To the Editor,
What I find most troubling about the NAS report is not the veiled racism and homophobia of its suggestion that “critical thinking” can be learned better from the study of Plato than from the study of how heterosexual whiteness maintains hegemony in much (though not all) of everyday public discourse. Nor is it the fact that this purported "full-fledged ethnography" lacks any clear methodology and appears not to have involved the element of participation—“hanging out,” you might say—that I take to be fundamental to the trustworthiness of any ethnographic work.
Indeed, had the author actually visited my own freshman seminar on queer theory, he might have found that the social constructedness of gender was very much up for debate!
Rather, it is the simple fact that its core argument against Bowdoin's liberal bias seems to imply that 'true' critical education would need to give equal time and attention to all ideas—no matter how anachronistic, morally baseless, or already entrenched as normative. Such a vision precludes the possibility of transgressive or progressive thinking—but then again, I suppose that's the point! Nonetheless, I hope Bowdoin enjoys the opportunity for dialogue and reflection.
Willy Oppenheim ’09