Bill Mullen’s Tired Tirade Against Mitch Daniels

Professor Bill Mullen has written multiple articles trashing the president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels—thereby harming the school’s reputation and promoting bias in education.

Bill Mullen vs. Mitch Daniels

I recently came across a scathing article by Tithi Bhattacharya and Bill Mullen against Purdue University president, Mitch Daniels. After doing a bit of research I found that this was just the beginning of what appears to be the professors’ personal vendetta against President Daniels.

The first article that attacks President Daniels, called “A Union-hater goes to Purdue” was published in June 2012 on a website called SocialistWorker.org. It was written in response to the appointment of Governor Mitch Daniels to his current post at Purdue. The article dissects all of Daniels’ perceived shortcomings, attacks his political views, and claims that he was appointed president by sole virtue of his corporate ties.

But the crux of Bhattacharya and Mullen’s smear campaign is that President Daniels is a Republican, and therefore not fit to be a university administrator. While disagreeing over political views is legitimate, there is something very off-putting about a professor who declares in multiple articles that his university president “hates people and history”, Professor Mullen’s exact words. It’s inflammatory, rude, and unprofessional. It goes beyond ideological disagreement, veering into the territory of personal attack.

Mullen also betrays his own paranoia with the following quote, which is taken from the article: “Daniels’ appointment as president of Purdue was a right-wing coup in a national campaign by conservatives to gut public education, privatize learning and return radical conservative thought to the center of academic culture.”

Bill Mullen and Tithi Bhattacharya: Leftist, Yet Not Liberal

In fact, it’s a testament to this university’s great tolerance and liberality that a professor can continue a smear campaign like this for years without repercussion. Looks like President Daniels—and Purdue University by extension—isn’t quite the McCarthyite that Mullen claims him to be.

One of the things students expect to encounter in a liberal arts school is exposure to a wide variety of opinions and types of individuals. There should be liberal and conservatives, both in the faculty and the student body. If Professor Mullen is really so concerned about protecting democracy and free thought, why is he incredibly disrespectful towards people whose views differ from his own?

A true liberal sees individual political differences as an integral part of the democratic system, not as a threat to it. A true liberal thrives off of an intellectual back and forth with people he or she disagrees with. These professors are simply not true liberals—they are ideologues pushing a narrow agenda.

The Consequences of Professor Mullen’s Reckless Words

Professors have an obligation to maintain our university’s good image, an image that has been earned through excellence. This doesn’t mean sweeping things under the rug, but it does mean that professors with political influence need to choose their words carefully in public. Concerns about the university president should be discussed with the administration. But making my school look bad to outsiders and misrepresenting it in the media is inappropriate and ultimately harmful. It makes everyone look bad, not least of all Bill Mullen and Tithi Bhattacharya, who are biting the hand that feeds them.

If they are so worried about privilege, why don’t they look in the mirror first? What could be more privileged than a tenured professor getting off on recklessly bashing the president of his university, knowing that the administration will willingly turn a blind eye to his provocative statements (“Mitch Daniels hates people and history”). It’s very easy to preach revolution and rebellion when your cushy position is guaranteed.

Another issue is that these two professors seemingly feel no responsibility to present a balanced view to their students, many of whom are new to cultural studies, identity politics, and so on. Academic freedom doesn’t just mean the freedom to present Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States – no matter how great a book it may be. It also means presenting alternative points of views. Marxist, neocon, feminist, post-Structuralist, Republican, or Democrat—there are many legitimate perspectives and all should be studied. What’s not legitimate is teaching a highly biased, one-sided curriculum—and continuously bad-mouthing anyone whose views differ from your own.

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