FAU incident exposes dark side of American universities

FAUThe “stomp Jesus” incident at Florida Atlantic University is in the news. But in truth, it’s merely a symptom of a far fatter can of worms crawling around America’s college campuses today.

As part of an “intercultural communications” social studies class, an FAU instructor asked his students to write Jesus on a piece of paper and then step, or stomp, on it. A firestorm erupted as a result, and the instructor has been suspended “for his own safety.”

First, there is a very real question about why such coursework is needed at any university striving to be taken seriously as an academic bastion.

What FAU officials may not comprehend is that this incident really is only a symptom of a possibly deeper problem at hand. One of FAU’s faculty professors, Marina Karides, wrote an op-ed column in a local newspaper exalting FAU’s social studies courses. Unwittingly, I believe, she opened up Pandora’s education box to reveal the deeper problem. She disclosed that “the mission of a public university” includes creating a “just” society, and further bragged, “FAU has a strong social justice disposition (emphasis mine).”

This, my friends, is the underlying infection in too many schools of higher learning. “Social justice” is an experimental social theory, an ideology that infuses the learning climate in many universities, infecting the curricula. Liberals love the concept because they believe government needs to intervene to engineer “social fairness” and social justice, and what better way to do it than to teach it to students?

Social justice is a political concept that suggests that equal outcomes are more valuable in a society than equal opportunities. Author John Rawls once wrote that the “essential role of government in social justice” is “that social justice requires government, ….whose function is to redistribute wealth.” At its heart, social justice is communistic because it places little value on excellence, personal responsibility or initiative. It says, simply, if you haven’t earned the fruits, you should be given the fruits anyway.

Another dark side of social justice is that it requires forcibly taking things of value from one person and giving them to another. That means, in order to provide justice to one, you must impose injustice on another. You must penalize success to reward incompetence. Where is the “justice” in that?

If FAU’s Karides is correct, it is time for FAU to look more closely at whether to allow experimental social theories into its teaching culture, and to examine whether it wants to risk its reputation on some of the social courses it offers. Actions have consequences. Getting an education to compete and thrive in today’s complicated world ought to be a serious undertaking. But in colleges around the country, students are offered silly courses like “The Science of Harry Potter,” “Underwater Basket Weaving” and “The Joy of Garbage.” And of course, there’s “Intercultural Communications,” along with its questionable exercises like debasing the name of a religious figure.

This is not about academic freedom; it’s about common sense. Students spend time in these kinds of near-worthless social studies classes, learn little that’s beneficial, and then wonder why they can’t get a good job when they leave college. Worse, under the dictates of social justice, they are taught that they’re entitled to be given a job anyway.

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John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
About John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.

  • Chance Hammond

    "Social justice" is not only "communistic", as you state, it is a page taken out of the Marxist/Leninist ideological playbook. If FAU is inclined to embrace social justice as a backdrop for their teachings, they had better think again. Thucydides taught us that despotic states pursue their evils under the cover of "justice" or some similar pretext, when they cant achieve their goals by force. "Fairness" is everywhere the watchword of leftist radicals. Taken to its logical conclusion, "social justice" is a dangerous philosophy, leading to social division and economic stagnation.

    • Joanne Long

      Building a new society of losers who will not fight when New World Order opens it's ugly mouth to take control over us. They will not have a back bone to be anything in their lives, what a shame.

  • Praeco Simplici

    Social justice can be viewed as evil in the sense that it does more lasting harm than good. What kind of person does social justice turn the recipient into? Some say it twists the recipient of entitlements into a lesser human, creating a person whose self image is injured, whose sense of inner worth is diminished, whose self-confidence is necessarily impaired, and whose values become skewed. The end result, too often, is that dependence becomes a way of life.

  • cs

    So lets give all the A students grades to the C or lower students for "Social Justice" and see how that works out for them. Just more lid commie B.S. that's undermining our education system. With worthless so called classes like these,and the liberal so called professors dictating them,its no wonder why we are falling behind!

  • Quan

    So now "social justice" is demonized, and FAU is branded a "liberal" institution? What next? May be, John, you just need to talk to Frank Brogan and have him educate you on which part of his beloved institution is socialist and communist? Need we even point out that Republican presidents funded many of these civic education, democracy-building USAID projects under their administration, need we tell you that Afghanistan and Iraq were both nation-building boondoggles which we as citizens are still paying for? When will you stop preaching the language of hate? When will you realize that being tolerant and being Christian is exactly the same thing that Jesus teaches? How much longer will you continue to cast that first stone and pour fuel over fire? This behavior is exactly why the younger generation condemns your hypocrisy.

    • MLD

      You are confusing the "language of hate" with the language of reason.

      • http://www.posterchildrenfortermlimits.com George Blumel

        Quan confuses a lot of things. But John R has put it down where even the Quans should be able to get it –"Social justice is a political concept that suggests that equal outcomes are more valuable in a society than equal opportunities." and ",,,social justice is that it requires forcibly taking things of value from one person and giving them to another." When FAU offers professors and subjects promoting social justice as they define it they are defeating in the bud a young student's initiative, personal responsibility, economic understanding and even basic morality. All FAU profs are not as bad as the prof/Dem exec that got caught in this instance but if he isn't fired then one must question the management of the institution and whether our tax dollars should be sent there. And Quan: it matters not whether anyone nearby is a Dem or Repub –this is about learning and right and wrong. (I can hear Quan yelling, "it's George Bush's fault!)

        • http://mcbluefire.blogspot.com Marc

          Quan does have one thing right, however, the modern right-wing Christian community is credited with extreme intolerance (sadly with many references) and is very guilty of flaunting arrogance while taking issues to the federal level that then blew up in their face. They forgot the basic teachings of Christ that morality cannot be achieved through force, that loving our neighbor and spreading His word is what we are charged with doing. Love the sinner, not the sin. Seek to work on the 2×4 in our own eye before worrying about the splinter in our neighbor's.

          However, social justice and collectivism are pitiful attempts of humans attempting to play God. All of us need to remember what America's founders knew – we fall far short of the Glory of God and we need to quit trying to bring utopia to earth. All we can do is help our families, our friends, and neighbors. Stop using force for anything other than defense – every time it is misused the cycle of violence continues. No matter how amazing the "Ends" appear to be they are not worthy of aggression.

  • Jon

    Wish I had known all this "social justice stuff" 54 years ago……….I could have been fishing all these years and then demanded 50% of what all your readers earned by their hard work, intellect and total commitment over the years. I need to call Lois Frankel today to see if the Congress passed any new "free ride programs" since last week. BOY DO I FEEL STUPID!!!!!……………..I actually went to work as a young man……..if I had only known about "social justice".

  • Cassandra

    My son graduated college in 2007. He went to a top tier college that was quite costly. After he graduated,he told me if I had heard what his professors said in the classroom, I would have had a stroke. He has a BS in finance & accounting. The left leaning, social justice seeking professor as well as teaching assistant is the norm in colleges across the country. This is not hate speech- it is merely reporting of fact.

  • Jim Watt

    I completely agree with John R's comments and as an adjunct professor in political science at Palm Beach Atlantic University, I can assure you that no such "exercise" would ever occur at that campus. However, I was tempted at yesterday's class to have my students write "Gators" on a piece of paper and place it on the floor and………

  • Stephen

    "Social justice" is one of their favorite phrases because it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Heck, it sounds good to me! Seems obvious that social justice would entail that people own the money they earn, for instance. But that's not what's meant, and you all are quite correct that the end result is to create "educated" people with close to zero actual knowledge or ability, but a sense of entitlement that is nearly infinite.

    I think you're wrong, though, about them "not resisting" when the "NWO" (or whatever you want to call it) comes to forcibly strip whatever vestigial freedoms we may still possess. No: it won't be a question of resisting or not resisting, people will DEMAND it. In fact, they already do.

    And of all the awful things about this entire pathetic "stomp Jesus" story, the one that really gets to me is that it's this kind of infantile twaddle that we offer students instead of a serious and rigorous education. You know, man, like, reading big books and writing papers and stuff? Today's college students are paying ten times as much for a schooling that isn't a tenth as serious. To me, we should simply end all government funding for "education", at all levels, immediately. For social justice.

    There will be a shake-up, but those who actually want to learn, will; those who want to teach, will; those who want to research, will; and those who think such ends are deserving of support can support them financially. There is no natural reason why getting an education should cost more than buying a modest starter home. Hell, with what these students are going to spend, they could also get a pretty good truck and a couple of rifles.

    Not that the government is going to do this – but higher education is dead anyway.

  • MM

    Interesting comments, segueing from a classroom exercise intended to demonstrate how people take offense when strongly held beliefs and customs are insulted into the definition and re-definitions of Social Justice. Very clearly the professor demonstrated his point — so well that he is now the subject of a "hate" campaign. In a Islamist society, it might have cost him his head. We're really very fortunate in this society.

    As for Social Justice — its a Biblical philosophy that happens to be the very foundation of this country's democratic constitution. Philosophers and economists of the 1600's-1700's, John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, George Berkeley,David Hume,and Adam Smith expounded on it at length. Liberal or conservative it's hard to maintain a functioning society without a sense of social justice and social responsibility.

  • Suspended?

    He was sent on vacation with pay = that is the suspension. He still getting pay and the FAU muslims keep stomping on Jesus.