In the Dec. 18 op-ed, professor Ernie Yanarella trots out the standard liberal criticisms of the Koch family and implies that their money will somehow provide them with control over the academic freedom of the college.
As with most liberal critics of conservative benefactors, he conveniently ignores the fact that there is a coterie of limousine-liberal money men who ensure that Yanrella’s pet positions are funded, lobbied and exhorted.
Further, he ignores the fact that it is, by and large, liberal academics who stifle free speech on campus, not the minority conservative members of his profession.
Now for the real hypocritical element of his position: Yanarella served on an audit committee of the University Senate that investigated the funding of UK’s Confucius Institute.
According to a Dec. 16 Herald-Leader article, Yanarella’s committee found “appropriate balance” between the Chinese government’s desire to create a positive image for itself and its official policy of suppressing discussion of controversial subjects, such as the status of Taiwan, Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama and the 1989 Tianamen Square demonstrations.
Beijing has warned its domestic university professors to shun topics including freedom of speech, universal values, judicial independence and the mistakes of the Communist Party.
For those who seem to believe in the benign nature of the Chinese Communist government, here are some more facts about Confucius Institutes around the world:
In Beijing the Confucius network reports to a council headed by Vice Premier Liu Yandong — appropriately enough, a former leader of the United Front Work Department responsible for keeping China’s nominally independent organizations loyal to the ruling Communist Party.
In 2010, the head of Canada’s intelligence agency, Richard Fadden reported that Confucius Institutes are “managed by people operating out of (China’s) embassy or consulates.”
In 2014, The Canadian Association for University Teachers called on all schools to cut Confucius ties.
Also in 2014, the American Association of University Professors published a report blasting the Confucius Institute model as a partnership “that sacrificed the integrity of the (host) university and its academic staff.”
In 2009, North Carolina State University was pressured by the director of its CI to rescind an invitation to the Dalai Lama.
At the opening of a display of Tibetan photography at the University of Maryland’s CI in 2009, a Chinese diplomat publicly condemned the Dalai Lama.
In 2012 Confucius Institute instructor Sonia Zhao charged that Canada’s McMaster College was “giving legitimization to discrimination” because her contract barred her from identifying with Falun Gong, a spiritual movement criminalized and persecuted by Beijing since 1999.
McMaster agreed and refused to renew its Confucius contract. American universities such as the University of Chicago and Pennslyvania State University have also voiced their concern about CIs by kicking them off campus in 2014.
When I studied political science at UK in the 1960s, my education was enhanced through exposure to many and varied political and economic systems.
The more I read of Yanarella’s involvement in UK administration and Democratic politics, the more I question whether today’s political science students are receiving anything but progressivism in the classroom.
David L. Patton of Lexington is a retired U.S. Army colonel.
At issue: Dec. 18 commentary by Ernie Yanarella, “UK must ensure that no political strings attached”