Dangerous Minds

By John Chandler May 19, 2009 Published in the May 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

“COLLEGIATE SEXUALITIES”; “Whiteness and Multiculturalism”; “Imperialism in American History.” Are you afraid yet? According to editorial writer Jason Rantz, you should be. Each of those classes has made it to Rantz’s top 10 list of “America’s Most Dangerous College Courses,” which he also put together in 2006 for the Family Security Matters Foundation, a conservative think tank. And this year, Portland State University adjunct professor Rick Rolf’s political science course “Truth, Lies, Politics and Policy” has earned the No. 6 spot.

Rantz admits that he didn’t attend the class, but a perusal of the syllabus left him miffed at what he considers an all too liberal reading list. The subversive tome that maddened Rantz the most? Hardball, by that well-known hippie tree-hugger on NBC: Chris Matthews.

“While this type of text would be beneficial to students if they were also exposed to books of conservative authors (such as Bill O’Reilly’s Culture Warrior), that is sadly not the case,” Rantz writes in his report.

After all, what would Matthews—a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter and spokesman for House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill—know about the inner workings of Capitol Hill policy-making? Clearly, his credentials don’t compare to those of former Portland anchorman O’Reilly.

When he learned of his course’s anointing by Rantz, Rolf was bemused rather than offended. “Matthews’s book has nothing to do with ideology, and neither does the class,” says Rolf, who in 1992 ran for the U.S. Congress as a Republican (after working for Senator Mark Hatfield, R-Oregon, for 12 years). Rather, he says, it’s a book about how successful politicians operate in Washington. And the politician who earns the most praise in Matthews’s book?

“Ronald Reagan,” Rolf says.

Perhaps there is some merit to Rantz’s criticism. After all, Reagan was a born lefty. Left-hander, that is.

Filed under