The news that former federal education minister Simon Birmingham vetoed several humanities research projects submitted to the Australian Research Council last year has sparked a flurry of protests by the academic Left.
The real cause of the offence and outrage is because these academics have been outed to the public.
Academics employed in humanities departments have cried that this was a case of unwarranted political interference that posed a serious threat to academic freedom. However, this has nothing to do with political interference by a politician or academic freedom, as they claim.
Taxpayers have been given a glimpse of just how their money is being misspent, and just how far the humanities departments have strayed from their original purpose.
Birmingham’s veto of several humanities research projects should be met with thanks by hardworking taxpayers. His decision to scrap a total of 11 proposals submitted to the ARC last year has not only saved taxpayers $4 million but also has helped to expose what is going on in our universities.
His commonsense vetoing revealed just how corrupted the various humanities disciplines have become. It is fine for academics to research whatever they want, but not at our expense.
Birmingham simply was using his common sense and doing what his position required of him. This is not a parody — some of the projects he decided to scrap were entitled “Beauty and ugliness as persuasive tools in changing China’s gender norms”, “Post-orientalist arts in the Strait of Gibraltar” and “Writing the struggle for Sioux and US modernity”.
These research projects are a complete and utter waste of time and money, bad scholarship and bogus education. The only error of judgment in what was an excellent decision was to keep his decision quiet rather than publicising the rot in the humanities departments.
It turns out that Birmingham was just doing his job. He was not, as opposition innovation, industry, science and research spokesman Kim Carr put it, “pandering to knuckle-dragging right-wing philistines”.
An examination of the application process for funding as explained in an infographic on the ARC website entitled “I have applied for a grant from the ARC. What happens to my application?” shows the last two stages involved:
● Recommendations to the minister in which the minister for education determines proposals for funding and the budget for each proposal.
● The minister for education and training determines proposals for funding and the budget for each proposal.
It is a pity that in his time in office Birmingham did not choose to veto yet more risible projects, such as “A history of women as consumers” using “Filipino elite and migrant women between 1902-2010”, and “Modern women and poetry of complaint, 1540-1660”.
From the Renaissance until the 1960s, the humanities, derived from the expression studia humanitatis, or the study of humanity, made it their purpose to make sense of and understand the world through the Western tradition of art, culture and philosophy. There appeared in the 70s and 80s, however, a range of “new humanities” subjects that completely rejected this tradition and that are underpinned by a range of radical post-structuralism and postmodernist theories.
This is just the latest case that exposes the corruption of humanities departments by an academe that is obsessed with radical identity politics. Most notably, three academics in the US pulled off a highly successful grievance studies hoax by having several fake papers accepted by respectable and referred journals.
They discovered in the process that in making absurd and horrible ideas fashionable, they managed to have them accepted.
One paper proposed that dog parks were “rape-condoning spaces”. Another, published in a gender studies journal, was a reworking of part of Mein Kampf, entitled “Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as An Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism”.
One of the most wicked examples is a paper presently waiting for revisions and that espouses the chaining of privileged students to the classroom floor. If it weren’t so profoundly disturbing, it would be laughable.
In their journey of enlightenment and discovery, the hoax’s authors also showed there was a religious element to this entire business.
Certainly, the response in Australia has been one of intense moral outrage, horrified that an outsider or nonbeliever, a mere politician at that, has dared to venture into the sacred and unknowable world of the humanities. The main tenets of this new cult of identity politics are that privilege is sin, whiteness is bad and Western civilisation is responsible for all evils in the world, past, present and future.
This religious fervour was displayed on Monday night at the University of Sydney when a group of academics gathered to argue against the introduction of a Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation course on the grounds that the centre, and thus by default Western civilisation, was “structurally, institutionally, morally and epistemically violent to other knowledges”.
The fact this is the pervading orthodoxy in academe is even more of a reason as to why we need a bachelor of arts in Western civilisation.