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Course Of The Month
Where Normal, Everyday Americans Are Defined As "Social Deviants"

By Jon Sanders

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December 29, 2005

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Note added in 2006, after the semester was over and grades were in: One of the students wrote at the end of one of the exams: "disclaimer: I do not believe most of what I answered. Just for the grade."




If you could use only one phrase to describe America’s system of government, its industry, its ideals, its founding, its Constitution, its system of economics, what would you say? Ronald Reagan favored Abraham Lincoln's phrase: The last, best hope of man on earth.

North Carolina State University sociology instructor Dr. Margaret Terry prefers "social deviance."

This semester, two NCSU students publicized exams given them in two separate sociology classes taught by Terry: “Social Deviance” (Sociology 206) and “Agriculture and Rural Society” (Sociology 241). Both students complained that their classes were being used for political indoctrination. The exams are online at www.johnlocke.org/site-docs/Social_Deviance.

It testifies to the extent of Terry’s classroom abuse that two students, in two separate classes, independently of each other, were so alarmed at her exams that they sought to publicize them.

NCSU’s Course Catalog says “Social Deviance” is about “[s]ocial processes in the creation and maintenance of deviant populations: classification, objectification of social meanings, functions of subcultures and social outcomes of the deviance-ascription process.” One would hardly expect such a course to focus on normal, everyday Americans and mainstream American thought – but this does.

Elite deviance in the United States,” according to question 18, Exam Three, is “institutionalized in the ‘normal functioning’ of the social institutions (especially, economic, political, media)” and “legitimized by the cultural belief system.” A recurring “correct answer” on Exam Four holds that all “deviants” – including academics (question 15), military personnel (18), members of Congress (23) or just members of society in general (9) – are in “mindless obedience to the political and economic propaganda machine.”

In Exam Three Terry demonizes “those who run the U.S government” (4), the “U.S. media” (5 and 22), “think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation” (6), “the Reagan administration” (8), the U.S “political candidate selection process” (9 and 16), the “capitalist system” (21), and “American work arrangements” (30). In Exam Four she demonizes General Motors (question 2), the Ford Motor Company (3), “consumer products” (5), “our food” (6), companies (7), “owners of mills, mines, and factories” (8), the United States (10, 12-14, 18, 22, 25, 27, 41, 43-45), the U.S. “military-industrial complex” (11, 15, 19, 20), “university departments involved in Pentagon-funded research” (15), “corporations that receive the most financial benefit from defense contracting” (16), Congress (23 and 32), the “U.S. system of checks and balances among the various branches of government” (36), the Electoral College (37), George W. Bush (42), and even the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that produced the Constitution of the United States (28).

Where the Soviet Union is concerned, however, Terry’s Exam Four require students to parrot that the threat it posed the United States was only “propaganda,” mere “party line” “rhetoric” against “an ideological foe” (question 18).

Meanwhile, course title notwithstanding, Terry’s “Agriculture and Rural Society” is about blaming white racism for preventing a communist revolution in America. See, for example, this “true” statement from the exam (question 14):

Many whites expressed their superiority over non-Whites and defined them, rather than the capitalists, as the enemy. (Emphasis added.)



Question 18, given here with the “correct” answers attached, stated:

After the Civil War, poor Whites’ "allies" in maintaining the right to put Blacks down were those Whites who ran the justice system and the legislature, led the Klan, or agreed to hire on the basis of race but not to pay a living wage. But this meant that poor Whites’ "allies" were the same class that was profiting from their unsafe and underpaid labor [and] poor Whites were allying themselves with the very people who were the cause of their bony fingers. (Emphasis added.)



In questions 35-37 Terry equates the United States with the Soviets’ pale sister, Nazi Germany. Question 35 reads: "In both the United States and in Germany national capital first used exclusionary nativism to disrupt what they saw as a much more threatening socialist attack on the whole structure of the drainage system.”

Drainage system? That, readers, is (question 6) “where the flow of value produced by work – the flow of sweat – flows out of the hands of the workers and through the hands of successive layers of elites”; i.e., “a system of economic, political, and social exploitation.”

This exam1 is worth one-third of students’ grades — unfortunate students placed in the power of a shameless ideologue who grades them on their selections from unreasonable answers to questions covering material inappropriate to the subject and discipline in which they enrolled. This matter should concern NCSU greatly.


Students’ Rights and NCSU

The Academic Bill of Rights quotes from past statements of academic freedoms put forth by the American Association of University Professors. Prominent among those is a quotation from an early protection of students’ rights in the classroom as given in the AAUP’s General Report of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of 1915, in which professors are warned against “taking unfair advantage of the student’s immaturity by indoctrinating him with the teacher’s own opinions before the student has had an opportunity fairly to examine other opinions upon the matters in question, and before he has sufficient knowledge and ripeness of judgment to be entitled to form any definitive opinion of his own.”

ABOR would, among other things, see to it that “Students will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study” and that “Faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.”

Those are expressly to avoid the kind of classroom abuse NCSU students have been subject to in Terry's classes.

Last year a faculty senator at North Carolina State University sent out a frightened missive to the entire faculty of NCSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which houses the Sociology and Anthropology Dept., warning them about an upcoming visit to NCSU by David Horowitz over his role in promoting ABOR. “The carefully chosen language of Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights does not fully expose the agenda behind it,” wrote Prof. Cat Warren, associate professor of English and the director of NCSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

Warren said the “oft-stated reason for the need for this bill [ABOR] is that conservative students are being abused or indoctrinated by university professors and administrators,” a reason she dismissed as “vastly exaggerated” and limited to “a few stellar anecdotes.” Those anecdotes tend to add up, however. Here are two more from the same university.

Warren boasted that, “The Faculty Senate had already started to play an active role in ensuring that if this ‘Academic Bill of Rights’ is introduced in North Carolina, it does not go far.” Rather than policing the legislature, though, shouldn’t the Faculty Senate keep a better watch on its own? When a university – especially a public one — neglects its responsibility to students and society and allows this sort of perverted pedagogy to take place, can it be any wonder that legislative fixes such as ABOR become attractive to the taxpayers, legislators and voters? If NCSU and its Faculty Senate are not going to take responsibility for themselves, they are essentially daring others to do it for them.


Note

1. This column quotes only a portion from that exam and the others; they all can be viewed online here.

 


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