A Berkeley Professor Who Understands His Job

Star Parker,

Reading through a recent issue of Forbes Magazine, I came across a wonderful quote from inventor R. Buckminster Fuller. He observed: “You cannot change things by fighting existing reality: To change things you must build a new model to make the existing model obsolete.”

I saw the truth and power of Fuller’s observation during a recent speaking engagement at the University of California, Berkeley.

I have been speaking on university campuses for more than 20 years, and this was my 215th campus appearance.

Over this time, I have seen the palpable cultural changes on campuses: more dominance by the political left, and less openness and tolerance for a broad spectrum of viewpoints.

But lecturer Alan Ross, who is on the faculty at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, has built a new model very much in the spirit of Fuller that, in contrast to the illiberalism and intolerance dominating university campuses these days, promotes dialogue and respect,

Ross teaches Political Science 179. The class meets once per week, and at each meeting, he invites speakers from around the country and across the political spectrum. According to Ross, he gives a platform to the “far left, the far right and everything in between. Every point of view we try to address, not just the prevailing point of view at Berkeley.”

When I received an invitation to address Ross’s class, my first inclination was to decline.

Last February, violent protests at Berkeley forced the cancellation of a scheduled appearance there by conservative then-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, and the evacuation of Yiannopoulos from the campus. He was there to address the college Republicans.

bu_small A Berkeley Professor Who Understands His Job College

The following month, American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray encountered violence and protests interrupting his guest lecture at Middlebury College in Vermont, resulting in one of the college’s professors receiving a concussion.

Despite my years of experience doing these types of university presentations, I thought, no, thanks, Berkeley.

However, I was offered private security protection.

And five colleagues from the Frederick Douglass Foundation agreed to accompany me, as did a pastor from the pastor network of my organization, CURE.

So I went.

To my very pleasant surprise, I discovered that professor Ross has developed a sane, civil and educational model for presenting a broad spectrum of viewpoints to students, which he has now been doing for 32 years.

I spoke to about 600 attentive students in a large hall about my proposals for conservative reforms to fight ingrained poverty, including ending the use of taxpayers funds for abortion providers, housing and school vouchers, business tax-free zones, retirement savings accounts for low-income earners and tax credits for charitable contributions in targeted ZIP codes.

Students asked questions, and then I departed without incident.

What is Alan Ross’s secret? His “new” model restores the university to what it is supposed to be and once was: about learning, not politics. Students take a final exam that tests what they have learned from the wide variety of ideas they have heard in the course of the semester, which determines whether they pass the course.

When did universities transform from being places for learning to platforms for politics? I would attribute it to part of our overall cultural decline, where we have lost a sense that there is truth in the world to discover and live by. When relativism takes over and we lose a sense that there is any absolute truth, everything becomes politics rather than learning. Students come to university to express their opinion rather than to learn what they don’t know.

The seal of the University of California, adopted in 1884, displays the motto “Let There Be Light.” The motto is superimposed on a book with the letter A written large to stand out. This is meant to symbolize the beginning of wisdom. When did this noble aspiration get lost?

Now I’m headed to Harvard.

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  • DrArtaud

    By far my most diverse experience working was in my most recent job of the last 23+ years. School of hard knocks. If people knew you had a weakness, they’d exploit it. They paid lip service to political correctness, sensitivity training for managers, etc., but overall, it was a harsh environment, physically and coworker wise. But the richness in it is you learn to take it, or you quit.

    One coworker that stands out is an excellent, knowledgeable, responsible employee. As my years progressed in the mill, I got a job as a union safety representative, less physical work, tons more paperwork and other responsibilities. 8 years later, coming off that job, worked procedures in my shop, still paperwork. Of all the people in the shop easy to work with, this guy was it. But he had a frightening ability to insult someone that caused him insult. And he did it thoroughly without hesitation.

    Hate speech, hate crimes, these are the origins of today’s social justice warriors, the govt stands behind protections of certain groups, and ignores many others. I have been subject to hours of hate directed against Catholics, in person and in articles and comments. But I never considered it actionable, I just figured it was the other person’s personal bias, misunderstanding, and occasionally the truth.

    When I grew up, my father shot and handloaded mostly for handguns. He kept them in a locked case on top of an old chest of drawers in his closet. The top drawer was magically locked. No key opening, but it could not be opened. Being mechanically inclined, I soon discovered that to open it, you open the drawer beneath, he had affixed a hinge to the bottom of the top drawer. Simply fold the hinge flat and pull open the top drawer. To close it likewise, and when closed, the hinge falls open and strikes the wood beneath the top drawer if you attempt to open it.

    I had red hair, freckles, and wore braces, I was insulted and bullied frequently, but in that magic drawer was a loaded .45 ACP govt model handgun and an extra 7 round magazine. I never, ever, ever, thought that violence could solve my problem, I never, ever, went for that gun despite being fully familiar with its use from the gun range, even from 7 years old.

    Commenting on “The Hill” this morning, liberals think it’s OK to use violence to prevent Ann Coulter from speaking at Berkeley. One commenter wrote a long response saying if she teleconferenced her speech, it’ll probably be OK, but if she shows up, her life itself is at risk.

    I replied:

    If America has deteriorated to this point, and you’re proud of that, how is this any different than the Klan? If you, or others here, suggest violence is an authentic way to control expression, how can any of these people profess to be educated? Isn’t that what various institutions that the left hates been accused of over centuries? Suddenly it’s OK for them to do as the institutions they hate? Isn’t that perverse?

    As long as she’s not promoting violence, she’s free to say whatever she wants. If people use violence to suppress her speech, they should be prosecuted the same as if she was promoting violence. If you don’t want to hear what she says, don’t attend. She has the right to be at or near Berkeley. Homosexuals sue Christian bakeries and photographers for not doing homosexual weddings, simply refusing, but the left seeks by violent means to suppress the venue of her speech? Seriously?

    The left, and liberals, are being pushed by media, by politicians, and by their peers to denounce Trump’s presidency, this is the sign of seriously disordered intellect, a seriously dishonest one, or a seriously immature one. Today’s article is a relief that some maturity and sanity persists.

    Katie Hopkins, an outspoken Conservative British Journalist, at the Oxford Union. Interesting. People with different views, in the same room, with no one wearing scarfs over their faces, or hoodies, or masks, and there’s a sense of order to it, and tolerance. This is how all we should all tolerate differences in opinion.

    Video: Positive Discrimination Debate | Katie Hopkins | Opposition

    And visit the Oxford Union YouTube Channel to see more debates.

    YouTube Page: Oxford Union – See Videos Section