A Description of a Really Nice Sausage
Monday, January 17, 2005
  So it turns out colleges are trying to teach kids critical thinking and good English. The Washington Times put out a report on a California college professor of poly-sci flunking a Kuwaiti student's final exam. Purportedly, because it had a pro-U.S. sentiment.

Atrios includes a link to the essay and a premature justification for the professor's alleged other actions, including berating the youth and telling him to get psychological treatment.

I can't say anything about the berating, but if this is actually the young man's essay, I can conjecture he probably deserved a failing grade.

I don't know the precise assignment, nor the professor's rubric for evaluation. But typically undergraduate writing requires—or should at least aim to—a certain level of sophistication fifth-grade writing lacks.

The problem is simply the poverty of real ideas. Though the essay question references a source, the student refutes none but the most general of their points. Instead of arguing the question itself, he goes on to list later accomplishments of the United States. Instead of refuting the thesis, he makes an argument based on cultural relativity.

The thesis itself,
Dye and Zeigler contend that the constitution of the United States was not “ordained and established” by “the people” as we have so often been led to believe. They contend instead that it was written by a small educated and wealthy elite in America who representative of powerful economic and political interests. Analyze the US constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest.
probably shouldn't appear political sharp or even surprising to someone who's just been through a semester of basic political science. If the United States' foundation had been "ordained and established by the people," some institutions such as the electoral college, indirect election of senators, and dare I say it, probably even First Amendment protections might not have made it in. Athenian democracy is an example of how hordes can tyranize; American democracy originally was about protection of certain (but not all) minorities from hordes.

(Moreover, if we count as "the people" both blacks and women, then the original Constitution missed ordination by probably two-thirds of the population.)

The young man in question is claimed by the article to be 17. It's disappointing if this is true that a young man skilled enough to get into college earlier than most American college students could write so poorly.

I also find it rather jaundiced of the Times to refer to the young man in their lead paragraph as
A 17-year-old Kuwaiti student whose uncles were kidnapped and tortured by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invaders more than a decade ago
but that's their angle and they'll fuck it for all it's worth.

Just push it on the stack of Crazy Liberal Elitist Professors Brainwashing Kids to Hate America. It's getting pretty tall.
 
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