With today’s honoring of Martin Luther King, Jr. come new skirmishes in the turf war over his legacy.
Tradition holds that radicals on the Left own it. Because the civil rights leader was most radical near the end of his life, that King allegedly proved to be the truest. The King of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign is deemed to be better than the younger, greener, and more obviously Christian King of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. He engaged in acts of civil disobedience, including boycotts, demonstrations, sit-ins. He went to jail to demonstrate the violence at the heart of the white supremacist state. He also vocally opposed the Vietnam War. King sought to relieve the racially and economically dispossessed by way of government programs that would redistribute wealth from the richest Americans.
The thoughtful and meticulous analysis by our friend Joseph Knippenberg got me thinking about civic engagement. Well, that’s not quite true. I was already thinking about it while trying get a book done on the technocratic threat to higher education (which is greater than the politically correct threat to higher education, although the two are not unrelated).
There is an expert-driven trend in higher education–facilitated by foundations, the American Political Science Association, professors of political science and professors of education–to transform the teaching of political science through civic engagement. The literature on this is full of jargon and otherwise depressingly low in its cognitive pay grade. The consensus seems to be the need for a third way of studying politics. One approach, allegedly rigorously scientific, is the nonpartisan detachment of the behaviorist. Another is the textual approach of political philosophers, who talk about what Plato said Socrates said while hanging out in the marketplace but never actually take students to such a public forum. The third way is for students to learn through actually participating in political life.
I have been away from this page for several months, working on book that is now nearing completion. Thought I would say hello again and give a preview of the book. You may recall my posts responding to eruptions from Bob Costas, Jason Whitlock and Danny Glover. Those posts tried to retrieve the debate from the swirl of myths, absurdities and glib chatter that often afflict the intersection of race, gun rights and firearms regulation. I have spent a substantial part of my scholarly effort over the years within that intersection. The culmination of that work so far, is my…