Pointless attention to the NAS

AddThis

All the recent attention devoted to The National Association of Scholars’ report is pointless. The report denounces what it defines as an overemphasis on race, class and gender at UT and A&M American history classes. The organization has a clear agenda, stated on its own website, which invalidates any impartiality the NAS researchers could claim. 

Although a genuine debate could be had about some of these concerns, others stand out as ridiculous on their face. “Western civilization,” listed, among others, as “troubling” on the NAS website, is still very much studied at our university, quite often at the expense of every other civilization. Black and Hispanic students are still greatly underrepresented in the student population compared to the population of the state of Texas (per a story in this newspaper). In my four years at this university, I have never had a class or professor that espoused “anti-capitalist,” “anti-democratic” or “anti-freedom” (whatever that means) viewpoints, also considered troubling. And I suppose the NAS and I will just have to agree to disagree about their assumption that multiculturalism, diversity, and sustainability are bad things.

The NAS was looking for “overemphasis on race, gender, class, [and] sexual orientation” in classes when they began their study, and the fact that they supposedly found it should only lead us to question their motives and methodology, not our own professors. 

More than that, I would challenge the assumption that drove their study in the first place. There cannot be an “overemphasis” on race, class, gender and sexual orientation when it comes to U.S. history, because those four subjects are key to understanding it. For the majority of our country’s history, African Americans were enslaved or violently discriminated against. Race and slavery were the defining issues of one of the most violent wars our country has ever fought. Class was an important factor in the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Progressive movement, the New Deal  and U.S. labor history, among many other important historical events and movements. Given that they comprise half the country’s population, American women cannot be ignored when discussing U.S. history. And apparently the president himself considers sexual orientation to be important enough in our history to mention the Stonewall Riots, a defining moment for our country’s LGBT community, in his inauguration speech. To ignore these subjects is to ignore the reality of American history. 

— Sam Naik
Latin American Studies, government and Liberal Arts Honors senior