The News & Observer has several letters today in response to my column of over a week ago.

Jennifer Ashlock of Chapel Hill takes issue with my statement that some faculty on campus who support the Western Civ proposal are afraid to speak out:

Conservative faculty do not have their courses mocked on the Pope Center’s Web site or on other national anti-progressive sites. Conservative faculty have just about the entire culture on their side, while progressive faculty are always struggling against the tide. (Do we think that meeting twice a week for a semester can compete with television and films, known for their unprogressive content?)

Hollywood and the media ? those darn conservatives! *snicker* But Ashlock seems to miss the fact that my appeal wasn’t to “conservative faculty,” but to all faculty who support the program and aren’t speaking out. It’s telling that she assumes only conservatives would support it.

Also, hers is not the only one to suggest the greater fear on campus is actually fear of Pope Center criticism. Grad student Kimberly L. Dennis makes that point more explicitly (“the only climate of ‘fear and protest’ at UNC is that fostered by the mocking, hollow attacks leveled by the Pope Center and its supporters”).

Dennis also states that “UNC faculty are (on the whole) careful, thoughtful, intellectually rigorous professionals.” I agree ? after all, it was to them that my article appealed, to respond to the fringe group of “nay-Bobs.”

Next, Prof. Barbara J. Harris writes that many students enroll in courses that fall under the Western tradition ? a good point, that, and one that would be especially useful in arguing against those (e.g., Dennis) who say nobody would want a Western Civ program. She seems, however, to suggest that enough’s enough, and doesn’t pursue what would seem to me the logical extension ? discussing all the additional opportunities the Western Civ program would bring to those students, not to mention tying all those other courses together for the benefit of those students who’d like to say they completed a program in Western Civilization at the University of North Carolina.

Harris also takes issue with what she calls our “fiction,” and she purports to read my mind as to why I invented that “fiction” ? an argument I find completely silly (but if she can read my thoughts, she would have known that already, as well as why I find it silly, but curiously enough, she wrote it anyway).

Assoc. Prof. Karen M. Booth’s letter is quite illuminating.

They have condemned the creation of programs designed to make our education more accessible to racial and ethnic minorities (and then expressed shock, as Sanders does, that he and the Popes could be considered racist). I am sure that if UNC created a disability studies program ? something that Dickens’ Tim could have used ? Sanders, with the Popes’ blessing, would make it his immediate task to ridicule and condemn it.

I wonder if Sanders has the training necessary to determine whether a university curriculum is academically sound.

Yes, she’s right that I would ridicule a “disability studies program” ? especially one saying it was necessary, to make education more “accessible.” I would do so, however, regardless of my employment. Is Booth truly suggesting someone in a wheelchair can’t learn as well as other people because UNC-Chapel Hill lacks a disability studies program? And by extension, that women can learn as well as men only now that there’s a Women’s Studies Dept.? If so, how utterly condescending and stupid.

Booth’s “reasoning” perfectly underscores the reasoning behind all the narcissistic “disciplines” cropping up. Somehow, someone’s full access to higher education is limited if there isn’t a Me Studies department on campus. If that what the trained call “academically sound,” then I’m proud to say I lack in that indoctrination. I believe education should broaden one’s horizons, not pass out credentials for the intense perusal of one’s own navel.

I’m not shocked, however, at the “racist” slur. That’s one of the very few rejoinders left in the University-Educated Left’s Big Book of Insults.

Flotsam and jetsam: Dennis wonders how I’d respond to the idea of faculty members “offering ‘expert’ criticisms as to how [a] business might correct ‘deficits’ identified by the faculty members. My answer: They call them consultants, and oftentimes the businesses seek them out and write proposals for their work with the business.

Also, Rod Deihl of Clayton consults Webster’s for the definition of “liberal.” Keen analysis. He might be interested in my blog on that very subject from almost a year ago.