A favorite talking point of the political right is that “facts don’t care about your feelings.” The sentiment is often inappropriately and inaccurately applied to situations that don’t warrant it, but there are certain times where it seems to ring true. The recent outrage over a University of Wisconsin political science class syllabus is such a time.
For those who haven’t stayed up to date with the latest instance of feigned outrage and imaginary conservative victimization, allow us to fill you in.
It all began when UW political science professor Kenneth Mayer issued a syllabus for his class on the American presidency, which included a section on our current president, Donald Trump, and those who have tied themselves to him. It listed a series of uncomfortable, yet substantially true, statements about the political thorns that have afflicted Trump’s side since day one: Russian hacking, the investigation into collusion, and a corrupt inner-circle.
It expanded on how those who see Trump as “unqualified” and “unfit” often point to the staggering amount of evidence piling up against him and those closest to him — such as the U.S. intelligence agency reports that Russian agents attempted to hack the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign so as to benefit then-candidate Trump, and the indictments and arrests of several high-ranking Trump campaign officials, including his lawyer Michael Cohen.
Mayer’s choice to include this background information about our current president is not a product of his own bias — it is rather the product of an awareness that our current political moment is unlike anything we’ve seen before. For a class on the American presidency, that paragraph is necessary because it stresses just how unprecedented this all is in the grand sweep of American history.
But for Trump’s die-hard supporters, who have proven themselves to have a tenuous relationship with the truth at best and a blind hostility to it at worst, the syllabus provided an opportunity to strengthen the shameless political argument that universities merely indoctrinate us all to believe in things like climate change and other widely reported truths.
That those who took issue with the syllabus ran to, of all places, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to tell their “side” of the story should speak volumes about the truth of what’s happening here.
For starters, Tucker Carlson isn’t a journalist in the traditional sense — he doesn’t report news to inform or to give the unbiased, whole, contextual, highly nuanced truth. He’s a commentator, which means he gives his take on what’s happening in the world around us.
That’s fine and he’s allowed to do that, but to think that his ‘Campus Craziness’ segment reflects the truth behind this scenario is absurd.
He begins his segment by alleging “it’s no secret that political indoctrination is replacing teaching in many college classrooms.” Sure, let’s kick this whole thing off with a statement so wildly untrue that the rest of the segment is rendered ridiculous.
But wait, there’s more. So much more.
Between slamming his pen on the desk and furrowing his brow in a grand show of outrage, Carlson seems to suggest that Mayer’s syllabus somehow lies about the Trump Administration’s legal and political troubles as they relate to Russian collusion and the Mueller investigation. But of course, not a single lie was told — everything Mayer said is backed up by highly publicized court proceedings, public statements by high-ranking government officials, and documentation reported by every respectable outlet under the sun.
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At one point, Carlson asked the segment’s guest, UW student McKenna Collins, what the outcome would be if she asked Mayer to just “teach her what happened.” This board is left wondering whether Carlson or Collins is aware that Mayer would say exactly what his syllabus laid out — as it is, in fact, what happened.
Collins said she took the course for a “critical, objective look at the history of the presidency of the United States.” In the same breath, and without a hint of irony, she then said that Mayer spewed claims that are “unfounded and that have turned out to be largely false.”
This board is unsure of what exactly Collins is referring to, as it is true that U.S. intelligence agencies have reported that Russia is behind the election hacking, that a series of Trump insiders have been charged and convicted of a variety of crimes, and that Trump fixer Michael Cohen broke campaign finance laws and lied about efforts for a Trump Tower Moscow. And it turned out to be prophetically true that, as Mayer put it, “other shoes [were] sure to drop” — as Trump advisor Roger Stone was indicted by the Mueller investigation just this morning.
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To wrap it all up and shred his remaining credibility, Carlson concluded that “all the dumb kids end up teaching at the University of Wisconsin.” If he’s referring to Mayer, who has an MA and PhD from Yale University, that’s an embarrassing reach.
In her final words, Collins said the “political proselytizing is unbelievable.” It most certainly is, but not for the reasons she appeared on Fox News.
The truth matters, and this board takes the opinion that, considering the platform we’ve been given on this campus and in this community, we have a duty to call out lies when they’re so shamelessly advertised on national television.
So, yes — facts don’t care about your feelings. And they certainly don’t change for some poorly executed feigned outrage and a Fox News appearance.
The Editorial Board serves to represent the voice of The Badger Herald editorial department, distinct from the newsroom, and does not necessarily reflect the views of each staff member.