Sunday, September 14, 2003

A left thumb in the eye for Miami U.



Peter Bronson

"Workers of the world unite - you have nothing to lose but your $15,000 speaking fee."

That's not exactly what Karl Marx had in mind for his proletariat paradise. But that's the message from Barbara Ehrenreich, an author who writes left-handed and talks out of both sides of her mouth.

She's the writer who kicked the Cincinnati Woman's Club in the shins this year and caved in to a bogus boycott. But never mind. Miami University still invited her to greet the freshman class on Aug. 25, for a fee of $15,000. Her thank-you was a thumb in Miami's eye.

After a speech that one campus official said "turned many people off," she urged 4,000 students to ditch the program and join her pro-union march against Miami.

Ehrenreich is a left-left-lefty who has been described as a Marxist, socialist atheist. In her columns in The Progressive, she occupies that bizarre mental nation that borders on Michael Mooreland and Martin Sheenistan.

She sneers at "well-fed suits," but her speaking contract included a non-disclosure clause to hide her fat fee from the worker bees who paid it.

In her latest book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, she calls Jesus "a wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist."

So, of course, that was the book and she was the speaker chosen to greet all the freshmen at Miami. A committee dominated by faculty and administrators agreed to pay her $15,000, plus another $600 in expenses. Half came from student fees. And many students were not pleased.

Bill Gracie, dean of interdisciplinary studies and chairman of the selection committee, said "many students were not persuaded by her approach." So, he said, the faculty was obligated to defend Ehrenreich's far-left ideology.

Are we getting the message yet? Before they arrived on campus, the freshmen were required to read Ehrenreich's book that pushes a socialist "living wage." Then at their first big college event, she delivered the purple Kool-Aid sermon, and faculty members said amen.

No conservative viewpoint was presented. Recent book/speaker choices have included an anti-death-penalty book, Dead Man Walking, also from the left. But no conservative authors have made the list.

Gracie cited one book that was more moderate by comparison (Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez). But he said faculty members complained that it was too conservative.

This year, the campus Republicans protested Ehrenreich's speech with fliers that said "Capitalism Works." They pointed out that the "living wage" advocated by Miami unions and Ehrenreich would force steep tuition hikes or layoffs.

"You will find many professors agree with Ehrenreich," the flier accurately predicted. "What the program really amounts to is indoctrination."

Miami President James Garland memoed a warning that the book would be controversial. But it's important to foster free expression and debate, he said.

I'm in favor of that. But how about some balance?

And isn't this is the same faculty and administration that did nothing to defend a student columnist who was fired by the student paper for his conservative opinions?

Gracie said the point is to get students to think.

They're thinking, all right. They're thinking there is no balance at Miami - lean left, or you're left out.

E-mail pbronson@enquirer.com or call 768-8301.




TOP STORIES
Truth set him free; freedom broke his heart
Cardiac programs multiply
Corvette hits Talawanda bus
1 killed, 9 hurt at biker benefit
'Man who started it' has hope
From first to latest, planes awe crowd

IN THE TRISTATE
Lincoln Hts. students to lead Pledge
Lewis and Clark re-enactors heading to Ohio River sites
Blue Ash resets priorities
Park makes room for dogs
Hispanic Festival marks 10th year
Krohn's all abloom as conservatory reopens
Regional report

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: A left thumb in the eye for Miami U.
Pulfer: Mary Ivers and the Miracle on Fourth Street
Crowley: GOP's 'scandal' can't compete with Patton's
Faith Matters: Hindu festival celebrates culture, welcomes all
Howard: Good Things Happening

BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Lego League links kids to engineering
Science center is hands-on
Loveland shopping corridor planned
Pepper gun wins converts at mall

OBITUARIES
Robert K. Mister gave to others
Rhonda Blalark-Haugabrook was 44
Kentucky obituaries

OHIO
Phony 'students' arrested
Police save cuffed man from fire
Towns battle police turnover
Warden demoted; 'judgment' cited
Blacksmith's shop getting its glow back
Can company improve power grid?
Ohio Moments

KENTUCKY
Attorney accused of fake claim vs. client
Ky. Dems promised national party help
Uneducated preacher era fades in Appalachia
Football league treasurer accused of misuse of funds