Sorry, I can't get on board with Atrios and my fellow Lefties on this one:
A 17-year-old Kuwaiti student whose uncles were kidnapped and tortured by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invaders more than a decade ago said his California college political science professor failed him for praising the United States in a final-exam essay last month.
Ahmad Al-Qloushi, a foreign student at Foothill College near San Jose, Calif., said he was told by professor Joseph A. Woolcock to get psychological treatment because of the pro-American views expressed in his essay.
This isn't the objectionable part. Mr. Al-Qloushi's essay is laughably awful, a poorly argued and badly written bit of prose full of grade school platitudes and patriotic treacle. No, the real problem is the essay question as posed by Professor Woolcock:
Dye and Zeigler contend that the constitution of the United States was not “ordained and established” by “the people” as we have so often been led to believe. They contend instead that it was written by a small educated and wealthy elite in America who representative of powerful economic and political interests. Analyze the US constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest.
Leaving aside the merits of Dye and Zeigler, whose work I'm not familiar with, the question above reeks of partisanship. Instead of asking his students to adopt their own position vis a vis the text and argue for or against the authors' thesis, Dr. Woolcock has declared the correct answer and demanded his class to tell him why he, Dye, and Zeigler are right. It doesn't matter here that the professor is a Lefty and his Kuwaiti student an unabashed conservative - this is piss-poor teaching, plain and simple.
Apologists from the liberal blogosphere have come out of the woodwork to defend the teacher's question as a variant of the classic: "Show me you've read the material."
Bullshit. Professor Woolcock could easily have asked as much, if that was his intent, but instead he chose to word the question so as to force his own political beliefs down the gullet of those whom he was entrusted to educate. Ideologues such as this give liberal academia a bad name and feed the voracious paranoia of the Right. Let's not waste our time and energy defending crappy teachers who happen to share our party affiliation and commit ourselves to the spirit of fair and free inquiry not only in the Ivory Tower but in the broader public discourse as well.
If we as liberals have to rig the table in order to carry the day against our conservative opponents, then we've done worse than fail - we've sunk to their level in doing so.