Standing Up for Academic Freedom · 02 January 2006

By Doug

[The following article discusses the recent get together of the Modern Language Association and its panicked reaction to the success of David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights. The largest of the academic professional associations, the MLA has made itself into a laughing stock during the last decade and a half by annual conventions which obsess on decoding invisible racisms, outing cross dressers in literature, decrying the lack of major transgendered writers, and other such issues. But this meeting was of the delegate assembly, the organization's policy makers, and featured feverish discussion over not one but two resolutions damning the Bill of Rights.

Horowitz is a target for the members of the MLA because of his success in getting state legislatures around the country to understand that students need protection from tenured radicals' use of the classroom as a bully pulpit for ideology and propaganda The fact that the charge against the Academic Bill of Rights was led by professors like Grover Furr (who once called the fall of the USSR a moral disaster) and Barbara Foley (a Sixties Maoist) shows exactly what the stakes are in this battle to guarantee the academic freedom of students and bring the university back to its historic mission of education, not indoctrination -- The Editors]

The Modern Language Association's delegate assembly approved a resolution Thursday praising David Horowitz for ... just kidding.

After a year in which academics were often on their heels as federal and state lawmakers embraced aspects of the Academic Bill of Rights and Student Bill of Rights pushed by Horowitz and his supporters, the English and language professors on the MLA's policy making body spent much of their hours-long voting session at the group's annual meeting trying to take the offensive. They passed a resolution opposing the two Horowitz campaigns and any effort to turn them into legislation, as well as a motion urging the American Association of University Professors to toughen its statements defending academic freedom in the wake of an "assault from the right."

But amid all the talk and formal legislating about broad national politics, one very local situation - the strike by graduate students at New York University - dominated much of the discussion, even as an effort to get the MLA to formally side with the students sputtered.

Although speaker after speaker rose to complain about "right wing" attacks on higher education, some of the association's more pragmatic members reined in proposals from the MLA's Radical Caucus that they feared would undermine the chance of being taken seriously by state legislators and other policy makers. The two academic freedom measures ultimately adopted by the MLA would never be mistaken to have come from a conservative group, but they ended up more moderately than they began.

The first resolution put forward by the Radical Caucus in English and Modern Languages resolved that the MLA should oppose the Academic Bill of Rights and Student Bill of Rights and all legislation, local, state and federal, aimed at carrying it out. The Horowitz-inspired measures, the resolution said, "give some power over course content and faculty expression to one or another governmental agency," and are designed to violate the "academic freedom of both students and faculty."

While the body overwhelmingly endorsed that approach, the delegates stripped from the resolution a clause that describes the purpose of the Academic and Student Bills of Rights as enforcing "the teaching of 'conservative' ideas that cannot win support through their own merit."

Grover Furr, an English professor at Montclair State University and a leader in the Radical Caucus, said he understood the "tendency for us to universalize and therefore abstract the principles we stand for" to try to win broader political support for the statement. But "here we're burying our heads in the sand if we do not recognize that the purpose of the Academic and Student Bills of Rights" is "about promoting conservative ideas." And not just any conservative ideas, he insisted, but "conservative ideas that cannot win support through their own merit" (like, for instance, intelligent design, he said when challenged to identify an idea that was being promoted without merit).

"I understand that this is going to get some people angry," he said of his original proposal. "But we ought to be forthright and upfront."

Opponents of the clause about "conservative ideas" - liberals all, it seemed - took great pains to list their grievances with Horowitz and their distaste for the Academic Bill of Rights. Michael Bérubé noted that he lives and works in Pennsylvania, where legislation to carry out the Horowitz campaign has gone the furthest, and he implored his colleagues to explain "the larger assault on academic freedom in every forum available to you."

But in asserting the true "purpose" of the Academic Bill of Rights, Bérubé said, the offending clause, he said, is "deeply problematic" because it would put the MLA in the position of claiming to get inside the heads of Horowitz and his supporters. In addition, an "ungenerous reading" of the resolution's language would be that "conservative ideas in and of themselves have no merit," Berube said, and there is no reason to give potential critics of the MLA resolution an opening, even mistakenly, to say that they oppose all conservative thinking.

Added Misty Anderson, an associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville: "This is a piece of public speech, which we hope will be invoked in legislatures and in contexts beyond this room. It is important for us not to borrow trouble we don't need."

The delegates voted overwhelmingly to strip the language from the resolution, which then passed overwhelmingly without the offending clause.

Changes were also made in a motion urging the American Association of University Professors to strengthen its policies protecting the rights of faculty members to teach what they want, and how they want, in the classroom - policies that were written in 1940 and updated in 1970. The original version of the measure from the Radical Caucus suggested that the AAUP alter its policy on academic freedom "to convey approximately the following notion: 'The AAUP hereby asserts the freedom of each faculty member, tenured or untenured, part-time or full-time, to determine, according to his or her own professional judgment, what is relevant to the subject matter he or she teaches, and to teach accordingly."

Cary Nelson and others active in the AAUP urged leaders of the MLA caucus not to so directly tell the professors' group how to conduct its business. So the Radical Caucus resubmitted its motion with language saying that the MLA urges "the AAUP to strengthen its protection of free and critical teaching."

The ultimate concern, said Barbara Foley, a professor of English at Rutgers University at Newark, is language in the current AAUP policy saying that instructors should generally avoid discussing material that has "no relation to their subject," which Horowitz and other supporters of the Academic Bill of Rights have cited to discourage, for instance, professors who oppose the Iraq war from discussing their political views in a geology or Spanish course.

What's important for the AAUP policy to recognize, though, is that such language provides "insufficient protection" for humanities scholars, since "our subjects have porous boundaries" and the best classroom discussions should have few limits in where they can go. It is also important to recognize, Foley said, that many fewer professors have the protections of tenure today than they did 40 or more years ago.

"The nature of what we do has changed, and the professoriate is more vulnerable," she said.

The modified motion passed by a wide margin.

One issue that the delegates did not vote on still managed to dominate the hours-long session. Supporters of the striking graduate students at New York University had proposed an "emergency resolution" that would have put the association on record reaffirming its past statements urging the support of graduate student unionization. But the delegate assembly's organizing committee - after what Michelle A. Massé, an associate professor of English at Louisiana State University called "a prolonged, intense and deeply divisive discussion" - blocked consideration of the resolution, citing parliamentary problems with the resolution.

But while the resolution was technically kept off the convention floor, supporters of the NYU students took every opportunity to plug the students' cause (and spank the university) throughout various other parts at the session, including "open discussions" about two thorny subjects: "what to do about service expectations and evaluation," and "what do do about contingent labor."

The NYU comments - offered by NYU students themselves, and members of the MLA's Graduate Student and Radical Caucuses, were not always completely relevant to the discussion, but they were always vociferous.


Mr. Furr either refuses to read or refuses to tell the truth

"Grover Furr, an English professor at Montclair State University and a leader in the Radical Caucus, said he understood the "tendency for us to universalize and therefore abstract the principles we stand for" to try to win broader political support for the statement. But "here we're burying our heads in the sand if we do not recognize that the purpose of the Academic and Student Bills of Rights" is "about promoting conservative ideas."

The express wording of the ABOR is that it *prohibits promotion of one political perspective (including conservative thought) over any other.* Read it!

Again, the fact that people at the MLA cannot even bring themselves to discuss the issue *honestly* proves that the intellectual and emotional self-control necessary to responsible teaching may well have to be imposed on the academy from the outside. After decades of this garbage, which have only resulting in bald-faced lies about the content of the ABOR, clearly nothing less than accountability to society will reign such dishonest bullies in.

Alisoun, at 7:43 am EST on December 30, 2005

How amusing

Grover Furr, academic apologist for Stalin's USSR, lecturing about academic freedom, thanks to U.S. taxpayer support. If Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Bill O'Reilly ever gets wind of this, they'll have a field day.

Michael Moore is many things, but at least he never begged for a federal grant or hid in academia to express his political views. Now, if Mr. Moore could just create 500,000 decent-paying jobs, he would be president ..

A.D., at 8:57 am EST on December 30, 2005

Kangaroo Court Takes its Show on the Road

So glad to see that "Faculty Democracy" took their kangaroo court on the road. Their support at NYU has dwindled to near-zero, so it's clearly time to subject the MLA to their patronizing language and insistence on being heard.

I hope they staged one of their famous "teach-ins" in order to educate MLA members about the Draconian evil and bellicose intimidation that goes on at NYU? The evil runs deeper than anyone can imagine, yet few of you MLA delegates seem to care! Are you heartless monsters?

Maybe someone should ask these 'supportive' professors if their students find it useful, academically or personally, to be threatened with having their grades withheld, or to be told that the work they've submitted will never be read, even if a grade is awarded?

Did Faculty Democracy bring along their legendary blind-folded dummy, an effigy they built to mourn the "loss of faculty voice?" This is another wonderful example of Faculty Democracy in action. Members demonstrated against their "silencing" by noisily storming the library and disrupting students who were trying to study for final exams. The blind dummy is actually their subliminal means of mourning the loss of faculty *perspective.*

Rock on, Faculty Democracy! Please continue to "abhor" and "despise" the actions of NYU's administration. And to strikers, please get your giant inflatable rat repaired (I heard its motor was broken) so you can spend another semester educating us in front of the library. Please continue to harrass NYU's trustees, honored guests, and the NYC city council. I'm sure Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be right behind you every step of the way in your efforts to get the council to block NYU's real estate development! You know how much he loves unions...:)

Amused, NYU, at 11:43 am EST on December 31, 2005

"Standing Up for Academic Freedom" - that would be a reasonable title for an opinion article However, for a news article, its pretty weak. The radical caucus of the MLA is interested in standing up for academic freedom? Please.

Furr is an unreconstructed stalinist. Proponents of totalitarian political movements are not what come to mind when speaking of academic freedom.

Dan, at 11:47 am EST on December 31, 2005

MLA: Classical Schnorrers

(1) Not a single MLA member is willing to disagree with the organization's ideologues. That is why an academic bill of rights is needed. Are the left's ideas so great that no one should disagree with them? What a laugh!!! Quite the contrary, the academic left has come up with one failed, dumb idea after the next. They are alway wrong. So why doesn't anyone disagree? Are ALL of the members of the MLA idiots?

(2) I agree that advocates of ideas should stand on their own. So public support for Montclair State University should be curtailed. The schnorrers at the MLA have been feeding at the public trough for too long.

(3) I thought the purpose of studying language is to learn about literature. What is this group doing discussing David Horowitz? The MLA appears in this article to be an organization of amateurish quacks.

Burke Lang, at 11:49 am EST on December 31, 2005

Would that MLA members and other university professors would practice what they preach. The real pogroms going on in higher education are against any dissenting voices to the liberal point of view. The process is biased against conservatives from initial hiring through tenure and into grade promotion.

How ironic that when pushed to illustrate a "conservative" point of view that was being forced upon academia, the English professor could only state "intelligent design." One would think that a professor of literature would instead find merit in the study of myths! There are far more than just the Judeo-Christian creation myth to explain our origins. Every ancient society posited some mythological explanation for the larger questions. What is even more ironic is that the professor can only take "intelligent" to mean "divine". There is a whole genre on interdisciplinary literature (read: science fiction!) that posits an intelligent force responsible for us that is not divine, but rather merely "alien" to our solar system, galaxy, universe.

He proves the point that the Left is so anxious to prohibit any dissent from their own point of view, he is willing to forego several of his own disciplines milieus to make his point!

And they claim the Right is biased?!

Mike, at 11:50 am EST on December 31, 2005

Saw you on Cspan today and have bookmarked..excellent follow-on process as indicated by this MLA article.

A septuagenarian, I have watched the antics of a petulant generation from a Woodstock to a current virtueless control of the levers of institutional power.

From the quotes in your report it seems like a re-run of the Cornell or Berkeley maggotty plaints of four decades past.

I think that it truly can be said that Charley Sykes ("A Nation of Victims") had it right...this generation is caught up in a permanent "Youth Culture",a professoriat destined to never grow up.

Let's hope that the next cohort of scholars will be able to reclaim the "Whorehouse of the Mind", that has become the university campus.

Dinot, at 11:50 am EST on December 31, 2005

Just a quick note to point out that the delegate assembly did make the decision to excise the "conservative ideas" clause, which in my reading, suggests that a more pragmatic approach was affirmed.

I'll also point out to Burke Lang that the point of this debate didn't seem to be about the merits of the ideas of the Radical Caucus but was instead about preserving academic freedom. Your larger question about the role of the study of language is a good one. One goal of the study of language is to improve student literacy in order to prepare them for their roles as citizens (someone who reads and writes well would presumably be more prepared to engage with the ideas they encounter). Horowitz's Student Bill of Rights would curtail the rights of professors to introduce challenging ideas, and that's why it's so important that we talk about his work.

Chuck Tryon, at 1:44 pm EST on December 31, 2005

Responding to Chuck Tryon

Responding to Chuck Tryon. First, you didn't quite grasp my point, namely, that there wasn't any debate at the MLA. Everyone agreed. That suggests a uniformity and conformity of viewpoint. Such conformity would be understandable if there were a body of accepted scientific theory (eg., the theory of evolution) but there is no such body of accepted theory concerning the ABOR.

In contrast to your claims, it is the professoriate who have repeatedly suppressed free speech. That is the very reason for the high degree of professorial conformity. Hence, the need for an academic bill of rights, because without one, everyone would agree with you, just as everyone at the MLA agrees with each other.

Second, Chuck, your claim that "Horowitz's Student Bill of Rights would curtail the rights of professors to introduce challenging ideas, and that's why it's so important that we talk about his work" is an example of the misrepresentation that the professoriate has repeatedly evinced. There is no evidence of this claim. Rather, your willingness to lie on behalf of the cause of stalling free speech suggests the kind of suppressive culture that is in need of reform.

Burke Lang, at 8:06 pm EST on January 1, 2006

First off, I think it utterly reprehensible that MLA did nothing in regards to the striking students at NYU. That is an utterly shameful thing from an organization that has claimed so long and so loud to support the efforts of graduate students to organize.

Secondly, I am more than a little confused by what this article reports as Prof. Berube's comments. He rejects those interpretations that assert a "true" purpose to ABOR but yet argues in support of some universal principle of academic freedom? Is it just me or is he speaking out of both sides of his mouth here?

Anon, at 5:05 am EST on January 2, 2006

Burke Lang's comment strikes me as disingenuous at best. Of course the MLA Delegate Assembly, like other scholarly organizations, was nearly unanimous in rejecting Horowitz's attempts to give state legislatures direct control over academic fields, university hiring, and course curricula. That's a straightforward contravention of the AAUP's 1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom, which you can consult right here. Anyone who, like Lang, says "legislatures should control professors in the name of academic freedom" is either unclear on the concept of academic freedom or simply a neo-Stalinist.

Remember, the debate on the Assembly floor was not about the ABOR as such; it was about the ABOR as embodied in legislation. That difference is all the difference in the world - if you understand the concept of academic freedom, that is.

And anon, yes, I think you're a bit confused, to be honest. I don't see the contradiction between defending the principle of academic freedom and insisting that the second "whereas" clause of the Radical Caucus resolution was out of line. As I pointed out in my comments on the DA floor, the clause not only claimed to know the "true purpose" of legislation based on the ABOR (and, in my humble opinion, was not quite accurate about that purpose); it also, because of the way the resolution was written, claimed to understand the true purpose of bills not yet drafted. Certainly one can object to that while upholding the principle of academic freedom.

As for the NYU graduate student strike, I agree with you that it would have been far better if the MLA could have passed an emergency resolution on the matter. Later this week, on my own blog, I'll explain why that didn't happen.

Michael Bérubé, at 9:07 am EST on January 2, 2006


Evidently Mr Berube can't recognize a Neo-Stalinist when he's handed one on a platter. He should check Grover Furr's website.

Douglas Lewis, at 11:14 am EST on January 2, 2006

Reply to Berube

Not to be ungenerous to Prof. Berube, but you make my point rather much clearer. Despite the disavowal of the clause for claiming "true" knowledge of Hororwitz, you still declare, contra Burke, that the MLA was unanimous in rejecting "Horowitz's attempts to give state legislatures direct control over academic fields, university hiring, and course curricula." I note here the use of the possessive. Further, these attempts are, according to your next sentence, "a straightforward contravention of the AAUP's 1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom," which would rather straightforward deepening of the motives previously attributed to Horowitz. Quite frankly, these statements make your argument against the clause for its claim to a "true" knowledge or for claiming "to understand the true purpose of bills not yet drafted" a bit disingenuous. You can't object to ABOR and similar efforts without claiming a prospective violation of principle, which is why MLA and similar organizations pass resolutions that make statements of principle no? Similarly, as principles are not in the habit of violating themselves (and let's leave the pomo tomfoolery out of this shall we, as the MLA's actions here seem more than a little to indicate how unpragmatic such theoretical (and they clearly are just that now) reflection is), you can't really claim violation of principle without imputing motive to someone, namely the violation of those principles.

Let's be clear, I'm no fan of ABOR or Horowitz or the "wingnut" supporters of either that seem to have unfortunately populated the responses to this column. But I don't see much in what the MLA has done here. Given a chance to get actively involved, it rather shrinks from involvement in the name of a pragmatism that belies the ostensible purpose of a professional organization. What protection/aid/comfort does this resolution give to what the article reports as "speaker after speaker" who "rose to complain about "right wing" attacks on higher education" other than something suitable for framing? When will the complaints of "speaker after speaker" be enough to indicate to "the association's more pragmatic members" that there is a situation that requires forceful and direct statement and action rather than disingenuous attempts to dissemble that having principles and standing for them means both some prospective vision and the action of individuals and groups to realize, or for that matter violate, those principles?

In this light, I have to admit that I am frankly unsurprised by the MLA's failure to do anything for the NYU strikers. Why should they expect any different treatment? Those who are concerned about ABOR and Horowitz and all those other efforts and individuals of their ilk that mar the American cultural landscape should take this inaction as a sign of what MLA will do for issues it has "resolved" to take a stand on.

Anon, at 11:54 am EST on January 2, 2006

Mr. Lewis, I happen to think the neo-Stalinists of the left and of the right deserve each other, and I am happy to oppose them both.

Anon, on my blog I really will explain what happened to the emergency resolution on NYU, and along the way I'll also explain why it's a bad idea for the proposers of resolutions simply to bring them to the MLA meeting rather than getting in touch with members of the Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee and the Executive Council beforehand so that all parties can figure out a way of getting the resolution to the floor without violating the MLA's constitution - as amended by the Delegate Assembly itself - with regard to emergency resolutions that name institutions.

As for academic freedom: I'm sorry to say that though you're no longer confused, now you're simply wrong. It's quite possible to say that "X initiative violates Y principle" without pretending to divine the "true motive" of the proposer of X initiative. Unless, of course, you're engaging in some pomo tomfoolery of your own.

Michael Bérubé, at 1:47 pm EST on January 2, 2006

Text of MLA resolution

Could someone kindly provide a copy of, or link to, the final MLA resolution on the academic bill of rights? I may have missed it, but I do not see the text here or on the MLA's website.

Many thanks.

Ann Franke, Wise Results LLC, at 2:07 pm EST on January 2, 2006

Pomo tom foolery would assert the priority of the gap between saying and doing no? I'm not so much eliding the gap as insisting that saying is a kind of doing. I'll not quibble about the ascription of psychological states/motivations, as I was only quoting your words by way of demonstrating that such structural equations as "X initiative violates Y principle" rarely survive their articulation in the real world. Which is what makes the insistence on them so counter-productive to those of a "pragmatic" bent. Would that it were such a world that people could talk purely about ideas and not engage the metonymy that, for instance, makes Bush responsible for a policy like that pursued in the war on terror. But do we do that as kind of a short hand or because those people are in positions of responsibility as they cause things to be done in their name, give their names to actions, ideas, arguments, endorse them, support them, argue for them, etc. etc.? Which is to say, how do we assign responsibility when we talk about things like principles and the violation thereof? Sure, we can insist that "X initiative violates Y principle" without pretending to divine the "true motive" of the proposer of X initiative," but you're only begging the question of what does motivate them and ultimately who bears responsibility for what is done or, as in this case, not done.

Anon, at 3:08 pm EST on January 2, 2006

Lame-Assed Tactics of NYU Strike Supporters

Hi Michael Berube,

I don't read your blog, so could you please post a link to it when you've published your piece about the NYU resolution? I'm curious to know what you think, though I disagree with you that the NYU strike is in any way relevant to the ABOR. In fact, letting a union make academic decisions for the university is precisely the opposite of what I think your delegation would want...

As for your apt remark that it is unwise to bring "emergency resolutions" to meetings and expect the masses to take action, I am sad to say this is just another example of the pathetic arrogance that characterizes Faculty Democracy.

I don't know if those concerned about "academic freedom" know this, but about 150 members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences attended a full-faculty meeting in early December and passed a resolution of their own, *without* the help of any outside agencies or agents, including Judith Butler, the MLA, or the AAUP:

"A written resolution was drafted at the meeting's close that called for an end to both the strike and punishments, which will deny striking GAs their stipends and revoke their teaching positions for next semester, as NYU President John Sexton outlined in a Nov. 28 e-mail. The resolution, which offered no definite timeline, was approved by a 133-29 vote."

I think the FAS faculty's ability to discuss, vote on, and pass this resolution urging an end to the strike and an end to possible loss of funding is an excellent example of NYU's exercise of its "academic freedom."

We don't need the MLA to vote on whether President Sexton is a bad dog or a good dog. We don't need Judith Butler to set up another one of her virtual chain-letters. We don't need Jane Buck to send another of her (unauthorized?) missives claiming to represent the AAUP. (Did anyone ever vote on that last missive)?

The faculty, administration, and students at each respective university have the right to convene and make their own decisions about the way in which their university will function. If you polled the vast majority of NYU faculty, administrators, and students, they would tell you what the FAS meeting indicates: the strike is over, except in the minds of a few extremists who value their UK-bred, pro-labor beliefs more than they value their responsibilities to students.

They are the ones who should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to dishonor the wishes of the majority.

Observer, at 3:49 pm EST on January 2, 2006

Response to Berbue

It seems to me that Berube believes that anyone who disagrees with the MLA consensus is a neo-Stalinist. Yet, there seem to be no critics of the left in the MLA. Is the worst insult that Berube can think of "neo-Stalinist"? Does that make him a Maoist, Pol Potist apologist (a la Chomsky), a Castroite, a Trotskyite or some other version of bloodthirsty left wing bigotry? Or does it just mean that Berube doesn't know much about Stalin?

Janet Rose, at 3:50 pm EST on January 2, 2006

Response to Berube

Berube quotes me as writing:

"legislatures should control professors in the name of academic freedom"

But I did not write or say that. Again, the pattern of lying and misrepresentation by the opponents of ABOR is striking.

Berube goes on to engage in specious name-calling, to wit, that I am a neo-Stalinist. Berube's definition of neo-Stalinist: "Neo-Stalinist, n., person who disagrees with campus left wing fascism."

Burke Lang, at 3:50 pm EST on January 2, 2006

The first four people to respond to this article-Alisoun, A.D., Amused, and Dan-all made ad hominenm attacks on Grover Furr, one member of the Radical Caucus, in order to discredit the statements passed by the MLA. Well, the only ones discredited are those who used ad homienm attacks.

These four also ignored that, as the article cleary states, there was a debate over the Radical Caucus's two academic freedom proposals, and during the debate the original proposals were modified; the MLA passed the modified proposals. Thus an open, democratic process took place. Why don't these four comment on the democratic process? Or are these four immediately rewriting the history of the recent MLA?

Hey, Grover Furr took part in a democratic process, while the four attackers are using tactics of rewriting history, filtering the evidence, ad hominem attacks-tactics thatin some small, faint way remind me of Stalin. Wa

Julia, Ad hominem attacks, at 4:07 pm EST on January 2, 2006

Radical definitions

Ad hominenm attack - knee-jerk response when nothing substantial can be thought of.

As in "Hitler wasn't such a bad guy - you're just attacking ad hominenm." Also: "Bush is an idiot - but that's not an ad hominenm attack."

English professors are supposed to t-e-a-c-h English, in an environment of academic freedom directed at that goal of education. Yet, literacy scores are going down.

The public knows it is getting a lot of free-loaders, would-be political victims, and verbal horse apples in Grover Furr's MLA.

If budget cuts and educational vouchers is what it takes to clean up that mess, so be it. MLA has no one to blame but itself.

A.D., at 5:30 pm EST on January 2, 2006

Response to Julia

>"an open, democratic process took place."

Julia, you're kidding, right? How can a democratic process be taking place when the debate is between (a) extreme left opponents of ABOR versus (b) left opponents of ABOR? That's what you call democratic? In the same sense that the Red Guard were democratic!

The reason the MLA debate was not democratic is that everyone with non-left (conservative to moderate) views had been ejected from the MLA for years prior to the debate. There are no alternative views in the MLA. It is an organization that has engaged in intolerant repression for decades.

Is that your definition of "democratic", Julia, getting rid of conservatives and moderates, leaving only left wingers and extremists to debate among themselves?

Burke Lang, at 6:10 pm EST on January 2, 2006

ABOR Information, Red-Baiting Dishonesty

ABOR is certainly intended to intimidate college administrators into promoting "affirmative action" for "conservative" - read: false and reactionary - ideas that, because they are false, should not be taught (except for purposes of refutation), but that are promoted by powerful institutions that promote exploitation.

It's the duty of anyone who stands up for the principles of rationality to oppose it.

The Radical Caucus / MLA Resolution against A/SBOR can be found at

The supplementary materials we prepared for the MLA Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee can be obtained at

The shorter version, sent to all the MLA Delegates on the Delegate Assembly, are at

A devastating and well-documented critique of A/SBOR by Professor David Brodsky of the University of Missouri at Kansas City can be downloaded at

(The 'Home Page' of this essay, with other good material, is at )

Whether by "conservatives" or "liberals", red-baiting, like _ad hominem_ attacks generally, expose the dishonesty of those who stoop to such elementary logical fallacies. A feeble attempt to duck issues of evidence, reasoning, and truth, they say nothing at all about the validity of the arguments so characterized.

For my research on the Stalin years in the USSR, based on primary evidence from former Soviet archives that has now come to light, see "Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform", Parts One and Two:

For a short bibliography of other useful materials, including some that expose hoary Cold War lies, see

Grover FurrMontclair SU

Grover Furr, at 4:28 am EST on January 3, 2006

Julia's ad hominem attack

Please *read* what I wrote about Grover Furr: Given the perfectly clear content of the ABOR, and his false representations of that perfectly clear content, stating that he either refuses to read that content or is misrepresenting that content is *not* "ad hominem attack." It is a true statement of fact, and your subsequent attempts to attack those who remark Mr. Furr's deception only proves how serious the problem of academic dishonesty has become.

You make our case very nicely for us. Thanks.

Alisoun, at 7:59 am EST on January 3, 2006