Sunday, January 12, 2003

No excuse for Demagoguery 101

Professor Clinton Hewan is very outspoken. He once advocated stalking and killing a police officer. According to one of his students at Northern Kentucky University, he blames terrorist attacks on the United States on terrorism by the United States.

Although born in Jamaica, Dr. Hewan is a U.S. citizen, and that guarantees him the right to spout ridiculous nonsense.

But nothing gives him the right to inflict his far-left, anti-American political views on tuition-paying students, at taxpayer expense. Where do students go when they discover their course on International Politics is a misguided tour of the professor's fermented political whine cellar?

NKU sophomore Steve Fritsch has taken classes with Dr. Hewan in the NKU Political Science Department. "Dr. Hewan's statements in class are sometimes shocking,'' he wrote.

"He has a bias against `white America' and says the problems of the African-American community are a result of racism. ... He often criticized Republicans and conservative thought and never missed a chance to call President Bush `stupid' and a `fool,' and even once called Vice President Cheney an `evil man.' He has said in class that `capitalism is evil,' and he routinely defends and promotes socialism. Also, he has said more than once that terrorism against the U.S. is a result of America's own form of terrorism against the poorer nations of the world.''

That's high-octane gas, not political science. But Mr. Fritsch believes Dr. Hewan has every right to speak his mind. "However, Dr. Hewan's harsh anti-American rhetoric comes not without a price. The price is what students (and for many, their parents) are paying NKU in tuition.''

He feels cheated and robbed.

"Dr. Hewan's class is not objective and not fair and balanced. During his classes, Dr. Hewan attempts to force his ideological beliefs on his students and tries to either suppress or ridicule any view contrary to his own.''

I called Dr. Hewan. "I have no idea what you are talking about,'' he said before hanging up. "I don't speak to the press. Speak to the president if there is a complaint.''

So I did. NKU President James Votruba said, "Academic freedom was created to let faculty members pursue the truth without worrying about their jobs. You will always have a few faculty members who take advantage of it. Abuse by a few is the price you have to pay to create an atmosphere where the many can push the frontiers of knowledge.''

Good point. Better to suffer a few nutty professors than adopt chilling speech codes that are demanded by liberals on some campuses.

But the American Association of University Professors says freedom comes with responsibility. It says professors "should exercise restraint," "show respect for the opinions of others'' and "be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matters which has no relation to their subject.''

Such as "Dick Cheney is evil,'' perhaps.

Dr. Hewan was sanctioned by NKU's Faculty Senate two years ago for saying that the family of a man killed by a Cincinnati cop should "quietly stalk that S.O.B. and take him out." President Votruba said at the time, "The irresponsibility of these remarks is indefensible.'' Dr. Hewan apologized.

But he's still teaching four classes of International Politics and Political Science each semester, with 25 to 45 students in each class.

"There's no question he's a figure who draws stronger reactions on both sides of the spectrum,'' said NKU Provost Rogers Redding.

NKU officials have drawers of letters about Dr. Hewan. NKU collects student evaluations of professors as a management tool, but students never see the results.

The professors' grades should be made public so students can steer clear of the Frankenfaculty - or sign up, if that's their choice. Dr. Hewan does have admirers.

All universities should try harder to weed out incompetents and frauds who bully students with their personal political rants. President Votruba urged students to take complaints to the department chair. "Say, `I don't like this,' and if others feel the same way, take them too,'' he said.

Dr. Redding said enough complaints can lead to discipline and removal, even for tenured professors like Dr. Hewan.

Steve Fritsch has voiced his complaint: "The amount of college tuition is already high enough without having to put up with these kinds of professors and the rhetoric they base their class on.''

He's outspoken, too.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

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