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At worst—and this is how critics seemed to interpret it—the NCA was engaging in an ideologically-motivated campaign of affirmative action that would turn the Distinguished Scholar Award into a condescending public-relations exercise. In response to Medhurst, a group of communications scholars wrote a grandly titled Letter to Leadership in the field of Communication.

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It attracted signatures from over a thousand members of the NCA though, as is often the case with such controversies, it is hard to know how many people even read the thing before endorsing it. Given the professed moral urgency of the campaign to change the manner of selecting Distinguished Scholars, one might assume that important scholars of colour had been passed up for DS consideration in the recent past.

But this apparently was not the case. He included a table showing that before , when only DS scholars could nominate and choose DS award recipients, the mostly white internal committee had, in fact, nominated two scholars of colour and selected one of those nominations for the award. The table also shows that in , one scholar of colour was nominated and not selected, though we know nothing about the nominated candidate or their qualifications. In , and —all years when any member of the association could nominate a scholar of colour—no scholars of colour were nominated by anyone in the association.

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It is a truism that people who are not nominated cannot be selected. But no: Those same aforementioned Letter to Leadership in the Field of Communication authors simply reframed their complaint. A homogenous group of scholars will almost certainly judge merit on the basis of their own experiences and standards of rigor, and presume that such experiences and standards are universal. They are not.

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The signatories then went on to claim that the CommunicationSoWhite academic paper that had inspired the Washington, D. But the significance of such statistics is hard to assess unless we know how many articles by people of colour were submitted. Moreover, how many students of colour are there in communications undergraduate programs to begin with? But that has changed. I know this firsthand because I worked my way through my communications studies as a teaching assistant in the Engineering department, and was able to compare the student populations.

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Because many immigrant groups understandably prioritize high-paying fields such as engineering, medicine and computer science, more esoteric fields such as communications have remained, in relative terms, bastions of privileged whites who can afford to attend non-professional programs. Is this evidence of discrimination?

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But that takes hard work and initiative. You never even have to leave your desk. Structures stand or fall. Cultured cells live or die. In the liberal arts, the concept of merit is mushier—and becomes mushier still when organizations such as the NCA redefine it for no other purpose than to ward off faddish criticisms.

One of the most important texts in the history of communications was Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments , originally authored in German by Frankfurt theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno in the s.


From this early stage, those who developed and studied the field of communications imagined themselves to be—and sometimes really were—independently minded people who could resist this cultural programming and stand outside the media onslaught that was seducing society at large. And this idea of communications scholars as a sort of special priestly class, uniquely resistant to the effects of propaganda, was a hubristic conceit that survives within the field to this day.

Terry Newman tweets at tlnewmanmtl. How could it be otherwise? Seems little has changed since he wrote The Clouds years ago. The name of the talk brings to mind Orwell :. As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer.

It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The thing that struck home to me most forcefully was the account of the supposedly deficient and discriminatory process professor Valdivia went through when she appleid for an editorship. The process of asking a series of questions directly relevant to how she would perform the role to assess her suitability and capabilities to me seems almost exemplary. It begs the question how she would recommend that candidates are assessed?

It is also quite frightening because it suggests that she when she asses people for roles or positions rather thna looking at capability and competency instead uses identity as a major, perhaps the most significant factor. If someone present such a ridiculous set of complaints and claim victimhood when subject to sensible assesment they should be subject to ridicule and damage to their reputation.

That she felt able to make such a presentation and that it was received without a humiliating level of ridicule and criticism is vert disturbing. It is long past time to defund the Liberal Arts. Does that mean the Liberal Arts will go away? Not at all. That reminds me of what we used to poke our more Communist friends with back in the 60s: to make their promised Eden real, they only needed to change one small aspect of society: human nature.

Sorry, if the author is so sure that racism is everywhere, why is he so surprised that some warriors become berserks? I noticed that bit as well, but I just wrote it off to the trained-seal sort of statement one gets used to from liberal arts academics. So you are right to bring it up. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, The Struggle to Define America. It was then decried by Morris Fiorina Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America , and Alan Wolfe One Nation After All , among others, who considered that the majority of Americans were moderates and that, therefore, the culture wars were marginal.

Wade and the Fatal Attraction movie. Despite the fascinating debates over the teaching of evolution, school prayer, or homeschooling that Hartman reviews, his most interesting contribution rests in his analysis of the heterogeneity of the conservative movement. These divergent philosophies led to different approaches to school reform religious conservatives relied on grassroots forces to reclaim local control, while neoconservatives used their positions in the federal government that did not prevent alliances, however unlikely or precarious these could be.

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