To The Daily Sun,
In his response to my letter calling attention to his bogus assertion that the Dearborn City Council instituted Sharia Law, Mr. Meade asks whether I believe "that students don't read the opinions their teachers write in the newspapers and are therefore not academically or politically influenced by them." I think he is suggesting that I should not be offering my opinions in public.
That is exactly why there is academic freedom and tenure, Bob. So, people like you, who don't like a particular teacher's opinions, don't get to decide whether they get to keep their jobs. Do you know anything about the teaching of those whose livelihoods you've threatened? Do you know that I celebrate every student who expresses an opinion whether they agree with me or not?
Do I challenge them? Of course. I challenge them all to make their points more effectively using logic and evidence and by doing the hard work necessary, like checking their facts, to win their arguments. My job, which I take very seriously, is to develop their critical faculties, not to convince them that I'm right about this issue or that. Diversity of opinion is, in fact, a great teaching tool.
Bob also said that his reference to the Dearborn City Council and Sharia Law wasn't about anyone breaching the church/state barrier. That's a head-scratcher, since that's exactly what it is when elected officials vote to follow religious law — a violation of the First Amendment prohibition regarding the separation of church and state.
Finally, Bob says he stands by what he wrote even though it was factually incorrect because it seemed consistent with his other research. So I guess he is saying that facts and the truth don't matter as long as they sound good. What is that if not motivated reasoning? Don't you have an obligation, Bob, as a published columnist, to get your facts right?
By the way, Bob, some of my students do read my letters. Some of them agree with me and some don't, but they all see me modeling a form of civic engagement. I encourage them to write about what they believe in — using logic and evidence.
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