‘American Political Thought’ Course at CU Denver Removes All White Men from Curriculum

Ahnaf Kalam, College Fix, March 22, 2019

I can clearly recall the first day of class a few semesters ago when I eagerly began a course called “American Political Thought” at the University of Colorado, Denver.

My excitement quickly soured, however, after Professor Chad Shomura explained to the students in the room that most traditional “American Political Thought” courses are too focused on the achievements of white men.

As a consequence, he told us he had removed every single white male and their theoretical perspectives from the entire course curriculum.

This is echoed in the syllabus:

“This course aims to develop an understanding of American political life from the margins. Rather than surveying traditional figures of American political thought, it attends to historically marginalized voices at the crossings of race, gender, sexuality, and nation. It explores issues such as intersectionality, antiblack racism and the American Dream, ordinary life, borderlands and migration, public feelings, mental health, and settler colonialism. The materials we examine also exceed the usual genres of American Political Thought. They include, among other things, poems, an ethnography, academic articles, a novel, and a hacked tarot card set.”

{snip} But the class continues to be taught at CU Denver by Professor Shomura.

Making matters worse, political science majors at CU Denver are required to take two political theory courses in order to fulfill the requirements for the degree, and with very few class options to pick from, “American Political Thought” is taken by most to fulfill this requirement.

{snip}

Perhaps the most striking thing that stands out of the course syllabus is that there is absolutely zero mention of the Founding Fathers (or any other U.S. president or political leader, for that matter) or any of the Western Enlightenment thinkers. {snip}

Instead of learning about the political theories that guide American social and political life, students learn about intersectionality from the writings of Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term.

Instead of understanding the theoretical principles that allow for a functional republic, students learn about Filipino empowerment in Hawaii.

Instead of coming away understanding the influence of, say, federalism and mercantilism in the American political system, students are endlessly reminded of the alleged racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism that apparently runs rampant in American society.

And instead of reading the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, students must read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, in which the author disgustingly and shamelessly smears the 9/11 first-responders, who sacrificed their lives for their fellow countrymen, as racist oppressors: “They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.”

{snip}

Asked this week by The College Fix for a response to this critique, Dr. Shomura argued that by naming the course “American Political Thought,” he wants students to come away being able to challenge the traditional notions of what – and who – gets to dictate what actually constitutes the subject.

{snip}

But alas, as it currently stands, political science students are paying thousands of dollars expecting to learn the centuries-old foundational political theories of the country they reside in and will likely work in. To pretend that this repackaged social justice class will equip students with those necessary foundations is a deep disservice to students and to the department.

Kimberlé Crenshaw

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