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The crowded academic space of 'Understanding Islamic Militancy'

Reader comment on item: Columbia University vs. America

Submitted by Jonathan Pfeffer (United States), Apr 2, 2003 at 10:59

What I call ‘soft academia', that is, the world of professors who really aren't solving any pressing human problem, have always had a problem separating their soft academics from politics.

Their messages always seem to follow the same pattern
1. I am not part of the establishment, although I should be.
2. I am not part of the establishment, not because I lack skill, but because I refuse to serve the establishment.
3. I am working for the downtrodden, even though it's the University that pays my wages. If the University understood how important my work was, they would understand. Until they do however, academic freedom is my creed.
4. I am driven by my brilliance and my humanity. Others, especially in the establishment are driven by self interest and greed. Academia is the people's protection from these greedy establishment types.

It seems that young professors, quickly fan out in all directions trying to find open spots in the political spectrum to carve out their own niches. Apparently, there has been a recent drive to fill in the niches surrounding the need to defend and understand the Islamic militancy. Perhaps each pro-militant professor thought he would find a virgin spot in the spectrum where his particular talents would get him lots of attention. Perhaps they were disappointed at how crowded that space ended up being after 911..

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