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Professors and breach of public trust

Reader comment on item: Jihad and the Professors

Submitted by Frank G. Zavisca, M.D., Ph.D. (United States), Nov 4, 2002 at 12:48

More often than not, patients trust their doctors. There is great healing power in this trust - sometimes only a few words are needed to cure some conditions. In contrast, this trust makes people vulnerable to the occasional dishonest doctor - we have all heard the horror stories.

Likewise, people trust college professors when they speak about their area of expertise. There is a public trust here, that all those years of education were not wasted - that this "expert" knows what he/she is talking about. The "doctor" again means something. In contrast, this trust can be used for spreading untruths.

Of course, words often have more than one meaning. While the older, original definition of racism included treating groups differently based on a feeling of superiority of the other race, now, the word means any discrimination, regardless of feelings of superiority.

Likewise, I believe most literate Americans know what "jihad" means - and it doesn't include defense or peace. Only someone as trusted as a college professor could get away with telling intelligent people that a word really doesn't mean what it says. Likewise again, only a State Supreme Court judge could get away with saying that "50 days does not mean 50 days", as in New Jersey this year.

I believe that these professors are doing great harm to their profession. Most thinking Americans don't believe what they are saying, yet like a broken record they believe that, by repeating these distortions enough times, people will believe it. Fortunately, most Americans also don't believe that life is better in Cuba - despite this, "intellectuals" cry out for lifting sanctions and trading with Castro; these people only make themselves laughing stocks, as do the professors that say "jihad" doesn't mean "jihad".
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