Believe this

A professor at an Ivy League college (neither Dartmouth nor Harvard) told me that when he reports to older alumni on the ideological slant that more than a few of colleagues import to the classrooms, the alums simply don’t believe him. This is understandable; many of these goings-on are unbelievable.

Take this report by Jacob Benson, a freshman at Harvard College, about professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and her class called “Pursuits of Happiness: Ordinary Lives in Revolutionary America.” On the first day of class, it seems, Professor Ulrich asked students to jot down a list of things that come to mind when she said the words “American Revolution.” On the second day, she complained that her students had failed (in all but three instances) to write down the word “slavery.”

According to Benson, Ulrich then played, on two massive projector screens, the first few minutes of Barack Obama’s Philadelphia speech on race from earlier this year. After that, she led a discussion about how Obama perfectly captured and dissected the key issues of our founding, used religious images in just the right way (instead of the improper way in which founding documents are given a quasi-sacred status in the civic religion of American politics), and “invok[ed[ all the right words about the Constitution.”

Thus did a class on the American Revolution (and its “ordinary lives”) become the platform on which a professor deified Barack Obama. Alums should believe stories like this because one couldn’t make them up.

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