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Mao, Marx and More

“The only reason why Mao Zedung is given the bad reputation he has is because of the bourgeois press and their racism toward the Chinese,” said Marlene Kowal’s professor on the first day of the history class, Contemporary China.

Kowal, a senior at Temple University in Pennsylvania, offered a number of examples of things frequently said in classrooms at Temple and presumably at other universities across the country when she spoke last week at the Academic Freedom conference in Washington, D.C.

In the same class, Kowal’s professor declared herself to be a Maoist and that the purpose of her teaching would be to prove Mao’s greatness, stated that in order to end sweatshop labor, capitalism must be boycotted, saying that China under Mao was “the most equal country in the world,” and laughed when a student shouted “I hate white people” and then ranted about how the American government is purposely giving people AIDS. According to Kowal, her professor did not try to interrupt the student, although she does cut off students with views opposing her own.

“In the last three years I spent at Temple University I have come by countless professors that have a built-in leftist interpretation in their course lectures. I have rarely encountered professors that have been non-partisan in their pursuit to facilitate a dialogue of a broad range of serious intellectual perspectives,” said Kowal.

It is Kowal’s belief that many Temple professors teach in a similar fashion to her Contemporary China professor—and she should know. As the president of the Students for Academic Freedom group at Temple University, students express their grievances to Kowal, especially since hearings on Academic Freedom were held at the school in January. The Temple chapter of SAF currently has 43 members, twice the number of members in January.

“I am in possession of about twenty written complaints from this year,” said Kowal.

Some of those complaints are as follows:

English class: “My professor used the [English] class to spread her own Marxist socialist ideology. She often demonized President Bush and Republicans in general, calling capitalism evil.”

Accounting class: “The professor found a way to manipulate his political ideas into the lessons…every day he not only disrespected the President but also anyone in favor of conservative views or the Republican party.”

English as a second language: An ESL student reported having to read the controversial anti-American book, The Eagle’s Shadow, and stated she had gotten the impression that the professor had been taking advantage of the students’ poor linguistic skills to preach his politics from the vantage point as head of the classroom.

Kowal firmly believes underreporting of classroom abuses and proselytizing occurs because of intimidation and fear, but also because “students do not even realize they are being indoctrinated.”

One student told Kowal, “The professors get to you when you are a vulnerable, ignorant freshman. They start this junk when you are right out of high school when you don’t know any better.”

Kowal also said that despite teach-ins that have been held weekly by history professor Ralph Young which have brought in state Representative Lawrence Curry, Ellen Schrecker and Joyce Lindorff of the Temple Association of University Professors (TAUP), not one speaker in favor of the Academic Bill of Rights or the foundational concept has been invited.

Megan Fitzgerald of the Center for Campus Free Speech, an opponent of the Academic Bill of Rights, visited Temple University classrooms to campaign against the ABOR, according to Kowal.

“No wonder why the students who have not found comfort in our student organization are not speaking up. No wonder why the administration is in denial of this problem. No wonder why the professors are still being hired based on their politics, teaching their classes as partisan politicians and are getting away with it,” Kowal said.

“And yes, Karl Marx is given a colossal time and consideration in the classroom in comparison to the almost unmentionable Adam Smith,” said Kowal referencing comments made by state Representative Dan B. Frankel expressing his doubt that Temple University is indoctrinating students on Marxism.

Marlene Kowal is a member of the Temple College Republicans, a member of Phi Alpha Theta, a National History Honor Society, and has interned at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Program on National Security Studies. She will graduate from Temple in January of 2007 with her BFA in Dance with Distinction in History.

Julia A. Seymour is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia.