first casualty of David Horowitz's effort to impose ideological
"diversity" on American campuses has been the truth. Horowitz initially
supported his proposal for an Academic Bill of Rights
(ABOR) with "independent" studies pointing to a vast predominance
of "leftists" on American campuses. As I pointed out last September, neither
of the studies in question seems to be independent of Horowitz's
for the Study of Popular Culture. (Nor does the help of the
mendacious Frank Luntz serve as any guarantee of credibility.)
In a subsequent exchange with me, Horowitz
underwent breathtaking contortions in an effort to back out of bogus
claims he had made in support of his ABOR campaign. For instance,
in order to deny that he had repeatedly called for the institution
of ideological "balance" on American campuses, Horowitz disclaimed
all responsibility for a letter written
in the first person, bearing his name and a photograph of his signature,
and published in his own FrontPage Magazine. I responded with a
reflection on "Academic vs. Horowitzian
the clear widening of his credibility gap, Horowitz has continued
to propagate lies about the academy and the ABOR. Just last week,
in an article posted
on his Students for Academic Freedom website without comment, Horowitz
is quoted as saying that university professors are a privileged
elite who work between six to nine hours a week, eight months a
year for an annual salary of about $150,000. As anyone with even
a passing knowledge of actual university life would know, this is
a 'fact' that even Frank Luntz would have trouble substantiating.
consider a second claim in greater depth. In "A Campaign
of Lies" (a recent fulmination against the AAUP and the Council on Arab-Islamic
Relations) Horowitz states that
I drafted the Academic Bill of Rights -- and before I published
it -- I took pains to vet the text with three leftwing academics
-- Stanley Fish, Todd Gitlin and Michael Berube -- and with
Eugene Volokh, a libertarian law professor at UCLA, who is one
of the nation's leading experts on First Amendment law. Anything
in the original draft of the Academic Bill of Rights that so
much as irritated these gentlemen I removed.
case for a solid academic fan base is audacious even by Horowitzian
standards. Could it be true that four genuine intellectuals -- leading
American scholars with nuanced and varied political views -- are
actually in favor of the ABOR's radical diversity agenda? To get
to the truth of the matter, I sent all four professors Horowitz's
claim, and simply asked whether they were indeed satisfied with
the ABOR as it stands. All four graciously replied. While Volokh
declined to comment on his advice to Horowitz, Fish, Gitlin and
Bérubé provided me with detailed responses.
Fish -- an authority in both rhetoric and legal studies, famous
for his contention that politics and academics don't mix -- responded
by directing me to his year-old essay "Intellectual Diversity,"
noting that it displays "the extent of both my agreement and disagreement"
with the final ABOR. In this essay Fish tries to give Horowitz the
benefit of the doubt, yet he determines that the ABOR's plea for
"intellectual diversity" is "the Trojan horse of a dark design."
According to Fish, "it is precisely because the pursuit of truth
is the cardinal value of the academy that the value (if it is one)
of intellectual diversity should be rejected." Pointing to the dangers
of two recent calls for "intellectual diversity," Fish concludes
are not examples of a good idea taken too far, but of a bad
idea taken in the only direction -- a political direction --
it is capable of going. As a genuine academic value, intellectual
diversity is a nonstarter. As an imposed imperative, it is a
responses from Todd Gitlin and Michael Bérubé are
reprinted below. I leave it to the reader to determine whether the
members of Horowitz's supposed support group are indeed behind the
ABOR, and to consider the source of the real "campaign of lies"
surrounding the bill.
Stanford University, Department of Art & Art History
CA-AAUP VP for Private Colleges and Universities
Todd Gitlin and Michael Bérubé respond to
David Horowitz's claim that that he removed "anything in the original
draft of the Academic Bill of Rights that so much as irritated [them]."
an e-mail to Graham Larkin, dated February 15 2005)
In September 2003, David Horowitz sent me a draft of his Academic
Bill. I objected explicitly to a provision that would have required
the taping of hiring and tenure meetings for faculty, for scrutiny
by university boards and others. We went around about the dangers
of such surveillance and in the end he said he would remove that
provision. To say that he removed "anything....that so much irritated"
this particular gentleman, however, would be excessive. In fact,
we did not correspond about the concept that state legislatures
or other trans-university bodies should sit in executive or quasi-judiciary
authority over faculty bodies charged with defending the academic
freedom of students and faculty. I did, and do, object to interventions
by such higher authorities, as is envisioned in his current campaigns
directed at state legislatures. But the issue didn't come up in
our correspondence. So far as I understood matters then, it was
Horowitz's intention to campaign for university resolutions, not
By the way, you might be interested in a
piece I have on the current Academic Bill campaign forthcoming
in the March/April issue of Mother Jones.
an e-mail to Graham Larkin, dated February 15 2005)
David that the taping of hiring and tenure meetings was at once
intrusive and counterproductive -- that is, it would have the effect
of making sure that no one said an honest word in those meetings,
and conducting the real business of hiring/tenure committees in
bars and bathrooms instead. Then David suggested that every candidate
rejected for a job should be informed of the basis for the decision
in writing, and I replied that David clearly hadn't been serving
on any hiring committees recently -- otherwise he'd know how impossible
it is to send personalized rejection letters to 500 or 1000 job
applicants. So yes, David abandoned those two suggestions.
But it's more than a stretch for David to suggest now that I endorsed
the final ABOR. In fact, I rather pointedly declined to sign it,
as David asked me to, precisely because it would lead to all manner
of absurd conclusions, under the seemingly benign banner of "diversity."
We should ask David if he really wants, for example, the al-Qaeda
perspective on the Middle East more widely taught in American universities,
because right now it is severely underrepresented. Brian Leiter
it best, I think:
real difficulty, of course, is that if you create rights, you
also have to have remedies. And at some point even the genuinely
dumb conservatives will notice that the Horowitz proposal will
create causes of action for Marxist economists who can't be
hired by economics departments, for postmodernists who can't
get hired by philosophy departments, and on and on. And what
is to stop Intelligent Design creationists from suing biology
departments that won't hire them? Or alchemists from suing Chemistry
departments? You get the idea.
of course, I object to "diversity" in academic departments and subjects
being mandated by state legislators. Note that Ohio's bill,
introduced by State Senator Larry Mumper, prohibits instructors
from "persistently" discussing controversial subjects. His examples
of controversial subjects? "Religion and politics." So that's what
Republican state senators want in Ohio -- universities devoted solely
to sports and weather.
24 Update: I
have added the link to Gitlin's Mother Jones article to the last
line of his response.
to Larkin-Horowitz Exchange
join the fight against the
Academic Bill of Rights, get
the AAUP, tireless defenders of
academic freedom since 1915.