Horowitz Stirs Up Crowd at Duke · 07 March 2006

By Neal SenGupta - Duke Chronicle

By Neal SenGupta--Duke Chronicle--03/8/06

Notorious conservative author David Horowitz spoke Tuesday evening about what he deems radical liberal bias in Duke's academic departments.

The event, which was taped by C-SPAN, drew an audience of about 600 to Page Auditorium. It was in part a promotion of Horowitz's new book, The Professors: 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.

Horowitz spoke about the need to fight "intellectual corruption" at universities such as Duke. He compared the problem of political radicals taking over academic departments to an event "bigger than Enron."

Horowitz attacked specific Trinity College of Arts and Sciences academic programs and departments as examples of "political parties," including the Women's Studies Program, Program of Literature, the Department of African and African-American Literature and the cultural anthropology department. "Large parts of this University have been subverted by radical, leftist recruiting," Horowitz said.

He pointed out that most speakers invited to campus are politically radical, noting Norman Finkelstein and Harry Belafonte as examples.

"I'm amazed by the number of events and courses on this campus that have the sole purpose of pressuring students into thinking that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic country that should be attacked," Horowitz said.

Horowitz criticized several Duke professors. He said Jane Gaines, the director of Duke's Marxism in Society Program and professor literature and English, is a "film critic with no relevant expertise" in what she teaches. He also attacked the "black studies" department for being "Marxists" and for preaching that "America is racist."

"We hire these professors and give them lifetime jobs because they are experts," Horowitz said. "However, these people are not experts. They are completely unqualified to teach their classes. They have no scholarship, no publications."

He noted, however, that his goal is not to attack or eliminate liberal professors. "I don't want to purge universities of left-wingers, but I do want to purge them of idiots," he said.

Horowitz alleged that the problem of liberal bias began in the 1960's, when many liberals and anti-war activists entered into academia to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. He said these "radicals" began to dominate departments such as "black studies" and cultural anthropology.

Horowitz said the academics then began to select other "radicals" to join their faculties, leading to liberals' domination of several humanities fields.

Horowitz also referred to an incident last week at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an example of how dangerous radical ideas can be.

A UNC alumnus rented a Jeep and ran it into a crowd of students in order to get "revenge" for American crimes against Muslims. Horowitz used the example to defend the title of his book, which was criticized by members of the audience for using the word "dangerous" to describe professors. "People who think the title of the book is inappropriate are people who think that ideas have no power," Horowitz said. "Just last week at down the road at UNC a student ran a car into people. It was an idea that drove him to do this."

Horowitz added that it would be hard to change what he perceives as the current culture of liberal bias in many of Duke's departments. "The administrators are too scared of the radical 10 percent of faculty," Horowitz said. "It is up to the students to try and make change."

The lecture was organized by Duke's chapter of Students for Academic Freedom, a national organization founded by Horowitz.

Junior Stephen Miller, president of the Duke chapter of SAF and a Chronicle columnist, said the event was extremely successful. "This was the most well-attended student-run and fund-raised event in recent Duke history," Miller said.

Some members of the audience said Horowitz was a compelling speaker, but many disagreed with his views.

"I'm glad he came," senior Stanley Mouser said. "I still don't agree with him, but I understand his views a little more. He did say some inflammatory things."

Freshman Ryan Miller said he thought Horowitz did not adequately defend his attack on Duke professors.

"I felt he did a poor job of providing evidence and answering the questions [audience members] asked," Miller said. "It didn't really seem like the open exchange of ideas that he says he supports."