Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reading Response -- Of Wilful Ignorance

Some people, for a variety of reasons, struggle to get a good education. Some people choose stupidity as a way of life. Such is the case of Professor Paul Derengowski.

Derengowski resigned, he says, under pressure when two of his students filed complaints about his teaching practices. Most specifically, the World Religions instructor told his class that Islam is a cult.

Now before you go screaming about the First Amendment and all that, note that the problem was not Derengowski's opinion (or his goofy understanding of what a cult is), but that he had done much more. He handpicked the most inflammatory statements from the Qur'an, deliberately offended the Muslim students in his class, and claimed ex post facto to be opening a dialogue. He calls the complaints against him "jihadist actions."

First of all, whatever you think of Islam as a religion, one must note that Derengowski's definition of cult comes from little reliable theology. It is an actually cobbled together to fit pretty much anyone who isn't his brand of Christian. Second, he avowed states he is "against Islam." He has no interest in communicating the rich and varied expression of Muslim belief systems (yes, I meant that plural). In fact, his only goal is to incite anger and violence.

I find it ironic that he is worried about two students who went through the proper channels to complain about an instructor who devalued them and did not allow anyone to fairly challenge his misinformation. He published the two names on his website in an attempt of his own to harm those who dare to question him.

Paul Derengowski claims that what he teaches in his class is in defense of Christianity and that he has a Christian perspective. "Christians," he stated in a Chanel 11 interview, "are not supposed to stand by and let that go." Let what go? Well, Mr. Derengowski, this Christian is not going to stand by and let you pretend to represent my faith with your bile and baiting bullshit.

This alleged teacher claims that he set up his blog to defend his faith. But there are a couple of problems with this. First, he is defending himself (not Christianity) against attacks, that by and large do not exist. Second, he has a right to spew his misguided message on his blog. He does not need to defend Christianity in his classroom. He is to teach. Clearly he does not know what teaching is. Being a Christian does not at all mean his perspective or point of view is Christian. And what he has done is not Christian in any sense of the word.

Mr. Derengowski has a right to his opinion, and even his twisted interpretation of the facts. He has a right to proclaim what he believes, even if he is wrong. But he has willfully chosen ignorance, and that is something that must be stood up to. Teachers and Christians need to cry out against his kind, especially in a climate where education and true religion (see James 1:27) has been demeaned and demonized.

The truth is there are Muslims who are so radical in their beliefs, so intolerant of anyone who isn't like them, that they believe they have a god-given duty to kill Christians, Americans, and other Muslims for that matter. But this is not the majority. They are the ones on television (and I keep hearing of some "liberal" bias in the media), and the ones Faux News points out. Derengowski says that a picture of a Muslim kid with a gun is "history." Not really. It is the sort of vile manipulation of images that turns on the fence Muslims against us. It does nothing to education or represent the majority of Muslims in this country.

I am honestly shocked Derengowski has not been sued for posting the names of the two students who complained against him on his website. Hasn't this joker ever heard of FERPA? This doesn't take into account the slander of said students who did not (by all reports so far) threaten him, but whom he called "terrorists." He has put them in danger, not the other way around.

And what the hell is going on with a school that allows such a person to teach in its classroom? He's been there over three years and hasn't been shown for what he is, a fraud? Tarrant County Community College should be ashamed that they either 1)did not do their due diligence in researching this man's credentials and teaching or 2) knew about him and were too weak to get rid of him until a student complained. This is a man who was put in a position of power and has attempted to use that power to push his agenda.

I have little patience with students who choose ignorance over education. These are the ones who will do no critical thinking, will read almost nothing (even about the ideas they themselves have) and will call a professor a bad teacher when they hear something they don't like (such as, "You plagiarizing your essay means you have earned a zero for the assignment." or "You have not done the assignment correctly." or "Please do some research about this topic before you make bold pronouncements of your authority on such matters.") These are the students who say things like "I don't need to do research, because I already know what I think" and "My professor is getting big kickbacks from the publisher of his textbook" and "I got a bad grade because he doesn't agree with my views." I have endure such students with difficulty because instead of coming to school with an open heart and a desire for learning, they wish to be rewarded for their candid stupidity.

And "Professor" Derengowski is just such a teacher. What he tries to do is a blight on the profession of teaching. It is no wonder that so many politicians and pundits decry advanced education and try to strip it of any power to build a stronger nation.

People like Paul Derengowski do more harm to Christianity than a hundred Madelyn Murray O'Hares and a thousand Christopher Hitchenses. To the profession of teaching, people like him do harm that too often cannot be repaired because his most ardent students eventually become twice the children of Hell he is (Matthew 23:15).

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