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Monday, February 20, 2006

ATTACK: Illiterate Professors

The curious can go to the blog called Cliopatria, written by historian Ralph Luker and commented on by six other historians to watch them take shots at The Professors without having read it. I will wager that not a single academic will ever actually read the argument of this book, which is contained in the three chapters that frame the 101 profiles. But this will not prevent them in the least from attacking and ridiculing the argument they have not read. And that is as revealing in itself as the examples cited in my book.

ARTICLE: Ellen Schrecker's McCarthyite Crusade by Jacob Laksin

Among the odder charges advanced by bien pensant defenders of the political homogeneity in American higher education is the claim that advocates of greater intellectual pluralism are really revivalists of Cold-War era "McCarthyism." Its leading academic exponent is Ellen Schrecker, a professor of history at Yeshiva University. But Schrecker goes further. In the current issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, she asserts that the campaign to promote academic freedom--and particularly the Academic Bill of Rights--is actually "worse than McCarthyism."
According to Schrecker, this campaign intends "to impose outside political controls over core educational functions like personnel decisions, curricula, and teaching methods," and warns that this "not only endangers the faculty autonomy that traditionally protects academic freedom, but it also threatens the integrity of American higher education." McCarthyism, she is convinced, is on the march.
Schrecker’s indictment is fantasy. "Political controls" have not been proposed nor is there a credible threat to "faculty autonomy" And far from assailing the integrity of university faculties, the campaign for academic freedom aspires to restore it, not only by reviving the unfashionable ideal of a marketplace of ideas, but also by curbing the abuses of professor-activists who see in-class political speechifying, rather than education, as their primary mission.
Why Schrecker would tendentiously equate such efforts with McCarthyism is no mystery, however. A self-described radical, Schrecker has long labored to keep the American university as a preserve of "progressive" values. That this has meant the near-total exclusion of perspectives at variance with regnant left-wing orthodoxy is a price that Schrecker, along with many of her likeminded colleagues, was all too happy to pay. Now she is determined to depict a formidable challenge to the institutional status quo as the second coming of what she regards as the single greatest injustice in American history: the political persecution of American Communists during the Cold War.
Yet Schrecker’s account of what she broadly terms "McCarthyism" has never been convincing. Her academic work is less a serious survey of the political tensions of the Cold War than an accretion of apologetics for the American Communist Party, liberally salted with denunciations of anti-Communists, who Schrecker indiscriminately labels McCarthyites. Yet what makes Senator McCarthy a symbol of evil for Schrecker is not his demagogic excess but his opposition to Communism, a point she forthrightly puts forth in her 1986 book No Ivory Tower : McCarthyism and the Universities, in which she writes that "what made McCarthy a McCarthyite was not his bluster but his anti-Communist mission…"
Full of passionate intensity against Communism’s foes--Schrecker’s 1994 work The Age of McCarthyism is devoted principally to raging against what she repeatedly calls the "anti-Communist crusade"--Schrecker has been conspicuously more reluctant to grapple with the crimes committed in the name of Communism at the behest of its Soviet sponsors. Executed spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, far from traitors to their country, were possessed of a "non-traditional patriotism," according to Schrecker, and had a "grotesquely disproportionate punishment inflicted on them." The same applies to other Communist spies, who "were internationalists whose political allegiances transcended national borders." About the worst Schrecker can bring herself to say about the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss--with respect to whose confirmed guilt she affects a dismissive agnosticism--is that they "reinforced the image of Communists as Russian spies."
By contrast, Schrecker is unsparing in her attacks on anti-Communists. Reading The Age of McCarthyism one might conclude that the ultimate tragedy of the Cold War was the defeat of the American Communist Party as a viable political force. "With their demise," Schrecker laments, "the nation lost the institutional network that had created a public space where serious alternatives to the status quo could be presented." Indeed, as she sees it, it was anti-Communism, whether espoused by political opportunists like McCarthy or anti-Communist liberals like Sidney Hook, that was "undermining" American democracy, not the Communist true-believers who eagerly betrayed their country to serve the interests of their Soviet impresarios. In keeping with that analysis, Schrecker regards the Cold War as the "most extensive episode of political repression in American history."
But while the Cold War is over, Schrecker has not revised her thesis that political repression remains a mainstay of American academic life. Professors are still being tyrannized for their politics, Schrecker insists in her latest Chronicle of Higher Education article, only today the targets of the witch-hunt are not Communists but academics who are perceived to be "radical, one-sided, and hostile to Israel and the United States." Schrecker’s proof: the 2003 dismissal of Sami Al-Arian from the University of Southern Florida.
Schrecker could have hardly picked a more telling illustration. Al-Arian, after all, is the onetime North American head of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad; he has explicitly called for the deaths of Americans and Israelis; he raised funds for terrorist organizations; and he attempted to secure a terrorist leader, Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, a spot on USF’s faculty. He is, in short, a living refutation of Schrecker’s claim that the critics of American universities are inventing biases and spotting extremism where none exist.
Such contradictions, however, have not prevented Schrecker from portraying al-Arian as a victim of political persecution, not unlike the Communist idealists who populate her books. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2002, Schrecker contended that al-Arian’s firing confirmed that "universities are going back to political correctness…It’s really political repression."
Significantly, Schrecker harbors no illusions about al-Arian’s terrorist past. She nonetheless maintains that, in dismissing him, the USF administration had committed the more execrable crime--a crime that, according to Schrecker, evidenced a larger campaign to crush political dissent on American university campuses. "Whatever the extent of al-Arian’s involvement with Palestinian jihadists, his travails, though they may ultimately lead to an American Association of University Professors censure of USF, could have been predicted," she wrote in the fall 2005 edition of the National Education Association ’s Higher Education Journal. In the same issue, Schrecker wrote disapprovingly of the Bush administration’s prohibition of funding to persons "who commit, threaten to commit or support terrorism" and complained that "[t]he government’s heightened security concerns are affecting research."
More recently, Schrecker has sought to avoid the subject of al-Arian’s terrorist activities. In her latest brief on behalf al-Arian, in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Schrecker disingenuously describes him as a "Palestinian nationalist" and reprises her claim that his dismissal from USF was "a classic violation of academic freedom: It involved his off-campus political activities." Schrecker notably declines to elaborate on the nature of those "political activities." Rather, and with characteristic mendacity, Schrecker likens al-Arian to the academics whose supposedly benign "communist sympathies" made them the targets of unforgiving McCarthyites in the 1950s. Sami al-Arian, it would seem, is the latest prophet of the "non-traditional patriotism" Schrecker so admires.
To be sure, Schrecker’s vigorous defense of academic freedom has its limits. While Schrecker has long championed the free speech rights of academics whose views roughly accord with her own professed radical politics, she has not seen it fit to extend the courtesy to other professors. As a member of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), formerly as the editor of its magazine, Academe, and presently as a member of the AAUP National Council, Schrecker stayed silent when DePaul University dispensed altogether with due-process proceedings and suspended adjunct professor Thomas Klocek for engaging a Palestinian student group in an argument. Schrecker and the AAUP similarly declined to take an interest in the case of University Colorado professor and evangelical Christian Phil Mitchell, who was fired for assigning a book on 19th century Protestantism.
Nor could Schrecker muster any sympathy for the troubles of Kansas State University professor Ron Johnson, who was fired from his post as an advisor to the school’s newspaper after administrators capitulated to campus protestors upset at the paper’s supposed inattention to "diversity issues." And while Schrecker and the AAUP ignored several prominent instances of misconduct by radical faculty at the City University of New York, the AAUP did not hesitate to pass a resolution expressing "grave concern" at the state of academic freedom when sociology professor Timothy Shortell voluntarily withdrew his bid to become the department chairman after his attack on religious believers, whom he derided as "moral retards," prompted public outrage.
In these cases and many others besides, Schrecker’s oft-voiced commitment to academic freedom was nowhere in evidence. That’s not particularly surprising. If her career is any indication, Schrecker’s notion of academic freedom mainly entails excusing the extremism of academic radicals while condemning their critics as "right-wing" censors bent on suppressing political dissent. A cynic might call that McCarthyism.
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Professor Kirstein's Complaint Revisited

One of the charges in my new book The Professors, is that leftwing academics are being promoted to positions that exceed their qualifications. Professor Peter Kirstein, who is one of the professors profiled in my book, has posted a blog response to my claim that his academic work does not justify his promotion to full professor at St. Xavier University. He specifically claims that he has several "peer-reviewed" articles to his credit and that as a non-academic I am not qualified to pass judgment on his academic credentials. Fair enough. I therefore submitted his curriculum vitae to a full professor at a major state university who has chaired tenure committees. This is his comment:
"Professor Kirstein's reference to his numerous refereed articles is unpersuasive. He does not list any on his website. The only thing approaching a scholarly piece which he does list there as having done in the past half a decade is the short piece posted 5 years ago on an unimportant internet "journal". This internet "journal" article is only about 8 pages long (I can't be more accurate than that because it came to me just as screen pages; when I printed it out, it came to 8 pages including footnotes). "In any case, Professor Kirstein evidently doesn't dispute that he has only one slender book, published 30 years ago, to his credit. And NO ONE in a history department in any school of worth gets to be a FULL professor on the basis of one slender book of what is basically advocacy (113 pages including 5 pages of bibliography) written 30 years ago. To cite the example of me, and I have had a normal career, I was promoted to tenure on the basis of a 330 page book published by a major university press (plus 7 articles in major journals), and to full professor on the basis of a second 330 page book published by a major university press (with the number of published articles now at 20). "The only exception to these basic rules of promotion would be maybe if K has written 20 major articles in his field--and I mean what they call "paradigm-shifting" articles. Has Kirstein done this? What are these pieces and where have they been published and why doesn't he list them on his website? "But I doubt that Professor Kirstein has actually published 20 ground-breaking articles. As he has already said about SXU, "different places have different standards for promotion." Yes, but not THAT much different! As things stand now, it is a mystery to me why he has the rank of full professor. He would have had a difficult time even getting tenure (i.e., associate professor rank) at my institution even 30 years ago on the basis of the very small book of advocacy on the Braceros. And he would almost certainly NOT get tenure now if that was all he had".
Professor Kirstein is dead wrong in saying that I was in error in my testimony at the Temple Hearings in regard to a teacher. No teachers were mentioned by name at the Temple Hearings by rule of the Committee holding the hearings. If Professor Kirsten has a specific comment of mine he wants to challenge, I will be glad to hear it.

Professor Kirstein Steps Up To Complain

Today is the official publication date of The Professors, and perhaps this will inspire its critics on the left to read the book before they attempt to attack it again. Many, like Professor Michael Berube, think they can avoid its argument by burying its author in verbal sludge. Perhaps that will make the argument disappear. It won't. One of the reasons for this is that anyone who actually reads the book will note that the academics in it, like Michael Berube, are treated civilly and seriously. In other words this is not a book of ridicule or an attempt to dismiss its subjects out of hand by labeling them. It makes a reasoned case and provides the evidence that substantiates the case.
Not all leftsts are like Berube. Take Peter Kirstein for instance, who actually read my book before reviewing it. Professor Kirstein came to everybody's attention when he responded to an earnest letter from an Air Force cadet for help with an academic assembly. This is the subject of Professor Kirstein's first complaint as it appears on his website. The profile in The Professors did -- as he notes -- appear earlier on DiscoverTheNetworks.Org. According to Professor Kirstein, "[The Professors] contains one glaring error and omission. I never called Cadet Robert Kurpiel a 'baby-killer' and notified them months ago when such a charge appeared on the Internet. My e-mail referred to “you and your aggressive baby-killing 'tactics' of collateral damage.” Even though I e-mailed [the editors of DiscoverTheNetworks], they persist in their distortion of what I said in an internationally circulated e-mail. I do believe that our tactics kill babies, that collateral damage is a repulsive term in which the tragic death of innocents is obscured by dispassionate Pentagonese and that we bear the shame and opprobrium of mass murder and the killing of innocents." With all due respect to Professor Kirstein, I believe this is a distinction without a difference, which is why it wasn't "corrected" in The Professors.
Professor Kirstein has another complaint: "While much of the biography of me is accurate and many of my quotations are rendered in a contextual manner that is appropriate, I noted with considerable interest that their coverage of my well-publicised academic freedom case does not mention my suspension, reprimand and website censorship (http://english.sxu.edu/sites/kirstein/?p=49). I was told by the Vice President of Academic Administration that nothing would be allowed on my website without his approval. Since the book claims to be a clarion call for academic freedom and the protector of supposed legions of conservative students who are denied it, I find it inconsistent that when it is violated in the case of a progressive professor, it is conveniently ignored. Intellectual honesty would require that the book be impartial and when the left is persecuted by the right, then say so. Note that not one word of my many sanctions are mentioned. This could be the only extensive treatment of my case that does not contain any reference to the academic freedom implications or the significance of sanctions intended to silence my antiwar views and extramural utterances."This is a valid criticism of my book. Even though FrontPage did publish commentary critical of Professor Kirstein's suspension I wasn't aware of it or of the institutional retributions Professor Kirstein suffered, and should have been. If I had been aware I would have defended him, as I defended Ward Churchill's right to publish articles on the Internet, however reprehensible the views expressed in them, without being punished. St. Xavier is a religious institution and so has wide lattitude to discipline and restrict the St. Xavier community. But if St. Xavier subscribes to the tenets of academic freedom it should observe them. I will make this point when I debate Professor Kirstein at St. Xavier in March. This debate was set up Professor Kirstein himself and shows the kind of attitude one has a right to expect from a professor. His attitude is quite different from most professors in my experience, which is extensive. This will be the first time that I have ever been invited to a university by a member of the faculty on his own account. The now famous invitation to me to speak at Hamilton did come from Professor Isserman but it came at my initiative -- I asked him to invite me). Despite the criticism of Professor Kirstein in The Professors, and despite our extreme differences of perspective, he has been gracious and civil throughout our exchanges. Would that Michael Berube and others would learn from his example how scholars (and gentlemen) should behave. Since I have been maligned by people who have not accorded me such courtesy, allow me to employ Professor Kirstein as a witness as to my own behavior: "Mr Horowitz has given me ample opportunity to respond to him with e-mail and participate in relevant discussions for Frontpagemag. He also published critical commentary concerning my suspension. Yet I believe his latest effort could have been more thorough and comprehensive in its portrayal of my activities."Professor Kirstein has yet another complaint: "In the introduction on p. xxiii I am included in a category of professors who were allegedly promoted in rank 'far beyond [their] academic achievement.' They proffer no specific evidence for such a serious accusation. Usually the evaluation of a professor is conducted by a department, a rank and tenure committee and, of course, the appropriate administrative officials such as a provost and president....How non-academics can arrogate to themselves the wisdom and the knowledge to evaluate the credentials of professors at institutions far removed from their sphere of activity is puzzling." Actually, I sought and was given academic counsel on the issues in my book relating to professional standards. This is the commentary on Professor Kirstein's case: "Peter Kirstein is a full professor of History at St. Xavier University. His main scholarly publication is one short book: Anglo Over Bracero: A History of the Mexican Worker in the United States from Roosevelt to Nixon (1977): pp. 113. That is, his main scholarly publication is a 100 page book, published 30 years ago. The title suggests an obvious political orientation in any case. Such a person would be a minor associate professor at any self-respecting university department of history--not a full professor. Such a person would be unlikely nowadays even to get tenure with a book merely 100-pages long. Kirstein's latest "scholarly publication" as listed on his website is an article six pages long on an "online journal", American Diplomacy, from 2001. This is not a major journal, nor even a hard-copy journal. And it was five years ago. It's not about bracero's, either--but an attack on the U.S. decision to drop the Hiroshima bomb." Professor Kirstein says he has published numerous articles in refereed journals. We couldn't find them. If he will send me a list, I will publish it.

Finally Professor Kirstein takes issue with the structure of the argument in the book: "I strongly agree with one of Mr Horowitz’s statements in the introduction: 'Every individual, whether conservative or liberal, has a perspective and therefore a bias. Professors have every right to interpret the subjects they teach according to their individual points of view.' (xxvi)

"Yet the book profiles and critiques only progressive academicians and its purported support of academic freedom appears less than comprehensive due to its robust denunciations and public vilifications of professors for activites far removed from the classroom. Group association with Historians Against The War, publications, activist involvement and extramural utterances, that may be radical or societally engaged, fall explicitly under the purview of academic freedom. Yet they are the main substance of criticism in the book’s effort to castigate socially conscious and idealistic professors as “dangerous” and disloyal.

Let me begin my response to this by pointing out that the word "disloyal" does not appear in the book nor is loyalty any part of its argument. The word "dangerous" appears only in the subtitle and was never a part of the conception of the book in its selection of professors to profile or in the way the profiles were written. If these professors are dangerous -- and I believe there is a legitimate sense in which they are -- it is to the academic enterprise itself, and stems from their confusion of activism with scholarship.That is the argument that those who read the book will find in its pages. This arugment concludes with a chapter titled, "The Representative Nature of the Professors Profiled In This Volume." In other words, not the "worst of the worst" or the "most dangerous" -- these are marketers' tags -- but a cohort which I estimate to be between 5% and 10% of the faculty population, or between 30,000 and 60,000 professors nationally. In the book I stay with the lower and more conservative estimate. The reasons for arriving at this percentage are laid out in the text.I don't believe Professor Kirstein is accurate in describing the book's attitude towards Historians Against the War and similar expressions of professorial activism as "robust denunciations and public vilifications." If he can produce any of these, I will publish them in this blog. I do single out organizations like Historians Against The War because in my view they are unprofessional and at odds with academic mission -- and would be so if they were Historians For The War. This is the heart of the argument in my book, and I welcome comments on it by any academic whether included in the profiles or not, who will argue his or her position as civilly and intellectually as Professor Kirstein.

ATTACK: Berube Takes Off The Gloves and Shows An Empty Hand

In a previous post on this blog I addressed the fact that Penn State University English professor Michael Berube had attacked my new book The Professors without having read it. I called him to account for this. Normally “liberals’ get outraged when others attempt to review books they haven’t read or films they haven’t seen. But in fact Professor Berube seems to have started a whole movement of outraged leftists who want to review my new book without having to read it. As my friend Jamie Glazov says, “Leftists want to review your books before you write them.” Of course.My favorite of these anti-reviews is one sent directly to me from “Catherine” who appears to be a university student or professor at Metro State College Denver (ckelle17@mscd.edu): “I am sure you think I should read your book, however I consider your book to be garbage.” Actually, that’s not a bad paraphrase of Berube’s comments in two posts so far.
Berube has responded to my original post with another attack based on a further non-reading of my text (I thought texts were the alpha and omega for post-modern sophisticates like you?) A good portion of this second attack is devoted to the same fund-raising letter Berube acknowledges I didn’t write. But why should that stop him? Here is what I actually said about Robert Reich – one of the subjects of the letter -- in the text of the book, which Berube hasn’t read and by his own admission doesn’t possess. (Like a typical leftist he no doubt doesn’t want to put money in my pocket by buying the book.) “Robert Reich, a former cabinet secretary in the Clinton Administration and now a Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Brandeis University is not a political radical. [Michael take note.] But in the present academic environment Reich is a member of the Faculty Committee of the ‘Social Justice and Policy Program’ in the undergraduate school. The Social Justice and Policy Program, as the name implies, is little more than a training course for students to become advocates for expanding the welfare state. In other words, it is a program of indoctrination in the strictest lexigraphical sense -- “to imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view” – and thus inappropriate for an academic curriculum. The proper setting for such a course would be a training institute maintained by the Democratic Party.”
Of course this is a real issue which Berube can’t be bothered to deal with since he’s too busy making fun of typos in my post like “prouncing,” (What’s a prounce David?) which was obviously intended to be the word “pronouncing” – something a smart aleck like Michael could easily figure out.
In any case, the professor has evidently learned nothing since from my response to his first post which reminded him that the bien-pensant among us, particularly professors of literature, generally read books before they review them. Here’s how Berube’s response to that idea begins: “Um, no, David, you poor thing. [Oh, did I mention that Michael imagines himself a humorist?] “That’s wasn’t a book review. This is a book review.” (Emphasis Michael’s.) But then he writes: “I got my impression of your ‘book’ … from hearing about my own entry in it.” From “hearing about” his own entry?
Michael quibbles with a bullet-point heading, a stylistic conceit of the book, which claims that Berube believes in teaching literature so as to bring about “economic transformations.” Michael protests that the sentence from which this phrase comes is lifted out of context. This is what the sentence says: “The important question for cultural critics, is also an old question – how to correlate developments in culture and the arts with large-scale economic transformations.” This appears to me like a classical Marxist notion. Michael doesn’t actually argue otherwise. In other words, despite the context Michael supplies, the statement stands.
Yet, on this basis (this and a similar paragraph constitute his “review”) Berube dismisses a 112,000 word text. And “dismisses” is the point, because the aim of all these non-reviews by antagonists who review conservative books before they’re even written is to avoid the difficulties of actually confronting the conservative case.
Ridicule is one favored weapon. Another is to repeat a false accusation made by another leftist as though it were a proven fact. When Berube’s true rage surfaces at the end of his post it comes out like this: “You lied about the student who was flunked for refusing to write an essay on how Bush is a war criminal.” In other words why believe anything I have to say, since I lied about this to prove that professors try to impose their ideological agendas on students?
In fact, I didn’t lie about the student who was flunked for refusing to write an essay on how Bush is a war criminal. Oh, of course, for people who think “Bush lied, people died” I probably did.
Here are the central facts: The exam was destroyed by the professor in violation of university regulations, so it’s his word against the student’s. The student went through a grievance procedure (something that no one disputes) so in my view her story is probably the correct one (Why subject yourself to this kind of ordeal, with possible retributions, if the stakes aren’t high?). To defend himself during this grievance process, the professor reconstructed the exam from memory. Yet, the answer he required came out substantially the same as the student had claimed (a claim which I repeated in her behalf): “Make the argument that the military action of the US attacking Iraq was criminal.”
Now Michael Berube would know this if -- as a preparation for his “review” of my book -- he had read my book. The essay topic as supplied by the professor is reprinted on p. 131 of The Professors.
But Professor Berube did not have to wait for my book. If he had cared at all about the facts in this matter, he could have gone to my website at http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/ where he would find a link called “Two Disputed Cases in Colorado.” There is a complete explanation of the facts there, including an explanation as to why they are not so simple as has been represented (or rather deliberately misrepresented) by numerous hatchets on the left. InsideHigherEd.com – Berube’s source -- refused to post my response to their erroneous claims, but I posted the same response on FrontPagemag.com where it is easy to find in my articles archive.
Another leftist canard, which InsideHigherEd.com also promoted, is Berube’s next stop in his little campaign to discredit a book he hasn’t read: “You lied about the biology professor who showed Farenheit 9/11 in his class.”
This does not even rise to the category of “lie” that refers to merely repeating mistaken information. The InsideHigherEd story behind Berube’s claim was about an alleged “retraction” I had made at the end of two days of hearings (literally in the last two minutes) on academic freedom at Temple University. After testifying for more than an hour, I was answering questions from a member of the Committee who was a leftwing Democrat and who had been the keynote speaker at an anti-Hearing rally organized by the faculty union before the hearings even started (detect a pattern here?). This Democrat asked me whether I could verify that a professor of biology at one of the state campuses had shown Farenheit 9/11 in a biology class. He said that it was central to the argument I was making.
I pointed out that I hadn’t mentioned this incident in an hour and a half of testimony and that no witness sympathetic to the case I had made had brought it up either. In short, despite his claim that it was “central” to the arguments of supporters of the Hearings, it was not in fact important to any of the case I or any of the supporters were actually making.
This did not satisfy the leftwing Democrat because he wasn’t really asking a question; he was laying down the markers for a case. Nonetheless, I responded truthfully (knowing that unscrupulous “reviewers” of my work like Berube would exploit any candor I displayed which revealed uncertainty on my part). I said that the charge had been made by a legislative staffer, but I had been unable to verify it. Because I could not verify it I had stopped mentioning it long before the hearings started.
This is the factual basis from which Berube has spun his malicious charge. There are more than a dozen campuses which constitute Penn State University and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, probably all of which have biology classes. I have interviewed enough students to believe that Farenheit 9/11 was shown in many classes across the country, which were not about the war in Iraq. At Columbia University, for example, students told me it was shown in a civil engineering class on the eve of the election.
I have a small staff and am unable to check every claim that is brought to me (as a rule I post student claims and invite professors to respond). Nonetheless, when this claim was challenged by a biology professor at one of the dozen or more campuses, I made an effort to see if the claim was true and when I was unable to do so I stopped using it, long in advance of the academic freedom hearings. Berube may not be satisfied with this answer but it shows a higher standard of honesty than observed by people who charge others with lying, without any attempt to check the facts.
Do I consider such accusations malicious attempts by the left to embargo a serious discussion of my work? Of course I do. “You need to stop fantasizing that ‘leftwing fascists’ are attacking you,” says the very professor who calls me a liar without checking the facts.
Is the perception of widespread attacks a fantasy of mine? I am the author of an Academic Bill of Rights which is strictly viewpoint neutral and protects all professors of all views from being fired or hired on the basis of their political views. I have never called for the firing of a professor for his or her political views; I have defended leftist professors who were denied tenure, and leftist students abused by conservatives; my book – which Berube has yet to read – clearly states that it “is not intended as a text about leftwing bias in the university and does not propose that a leftwing perspective on academic faculties is a problem in itself.”
Yet if you Google the words “McCarthy +David Horowitz” you will find over 400,000 references. Not to belabor the point but the most recent issue of the The Chronicle of Higher Education, the principal journal of academic administration, carries as its lead feature, a piece by leftist Ellen Schrecker called “Worse Than McCarthy.” The article purports to be about me and people like me. (A version of it was read at the Temple Hearings.) It’s Berube who is the fantasist if he really believes I am not under attack.
To return to the original theme of this response, the purpose of these attacks is to avoid the difficult task of responding to what I have actually written, as opposed to what ideologically motivated liars have written about me. This relates directly to the least attractive part of your attack:
“Now, it’s true that I have not yet received my copy of your book. And here I need to explain to my readers that over the past couple of years, David has sent me my very own personal copy of Uncivil Wars, his book on reparations [actually it is a book also about the lack of academic freedom on college campuses, which is why I sent it to him]; Left Illusions, one of his six or eight or fifteen memoirs about his intellectual odyssey from far-left firebrand to wing-nut crank [two memoirs; no more left than Berube today; no more wing-nut politically than say JFK]; and two copies of Unholy Alliance, the book in which everyone from Noam Chomsky to Todd Gitlin is cast as a friend of Osama.”
In fact Unholy Alliance does no such thing (which Berube would know if he had read it). The book: “As a ‘democratic socialist,’ Gitlin dissents from the most extreme views articulated by Chomsky, Zinn and others.” Both Unholy Alliance and my new book The Professors describe Gitlin as a “social democrat” who has condemned the pro-Saddam (and/or pro-Osama) left. What Unholy Alliance says is that Gitlin “nonetheless shares [with Chomsky et al] a disturbingly negative perspective on America’s history and world role.” The book then quotes Gitlin: “Read history with open eyes and it is hard to overlook the American empire. … You need not subscribe to the Left’s grandest claims that America from its birth is essentially genocidal and indebted to slavery for much of its prosperity to acknowledge that white colonists took the land, traded in slaves, and profited immensely thereby; or that the United States later lorded it over Latin America (and other occasional properties, like the Philippines) to guarantee cheap resources and otherwise line American pockets; or that American-led corporations (among others) and financial agencies today systematically overlook or, worse, damage the freedom of others.”
My conclusion is that this nihilistic attitude towards America shared across the American left has inspired it to become a de facto ally of America’s enemies. It is the post-modern version of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in whose name American anti-fascists served the Nazi cause. Berube may not like this analysis (assuming first that he has read and then understood it) but there is no excuse for misrepresenting it as badly as this.
Ironically, I sent the books to Berube, in the (obviously futile) hope of engaging someone like him in an intellectual dialogue about these issues. I was wrong. Michael Berube has shown himself to be incapable of meeting the intellectual challenge of a conservative argument. I was wrong too in composing the inscription designed to encourage a dialogue. Michael Berube is not a “worthy opponent” and I was foolish to have thought he would be.

Sunday

Berube has now posted another attack on me without a addressing a single substantive issue between us. Typical. Just more rehashing of lies about me already told and already refuted, including the Isserman canard. Yes, I did not recognize the stylistic pecularity of Berube's links, which are merely bold not underlined. Big deal.
In one case, Berube reiterates his slander calling my reference to the showing of Farentheit 9/11 a lie because I couldn't confirm it (and therefore stopped referring to it). Can Berube confirm that it wasn't shown? Of course not. Can any of the critics of Bush prove there were no WMDs? Of course not. This makes every critic of Bush a liar by the Berube's abysmal standard.

Elsewhere, Berube claims he "hyperlinked to facts" in defending his libels. He did not hyperlink to facts. He hyperlinked to an attack on me on a leftwing site InsideHigherEd, whose editor is sometimes more responsible than he was in this particular case. I hyperlinked to the facts. Readers who go to Two Disputed Cases in Colorado will see what hyperlinking to the facts means But readers don't have to work that hard. They can just read the paragraph I wrote above and note that Berube doesn't begin to deal with it. The text of Exam is printed in my new book and confirms the truth of what I said. Berube is a liar and a brazen one at that. He can count on his fans not to look into the facts and on the core belief of progressives that if you repeat a slander enough times it becomes a fact, at least for other progressives.

The Isserman canard I answered at http://www.hnn.us/. I am weary of dealing with leftwing slanders like these because I know that I am talking to a wall. The Colorado exam is a perfect example. No honest person examing the facts could write and then repeat what Berube has. This is by way of explanation as to why I am not going to look for the specific link on HNN. I'm sure that anyone who cares to will be able to find it.

Berube began this exchange (which has now degenerated to the point where I am going to take a shower) by attacking a book he hasn't read, then instead of admitting his fault repeating slanders he hasn't bothered to examine (I'm giving him an enormous benefit of the doubt in this) and then when they have been refued repeating them again along with rehashed others. All this, it should be remembered, is to avoid engaging an intellectual argument about the state of our universities which he knows he can't defend.

ATTACK: A Professor Bites Back

Is it typical for professors of literature to "review" books based on fund-raising literature? Apparently it is if they're progressive. Michael Berube -- one of the professors profiled in my new book -- has written a lengthy blog about the book but using a fund-raising letter the Center sent out as a text. This leads Berube to attack the inclusion of Robert Reich among the profiles. But Robert Reich is not included among the profiles -- this was a mistake made by author of the fund-raising letter. On the basis of another leftists "review" on Amazon, Berube thinks the book is "apparently just a bunch of reprints of David's DiscoverTheNetworks pages. Sorry Michael it's not. Berube's blog also notes that Professor Ron Karenga is included (and he is) and is described as a "torturer and the inventor of Kwanzaa" which he is. Berube's retort: "most of David's readership thinks torture is just fine." Thanks Michael for justifying your inclusion in a book about what's wrong with the university.
Of course the fact he is only reading a fund-raising letter (avoiding therein the stress of reading a 112,000 word book) doesn't prevent Berube from pronouncing The Professors an "outrage." I consider that a medal of honor Michael. Now why don't you try actually reading the book Herr literature professor and writing a real response. If you have intellectual fortitude to do this, I'll post it and answer you.
PS: The book is only a stressful read for radicals; for the others it's a gas.