“Never underestimate the power of ideas. Philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor’s study could destroy a civilization” – Heinrich Heine
Among the manifestations of contemporary anti-Semitism are its ubiquitous nature, and its emergence in some of the least expected places. One might expect it, perhaps, in a working-class bar where uneducated patrons might utter racial stereotypes. However, today’s anti-Semitism has received its most pernicious endorsement in academia, where professors give anti-Semitism an insidious, but powerful intel- lectual veneer, which has made it tolerated in higher echelons of polite society.
The etiology of all of this is innocent enough. After the Soviet Union launched “Sputnik” into orbit on Oct. 4, 1957, Americans began to feel that the Soviets were providing their children with a superior education, and our students were woefully unable to compete with the Soviet threat in the fields of math, science, foreign languages and cultures. Congress responded by passing the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) on Sept. 2, 1958. The act’s major intention was to create graduates who would best serve the national defense interests of the United States.
Part of the original legislative purpose of the NDEA, which later became folded into Title VI of the Higher Education Act, was to give students fluency in area studies, such as Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern Studies, and languages so that we could compete with the Soviet threat. Taxpayer funds were allocated to universities to establish departments in these fields.
Article continues on page 7 of inFocus Spring 2020. Read the full published article here.
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