July 8th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: No quick fix for suffering Aboriginal communities

EDITORIAL: Quarantine subverted by free trade agenda

QUARANTINE: Senate blasts AQIS over citrus canker outbreak

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: WA's Liberal Opposition shoots itself in the foot

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Where did all the culture go? / Don't cry for me, Nigeria / Water on the brain

THE WORLD: Has the United Nations any future?

BIOETHICS: Should lesbians be allowed artificial insemination?

THINKERS: Thoroughly modern Mill - John Stuart Mill

IRAN: Can the West tame Iran's nuclear ambitions?

MEDIA: Propaganda masquerading as news

Something rotten in academia (letter)

Muslims who reject extremism (letter)

Under the influence? (letter)

WONDER WOMAN: The myth of 'having it all', by Virginia Haussegger

Books promotion page

Something rotten in academia (letter)

by Doug Brown

News Weekly, July 8, 2006

John Miller rightly praises Ion Pacepa's Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief (News Weekly, June 24, 2006), a book about the former Ceausescu communist regime in Romania.

I bought the book several years ago (the 1989 edition) and read it carefully, twice. The book rings eyewitness-true on every page, as well it might, being the memoirs of someone who was once at the heart of that evil regime.

I am currently undertaking a postgraduate history degree at Macquarie University, NSW. In 2004, I submitted an essay for one of the subjects for that degree and quoted from, among other books, Pacepa's Red Horizons, Jung Chang's Wild Swans (on Mao's China) and Martin Meredith's Our Votes; Our Guns (on Mugabe's Zimbabwe). My essay was about food-shortages and famine.

The academic marking my essay commented: "You hang out your ideological colours for all to see. Perhaps at some stage you could be more self-reflective in your writing, or at least give an appraisal of the sources you have used."

I take some pride in writing clearly. Writing clearly means that a reader can quickly understand one's point of view.

I have, however, a different point of view from the predominantly left-wing view at the Department of Modern History at Macquarie University. I am not afraid to show my point of view in my essays, backed by quotations from relevant sources, preferably eyewitness sources.

But, for my efforts, I have received many negative comments and, presumably, have also received lower marks than I may have received if I had simply regurgitated the views of the markers.

I fully agree with Miller's comment that "something is rotten in Western academia".

Doug Brown,
Turramurra, NSW

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