CU Denver’s Political Science Department Defends anti-white “American Political Thought” class

Following national controversy and outrage, CU Denver’s PoliSci department chooses ‘wokeness’ over integrity.

Ahnaf Kalam
Sep 12 · 12 min read
image via: amdarchitects.com

In March 2019, I wrote an article for The College Fix which was critical of a course offered in the University of Colorado, Denver’s political science department: “American Political Thought” — a course which, to the disappointment of many students, is only so in name.

What most people might expect to cover in such a class especially given that it is an introductory political theory class as well as a pre-requisite for the department’s Constitutional Law course, might include the US Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, etc. Right? No. None of that. Nothing pertaining to the founding fathers (or any American president for that matter). Why? Because they’re white. This was explicitly stated by the professor on the first day of the course and reflected in the syllabus, prompting me to drop it immediately.

Without hyperbole or exaggeration, the epidemic of ‘wokeness’ that has commandeered the direction of the social sciences and humanities has quite literally made the professor, Dr. Chad Shomura, deliberately exclude the contributions of people belonging to one particular race, by virtue of belonging to that particular race — in the name of “anti-racism.” Not only is the irony of such a thing completely lost on him and the department, but he makes no apology about it, as an updated syllabus continues this exclusionary trend.

Indeed, there are some things that are so woefully idiotic that only an academic could have come up with them.

What then is the implication here? That only white people are able to be racist? That all white people are in fact racists? Indeed, that it’s okay to be racist against white people? Based on the circumstances of the course, all of the above seem to be demonstrably true.

At any rate, my original article accidentally blew up and attracted the attention of local and national outlets. I was invited to discuss the course on a number of different radio programs across the country, and was even supposed to appear as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s program, had it not been for the fact that the coverage of the Mueller report went long that night. Further, the story made headlines on Complete Colorado, Drudge Report, Breitbart, and a number of other outlets.

Regretfully, despite my endless clarifications and defenses of the PoliSci department and its faculty in the aforementioned radio appearances, many readers, furious about the course, took it upon themselves to send Dr. Shomura a series of hideous, racist and threatening messages.

Unfortunate? Absolutely. But what’s also unfortunate is that receiving abuse and harassment on the internet as a public individual is part and parcel of today’s world. People literally get death threats on the internet because of their musical preferences or mode of dress these days. Hardly a solid foundation upon which you can play the victim in order to shield yourself from the criticisms stemming from the consequences of your own actions and ideologies — least not ideologies you wish to sell off to pragmatic, tuition-paying students as “American Political Thought.”

In any case, after the dust had settled within the PoliSci department from the fallout of my article, the department decided to write a statement which effectively disavows me and my article, while defending Dr. Shomura’s falsely-advertised and overtly anti-white class… hilariously in the name, once again, of “anti-racism.”

The statement reads as follows:

The Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado Denver strongly condemns the racist attacks and violent threats against Dr. Shomura which occurred after the article “American Political Thought course at CU Denver removes all white men from curriculum” was published in an online publication, The College Fix, on March 22, 2019. The contents of the article were reproduced locally and nationally by other right-wing and white supremacist media outlets.

The article advanced an uninformed criticism of the reading list and syllabus for one of Dr. Shomura’s political theory courses without consideration of the learning objectives for these course readings or the racism contained in the readings that Dr. Shomura chose not to cover. The attack on Dr. Shomura was also an attack on the Political Science department as a whole. The article impugns the character and the integrity of our entire program and the degrees that we bestow. Dr. Shomura’s course, as with all department offerings, is taught with the approval and support of the department.

The University of Colorado Denver is committed to academic freedom, diversity, antiracism and civil discourse. The personal attacks and death threats against Dr. Shomura, that were incited directly by this defamatory article, are a violation of his fundamental human rights, and violated the basic principles of academic freedom for professors and for the departments in which they hold faculty appointments.

The attacks constitute another episode in a national and international campaign against educators, which is aimed at stifling public debate and curtailing academic freedom on university campuses. Individuals engaging in racist attacks, and institutions allowing them in the interest of profit or ideology, ought to be held in contempt and resisted by all persons of integrity. They put the personal safety and the intellectual freedom of all of us, at risk.

Intellectual integrity and justice require the inclusion of voices and perspectives that have been absent from or silenced in conventional academic discourse. Dr. Shomura’s course works to include those marginalized or silenced perspectives and contributes to the diversity of inquiry and analysis on our campus. For his engagement, he was recently awarded the CU Denver Rosa Parks Award for promoting diversity across the Auraria campus.

The Department of Political Science deeply values Dr. Shomura’s intellectual contributions and the important ways in which he encourages our students to see beyond the bounds of traditional paradigms of thought that reinforce dominant power structures within our society.

Now first and foremost, I’d like to address the department’s claim that my article was somehow a direct incitement to the threats and harassment that Dr. Shomura received. This is unequivocally and categorically false, and I demand an apology for such a serious charge.

There is not a single letter, word, or punctuation mark in my entire article that could even be construed as an incitement to harassment or violence. Not. One. Just because something published online offends or upsets you does not make it an incitement to violence. I hope that the department understands what a serious charge they’ve just accused me of.

But that doesn’t matter. Alas, all it takes to be shielded from the backlash against your own actions is to cry racism — even when you’re trying to shield yourself from people (rightfully) calling you a racist.

via American Political Thought 2019 Syllabus

Second, the statement claims that my “defamatory” article was a direct violation of Dr. Shomura’s “human rights.”

As if Dr. Shomura’s class weren’t a good indicator of why CU Denver’s political science department is a second-rate, currently slipping to a third-rate department, one could gather that from the department’s cluelessness as to what constitutes human rights. Here’s a likely new insight: there is no human right to not be criticized publicly.

Next off is this line:

“The article advanced an uninformed criticism of the reading list and syllabus for one of Dr. Shomura’s political theory courses without consideration of the learning objectives for these course readings or the racism contained in the readings that Dr. Shomura chose not to cover.”

Really now? What racism are we talking about? The racism in the US constitution? Or in the Federalist Papers? Or perhaps they must be talking about the racism in our universal and unalienable Bill of Rights, or in our Declaration of Independence? Are they talking about the racism of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington? Of Hamilton, Madison, and Locke? Forgive me, I must have been asleep during those bits of my education. Even granting the racism imbrued within American history, we are where we are. Qui sera, sera. Americans are Americans. The framers of our constitution were American thinkers. Get over it, and move on.

But by all means, it is completely fair game for Chad Shomura to include readings by individuals like Ta Nehisi Coates, who writes of 9/11 first responders that they are racist oppressors, and that Black Americans with conservative leanings are just “trying to act white.” Yeah, no. That isn’t racist or problematic at all. Because it’s about white people, surely?

Even more ironic and ridiculous:

Individuals engaging in racist attacks, and institutions allowing them in the interest of profit or ideology, ought to be held in contempt and resisted by all persons of integrity.

You mean the same racism that lets one of your professors deliberately remove white individuals from the curriculum just for being white? Are white people not a race? Is that not in the interest of profit or ideology? I, for one, and certainly hundreds of my readers across the country would definitely say so, and would also hold CU Denver’s PoliSci department in contempt. I would argue that racist courses like Chad’s ought to be resisted by persons of integrity. And certainly by people of average intelligence.

Imagine this: let’s pretend I were to teach a course on “Japanese Political Thought”, but removed all ethnically Japanese voices and perspectives form the curriculum by virtue of the fact that Hirohito and Shiro Ishii were oppressive Japanese leaders and because Japan was guilty of imperialism (among other heinous crimes), and instead, the “Japanese Political Thought” class looked only at oppressed voices from Manchurians, Koreans, and Filipinos. You likely wouldn’t buy it, and you’d correctly think that you’re getting ripped off and made a fool of. (Incidentally, the crimes of the Japanese in Manchuria and Nanking make the Nazis, KKK, and every other violent white supremacist group in history look like Anglican choir boys by comparison.)

via American Political Thought 2019 syllabus

That’s the disservice that CU Denver’s PoliSci department is doing to its students — they’re charging extortionate tuition costs for a course which not only doesn’t prepare them with a background in American Political Thought or constitutional law, but indeed, may yield an entire generation of students who leave that class stupider, more racially divided, and more unfit for purpose than they were when they enrolled.

This isn’t an American Political Thought class, it’s a “Fuck America” class.

In the name of being anti-racists, the department has done nothing but double down on the defense of its own internal racism.

Continuing:

The attacks constitute another episode in a national and international campaign against educators, which is aimed at stifling public debate and curtailing academic freedom on university campuses

The hypocrisy here is odious and disgusting. As a matter of fact, it isn’t concerned student journalists who feel they’re being ripped off and indoctrinated who are the ones stifling public debate and academic freedom. I have spent many years in political science classrooms as somebody who is right-of-center. And let me tell you: it is precisely the professors and the environment of social justice and ‘wokeness’ that are stifling debate and in many cases, are overly censorious.

Countless times have I, as well as all of my conservative friends and colleagues — in fact, even a few professors in the department––found ourselves constantly biting our tongues and refraining from open classroom discussions because of the hostile atmosphere cultivated against non-leftist students. Certain conversations were restricted to the setting of behind closed doors during office hours. If any students or professors don’t believe this is happening, it’s because the rest of us have been busy shutting the hell up at the risk of being branded xenophobes, racists, bigots, homophobes, sexists, transphobes, ‘Islamophobes,’ chauvinists, alt-right, white supremacists, (and for good measure, Zionist shills) etc. by our peers. Even as a brown-skinned, Bangladeshi-American ex-Muslim atheist like myself.

Where the department gets the nerve to create an environment in which one, and only one narrative is acceptable and all else heretical (those who hold such views are according to the department, in their own words, not persons of integrity) and then go and accuse a student journalist of stifling debate and endangering academic freedom is really rich. Just classic. Pot, meet kettle.

Grasping at straws to justify Shomura’s anti-white and frankly anti-American course, the department makes mention of the fact that he is the recipient of the school’s Rosa Parks Diversity Award — an achievement that can be likened to Henry Kissinger or Yasser Arafat receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. CU Denver hands out the Rosa Parks Diversity Award like candy (just as Johns Hopkins evidently hands out Ph.Ds.) And it especially helps if you are anti-white and anti-American. In the past, the award was given (multiple times) to one CU professor Cheryl Matias, who continues to teaches a course called “Problematizing Whiteness” with impunity.

via twitter: @gtm303

Within the political science department, the Rosa Parks Civil Rights award was given to one professor Glenn Morris, whose expertise is in indigenous peoples’ politics. On Dr. Morris’s Twitter account, he regularly posts and retweets his support for Leonard Peltier, who is currently in prison for murdering two FBI agents in 1975, and for the Black Panther, Herman Bell, who murdered two police officers in 1971.

via Twitter: @gtm303

Finally, the statement department parrots the NATO mantra of “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

Except that’s totally wrong. Recall back to my radio interviews on the subject, and you will find that I unendingly defended CU Denver’s Political Science department. In fact, I even defended Shomura’s silly class, simply suggesting that it should be taught as a different course with a different name. Many of my professors during my time as a student have been among the most invaluable and illuminating figures in my life, and many of them are still among my dearest friends and mentors. Most of our department is composed of brilliant, hard-working, and devoted minds which are invaluable to me and to entire generations.

But for the department to disregard my clarifications and defenses, defend Chad Shomura’s (forgive me) horseshit, la-la-land excuse for a class, and then accuse me of incitement and infringement on academic freedom, and further dismissing anybody who doesn’t fall in line with the department’s so-called “antiracist” dogmas and sacraments as not being “persons of integrity” is shameful at best, hideous at worst. Having apparently taken no notes during history class of what happens when genuine concerns and criticisms are stifled and their authors dismissed as, for example, a “basket of deplorables,” things don’t exactly end well.

If Chad Shomura’s class was but a small stain on the department, then this nonsensical statement in half-assed “solidarity” with him will be the final nail in the coffin for CU Denver PoliSci.

Nobody wants to pay thousands of dollars to be lectured about how they’re probably racists by postmodernists, social justice warriors, and historical revisionists. Nobody wants to pay tuition only to be called persons without integrity just for disagreeing with the department’s lamentable anti-white course. Nobody wants to be taught by a department demonstrating its contemptuous nature against white people, anti-Americans, and supporters of cop-killers, all the while claiming to be the defenders, arbiters, gatekeepers, and moral voices of the discourse surrounding.

Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps an attack on one should constitute an attack on the whole department. And if the department collectively decides to put identity politics, wokeness, race-baiting, and anti-Americanism before the concerns of many of its own students, dismissing them as racists and white supremacists, then no: the department is no better than it’s weakest link and deserves all that is to come. I now find myself redacting much of what I said in previous interviews and radio appearances. Not only would I not send my kids to study PoliSci at CU Denver in the future, but I would also deliberately advise those considering doing so against it until the department sorts itself out.

I hope that upon reading this, the department will revise its statement: particularly the false and very serious claim that my article somehow incited violent threats against Chad. I have no qualms and could hardly care less about the department crafting a statement disavowing me and my article, but if the claim of incitement remains on the page, along with the implicit suggestions that I or my readership are all tacitly racists, white supremacists, and non-people of integrity, who are motivated by “profit or ideology,” then I will continue to pursue action.

Ahnaf Kalam

Written by

Denver-based writer and journalist. Contributor for Areo Magazine, The College Fix, The Gazette, and more. Counter-Islamist Grid associate. twitter: @ahnafkalam

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade