A few years back, I was a disgruntled conservative student at New York Universitythat institution of higher learning (ahem) located in the heart of Greenwich Village, where at least one giant water-jug-turned-makeshift-bongo-drum seems to be beating at all times in protest of Big Bad Bush Administration or Big Oil or Big Whatever. Thousands of tuition dollars bought me paeans to Cubas kick-ass health-care system and ceaseless isnt-Bush-dumb jokes from TAs and professors who arrived to class every morning with the days New York Times poking out of their chichi 5th Avenue shoulder bags. After reading David Horowitzs incendiary new book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, I now realize I had it easy!
For example, I never had as a prof an unrepentant domestic terrorist who regretted that he didnt do enough bombing during his youth and, ruminating on whether hed use bombs against the U.S. in the future, concluded he couldnt imagine entirely dismissing the possibility. But students of early childhood education at the University of Illinois-Chicago can call Weathermen founder Bill Ayers Teach.
I never had a professor who told whites that they could help the black cause by dying, asserted that Jews knew of the 9/11 attacks in advance, and declared that they, along with white people, are gonorrhea in costume. Heres looking at you, Professor Amiri Baraka of Rutgers University. Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) was also the Poet Laureate of New Jersey in 2002, until media coverage of his loopy rants led to his ouster.
And no professor of mine (so far as I know) raised funds for the terrorist Palestine Islamic Jihad or was caught on tape uttering, Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn them and their allies until death. But thats the rap on the University of South Floridas Sami al-Arian, currently suspended with pay as his legal battles with the feds continue. No word on whether such sentiments made it into his engineering lectures.
The Professors profiles scores of unrepentant Marxists, terrorist-sympathizers (the number of profs expressing utter hatred for the US and Israel is astounding), and the just plain nutty working in todays American academe. Horowitzs detractors will doubtless cry McCarthyism and dismiss the book as establishing a new blacklist, but such accusations ring hollow. Horowitzs 101 profiles remain mostly free of editorializing. Instead, the author lets the professors do the talking, and they proceed to condemn themselves with their own words, actions, and dubious scholarship. The hostility to the free society, venomous racismits open season on whites and Jews, apparentlyand total disregard for objectivity of these far-left-wing ideologues add up to a travesty of the idea of higher education.
These academicswhose radicalism is widespread in todays universityare dangerous not because they hold such beliefs, Horowitz argues, but because they replace scholarship and the transmission of knowledge with classroom activism and the ideological subjugation of paying students. Ah, the Lefts response will go: Horowitz wouldnt be complaining if the classroom politics came from the right. Hes a hypocrite. But Horowitz is clear: everyone has a perspective and therefore a bias. Academics, however, have an obligation not to impose their biases on students as though they were scientific facts. Academes left-wing establishmentwhich first conquered its turf during the sixties countercultural movementis so sure of its intellectual supremacy over conservative dolts and their military-industrial-complex buddies in the White House and corporate America, that it believes its obligated to spread the left-wing gospel to unsuspecting students. They need to save the world from the war-mongering criminal class running the country, after all!
Stories of indoctrination run through the book, from the education instructor who required her students to screen Fahrenheit 9/11 a week before the 2004 presidential election, to the criminology professor whose final exam asked students to Make the case that George Bush is a war criminal. (The prof later claimed the request was to Make the argument that the military action of the U.S. attacking Iraq was criminal, but he had conveniently destroyed all his copies of the original exam.) Once again, the academics own words do the loudest talking. Saint Xavier Universitys Peter Kirstein: Teaching is . . . NOT a dispassionate, neutral pursuit of the truth. It is advocacy and interpretation.
Even more troubling, Horowitz notes, more than 90 percent of the professors profiled in this text have attained tenured rank, an indication that their academic work is approved by their peers both within their department and university and nationally. Tenured radicals hire only tenured radicals and keep the activist ball rolling. Two of the most disturbing trends in modern academe, Horowitz believes, are the promoting of many radical professors far beyond their level of academic achievement and letting them teach subjects outside [their] professional qualifications and expertise for the purpose of political propaganda. The disinterested pursuit of knowledge has suffered.
Faux-intellectual academic fields like Peace Studies are now the latest fad gobbling up university capital. Basically, theyre advocacy platforms for college credit. Why, if the Joneses want to spend $40,000 for Bobby to study Marxist Perspectives on Fema-Chicana Lit, by all means, let them, some might respond. Yet as The Professors warns, the craziness has inexorably spread to fields that once held sacrosanct the pursuit of objective knowledge. Members of Horowitzs 101 teach economics, history, and English Literature, among other standard subjects.
Many of The Professors profiles offer outrages matching those of Ward Churchill, the infamous 9/11-victims-were-Nazis prof. The lunacy that was Professor Churchill, its worth remembering, enjoyed adoration for decades within academe until the public caught on. It may be wishful thinking, but if Horowitzs book reaches enough hands, there could be some long-overdue collegiate shake-ups this year.