In a depressing reflection of American studies at left-dominated American university campuses, Indian students will soon be learning not only about U.S. history, the Constitution, and American government but also about American transgender issues, cross-dressing, feminism, multiculturalism, and pop culture. All courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers.
The curriculum was unveiled this week in connection with the new American Corner at Isabella Thoburn College in Uttar Pradesh, India. The Corner will host a library and support two courses in American studies. American Corners in India—of which there are now six, with three more to come—seek to promote Indo–U.S. relations and help students get a better understanding of the “unique flavor of American culture,” U.S. officials told Indian television.
Advancing U.S.–India relations is an excellent idea, and so is funding American Corners at Indian universities. But has anyone at the State Department looked into what “flavor of American culture” the U.S. government is now promoting in its American studies program?
The curriculum was born from a 2009 initiative by the U.S. embassy’s public affairs department and put together during two conferences involving a number of Indian universities. The direction of the curriculum may not be surprising when you consider the American intellectual driving force behind it: Professor Shelley Fishkin is the director of the American Studies program at Stanford University and a member of the board of the Transnational American Studies Journal, a publication devoted to issues such as ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, and class.
To be fair, the two courses offered—a basic, foundational certificate course (40 hours) and an advanced diploma (80 hours)—do cover a range of traditional topics: history, political developments, economy, foreign policy, and international relations. But then you find that eight hours are devoted to “culture and popular culture,” as opposed to six hours for literature. Further perusal reveals that Indian students will be spending two hours learning about American feminism and “gender and transgender.”
There is a lot to cover in these two hours. The advanced curriculum lists as subjects:
- Sexual orientation, identity, behavior;
- Sexual identity development: “coming-out process”;
- Gender identity
- Social construct [whatever that means];
- Same-sex relationships;
- Transgender Identities;
- Drag kings and queens;
- Gender queer;
- LGBT social movements;
- Heterosexism and homophobia; and
- Violence against gay and lesbian people.
Indian students will surely be left reeling.
American studies as a discipline was long since hijacked by the radical left. This regrettable fact is common knowledge for anyone familiar with American academia. As it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding about America, the State Department should be aware of the danger of buying into a political agenda that most certainly will not advance a positive—and certainly not accurate—image of this great country in many parts of the world.
So let’s go back to the drawing board with “American Studies in India.” And this time, let’s have a diversity of academics on the planning committee.