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Group to Fight Conservatism

CUNY Professor Seeks to Counter Attacks on Liberal Scholars

By Erick P. Chan

A sociology professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center has established a new group designed to counter recent conservative attacks on liberal scholars and organizations.

Although a similar group, Teachers for a Democratic Culture (TDC), was formed just several months ago, Stanley Aronowitz said yesterday that his association, the Union of Democratic Intellectuals, is a necessary addition to the debate.

The new organization is designed to correct what Aronowitz sees as the false idea that hypersensitive liberals are stifling free academic investigation and discourse.

Conservatives Distorted Views'

"The conservatives have distorted the views on the curriculum, media and art," Aronowitz said, adding, "Faculty and students don't have an articulate voice about large parts of American culture."

Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars, a right-wing group that opposes what it terms "political correctness," yesterday said he is not aware of the Aronowitz's new group.

"There are so many leftist intellectual organizations...it is difficult to keep track of them," Balch said.

He hypothesized, "They [the liberals] may be trying to refurbish their image--to start anew with a new organization."

Though political correctness is the issue most often associated with groups like his, Aronowitz said that PC is not the only debate at stake. "PC is merely a symptom of the greater problem of the conservatives," Aronowitz said.

Aronowitz characterized his group as a "grassroots organization" that will include journalists, artists and other scholars. Teachers for Democratic Culture, Aronowitz said, is for the most part aimed solely at academics.

He also pointed out that his organization would focus more on humanities than the TDC would.

In principle, however, the two groups are very similar, Aronowitz said. He added that he has worked closely with Gerald Graff, a founder of the Teachers for Democratic Culture.

Two Groups May Merge

"We will always cooperate with each other," said Aronowitz. He added that the two groups may eventually merge.

Although the Union of Democratic Intellectuals is currently only in the planning stages, more than 500 people from around the country have expressed an interest in it, Aronowitz said. Many of them will gather in New York later this month to discuss the precepts and ideals of the Union.

So far, there are no Harvard faculty affiliated with Aronowitz's organization, he said.

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