Monday, February 27, 2006

Reply to Critic: Not as Serious as a Heart Attack

In an article by Alec Magnet in the New York Sun about The Professors, the following paragraph identifies an error in the profile of Eric Foner:

“A professor of American history, Eric Foner, whom Mr. Horowitz describes as ‘an apologist for American Communism,’ said in an e-mail, ‘Mr. Horowitz’s “chapter” on me is full of errors, beginning with the long quote with which he opens, which was written by someone else, not me. This is a fair example of the reliability of his work. But to get into a debate about Horowitz is a waste of time, and accords his attacks a legitimacy they do not deserve.’

“Mr. Horowitz attributes to Mr. Foner a statement by the late author and journalist, Paul Foot, from a collection of responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

The article is correct about the error. The question is how did it happen and how does it affect the validity of the profile of Foner in my book.

As I pointed out in the introduction to The Professors, the 101 profiles were the work of thirty researchers. In these circumstances, juxtaposing a quote – which is clearly what happened -- is not too difficult a possibility to imagine. The Foner quote and the Foot quote appeared in sequence on a page in the London Review of Books which was referenced in The Professors, and during the many revisions of the manuscript that’s how the error was made.

Now for the really important question: Does this error affect the claim made about Professor Foner in my profile?

This is how the quote is introduced in my text (the claim I make is marked in boldface type: “On October 4, 2001 following the attack on the World Trade Center, Professor Foner contributed to a London Review of Books symposium of reactions to the atrocity. In his contribution, Professor Foner focused not on the atrocity itself but on what he perceived to be the threat of an American response:”

What followed in my text as it appeared in the printed book was the Foot quote. Here are two paragraphs from the actual Foner quote as it appeared in The London Review of Books:

“I’m not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House. ‘We will rid the world of evil-doers,’ President Bush announces as he embarks on an open-ended ‘crusade’ (does he understand the historical freight this word carries?) against people who ‘hate us because we are free.’ This Manichean vision of the world, so deeply rooted in our Puritan past and evangelical present, is daily reinforced by the media as an emblem of national resolve….

“One remarkable result of the crisis has been the Bush Administration’s sudden transformation from isolationists to internationalists. An Administration that for months disdained world opinion on issues like global warming, missile defence, and global arms sales now finds itself trying to construct an international coalition. Already, newspapers are reporting that our European allies are unenthusiastic about the prospect of an open-ended war against the Islamic world. Americans reluctant to embark on an armed ‘crusade’ to rid the world of evil are now relying on our allies to impose some restraint on the White House.”

I think a fair minded reader will agree that the actual Foner quote provides an even stronger support for the claim I make about Foner in the text, than the Foot quote which was erroneously substituted for it. (That it was my intention to cite the authentic quote will be evident to anyone familiar with my book Unholy Alliance where it is cited as Foner’s reaction to 9/11.) In other words, the error in my book is an inconsequential one and does not affect the accuracy of its portrait of Professor Foner. Readers can judge themselves whether this is a reason for dismissing my work as Foner advises. And they can judge his honesty by the same measure.

The Foner and Foot Quotes as they appeared in the London Review of Books Symposium

I’m not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House. 'We will rid the world of evil-doers,' President Bush announces as he embarks on an open-ended 'crusade' (does he understand the historical freight this word carries?) against people who 'hate us because we are free'. This Manichean vision of the world, so deeply rooted in our Puritan past and evangelical present, is daily reinforced by the media as an emblem of national resolve.

The last few days have reminded us of television's power and its limitations. It was an indispensable source of information but not a place to turn for analysis. Lambasted by conservatives as hotbeds of liberalism, the major networks have bent over backwards to present the President as being 'in charge', making excuse after excuse for his indecision on the day of the attacks, and repeatedly telling the public that he had miraculously become a mature statesman.

Meanwhile, the certifiably conservative Fox network, owned by Rupert Murdoch, resounded with calls for all-out war against an ill-defined enemy. When a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia made the point that the United States has directly or indirectly visited a great deal of violence on the Middle East, he was rudely interrupted and soon dismissed. It was a rare commentator indeed who pointed out that Osama bin Laden and the Islamic fundamentalists of Afghanistan were trained and armed by our side during the 1980s or that the list of states that harbour terrorism includes some close allies of the United States.

It is amazing how cavalierly some members of the Administration as well as the media talk about 'unleashing' the FBI and CIA and curtailing American liberties in the fight against terrorism. A former director of the FBI called for Americans to embrace Burke's idea of 'ordered liberty' and abandon our obsession with individual rights - the very principles that supposedly set us apart from evil-doers in the outside world.

One remarkable result of the crisis has been the Bush Administration's sudden transformation from isolationists to internationalists. An Administration that for months disdained world opinion on issues like global warming, missile defence, and global arms sales now finds itself trying to construct an international coalition. Already, newspapers are reporting that our European allies are unenthusiastic about the prospect of an open-ended war against the Islamic world. Americans reluctant to embark on an armed 'crusade' to rid the world of evil are now relying on our allies to impose some restraint on the White House.

*Eric Foner*

New York

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I write this in an ominous lull between the talk of vengeance and vengeance itself. We can hope, but without much optimism. The reputations of too many politicians, generals and intelligence chiefs seem to depend on an early manifestation of the old barbaric slogan, 'blood for blood'. The moment any such retribution is sought with bombs and guns will be the moment for the mobilisation of anti-war forces all over the world.

In the meantime, there will be millions of poor and exploited people everywhere who, whatever they say out loud, will secretly rejoice at the breach of what had seemed to be America's impregnable military defence and intelligence. Their momentary jubilation, however, reflects not their strength, nor even their huge numbers, but their weakness.

In 1939, a year before he was assassinated, Trotsky argued that terror 'belittles the role of the masses and reconciles them to their own powerlessness'. It merely enhances and exaggerates the feeling among exploited people that the matter of protest has to be left to a few martyrs. And just as the signs were growing of a renewed confidence in the world anti-capitalist movement, the attention of the world's leaders is focused on a single, dreadful act that gives them the excuse they need to gun the engines of oppression.

*Paul Foot*

London

Article: Nine Columbia U Profs Deemed Dangerous

By Alec Magnet
The New York Sun | February 27, 2006

Nine of the "101 Most Dangerous Academics in America" teach at Columbia University, according to a new book by conservative activist David Horowitz.

The book, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," published by Regnery, profiles 101 professors from campuses across the country.

"Columbia is a national scandal," Mr. Horowitz told The New York Sun in a telephone interview. "That a serious, top-tier university ... is an ideological fortress is an emblem of the utter debasement of the academic endeavor."

His book lists several professors from the university's department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures, including Joseph Massad, who emerged as the central figure in a series of student complaints over anti-Israel bias and classroom bullying.

"Among a faculty distinguished more for its militancy and political activism than its scholarship, Professor Massad is in a radical class of his own," Mr. Horowitz writes. On January 13, the Sun reported that Mr. Massad's prejudice and intimidation contributed to the decision of one student, Anat Malkin, to drop out of her graduate program after two years. This semester, Columbia promoted Mr. Massad to associate professor, a position from which he can receive tenure.

Mr. Horowitz also criticizes the dean of Columbia's School of International Public Affairs, Lisa Anderson, for her sponsorship of Mr. Massad and her fundraising from Arab sources for an Edward Said chair in Middle Eastern studies.

The Sun in January reported that Ms. Anderson had along with several other Columbia professors taken a junket to Saudi Arabia paid for by the kingdom-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco.

Mr. Massad and Ms. Anderson did not return requests for comment. Nor did the holder of the Edward Said chair, Rashid Khalidi.

Other Columbia professors Mr. Horowitz censured did respond, criticizing the book's interpretations, importance, and research.

"I was flattered to be included, despite the inaccuracies and false innuendos, although I didn't and don't feel I have earned the right (either as a professor or a clear and present danger) to be on such a list," a Columbia journalism professor who is the editor of the Nation and chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review, Victor Navasky, told the Sun in an e-mail message.

A professor of American history, Eric Foner, whom Mr. Horowitz describes as an "apologist for American Communism," said in an e-mail, "Mr. Horowitz's 'chapter' on me is full of errors, beginning with the long quote with which he opens, which was written by someone else, not me. This is a fair example of the reliability of his work. But to get into a debate about Horowitz is a waste of time, and accords his attacks a legitimacy they do not deserve."

Mr. Horowitz attributes to Mr. Foner a statement by the late author and journalist, Paul Foot, from a collection of responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the same feature, which ran in the October 4 issue of the London Review of Books, Mr. Foner wrote: "I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House."

A professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia, Todd Gitlin, said Mr. Horowitz misinterpreted two of his essays as anti-American. "In fact, the burden of these essays is exactly the contrary. In both essays, I distinguish between the country that is worthy of respect and allegiance and the government policies that are not."

Mr. Gitlin said he was not present at a March 2003 anti-war "teach-in" at Columbia when another Columbia professor the book criticizes, Nicholas De Genova, called for "a million Mogadishus" - a reference to a 1993 incident in Somalia in which 18 American servicemen were killed. Had Mr. Gitlin been present for or heard about the remark, he said, "I would have expressed my disgust."

Mr. De Genova, who is another of the "101 most dangerous" professors, did not return requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for Columbia, Susan Brown, said the university's professors "are among the most preeminent scholars in their fields. They and the university take seriously the responsibility to expose students to the modern world in all its complexity and to foster greater understanding of its diverse cultures and political systems."

"Columbia is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in the world and a place where all students can flourish, regardless of their background, race, or religion," she added.

Other Columbia professors criticized by Mr. Horowitz were Gil Anidjar, Hamid Dabashi, and Manning Marable.

New York University is home to only one of the 101 professors Mr. Horowitz profiles, Derrick Bell, a law professor who left Harvard Law School.

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York has two professors on the Horowitz list, Eve Kosofky Sedgwick, whom teaches English, and Stanley Aronowitz, who Mr. Horowitz quotes as saying that what he most enjoys about his publicly funded position is "the ability to procrastinate and control my own work time, especially its pace: taking a walk in the middle of the day, reading between the writing, listening to a CD or tape anytime I want, calling up a friend for a chat."

Two of the professors on the list teach at Brooklyn College, Priya Parmar and Timothy Shortell, and one at City College, Leonard Jeffries, a black studies professor.

Mr. Horowitz argues that the professors should be seen as representative of academia as a whole.

Article: Right-wing author deems 2 Duke profs 'dangerous'

By Neal SenGupta

Professors miriam cooke and Fredric Jameson have taught at Duke for almost 50 years combined. They are also two of the most dangerous professors in the United States, according to a book by David Horowitz, conservative columnist and president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.

In the book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, Horowitz lists and discusses who he considers are the most radical professors in the nation.

The list includes cooke, who does not capitalize her name and is a professor in the Department of Asian and African Languages and Literature, and Jameson, William A. Lane professor of comparative literature and romance studies and former chair of the Program in Literature.

"Instead of educating students, these professors are trying to indoctrinate them," said Horowitz, who is also the founder of Students for Academic Freedom and will speak at Duke March 7.

SAF is a national organization that aims to fight what it believes is a liberal bias on college campuses.

Horowitz's book particularly criticizes Jameson's lack of sympathy for the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and for dismissing the resulting media coverage as "cheap pathos."

In the book, Horowitz also claims that Jameson believes "Americans created [Osama] bin Laden during the Cold War"-referring to the al Qaeda leader who is believed to be connected with the Sept. 11 attacks and is among the world's most wanted terrorists.

Horowitz also criticized Jameson's role in developing Duke's Marxism and Society program, of which Jameson is a former director. Horowitz said the program was used to spread leftist influences on campus.

"Jameson is a literature professor but his teaching is based on an uninformed opinion," Horowitz said. "All he's done is wield ideologies out of a 19th-century theory."

He likened the Marxism and Society program, which offers an undergraduate certificate, to "a geography department having a flat-earth program."

Jameson was not available for comment.

Michael Hardt, professor in the literature program, defended the Marxism and Society program's goals.

"The focus is not on Marxism as a political or ideological system, but rather on Marxism as a scholarly methodology that has been influential on a number of disciplines," Hardt said. "What [Horowitz] writes is inaccurate in many details. For over three decades, students and scholars alike have found Jameson's books stimulating and useful."

Horowitz's book also criticized cooke, co-director of the University's Center for the Study of Muslim Networks. Horowitz wrote that cooke blames the Sept. 11 attacks on Israel and supports oppressive regimes in the Middle East.

Although cooke has not read Horowitz's book, she said it is an attempt to unfairly silence liberal view points.

"I was surprised to find myself on the list. I have not yet decided how to react," cooke said. "It feels like intimidation and an attempt at character assassination in order to silence us."

Junior Stephen Miller, president of the Duke chapter of SAF and a Chronicle columnist, said Horowitz's book accurately depicts the problems of bias in the nation and on Duke's campus.

"[Jameson and cooke] are exemplars representing Duke's overall problem-the abandonment of education," Miller said. "Professors who are communists should be allowed to teach, but in their class students should be able to dissent without penalty and there should be classes that provide alternatives."

Miller said there is an abundance of academic programs at Duke that he thinks are ideological in nature rather than educational.

"Some programs such as women's studies, literature and cultural anthropology do not have a single Republican in them," Miller said. "Some of these departments would fit in better in Cuba," he added, referring to what he perceives as their leftist leanings.

Miller also questioned why there is a certificate program on Marx but not a program on libertarianism or free markets.

John Burness, senior vice president for public and government relations, said he disagrees with many of Horowitz's statements.

"Fred Jameson is one of the most brilliant people at Duke, and the fact that he has controversial positions is what college is all about," Burness said. "[Jameson and cooke] are distinguished scholars that are world-renowned."

He also said Horowitz and Miller's claims that certain departments were politically biased were not significant.

"Sure, some of the humanities departments might be on the left," Burness said. "That's the nature of the field. However, I'm sure some fields are probably more conservative. It's very easy to over-exaggerate."

He added that the issue of liberal bias has been addressed by Duke before, and that Horowitz's accusations in his book should be taken with caution.

"You should be careful when folks with a political agenda come out making bold accusations," Burness said.

Article: Who’s Afraid of David Horowitz?

One indisputable fact about my new book The Professors is that it has upset a lot of people. Indeed a veritable army of detractors has formed to attack it. Thus it has been denounced by a coalition of left-wing organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, People for the American Way and George Soros’ children’s crusade, Campus Progress. It has been assaulted by the left-wing blogosphere and by radical sites like Counterpunch.org, 17 of whose contributors appear in my book.

The theme of these attacks is monotonously and in an oddly self-refuting fashion the same: “The book is a McCarthy blacklist and as a tenured radical I’m upset that I’m not in it.” The point of these attacks appears to be to dissuade other academics from reading The Professors or considering its argument. Therefore a principal tack of the attackers is to avoid mentioning its argument at all. Scott McLemee’s attempt at a review (“ D’Ho!”) in Inside Higher Ed conforms to this pattern.

You would never know it from McLemee’s article, but The Professors is not about any threat from left-wing ideas as such. It is about the intellectual corruption of the university, and the intrusion of political agendas into the academic curriculum. I know this statement will come as a surprise to those familiar only with the attacks themselves, so here is what the book actually says: “This book is not intended as a text about left-wing bias in the university and does not propose that a leftwing perspective on academic faculties is a problem in itself. 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. That is the essence of academic freedom. But they also have professional obligations as teachers, whose purpose is the instruction and education of students, not to impose their biases on their students as though they were scientific facts.”

The “dangerous” theme, which has provided critics with a federal case is a marketing motif dreamed up by the publisher and is confined to the subtitle and the flap copy. The word “dangerous” does not appear anywhere in the 112,000 word text, and the notion that these professors are dangerous forms no part of the argument of the book. I will grant that since the book is marketed this way, and since the radicals portrayed are all on the left (are there any right-wing radicals left on university faculties?) the idea is fair game. But if left-wing academics think they can kill The Professors by focusing fire exclusively on this target (it’s a revival of Red Channels), they should think again.

The Professors was published on February 13, and at its present rate of sale, approximately 60,000 individuals will buy a hardback version of the book in the coming year. Among them will be students, parents, university administrators, faculty members of an independent mind, trustees, donors and politicians sitting on the education and appropriations committees of state legislatures and the federal government. They will recognize the attacks on the book as caricatures and will not be persuaded by all the noise.

To his credit, Scott McLemee, has actually read at least one page of the book, but unfortunately has failed to understand what he has read. The passage concerns my claim that using Harvard as a yardstick, about 10 percent of the faculty at any university probably hold the kind of radical views represented by the professors in my book, which would amount to 60,000 professors nationwide (I cut the figure in half in the book to provide the most conservative estimate). Says McLemee: “This statistic [the 10 percent radical representation at Harvard] rests upon a particularly subtle bit of accounting which I do not claim to follow.”

Allow me to explain it Scott. Larry Summers, the most powerful president in the history of the modern research university (now removed) was censured by 218 members of his faculty after expressing a view that the faculty left regarded as “politically incorrect.” Alan Dershowitz, a famous faculty liberal, has described the forced resignation of Summers as “an academic coup d’etat by one small faction … the die-hard left of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.” This die-hard left, which is powerful enough to fire a university president, is the subject of my book. I am confident that many people whose intellectual oeuvre is not (like McLemee’s) focused on an obscure Carribbean Trotksyist, will be interested in what The Professors has to say about them.

After failing to understand the fairly straightforward English of my text, McLemee resorts to ridicule and defamation. He cites Maurice Isserman, a leftist professor at Hamilton College who appears to want to eliminate me from the discussion altogether. “Why do we have to deal with him? This is someone with no credentials — not just academic credentials, but no intellectual credentials. He’s never written a book that will still be talked about in fifteen years.” Brave commentary from a man who has not written a book that anyone talks about this year.

It is undoubtedly a futile exercise to dispute the meaning of my writings with a man like McLemee who has trouble understanding the plain meaning of words. But I will respond to his charge that I am an “ex-Communist” who has only one note to sing namely his conversion from the good old left to the bad neo-conservative right. By way of providing evidence for this silly claim, McLemee rehashes a bad joke from Michael Bérubé’s blog, which refers to my book “Left Illusions, one of his six or eight of fifteen memoirs about his intellectual odyssey from far-left-firebrand to wing-nut crank.” Such elevated discourse from the literature professor. (I have replied here.)

In preparation for his Inside Higher Ed piece, McLemee wrote to ask me how many autobiographies I had written. I told him one. Refusing to accept the truth for an answer, McLemee suggests I have written four, including Radical Son, Left Illusions, Destructive Generation and The End of Time.

Radical Son is indeed an autobiography, the story of a life. Destructive Generation has only a single essay by me (the others are co-authored with Peter Collier) which is a letter to a former comrade on the left about why I have rejected the left. This is not an autobiography in any reasonable sense of the word (again I understand that McLemee has difficulty with both reason and words). Left Illusions contains a second letter I have written (in this case to my political mentor, the late Ralph Miliband) about why I rejected the left. It is also an argument and not an autobiography. Then there is the “memoir” The End of Time, which is a meditation on life and death that uses fragments of my life from the period after the completion of Radical Son. It is no more an autobiography than Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. But then McLemee concedes that he hasn’t actually read the book in order to comment on it (why does that not surprise me?).

Stanley Fish, who does not share my politics and is a literary man, has read the book and has this to say about and by implication about Maurice Isserman’s attempt to make me an unperson literarily speaking: “Most memoirs only mime honesty. This one performs it. Beautifully written, unflinching in its contemplation of the abyss, and yet finally hopeful in its acceptance of human finitude. And as a bonus, it gives us a wonderful love story.” Nor is he the only liberal to comment favorably on the intellectual quality of my work. Walter Isaacson has judged The End of Time “a poignant rumination on the meaning of life and the meaning of death. Horowitz faces his intimations of mortality with both emotional and intellectual depth. He has captured it all beautifully.”

McLemee’s inclusion of some of my written responses to his queries and his ridiculous charges is commendable; his repetition of the false and malicious claims made by Bérubé and others about incidents like the Colorado exam is not so commendable. I have shown the shoddiness of these charges more than once and provided McLemee with references. Instead of letting readers know that these exist (one can be found here), McLemee links an article from Inside Higher Ed that was written in the middle of the controversy and was based on incomplete information, and of course reflects poorly on me. Par for the course. I would like one leftist to attempt to deal with the actual facts in this case and come out with the conclusion that McLemee and his friends do. But I’m not holding my breath.

McLemee’s attack on Discover The Networks is as lacking in intellectual seriousness as the rest of his piece. As I told him, I have written more than 20,000 words explaining the database, redefining it in response to critics on the left, inviting those critics into the pages of my magazine to explain their complaints and answering them. Discover The Networks is unique in allowing subjects to complain about their profiles and in making corrections where warranted (and posting them for all to judge). The complaints about Discover The Networks come from people who think the left should not be portrayed, defined or analyzed at all. As it happens, and as I pointed out to McLemee there are more than half a dozen leftist sites which exist only to smear conservatives and which refused to make corrections when these are pointed out. His outrage is hypocrisy and nothing more. And it will have no affect on visitors to the site who recognize its quality. In the last year the number of these visitors was five million.

In my correspondence with McLemee I explained that I was unaware of the comment on Holstun until he pointed it out to me. If he will give me the url, I will take it off the site. Will this change his attitude towards me? Hardly. But I will do it anyway. Perhaps he will remonstrate with his leftist friends who send e-mails to my editors to this effect: “Please tell David to slit his throat.” We live in rough times. And some people can’t resist making cheap political shots out of the material to hand.

McLemee ends his piece with the familiar wish — shared by Isserman and Bérubé — that I would just disappear. This is the wish of the inarticulate and the ineffectual, and it will not be satisfied.

Interview: Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?

By David Horowitz

From: "Scott McLemee"
To:
Subject: questions for Intellectual Affairs column
Date: Sunday, February 19, 2006 7:50 AM

Dear David Horowitz,

I hope to write something about "The Professors" for my column this week, and we be glad to incorporate your responses to the questions below. To include them, I would need your answers by late Monday evening.

Scott McLemee, columnist

Inside Higher Ed

1. A new book, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," has just been published, listing you as its author. Have you read it?

A: Have you?

2. Over the past year, a number of anecdotes, claims, and quotations you have circulated have been shown, time and again, to be inaccurate and in some cases simply false. You have on occasion been obliged to admit as much. In what sense can you now claim any right to being taken seriously?

A: These charges against me are lies that I have refuted on several occasions. Since you obviously don’t intend to acknowledge my answers, or confront the issues themselves, in what sense can you claim any right to be taken seriously?

3. Are you taking steps to make future statements appearing under your name at least somewhat plausible, if not credible? Will you consider applying some of your high lecture fees -- for example, the $3500 you were paid by Hamilton College for speaking there at the invitation of a left-wing professor, which I understand was a fraction of what you initially demanded -- towards paying a fact-checker?

A: Since my past statements are both credible and true, and no one has proven otherwise, the question has no meaning. Perhaps you will take steps to make your next attacks on me at least somewhat plausible, if not credible. Such left-wing notables as Jello Biafra have been paid university fees of $9,000, which is almost twice my asking price. Now that you mention it, I should probably raise my fee. Since you are a left-wing notable yourself, why don’t you hire a fact checker with the riches you have put in your pocket?

4. Over the years, you have published a number of autobiographies. (Those, at least, I assume you actually did write.) How many more autobiographies do you think you have in you?

A: I have written one autobiography. Better get that fact-checker.

5. Will there be future editions of "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America"? If so, can you give any advice to academics who would like to be listed?

A: Are you volunteering to be my agent? Academics who want to be listed should violate the academic freedom precepts of their universities, conduct political propaganda campaigns in their classrooms, call for the killing of white people, the elmination of Israel from the face of the earth, death to Americans, and the defense of pedophiles. Are volunteering for this, too?

6. Many people have compared you to Joseph McCarthy. I believe this is a mistake, and that your actual model is Andrei Vyshinsky. Would you care to address this controversial matter?

A: I think the question about McCarthy should be put to Professors Schrecker and Scott and the other McCarthyites at the AAUP who have attempted to find me guilty by association, by innuendo, by malicious falsehood, and anything but what I have actually said and written. In fact, why don’t you ask yourself? As for Vyshinksy, this is a question you should put to your friends at The Nation, whose comrades loved Andrei when he was still with us.

Professor's Post: It's Good to be Dangerous Again

By Mark A. LeVine


It Feels Good to be Dangerous Again

I'd like to thank the Academy for the great honor of being named one of the 101 most dangerous professors in America. Out of the tens of thousands of scholars teaching across this great land, it is certainly is special to be named to this auspicious list. Colleagues and friends keep coming up to me and shaking my hand, saying “Well done!” and “Keep up the great work!” al-Jazeera wants to interview me again. And maybe now I won't get bumped from a CNBCinterview about the Danish cartoon controversy for a story on ink jet printers (I didn't realize they still make ink jet printers).

Come to think of it; this isn't the first time I've been called dangerous by my peers. Back in the day, when I was first starting out in the music business, I worked for a small but busy Manhattan recording studio. After a few weeks the owner presented me with a plaque bestowing the title “Dangerous Mark LeVine” upon me in honor of the “mean” solos I played for his customers.

Twenty years later and it's good to be dangerous again. I must admit, when I first got the news, I thought Mr Horowitz, the author of The Professors, had confused me with one of my colleagues at the UCI Medical School. After all, they apparently have actually been responsible for a few needless deaths, or at least kept patients waiting a really long time for a new liver. All I've done, according to Horowitz, is corrupt a few young and impressionable minds. But even there, as an editor at the LA Times reminded me, there are quite a few professors at UCI with reputations far more dangerous than mine, so I consider myself lucky, and in fact, unworthy, to have been named the only representative from my university for such an auspicious award.

But I'm confused about what exactly it is that makes me so dangerous. Indeed, when I spoke to one of the assistant editors of the book, I was informed somewhat dismissively that I was in actuality only “in the middle of the pack.” in other words, I'm not really that dangerous; perhaps more of a nuisance with potential, or only dangerous after long exposure, like saccharin or fumes at the gas station. Or maybe I'm guilty by association; as Norman Finkelstein, infamous author of such bloodthirsty screeds as The Holocaust Industry and Beyond Chutzpah and definitely one of the top five most dangerous professors outside of Saddam University, was a reader of my Master's thesis. And Noam Chomsky once told a publisher of mine that he liked my new book, although apparently not enough to read it all the way through and write a blurb.

Certainly it can't be for what I actually write or teach. Unlike my colleague Joseph Massad of Columbia University, no right wing organizations have felt it necessary to send spies into my classroom or get students who didn't take my class reveal how anti-Semitic I am. On the other hand, some leaders of the OC Jewish community threatened never to give another dime to UCI after I invited half a dozen leading Israeli and Palestinians scholars to an open forum on reimagining the peace process (they didn't mind the Palestinians, apparently, but felt that the Israelis “didn't represent mainstream public opinion in Israel.” I guess they think that the best way to reimagine something is to bring in the very people whose lack of imagination got us into the current mess).

But still, I can understand why I have a way to go before I become a poster child for revoking the tenure system, at least in tax-payer funded public universities. According to Mr. Horowitz--or at least, the intern at his webzine frontpagemag.com who “researched” the chapter on me--my main crimes seem to be that my website is too self-congratulatory (guilty as charged, but how else would Horowitz have noticed me?), that I am “responsible for a steady stream of anti-American and anti-Israel diatribes” (a bit of a stretch, since in my last book, Why They Don't Hate Us, I have a whole section criticizing the peace movement for doing this very thing), and perhaps most damning, that I advocate a “quasi-Communist utopia” and a “classless society.”'

This is a bit strange, since I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party or identified myself as a so-called “Marxist scholar.” But even if I did, I'm not sure how doing so would make one “dangerous” to America. Advocating Communism today is like rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I can't imagine a more irrelevant political position short of being a member of the Whig Party. I'll admit that I do teach Marx on occasion in the classroom; but if Horowitz has a problem with that, he should take it up with the nation's leading business schools, who teach him for more frequently than do I. (Note to David: I will be teaching a graduate course on Marx and his intellectuals heirs next year. But by the time students get to graduate school students are so thoroughly corrupted I assume it's not worth trying to save them.) Perhaps Mr. Horowitz, an admitted former Marxist, is still hung up on his old flame? As for me, I prefer the label “post-Habermasian actually neo-liberal” (neo since it political liberalism in the US died in the first Bush presidency). I do confess a fondness for Antonio Gramsci; but I can't imagine Horowitz would consider him a legitimate Marxist, since Gramsci felt that the cultural-political superstructure was as important as the base in determining the course of history.

As for being utopian, I admit that I'm guilty as charged. I have two young children and would like to see this country, and the world at large, live up to the high ideals upon which the United States was founded. And unlike Horowitz and his generation of disgruntled ex-Leftists, I still believe it's possible for America to live up to its founding promises and be a force for good in the world rather than just naked self-interest, greed, and the benefit of corporations with ties to red-state Republicans. Does that make me dangerous? I wish it did, but I fear Mr. Horowitz is giving me, and the American people, more credit than is our due. As far as I can tell, American empire is safe and secure, despite my best efforts to topple it (although Musab al-Zarqawi seems to be doing a good job in Iraq).

But it's nice to feel like my work hasn't been completely in vain, and I promise you, member of the Academy, that I will work tirelessly in the coming year to live up to the great honor bestowed upon me. I just bought Protools and have been furiously practicing my guitar. I even wrote a new song, “David and Mark.” It's supposed to be a chicken-scratch guitar duel a la that song from the movie Deliverance. I'll play the guitar and David, you can be the autistic-savant banjo player like that kid in the movie. Then we'll see who's really more dangerous.

Review: Right, left, and wrong, David Horowitz's latest attack on America's left-leaning college professors doesn't add up

THE resignation last week of Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers is being cited in some quarters as evidence that politically correct professors, like the ones who were upset over Summers's comments on women in science, rule the roost in elite academic institutions. Some conservatives outside the academy, meanwhile, are wondering whether American higher education might be rotten to the core.

Critiques of this sort have a familiar ring. In his 1963 book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, the historian Richard Hofstadter observed that the tendency to denigrate those who spend their lives in ivory towers is a persistent feature of American culture. The phenomenon owed its strength, in his view, to the evangelical Protestantism and pro-business spirit that had helped define our nation almost from the beginning.

Leading the charge against the American professoriate in our day is the leftist-turned-conservative David Horowitz, who heads the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a Los Angeles think tank. In the 1990s, Horowitz helped whip up conservative opposition to campus speech codes banning demeaning remarks toward members of oppressed groups.

More recently, he has turned his attention to rooting out liberal bias in the academy. Students for Academic Freedom, a group he founded, promotes the cause of ''intellectual diversity" in teaching, faculty appointments, and even research. Horowitz is also the author of an ''Academic Bill of Rights" asserting that students are entitled to an education free of ''political, ideological or religious orthodoxy" imposed upon them by professors. This right, he says, is routinely infringed by liberal academics who voice their politics in the classroom. Legislatures in 17 states are considering making the ''Academic Bill of Rights" law.

In Horowitz's recently published book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, he profiles left-leaning scholars who ''appear to believe that an institution of higher learning is an extension of the political arena." His targets range from the obvious, such as MIT linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky, to more obscure figures like Oneida Meranto, an associate professor of political science at Metropolitan State College in Denver. Horowitz insists that the professors profiled in the book are ''representative" of the American university as a whole, that liberal bias is ''increasingly widespread throughout the academic profession," and that it's time conservatives did something about it.

The Professors, however, is no exemplar of careful scholarship. Despite his claims, the professors Horowitz discusses aren't representative in any statistical sense. The leading major in American colleges and universities these days is business. Nearly 22 percent of all bachelor's degrees nationwide are awarded in business and business-related fields fields whose professors tend to hold more moderate political views. By contrast, only about 4 percent of bachelor's degrees go to English majors, only 2 percent to history majors, and 2 percent to sociology majors. Yet professors from these three fields together comprise nearly a quarter of Horowitz's sample, while not a single business school professor graces his pages. Nor, except for Stanford biologist and environmentalist Paul Ehrlich, does any natural scientist, computer scientist, or professor of medicine.

The sample is skewed in other ways as well. Scholars Horowitz describes as giving aid and comfort to Islamic fundamentalists make up 16 percent of his sample. While there is no necessary correlation between being a scholar of the Mideast and supporting fundamentalist politics, it's worth noting that the Middle East Studies Association of North America only has about 2,600 members, representing less than 1 percent of all American college and university professors.

Horowitz's portrayal leaves the impression that leftists and other ''dangerous academics" have taken over American higher education. In fact, a relatively small percentage of the instruction given to the average undergraduate is in fields where academics who mix politics and scholarship might presumably be found. Of course, this assumes that most professors of English, history, and sociology do believe it acceptable to bring their politics into the classroom. There is no quantitative evidence of this: Studies Horowitz cites purporting to show that Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans in some fields and institutions don't speak to the question.

Horowitz's individual profiles are a poor substitute for more solid data on professors and their politics. Nor are they really intended to be such a substitute. The Professors is not an objective account written from the standpoint of social science.

Horowitz's book is a one-sided screed that mimics in form the kind of knee-jerk politics he mocks. What really rankles Horowitz aren't professors who bring their politics into the classroom, but professors who hold political views different than his own. Marxists come in for particular attack, comprising 26 percent of his profiles. Needless to say, he doesn't bother to profile any conservative academic ideologues.

Although Horowitz's statistics are suspect, he is not wrong to suggest that, since the 1960s, some liberals have been colonizing segments of academe with political ideals in mind. Now conservatives like Horowitz are trying to do the same. This is a phenomenon that Richard Hofstadter never really anticipated: the university as political battleground. The time may be ripe, then, for a consideration of the role, perceived and real, of politics on campus -- not just at Harvard, but nationwide. But on such a fraught subject as this, there can be no excuse for failing to distinguish partisanship from serious social scientific research.


Neil Gross is assistant professor of sociology at Harvard University.

David Horowitz's Response:

Close But no Cigar
By David Horowitz

Even before my new book The Professors appeared in book stores, attacks on it began to appear on the Internet and I predicted that it would be a long time before any leftist reviewed the book I actually wrote. Apparently The Professors posed such a threat to the self-esteem of Michael Berube and others who sought to dismiss it, they thought reading the actual text superfluous. A dose of agitprop satire would suffice.

Professor Berube actually wrote two reviews based on the text of a fund-raising letter that someone else had written to raise money for the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. As a result, Berube’s “reviews” relied heavily on misrepresentation and ridicule of the straw men he created and were embarrassingly devoid of any substantive engagement with the argument I had made. At Amazon.com close to a hundred leftist followers of Berube posted “reviews” amounting to little more than verbal flatulence.

Consequently, I was pleasantly pleasant surprised to see a column in the Boston Globe this Sunday, which actually displayed an acquaintance with my text and a offered a reasonable appreciation of some of the things I had said. It was equally surprising that the column in which these observations appeared should be written by an Assistant Professor of Sociology (at Harvard), a field whose members are so generally intolerant of conservatives that nationally their representation on sociology faculties is about 1 in 28.

Almost along among leftist critics, Professor Neil Gross was able to get the basic elements of my academic freedom campaign right: “Students for Academic Freedom, a group [Horowitz] founded, promotes the cause of ‘intellectual diversity’ in teaching, faculty appointments and even research. Horowitz is also the author of an ‘Academic Bill of Rights’ asserting that students are entitled to an education free of ‘political, ideological or religious orthodoxy’ imposed upon them by professors. This right, he says, is routinely infringed by liberal academics who voice their politics in the classroom….In Horowitz’s recently published book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, he profiles left-leaning scholars who “appear to believe that an institution of higher learning is an extension of the political arena.”

Yes. Precisely so. And bravo to Neil Gross for getting all this right. He has shown that even a leftist can. And thereby he has also exposed the calculated malice of all those leftists like Michael Berube who have deliberately misrepresented what I have written in order to circumvent the difficulties of responding to what I have said.

But after this fine start, Professor Gross goes seriously awry, showing that these difficulties are prickly indeed.

“Horowitz insists that the professors profiled in this book are ‘representative’ of the university as a whole,…” writes Professor Gross. Actually I don’t. What I say is this: “Although such a judgment is beyond the scope of this inquiry, it is a reasonable assumption that the majority of university professors remain professionals and are devoted to traditional academic methods and pursuits.” In other words, what I say is almost exactly the opposite of what Professor Gross says I say.

To be fair, the last chapter in The Professors is titled, “The Representative Nature of the Professors Profiled In This Volume,” which is certainly misleading if you don’t read the chapter. (If I had realized that it could be so misleading, I would’ve given it another title). On the other hand, if you actually read the chapter you will see that what it means is this: The 101 professors profiled in the book are representative of the 10 percent of faculties everywhere whom I estimate are radical activists rather than academic scholars. This is the real subject of my book.

Professor Gross follows this mistake with another. He asserts that I also insist that “liberal bias is ‘increasingly widespread throughout the academic profession,…’” Note that the words “liberal bias” are not actually part of the sentence he quotes from book. In fact, the actual quote from my book reads as follows: “Thus, the problems revealed in this text – the explicit introduction of political agendas into the classroom, the lack of professionalism in conduct, and the decline in professional standards – appear to be increasingly widespread throughout the academic profession and at virtually every type of institution of higher learning.”

In other words, my book is not about “liberal bias” in the academy, but about its intellectual corruption. It happens that this corruption is a product of the political zealotry of a generation of leftwing activists – radicals who stayed in the university to get PhDs in order to avoid serving their country in Vietnam. But it is their lack of academic values and their betrayal of their educational calling that are the focus of the analysis in my book.

As to “liberal bias” itself The Professors says this: “This book 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….Professors have every right to interpret the subjects they teach according to their individual points of view. That is the essence of academic freedom. But they also have professional obligations as teachers, whose purpose is the instruction and education of students, not to impose their biases on their students as though they were scientific facts.” I don’t think I could have stated this more clearly.

Since these passages are part of the text that Professor Gross has actually read, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that his misrepresentation of my argument is not accidental. In fact it is necessary. For otherwise Gross could not construct his own argument against what I have written.

His argument is this: “The Professors…is no exemplar of scholarly criticism. Despite his claims, the professors Horowitz discusses aren’t representative in any statistical sense.” Gross argues that English Lit majors make up only 4% of undergraduate degrees, while History majors account for only 2%, and so forth. In other words, the professors in what I claim to be a representative group, are actually only a tiny minority of all professors in the university.

But as I have already pointed out, I never claimed that the professors I discuss are statistically representative of the faculty as whole. My claim is that they represent 10%, which would be more than 60,000 professors nationally. (In the book I reduce this figure to half to be “conservative.”) But far more importantly, it is immaterial how many students major in English literature or Women’s Studies or Black Studies, or Post-Colonial Studies – fields that are either highly ideological (as the case with English Literature) or exclusively ideological (as is the case with the others). What is important is how many students actually take English Literature, History, Women’s Studies and Black Studies courses. Because the academic left views education as an opportunity to indoctrinate a captive audience, academic radicals have conspired to ensure that all undergraduates are required to take at least one of these courses, and usually several. That is what “multiculturalism” as currently defined is about.

Professor Gross has a peculiarly narrow view of what might constitute a problem in the contemporary academy. For example, he claims that even if Middle Eastern Studies Departments are generally Islamicist – that is, regard America as an imperialist aggressor and Islamic radicals as freedom fighters resisting the American Empire (which they do), there are only 2,600 Middle Eastern Studies professors all told. This is less than one percent of the total professorial population. But what if they are also almost 100% of the professors tasked with educating Americans about an enemy who is out to destroy them? Apparently, Professor Gross, doesn’t regard this as a problem.

In concluding his critique, Professor Gross argues that while I may have described 101 professors who believe it is acceptable to bring politics into the classroom, I haven’t provided statistical evidence that they are representative of any others beside themselves. This is correct, but it overlooks the analytic case I have made that the very structure of the university’s hiring and promotion procedures ensures the representative nature of my professors.

Thus, in order to be hired in the first place and then promoted to tenure rank, a full professorship and chair of his department, an academic impostor and extremist like Ward Churchill had to be voted on by his entire department four times, be reviewed by his dean and by the central administration of his university and receive recommendations from at least a dozen “experts” in his field outside his own university. These facts indicate that the corruption is not that of an isolated individual or even merely a department but extends into the field itself.

Here are some pieces of the argument I make for concluding that the 101 professors I have described reflect attitudes that are more general: “More than ninety per cent of the professors profiled in this text have attained tenure rank, an indication that their academic work is approved by their peers both within their department and university, and nationally (through the requirement of outside letters approving the quality of their work). Their tenure also makes them eligible to vote for decades on who will be hired in the future to their departments and who will be promoted to tenure rank….At least 14 of the professors profiled here are (or have been) Department Chairs at one university and sometimes more. As Chairs they are in a position to designate members of Search Committees and hence to shape the composition of their departments….The professors in this volume are drawn from the broad spectrum of fields….They teach at sixty-six representative institutions of higher learning, located in every geographical region….The list intentionally includes institutions large and small, and in many different categories: local public colleges (Metro State, Montclair State, San Francisco State); private liberal arts colleges and universities (Dayton, Emory, U.S.C); major state universities (Colorado, Illinois, Penn State); and Ivy League giants (Penn, Princeton). The list includes Catholic institutions (De Paul, St. Xavier, Villanova), Jewish institutions (Brandeis), Protestant institutions (Baylor) and a Quaker institution (Earlham).” And so forth.

At the end of his “review,” Professor Gross becomes somewhat unpleasant in assaulting my work and therefore even more reckless in his distortions of the text. Along the way, however, he makes a major concession: the problem I have described does exist (more kudos to him): “[Horowitz] is not wrong to suggest that, since the 1960s, some liberals have been colonizing segments of academe with political ideals in mind. Now conservatives like Horowitz are trying to do the same.” And what is his evidence for this?

In the end Professor Gross wants the examination of the problem I have identified to be scholarly and scientific. I couldn’t agree more. I have demonstrated that the problem exists; I invite Professor Gross to quantify it if he dares.

Review: An Academic Bill of Rights? David Horowitz's Odd Gripe

By JUSTIN E. H. SMITH

A few years back, when I was teaching at an American university in one of the more remote corners of the Midwest, David Horowitz came to give one of his usual talks to the campus Republicans castigating university faculties for their 'liberal' bias. A group of my students, likable-enough Adbusters types, told me they intended to descend upon the event dressed in monkey-suits and giant foam cowboy hats, sit in the front row, and pose questions, at the appropriate moment, such as 'What's the average surface temperature on Mercury?' and 'Give it to us straight, David: Thriller, or Off the Wall?' Ordinarily, I would deem a Dadaist stunt like this ill-advised, but for this particular master of the non sequitur, it somehow seemed just the thing.

Horowitz is the former friend of the Black Panthers who has in recent decades been one of the most powerful motive forces behind the campus conservative movement. The biography offered on his website portrays him as consistent and resolute in his defense of that liberal political ideal, 'freedom'. He believes that freedom of inquiry has been stifled on university campuses as faculty members have, since the 1970s, systematically excluded conservative job candidates and favored their radical own. He has amassed some rather solid empirical evidence that Americas with faculty positions at universities are much more likely to vote for Democrats than for Republicans.

Horowitz regularly raises alarms on his website (www.frontpagemag.org) over 'the 100 most dangerous academics in America,' and has helped Students for Academic Freedom to draft an 'Academic Bill of Rights,' in which it is proposed that '[a]ll faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise,' that '[n]o faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs,' and that '[e]xposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty. Faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.' An article in the Phyllis Schlafly Report on the effort to bring SAF's bill of rights before state legislatures maintains that 'there are literally tens of thousands of hard-line Marxists in academic sinecures. They have made universities a subsidiary of the political left and the Democratic Party' (April, 2004). Horowitz has repeatedly claimed that the preponderance of leftists in academia is a result of unconstitutional discriminatory hiring practices.

Let me briefly describe what it's like to be a left-wing humanities professor. In my spare time, I seek the abolition of the death penalty, and the conservation of mountain gorillas. These are good causes, I think, and I hope to see progress made on them in my lifetime.

In my classes, I drone on about Descartes's cogito argument, Leibniz's monads, etc. Students ask for extensions on their papers, go MIA for weeks at a time, eventually turn in essays on 'Dick Hart's cogito argument' and 'Liebniz's nomads,' and after it's all over plead with me to bump their grades up an extra notch or two since, as they're sure I understand, law school admissions are really competitive. I apply for federal grant money for my research on 17th-century theories of natural motion, and the agency asks me to explain the 'relevance' and 'applicability' of my work for 'today's society.' I go to the library to look for books, and overhear snippets of conversations such as: 'I was all sitting there going like oh my God no way you slept with who?' And I long to jump in with a corrective 'whom,' but I know I will only be perceived as a grumpy old man of, like, at least 33, who has no business hanging around a university anyway, and so I restrain myself. I confess I fantasize about how nice it would be to find myself in some ultraconservative D.C. think-tank surrounded, at the very least, by adults.

And on occasion the overheard conversations turn from weekend debauches to academic matters. I recount here some recent, memorable fragments. On diplomacy: 'Oh my God Courtney, I like totally haven't even started my weapons-of-mass-destruction project yet! The teacher wants me to be Iran and stuff'; on the natural sciences: 'The TA for my lab's a total dick'; and finally, of course, on business: 'Dude, you should take Anderson's class. It'll kick your ass. It's like, he makes you do simulated corporate takeovers in front of the whole class and stuff, and it's like your whole grade if you win. It's totally cut-throat. It prepares you for the real world and stuff.' To which the uninitiated lad replies: 'No doubt, dude, no doubt.'

The vast majority of conversations among students about college classes are of this latter sort. They concern finance, corporate management, bookkeeping, and like mundane tasks. At my own university, the business school is named for a prominent Canadian beer company, which no doubt contributed a lot of money to its coffers. From the point of view of the administration, I suspect that my puny philosophy department, and even the entire humanities division, looks rather like some vestigial organ, some irrelevant hold-out from an era when the university had a very different role in society. And that is indeed what it is. The business school is the heart, the natural sciences are the brain, and we, who read Plato and Descartes, Homer and Montaigne, are the appendix, just waiting to be excised once and for all.

For this reason, I can't help but feel that, in spite of Horowitz's griping, the right has indeed won the battle for the university: it's been overrun by market forces just like every other sector of North American society, and this is exactly what they claim to want. And if in some remote irrelevant corner of the university some ethics professor defends bestiality, or some English professor 'queers' Shakespeare, so what? Does this have anything to do with the place of the institution as a whole in society?

If David Horowitz were to linger in the halls of a university for a while, if he were to take leave for a time of his supplicating young hosts, he would admittedly not hear paeans to Gertrude Himmelfarb. But nor would he hear students, zombie-like, reciting postmodernist radical cant. He would be scowled at for being too old, and he would hear the tedious din of free-market capitalism at work, churning out new generations of blank-minded actuaries, vapid go-get-'em salesmen, and unreflective middle-managers, one finance midterm at a time.

Even within the humanities, it seems to me the threat of left-wing exclusivism is rather exaggerated. Horowitz claims that conservatives are systematically weeded out in the hiring process. I've just participated in a job search, one that I take to be typical of hiring practices throughout North American universities. We interviewed five candidates, and they spoke to us about the tripartite soul in Aristotle's De Anima, the theory of the four elements and the nature of celestial motion in his Meteorologia, the three primary hypostases in Plotinus's metaphysics, etc. I have absolutely no idea what any of these people thought about privatized health care or the war in Iraq, and I assure Mr. Horowitz that our hiring decisions had nothing to do with their views on such matters.

Of course, while it was none of my business and I certainly did not inquire, it is quite likely that they are all opposed to the war in Iraq, and that they think Bush is, as Philip Roth nicely put it, unfit to run a hardware store. But I'm strongly inclined to think that these convictions, if they have them, flow willy-nilly from years of reading books by smart people, which is what humanities professors do. Reading smart people, they tend thereby to be made smart, and, statistically speaking, tend not to vote Republican (or Tory). Where is the unconstitutional discrimination in that?

Of course, to paraphrase Richard Rorty, I am aware of the existence of right-wing intellectuals. Richard Posner, for example, presents himself for this role. But this phrase has always sounded to me as oxymoronic and strained as "creation scientist" or "Christian headbanger"-- these are types that are hastily put forward as if to prove that they can do it just as well as their secular, libertine counterparts, whatever "it" happens to be. They can rock just as hard as Black Sabbath, do laboratory work just as solid as Theodosius Dobzhansky's, and think thoughts just as profound as Pierre Bourdieu's. But no one's ever fully convinced, not even, I suspect, Judge Posner.

Again, none of this has anything to do with the question as to which side in the culture wars is winning the battle for the university, since outside of the tiny, vestigial humanities divisions there simply is no question at all of being an intellectual of any sort. This is no more prized a social role in engineering and business schools than it is in, say, the corrugated box industry, and from a provost's-eye point-of-view these are the sectors of the university that matter.

This deplorable decline of universities into job-training centers is in large part a consequence of opening them up to market forces. It was never a battle of ideas --Irving Kristol vs. Jacques Derrida-- but a battle of funding-- irrelevant philosophy vs. lucrative business. And this again is, by the conservatives' own lights, just how things should be.

Justin Smith teaches philosophy in Canada. He can be reached at: justismi@alcor.concordia.ca