Warren Writing: Liberal Propaganda Machine?
Despite My Liberal Leanings, I Question The Legitimacy Of A Writing Program Acting As A Leftist Mouthpiece
Conservatives always blather about how university academia are dominated by liberals. For once, though, they might actually be right. That was the case with the Warren College (my college at UC San Diego) Writing Program (WCWP), which consists of two quarters of critical writing, required of every student in Warren (which, btw, is the largest and, IMO, the best college at UCSD!). After completing the required two quarters, I have come to conclude that WCWP must be an actual, breathing liberal propaganda machine.
To start off, the WCWP seems to be run like a tight directorate. The teachers who teach classes aren’t professors; they aren’t associate professors; they don’t have Ph.D’s. They’re just teaching assistants – yes, you heard me correctly, TA’s.
With each class no more than 15 students large, each class feels more like a discussion/section for a lecture that doesn’t exist. And who would be teaching at that non-existent lecture? The head honcho, the director of the directorate, is someone named Linda C. Brodkey, who a friend and I have come to regard as the equivalent of the Zerg Overmind for WCWP.
The reason being that on the Schedule of Classes, her name, incredulously enough, appeared under the “instructor” column for EVERY section of WCWP, even classes that were at the same time in different places. (One of my writing teachers joked in response: “That’s because we’re all holograms.”) I, like just about everyone else who’s completed the program, had two writing teachers, and the similarities in what they said and the opinions they opined discomfits me greatly. It almost as if these two individuals, completely different from each other in appearance and demeanor, are both serving as mouthpieces for the Overmind herself, Linda Brodkey, who, judging from the program, must be some kind of leftist academic revolutionary.
Then there’s the unbelievable left-tilting design of the program. In WCWP 10A, the first quarter of the two-quarter sequence, we were issued a course reader on the class theme: globalization. Nearly all the readings were anti-free trade, a leftist position. There were only two or three pro-free trade readings, and they were all relatively short, poorly-written, undetailed, and useless by comparison. This was especially apparent when it was time for us to write our papers, and just about everyone came up with anti-free trade claims because anti-free trade references were more abundant, thus making such positions easier to defend and the essays that much easier to write. Our 10A teacher didn’t try to help the disadvantaged side, and she certainly didn’t try to hide where she stood, often deriding the few conservative writings in an obviously stacked reader. It is unlikely that she chose the readings that she openly regarded with contempt, so who did? Overmind Brodkey, probably.
No one seemed to appreciate the leftist bent of 10A – least of all myself. In fact, no one seemed to really appreciate the subjects of globalization and free trade at all, let alone know anything about them. I have to admit that trade and foreign policy were among my weakest issues as well. Perhaps this is why the creator of 10A chose globalization as the class theme; such an obscure subject would be less likely to draw intelligent opposition from the students, making them easier to indoctrinate. (Note: Globalization and free trade are NOT the same thing, but because they support each other they were treated as one and the same for the purposes of the course.) Whether anyone was really converted to the cause of anti-free trade is hard to tell, since just about everyone seemed to pragmatically gravitate towards the anti-free trade position in hopes of getting a better grade. The few people I saw who attempted to defy the Overmind were gently nudged by my 10A teacher towards a more liberal position, with the implication that such a move would lead to more favorable grading at the end. (Fortunately, I was already anti-free trade on principle, so I didn’t have to abandon my conscience in pursuit of an A in the class. Unfortunately, that A was ultimately denied to me, apparently on account of my frequent truancy. Such is the ridiculous consequence of having the grade dependent on attendance.)
10B was a little less ideological, since each section had a different topic. (One section was about extraterrestrial life, and it is difficult for even myself to conceive of a way to polarize the subject along liberal-conservative lines.) My section dealt with the topic of cities, and the topic proved to be a fertile ground for liberal indoctrination indeed. Once again, the reader was heavily tilted towards the leftist persuasion, with articles on how corporations were taking over public property and abusing working people, minorities, and any one else who didn’t read the Wall Street Journal; about the horrors of declining government spending on domestic programs and urban renewal; about how people were being deprived of property and a good life due to the rampages of unchecked greed and pursuit of profit. I heartily agreed with the claims of all these readings, but it hardly seemed appropriate to have such a one-sided reader for a multi-sided body of students. The most blatant evidence of the reader’s indoctrinational mission came towards the end of the reader when, instead of dealing with problems faced by cities, it instead documented the injustice suffered by natives of Hawai’i’s Makua Valley at the hands of unscrupulous corporations. Tragic, indeed, but Makua Valley does not have any large cities. So how does this fit in with the urban theme? It doesn’t – but it perfectly fits in with WCWP’s implicit goal of liberal propaganda.
The heavily urbanized Makua Valley.
My 10B instructor wasn’t nearly as unabashed about his liberal leanings as my 10A instructor because of his quieter, more measured demeanor, but he didn’t hide his stance either. A stacked reader made it a liberal claim easier to write, but in 10B it didn’t have such a big impact since we were supposed to do independent research and use outside sources in our essays. Thanks to a more favorable time and a forgiving teacher, attendance wasn’t nearly such an important factor and I was able to clinch an A-.
I haven’t abandoned my liberal/progressive/social democratic ideological philosophy, and I want to make it clear that WCWP is politically on my side. I agreed with the liberal readings and the liberal message that underlined the two classes. What I take issue with is the complete lack of counterarguments from their other side, and the total exclusion of conservative thinking from the program. In my opinion, any course at any school that delves into a political topic – or any topic that is controversial and has multiple, legitimate viewpoints to be represented – should offer a, dare I say it, fair and balanced survey that includes all sides of opinion. There is no justification for turning what is supposed to be an intellectual learning experience in an academic insitution into a one-sided liberal OR conservative indoctrination program. Doing so is antithetical to a university’s purpose and only serves as ammunition for rabid conservative soldiers that constantly harp of academia’s liberal bias. I hope those who run the Warren College Writing Program will make changes so that the Program is fair to all sides and worthy of the College’s prodigious namesake.