t Be Needed If We Had a Real Independent News Media
Brian Cloughley
Human Rights and Humbug in Washington
Stephen Leas
Hungry for a Livable Planet: Why I Went On Hunger Strike and Occupied Pelosi’s Office
Saad Hafiz
Pakistan Must Face Its Past
Lawrence Davidson
Deteriorating Climates: Home and Abroad
Cal Winslow
The End of the Era: Nineteen Nineteen
Louis Proyect
If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?
Thomas Drake
Kafka Down Under: the Threat to Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in Australia
Thomas Knapp
JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon Versus the Pentagon and Trump
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s War on the Poor
Michael Welton
Seeing the World Without Shadows: the Enlightenment Dream
Ron Jacobs
The Wind That Shook the Barley: the Politics of the IRA
Rivera Sun
Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis
Binoy Kampmark
The Bloomberg Factor: Authoritarianism, Money and US Presidential Politics
Nick Pemberton
Ideology Shall Have No Resurrection
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
What Trump and the GOP Learned From Obama
Ramzy Baroud
‘Elected by Donors’: the University of Cape Town Fails Palestine, Embraces Israel
Cesar Chelala
Unsuccessful U.S. Policy on Cuba Should End
Harry Blain
The Conservatism of Impeachment
Norman Solomon
Will the Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
Howard Lisnoff
The One Thing That US Leaders Seem to Do Well is Lie
Jeff Cohen
Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast with Sanders’ Consistency
Mel Gurtov
The Afghanistan Pentagon Papers
Gaither Stewart
Landslide … to Totalitarianism
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How Blaming Nader in 2000 Paved the Way for Today’s Neo-Fascism
Steve Early
In Re-Run Election: LA Times Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild 
David Swanson
If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying
Nicky Reid
Sorry Lefties, Your Impeachment is Bullshit
John Kendall Hawkins
The Terror Report You Weren’t Meant to See
Susan Block
Krampus Trumpus Rumpus
Martin Billheimer
Knight Crawlers
David Yearsley
Kanye in the West
Elliot Sperber
Dollar Store 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail