Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vernon C. Polite's Provincialism

In June 2006 there was a debate about dispositional assessment in which I participated on the website of Inside Higher Education. About eight months later, in March 2007, Vernon C. Polite, dean of Eastern Michigan University's School of Education, added a lengthy comment, which Steven Head has brought to my attention.

Dean Polite begins by arguing:

"If law, social work, nursing, psychology, etc can speak the words, 'social justice,' professional educators certainly need to have an understanding of what social justice means in the preparation of professional educators."

But, of course, an understanding of "justice" is part of the undergraduate philosophy curriculum and can be gleaned in reading authors as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Kant, who are covered in any competently run undergraduate program. A graduate school, including one in the education field, need not cover undergraduate-level material. The question of "what is justice?" belongs in undergraduate philosophy classes. That is, unless the graduate school has a program of indoctrination in mind.

Dean Polite launches into a discussion of "minorities" which is not particularly relevant to the question of "social justice" dispositions. While there have been many injustices brought to bear on minorities, the issue of the existence of "social justice dispositions" is a deeper question. To take one example, in Malaysia the majority ethnic group has instituted an affirmative action program that amounts to apartheid-like discrimination against the minority Chinese. The minority Chinese are more economically successful than the majority Malay population, but is discrimination against this suppressed minority group just?

St. Augustine argued that a person's relationship with God is the basis of justice. Are we to accept St. Augustine's definition of justice? Plato argued that justice is rooted in society. But Karl Popper argued that Plato's definition is totalitarian. Are we to believe Plato's definition of justice, or Popper's? Hitler believed that murdering Jews is just. The Ku Klux Klan believed that lynching blacks is just. Whose definition are we to believe? Dean Vernon C. Polite's and NCATE's? Dean Polite writes:

"NCATE, however, could be most helpful to its member institutions by “defining” social justice rather than simply removing it as if it is no longer relevant or suggest that “it” is sufficiently “covered” under diversity. Some would argue that anything found in the NCATE standards should be measurable and observable in the candidates’ performance."

Yet, Dean Polite's cries for enforcing a rigid, authoritarian definition of social justice will lead not to justice, but to harassment of those who disagree with NCATE and with Dean Polite. It will lead to an authoritarian political correctness. Dean Polite further claims that:

"Social justice tends to equalize disparities in educational attainment, educational achievement and socio-economic status, and the impact of prejudice and discrimination on educational attainment."

But this may not be the case. The rigid definition of social justice as equality of outcomes is anything but just in terms of the thinking of Kant, Plato, Augustine, Aristotle and all other important philosophers outside of a few provincial leftists. Indeed, the moral depravity of the New Left is illustrated in its now-aged sociopathic leaders' ongoing defense of the Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung and Castro regimes, which butchered 1.5 million, 25 million people and 100,000 people respectively.

Dean Polite goes on with a discussion that is remarkable for its provincialism:

"In essence, social justice is the one true ideal that ensures that “no child is left behind.”

Yet, there are many ways to attain the goal of improved social outcomes. In particular, the laissez faire economy of the late 19th century increased wealth dramatically because deregulation stimulated innovation. The invention of the telephone, AC electricity and the mass production of the automobile were improvements that have not been matched since the ideas of the suppressives/progressives, to include government regulation, have inhibited economic creativity. Justice is necessary for the fulfillment of human purpose, which means that government programs, regulation, whimsical legal requirements and pronvicial definitions of social justice ought to be eliminated. Justice means that each person should be permitted to keep what they produce and be free of the violence of political extremists and criminals.

Rules that suppress speech, that attack those who disagree, that expel students like Steven Head who disagreed with his professor are inherently unjust. Universities have been at the forefront of attacking individual freedom in the interest of a rigid, unjust ideology that argues for a logically impossible equality of outcomes. The concept of equality of outcomes that has no claim to "justice". It is a suppressive Procrustean bed that leads to murder. Far from being just, its advocates are killers.

If NCATE is to advocate justice, then it must advocate laissez faire capitalism. The only justice is equality under the law; freedom of expression; and the right to retain one's earnings. The only meaning of justice is:

"Laissez faire et laissez passer, le monde va de lui même!"

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