Some writers to The Sun accuse academics of being "unpatriotic" or "un-American". They often make this accusation when an educator writes something with which they do not agree. It does not matter what the teacher or professor teaches or what he or she says in class. Or, that educators are taxpayers and citizens (and sometimes veterans) too and have a right to their opinion.
It would seem to some of these writers that the First Amendment should exempt educators unless those educators agree with them. Some even cry "persecution" when anyone, especially an educator, disagrees with them. Everyone has the freedom to write and an editor has the right to publish it but does not follow that people have a right not to be criticized for what they write.
Some have even implied that liberal educators should lose their jobs! One even sent a liberal writer an intimidating e-mail to try and get him to retract a statement! This reeks of McCarthyism, especially when these writers accuse teachers of preaching "atheism", "socialism" or even "communism" whenever they criticize academics. They accuse educators of indoctrination when having never stepped foot in their classrooms. Some people chose to believe what they want to believe!
When one reads these letters, one is reminded of what happened in the 1950s during the McCarthy "witch hunts". Many state residents may not know that New Hampshire had its own version of McCarthyism, which was agitated by such entities as the American Legion and the Manchester Union Leader. A good, late 1990s film on this, "Rights and Reds", was produced by the N.H. Bar Association. Readers may be interested in obtaining and watching it. In spite of the fact that both the N.H. Executive and Legislative branches had found no evidence of widespread communist subversion in the state, the Legion and the Union Leader kept saying there were thousands of commies in the Granite State!
In Merideth, at that time, there was a high school history teacher with a special interest in the history of Russia. On these grounds, he was falsely accused of being a communist. Although a N.H. legislative committee cleared him any communist affiliation, the rumors and harassment continued and he was forced to leave the state. One cannot help but wonder how many of our current anti-educator writers to The Sun would have helped "run him out of town?"
These same writers often rage against academic tenure but do they know that the concept was developed to protect educators from the likes of themselves? However, the concept as well as that of Academic Freedom does not just protect liberals; there are many conservative educators who have enjoyed this protection. "Liberal intolerance?" When was the last time that any liberal writer to The Sun suggested that conservatives lose their livelihoods or be censored by The Sun?
Unfortunately, there is a spirit of anti-intellectualism in America which may, at least in part, explain why students in other countries are often "ahead" of ours. Educators are blamed for everything. The term "the Professor" has become a sort of punch line. Actually, the title is very honorable. After all, the best "Gilligan's Island" character was The Professor! Teachers and professors are stereotyped as lazy, underworked, overpaid parasites all the while the "dumbing down" of the American mind continues at an alarming rate.
Some demand that pseudoscience be given "equal time" in the classroom and again, cry persecution when they do not get their way. They also assume that students who do not agree with these teachers and professors are also persecuted.
This writer cannot speak for every educator but he knows those regularly attacked in the pages of The Sun and knows firsthand that they encourage debate, disagreement, and critical thinking and have never penalized a student for his or her opinions. In fact, one even promotes such "subversive" events as celebrations of Veteran's Day and Constitution day. Pretty un-American, don't you think?
(Scott Cracraft is an educator but he is also a citizen, a voter, a taxpayer, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford. He wishes to make it clear that any opinions expressed in this letter are his own and do not reflect the views of the institution where he works or its administration, faculty, staff, or students.)
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