David Horowitz vs. Peter Steinberger Debate at Reed College · 28 August 2006
Welcome to Reed College. I would like to welcome students and faculty and in particular parents and family members, and members of the Reed Community, to the first event of the 2005/6 edition of the annual public policy lecture series.
Before I get started, let me thank a few people who helped make this event happen. First Michael Teske and Mila Kunitz of the Alumni Relations, who helped organize Parent & Family Weekend and arranged for this lovely weather so that you all wanted to do more indoor rather than outdoor activities. Elizabeth Ruiz of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and Brad Shipp of the Students for Academic Freedom helped arrange David's visit. Also, Lea Faw, Adam Mount, Adam Bondy and David Colt, who are Reed students who helped organize the event, and Jennifer Bates, of course, of Conference Events and Planning.
Before we begin to night, let me get a few bureaucratic details out of the way. There will be a reception with some limited food and drink afterwards, so please feel free afterwards to hang out in the foyer, if you'd like to, and have some food and drink. For today's question and answer session, we've set up two mikes on both sides of the audience. We ask that those who are interested in asking a question line up after the speakers are finished to ask questions. This is important because, while your question will come forward quite easily, the people that are behind you won't be able to hear it. And also we have a lot of people who are unable to make it today who would like to watch or hear today's discussion on video and audio tape and, if your questions aren't asked into the mikes, none of that will be recorded.
Tonight's event is sponsored by the Elizabeth J. Duce Lecture Fund. Elizabeth Duce, once a Washington, D.C., staff assistant to Senator Richard Newberger of Oregon, had a lifelong interest in socioprogressive politics and social issues, as well as a longtime interest in Reed College. Duce was active as a conservationist and gave generously to philanthropic support to many local organizations, including Reed's art and music associations, the Portland Art Association, and the Friends of Columbia River Gorge. In 1972, Duce established the Elizabeth C. Duce Political Science Lecture and Internship Fund at Reed College, beginning a tradition of enriching the college to the promotion of lectures and internships on a national, local, and regional affairs.
This semester's lecture series, the Politics of Diversity in the Academy, was stimulated by an ongoing conversation that the Reed community-students, staff, faculty, and trustees-have had regarding the challenges that Reed will face as it enters its second century as an institution of higher learning. Today, in the interests of talking about intellectual and ideological diversity on campus, we've invited David Horowitz, who's a leading national spokesman for the proposition that America's campuses are hostile to conservative viewpoints and has championed an Academic Bill of Rights to level the playing field. This is the focus of today's discussion.
Horowitz is a nationally known author and long-time activist, previously a founder and involved in the New Left movement in the 1960s, Horowitz served as editor of the radical magazine, Ramparts. As detailed in his autobiography, Radical Son, Horowitz became disillusioned with the Left, and underwent an intellectual transformation to a point where, today, he is now regarded as a leading conservative advocate.
Horowitz acts as the president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and publishes an ongoing magazine, Frontpage.com. He has written, cowritten, or edited more than eighteen books, numerous articles and editorials. The mission statement of the Students for Academic Freedom, which Horowitz founded, reads: "The Students for Academic Freedom information center is a clearinghouse and communication center for a national coalition of student organizations whose goal is to end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge."
Our other speaker today is Professor Peter Steinberger, who was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Reed College in 1997, and is the Robert H. and Blanch Day Ellis Professor of Political Science and Humanities. Peter has served on Reed's faculty since 1977 and was acting president of Reed college in 2001 and 2002. Peter has written or edited five books, including his most recent publication on Cambridge University Press, entitled, "The Idea of the State," has written more than 20 peer-reviewed academic publications. He has also authored editorial columns in both the local and national press, including the Oregonian, the Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times.
Peter regular discusses issues of academic governance, both in his role as the Dean of Reed's faculty and in consultation with his peers nationwide. Acting as moderate, we're fortunate to have the participation of Charlie Hinkle. Charlie's a local boy made good. He graduated from Klakamas High School and went on to receive his B.A. from Stanford, a masters in divinity study from the Union Theological Seminary and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Charlie is a partner in the Portland office of Stoll Reeves law firm and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He is a former president of the ACLU of Oregon and the City Club of Portland. He is past chairman of the Oregon State Bar Constitutional Law section and is currently a member of the Bar House of Delegates.
Hinkle's law firm has represented Reed College for many years and he was the lead attorney for the college for a number of years in the 1980s. Charlie tells me that his major contribution to the college's legal affairs in those years was a memorandum that he wrote regarding the college's right to deal with stray dogs on campus. In recent years, he has met with the Quest staff once or twice a year to talk about libel and privacy issues. Finally, Charlie has an extensive record of involvement in civic and community affairs, far longer than I can list here, who was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers of America, the first Oregon lawyer receiving this honor in the First Amendment category.
The format tonight: David Horowitz will speak for approximately 20 minutes. Peter Steinberger will then speak for approximately 20 minutes. And then Charlie Hinkle will take the stage and act as moderator for the questions. So, if we can please warmly welcome David Horowitz and Peter Steinberger.
David Horowitz: Thank you. I've spoken at many Oregon colleges, but this is my first time at Reed. I've been here a few hours. I met with your president. I met Paul Gronke for the first time and you should know that he's responsible for this discussion that we're going to have this afternoon and that is a credit, both to him and to Reed. This is a critical issue for universities and I can say that I've only been invited once before at the Wheaton College, which is similarly a small liberal arts college in the Northeast, to do this sort of discussion.
I had the impression that most people have in thinking about Reed or when they hear the name Reed from a distance that it's that kind of hippie, far-out, leftist school in that strange state of Oregon where the politics are so strange. I was very impressed in looking at the catalog. I think that the curriculum here, and I've looked at many college curriculums, is quite excellent. It's quite traditional, classical. It's academic as it should be, and I want to compliment this school on that. And I have met with a dozen Reed students today and this is an extraordinarily bright and surprisingly, again, just from the image, independent-minded group of young people who can think for themselves and who think rather than react emotionally, as unfortunately many universities have primed their students to do.
My Academic Bill of Rights is really about two things. One is intellectual diversity and the way I put it on college campuses, when I speak, is this: that you can't get a good education if they're only telling you half the story, even if you're paying $32,500 a year. Normally, I find that students have no idea what their tuition costs, since their parents pay the bills.
That's an obvious statement. Our country is built on the principal that nobody has a monopoly of truth and our academic institutions, our whole educational tradition is that way, too. There's a difference between an education and an indoctrination. An education teaches you how to think, not what to think. Your professors' tasks, your teachers' task is to teach you how to assemble evidence, to know what the evidence is, and how to construct an argument. But not to tell you what to conclude at the end of the argument. Of course, I'm talking, not about the hard sciences, but the humanities and the social sciences.
This is so entrenched in our academic tradition that the American Association of University Professors made three major statements, the first one in 1915 and the other two in 1940 and 1970. The first document was written by John Dewey and Arthur Lovejoy, two great American educators, and in so many words, they said that a student is a young person with unformed ideas and, therefore, professors should be careful not to take advantage of the student's youth, to impose their prejudices, social, political and otherwise, on the students. And not, of course, to use the authority of the grading power or the authority of the classroom. And indoctrination is training in a particular doctrine. An education is opening a student's mind and giving the student the tools with which to make their own independent judgments.
At the University of Havana, you get an indoctrination. At Reed College and at American universities, you should get an education. And that means your professors should make you aware of alternative points of view. If they're teaching a particular point of view, that you should be made aware of what the critical views are. You need access to reading lists of critical views and you need access to those views. And the professors should never give you a doctrine as though it were an absolute truth.
It's the foundation of our democracy. If we believe that human beings could gain a monopology of the truth, then we would have a one-party system, not a multi-party system. We would have the "Truth Party." And everybody could just vote for the "Truth Party."
So, what goes on at an institution like Reed is very crucial to the health of our political and social-our community as well. Intellectual diversity is missing at Reed. I would say that the greatest intellectual deficiency of Reed is the lack of a conservative presence on its faculty. I don't have to go over the departments, but in the social sciences and the political science department, the sociology department, there are no conservatives. In May, the Reed College magazine had an article that quoted conservative students. One student said that they knew two Republican students in their entire career at Reed and one of them was a social conservative who was afraid to say anything in class.
Before I get into why it happens, this lack of intellectual diversity hurts everybody in the school. It hurts the faculty because they're not intellectual challenged and it hurts the students because they're not intellectually challenged. In my view, it is in some ways more destructive of the education of liberal students than it is of conservative students. If a conservative student opens their mouths in classrooms where an atmosphere of hostility to conservative views is allowed, they know that they better well be prepared to stand up for themselves. So, I've been doing this for about 20 years, speaking on college campuses, and I have seen conservative students, at least those who are able to withstand the pressures, become much tougher intellectually over time.
But, even if that's the case, this is no excuse for universities presenting a one-sided view or one-sided views of the world.
One basic principle, then, of my Academic Bill of Rights is the principle of intellectual diversity. You need, at Reed, more conservative professors on the faculty and, if you get that, you will hopefully get more conservative students in your student body. Some people actually think, some liberals have actually said, on this faculty and on many others, chairman of the philosophy department at Duke explaining why there were not more conservatives on the Duke faculty, said, "Well, you know, conservatives are stupid and we don't hire stupid people on our faculty."
I had a conversation with an anthropology professor at Rawlins, which is a college about twice this size, but similar, in Florida this week and asked him whether it didn't disturb him that there was not a single conservative in the anthropology department. And he said to me, "Well, no, it doesn't because anthropology's about the study of other cultures and therefore it requires people to be compassionate and tolerant." And I said, "That's the most intolerant statement I've heard all week." And he could not understand what I was saying. That's the problem. And this was in an intelligent person. But, there was a huge gap in their intelligence on this issue.
So, I've hoped that the parents who come here, I mean, you should know that your youngsters are in good hands but there is a huge missing dimension at this school, and it affects everybody's education. When I sat with these 12 students who were very intelligent-and I've been to a lot of campuses and I'm not saying that to flatter this campus-I believe out of the 12, only 2 of them had ever heard of Thomas Sowell, who is, in my view, the foremost thinker on issues of culture and race in this country, but certainly one of the most formidable intellects alive in our country. He is a black conservative who is at the Hoover Institution. It is disgraceful that only 2 students had ever heard of him. And these were all students majoring in political science and subjects like that.
When I asked how many of them had read a book by Frederick Hayek, two of them raised their hands. Frederick Hayek is a world-class thinker about social, political, and economic issues. Won the Nobel Prize. When I asked how many had read a book by Noam Chomsky, a crank at MIT-I have a lot of respect for many leftwing thinkers, but not for Chomsky-everybody at the table had read a book. This is a man who thinks that Pearl Harbor was a good thing, the attack on Pearl Harbor, something we deserved, and who considers the United States the greatest threat to the survival of the world. Yet every student had read a tract by this professor. He's a professor of linguistics and what they had read were books on geopolitical theory.
Intellectual diversity is one crucial principle. The other is intellectual or academic manners. The academic freedom principles which Reed itself adopts, you can go up on their website, President Diver had a copy of the handbook, is based on the American Association of Uinversity Professors. Principles. One of the principles from the 1940s statement is this, "Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to the subject." So I asked the students at the table, "How many of you have been in a class that was not about the war in Iraq, where the professor made a crack about George Bush or attacked our position in the war in Iraq?" Every single hand went up. That is a violation of these students' academic freedom.
You don't go to your doctor's office for an examination and expect to get a lecture on the war in Iraq or to see posters or cartoons on his door attacking John Kerry or George Bush. And, if you did, and you were on the other side of the issue, you would probably get another doctor. And that is because there is a trust relationship between a doctor and their patient. And that trust is injured if you see suddenly the doctor as a partisan on issues irrelevant to medicine introduced into his office. When President Reagan was shot and they put him on the operating table, just before they put him under, he looked up at the doctors and surgeons and he said, "Are you guys Democrats or Republicans?" And the chief surgeon said, "Mr. President, today we are all Republicans." That is the appropriate professional attitude. If you don't expect a lecture, his doctors have taken an oath to minister to all their patients regardless of their politics, of their ethnicity, of their religion or anything else. If you don't expect to get a lecture on Iraq from your doctor, why should you get it from your English professor?
In the AAUP statements, and I say this from very personal experience. My parents were card-carrying members of the American Communist Party. And I went to Columbia University in the 1950s, the McCarthy 50s, the height of the Cold War. And I wrote Marxist papers and I don't remember a professor ever noticing that I was a Marxist. I was graded on how I assembled the evidence, how well I knew what the evidence was, and how I constructed my arguments. I am very grateful, in retrospect, to my professors for not, for example, singling me out in a class and saying, "Horowitz, why don't you explain why Communists like to kill people?" I was 17 years old at the time. That never happened. I don't know how that would have affected me, if I had been polarized against my professor. It would certainly have affected the mentor relationship a professor has to have.
Now, this happens all the time now in classrooms. At the University of Rhode Island, I met this student. A gay professor in a course on political theory from Plato to Machiavelli, in the middle of a class, singled him out and said, "Nathaniel, why do Christians hate fags?" And Nathaniel did not hate gay people and tried to defend himself, but that teacher/student relationship was destroyed. Actually, there were lots of other interchanges.
At the University of Colorado law school, a black law professor, opened a course in property law saying, "You all know what the "R" in Republican stands for? It's stands for racists." And when a law student objected that that was offensive, he said, "We have too many Nazis like you on this campus." This is wrong. It's abusive. It's an abuse of academic freedom and it is just common now. The culture, the academic culture has been breached in this regard and that's why I asked the question at the table. And I was actually taken aback that every hand would go up that their professors feel it okay to leak their political prejudices, make cracks about the President or make speeches about the war in Iraq.
Every single statement of the principles of Academic Freedom put out by the American Association of University Professors is phrased this way: Statement of the principles of academic tenure, of tenure, and academic freedom. Professors have lifetime jobs once they get up to a certain stage, which is a privilege reserved only for Supreme Court justices. There's a reason for that. It's to protect the independence of mind of the professor because the professor is seen, not as a politician-we don't give lifetime tenure to politicians-but as an expert with an intellectual expertise.
Now, a sociology professor has an expertise, but it's not in the war in Iraq. An English professor has an expertise, but it's not on the presidency of George Bush. This is just leaking your political prejudice. But what it really is, is inflicting your own ignorance on students who are paying $32,000 a year to get an education. As I told these students, this is a rare moment in your lives. You're never going to have so little overhead again. You're never going to have this time. You're never going to have the freedom to think outside the box and to stretch your minds in the way you will in these four years. So, why should your time be wasted with a professor pontificating on subjects which he is just as ignorant-well, they've had a little more experience, been through a few more elections-but, as you are. No professional expertise whatsoever.
This is just sloppiness and it needs to change. And I have proposed my Academic Bill of Rights to try to introduce-reintroduce-principles really of intellectual integrity and academic integrity that were once honored in our school systems. I don't really want to say they're not honored at all, because they are. Professor Steinberger, whose going to speak after me, has in that magazine article said that he withholds his personal views in class.
Now, I want to be very clear about this. This is not about not teaching about controversial issues. It's about not advocating one side of a controversial issue. There are no right answers that human beings have the ability to know. We see through a glass darkly. As I say, if we could see the truth and know it, then we would have the Truth Party and all of our political conflicts would be over. But we don't have that. We need to have a certain humility before the larger questions.
So, for us, there really is no right question on whether we should be at war in Iraq or not. It depends. A hundred years from now, they'll still be debating whether we should be there or not. It's going to be a controversy through all time. And your professors were not hired to give you the right answer to a human controversy that will go on forever. They were hired to give you the benefit of their expertise and to develop in you the intellectual tools and to encourage the independence of mind. Unfortunately, for Reed, it has a community, and every community is conformist. Everybody wants to be liked. Everybody wants to be approved. And therefore, you have to put yourself under a certain discipline to respect difference in otherness. This is the big mantra of our university system. Every "otherness" is respected, except being a conservative or actually a Christian. I love Charlie Hinkle's curriculum vita as being the head of the ACLU and I forget what your position in the United Church of Christ is, but that, I like that. I like that it's at Reed. But there needs to be a heck of a lot more of it. You need it for yourselves most of all.
I was very pleased in my discussion with the students by their responses, by the intelligent kind of questions that they asked, by the challenges they gave to me, and so the material is all there. But if you haven't read Thomas Sowell and you don't who Frederick Hayek is, you're going to be at sea.
An example I use in my talks at colleges of what it would be like to have a conservative on the faculty is this and why it's important. The prejudices that one has, whether you're on the right or the left, are so deep, you're not aware of them. For example, liberals and leftists like to themselves, as that anthropology professor, did as compassionate, and particularly towards minorities and poor people, and particularly towards minorities who are poor. Well, there are very large concentrations of poor people who are minorities in America's inner cities, big inner cities. If you think of the most significant, largest inner cities in America: Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Harlem, South Center, St. Louis, Washington D.C. In every one of them, every city council, every school board that presides over a corrupt failing school system, which is filled with poor minority children, half of whom will never graduate.
All these school boards and all these school districts, the administrative authorities are complacent, so complacent that we go year after year where half the students never graduate and half of those who do graduate functionally illiterate. In my city of Los Angeles, there are 350,000 according to the school district itself, 350,000 children who are failing, who are not learning anything in the school system and who are socially promoted, which means that they just lie to them and pretend to them that they are learning something and move them on into grades. Three hundred and fifty thousand. In every one of these inner cities, every city council, every school board, every school district is 100% controlled by the Democratic party and people who call themselves progressives and has been for seventy years. Everything that's wrong with the inner cities of America that policy can affect, Democrats and progressives and liberals are responsible for.
Now, as I told the students at lunch, I'm not going to help the liberals in the room think their way out of that box. But, here's what I do want you to think about first and in the context of this discussion. First of all, you don't have probably a professor on this faculty who would say such a thing as I just said. Secondly, you probably never thought about it. And, most important of all, if you want to be a good liberal, an effective one, most importantly of all, and if you care about poor people and minorities, you want to think about that issue. That's just an example of why it's important for you, when this is over, to form a Students for Academic Freedom if you're a student here, to get the Academic Bill of Rights adopted as a policy at this school, and to press your faculty and your administration to bring onto this campus professors who are conservatives, and if you do that, first of all, it will put meat on the map in a new way, innovative. You'll also get more conservative students and then you'll have much more interesting conversations and you will learn even more than you're learning now.
Peter Steinberger: I didn't think I was going to be the villain in this event when it began, but I think I'm going to be. I have come to the conclusion that you simply cannot understand the Academic Bill of Rights unless you understand the body of work out of which it emerges. So, I'm going to say some things about that. I'm going to say some tough things about that.
My goal is not personally to attack Mr. Horowitz. I just met him a few minutes ago. He's a genial fellow, said nice things about Reed, I appreciate that. My goal is not to be unfriendly to a guest to this campus. But, the document is part of a larger body of work that provides the essential context for making sense of what's actually going on here.
So, let me begin by looking at a book that Mr. Horowitz published in the year 2000, titled The Art of Political War. He claims there that the main problem with contemporary American politics is that the political and strategic leaders of the Republican Party simply have not been willing enough to play real political hardball. They've been too soft, too nice. Some quotes from the title essay, "Republicans have been afraid to fight the political battle. They often pursue passive strategy of waiting for the other side to attack. They are tentative and defensive. They lack backbone. They suffer from political timidity. Republicans are innocents abroad when it comes to political war. They don't have a clue as to how to fight the political battle. They suffer from a non-combatant attitude. While politics is war conducted by other means, Republicans are often reluctant to fire a shot."
So, presumably when we think of people with names like Haldeman, Erlichman ,Mitchell, Colson, Nixon, Al Hague, Pat Buchanan, Lee Atwater, Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Dick Cheney, Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, Roger Ayales, Richard Scafe, The Swiftboat guys, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Charles Krauthammer, Bob Novak, Michael Savage, presumably we're to think of these folks as timid, noncombative, reluctant to mix it up, kindly and genial, warm and fuzzy, innocent, wide-eyed, passive, ineffectual. So, clearly we have the construction of some kind of parallel universe. Something largely unconnected with the world as we all know and recognize it.
So, what's going on here? What do we make of this? Well, in the very same book, The Art of Political War, I think Mr. Horowitz tells us in effect what's going on. According to Horowitz, political war is war indeed and the goal of political war is simply and solely to win. Klausowitz said that war is politics by other means. Horowitz says that politics is war by other means. And, just as all's fair in love and war, so too in political war. In political war, you say whatever it takes to win or at least anything that you can get away with. So political war is a matter of, I'm quoting here, "Spin, deceit, hypocrisy and doubletalk. Unprincipled lies. Smear campaigns and other dirty tricks. In political war, argument, evidence and truth are irrelevant." Horowitz is pretty explicit about this. The facts don't matter. The only thing that matters is winning. There are no scruples and truth is unimportant. I emphasize, this is not according to me, this is explicitly according to Horowitz.
I should also add that there's nothing much new here. It would be grossly incorrect to say that all political conflict is deceitful and unscrupulous in this way. But it's also clear that political warfare, roughly as he describes it, has been around for a long time. Read, for example, Herodotus' account of politics in 6th century B.C. Athens, or Tacitus' account of politics in first century Rome, or any good history of politics in the United States during, say, the 1830s and 40s.
So, when Horowitz tells us, for example, that Republicans are a bunch of passive milquetoasts, we could conclude that he's just deeply and profoundly ignorant, more ignorant than almost anyone could possibly be, or we could conclude that he's crazy, radically out of touch with reality, or we could conclude what seems by far more likely that he himself is a political warrior and that he's simply whatever he thinks will work. So, I hypothesize, engaging in political warfare, doing and saying whatever it takes to win, this is what Mr. Horowitz does for a living. It's his job, it's his way of life. And, of course, if this is true, then clearly what it means is that it's simply impossible to take anything he says or does seriously, including anything he says today. On his own account, on his own account of political warfare, I emphasize not my account, his own account, analysis means nothing, facts mean nothing, evidence means nothing and, of course, if we know this, if we know that Mr. Horowitz himself is a political warrior, then we'd be idiots if we listened seriously to anything he says.
Well, is there evidence, other evidence to suggest that he really is a political warrior in this way? And there is. In fact, based on what I've read, the evidence is substantial. One technique that he uses frequently is what might be called the 'truthful lie." That is saying something that is technically true in order to tell a substantive lie. It's a common technique of the political warrior.
George Bush used it when he said that his tax cuts would help the middle class people as much as rich people. Technically, one could say this is quite true. In total dollars, about half the cuts were devoted to the very rich, half to the middle class. But clearly, Bush was suggesting that individual middle class families would benefit just as much as individual upper class families and that was a lie.
The average family with an annual income of $40,000 received, in a typical year, a tax cut of about $800 bucks. That's about $67 a month, or about 2% of its annual income. The average wealthy family with an annual income of $4 million dollars received a tax cut of about $220,000, or about 5.5% of its annual income. By telling a technical truth, the President told a substantive lie.
Bill Clinton used the exact same technique when he said he did not have sex with that woman, if having sex meant having sexual intercourse, then it seemed that this was probably technically true. But certainly Clinton's goal in saying what he did was to convince us there had been not inappropriate sexual conduct and that was blatantly false. By telling a technical truth, the President told a substantive lie.
I haven't read all that much of Horowitz. He's a very prolific writer, but in what I have read, I don't think I've come across a single page that doesn't tell a truthful lie of this kind. Consider some of the things he says just within a four-page section of a book called Hating Whitey, pages that I've selected more or less at random. He says that Oprah Winfrey was born and raised in extreme poverty and was able to overcome this and has become immensely successful. This is apparently quite true. But he goes on to say that Oprah's case proves that there are in America literally no significant hierarchies of race, gender, and class. That's what he says, page 182 of Hating Whitey, no hierarchies. Indeed, he says that such hierarchies are, I'm quoting now, "Leftwing illusions, no more substantial than the idea that somewhere behind the Haley Bopp comet, a spaceship was waiting to take the enlightened to heaven."
So, Oprah's success, the success of one single individual, presumably a brilliant, beautiful, massively talented, hard driven and probably extremely lucky individual, proves-proves-that no one in this society is seriously disadvantaged by structural hierarchies of race, class, or gender. Again, we have the construction of a kind of parallel universe, unconnected with the real world, something that no one, left, right, or center, would recognize, a technical truth. Oprah was poor and now is rich, which is eventually quite true, is used to construct a substantive lie.
I have a number of other examples. In the interests of time, I'll focus on one, a particularly revealing case, relevant to the topic of academic freedom. Horowitz describes a visit to a political science class at Bates College. The reading for the course was apparently one book, entitled, Modernity, edited by Stuart Hall and several co-editors. Here's what Horowitz says about the books. Page 179 of Hating Whitey, "I subsequently bought it from Amazon.com. The viewpoints in the text ranged from classical Marxism to feminist Marxism, to post-modernist Marxism. There were no opposing views introduced, except to be refuted. In the book's index, there was not a single reference to Hayek." Again, that's the important Austrian economist, Frederick von Hayek. On the other hand, he continues to write, "There were plenty of discussions of obscure Marxists like Nicholas Polansis, who wrote a book on the ruling class in the 1960s, before jumping out a window at the age of 29."
In the next paragraph, Horowitz goes on to call this book, "an ideological Marxist tome."
All of this sounds pretty bad. I myself think academic freedom requires that the Bates professor be allowed to teach such a course and to use such a book if she wants. I'll say more about that in a moment. But, at the same time, I'm personally not enthusiastic about such a one-sided ideologically loaded approach to any topic. I would never do that myself. Curious, I myself got a hold of the book through interlibrary loan and I discovered that Mr. Horowitz's account-there's really no other way to put this-has exactly no connection whatsoever with the book itself. No connection at all.
Horowitz says that there's no reference to Hayek, which presumably proves that students are being force-fed a narrow, one-sided Marxist diet. It's absolutely true, there's no reference to Hayek. What Horowitz fails to say, however, is that the book is an introduction to sociological and historical approaches, and that the absence of an economist like Hayek is hardly unusual. He also fails to say that, while there's no reference to Hayek, there is in fact a substantial discussion of Hayek's great intellectual predecessor, Adam Smith, the founder of political economy, the source of the market approach that Hayek adopted and almost certainly the greatest influence on Hayek himself.
Further, Horowitz, therefore, doesn't say that the treatment of Adam Smith is in fact not even remotely negative. It is highly respectful, it is balanced, serious, rather accurate. Horowitz tells a technical truth-no Hayek in the index-to tell a substantive lie: namely, that only Marxist views are presented.
As the passive indicates, Horowitz says that there are numerous discussions in the book of obscure Marxists like Nicholas Polansis. Again, the point is that students are being force-fed a narrow, one-sided Marxist diet. What he doesn't say is that, in the entire book, and it is a huge book, 670 pages, there's exactly one mention of Polansis, a single paragraph. It's four sentences long, right there. They're not the shortest sentences in the world, but not the longest either. That's four sentences in a massive book of 670 pages. In fact, it's a bit surprising that Polansis is not treated in more detail, since he's actually one of the more influential Marxist theorists of the post-war period. Now, it's true, as Horowitz says, that the index contains reference to some other Marxist theorists. But what he doesn't say is that the index contains at least as many references to theorists who would broadly be classified as conservative. Not anti-Marxist liberals, but conservatives of one stripe or another. Specifically, Hannah Arendt, Ramon Aron, Daniel Bell, Isaiah Berlin, Francis Fukuyama, Hans George Goddammer, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Alistair McIntyre, Robert Nesbit, Talcott Parsons, Edward Shils. Classical theorists, like Burke, Coleridge, Herder, Montesquieu, Ricardo, Tocqueville. All in the index, all of whom are somewhere on the right side of the political spectrum and, from the passages that I looked at, virtually all treated with responsible respect.
Horowitz tells a technical truth: there is a reference to Polansis in order to tell a substantive lie. In fact, the book devotes about equal attention to Marx, Durkheim and Weber, which is precisely what one would expect at any responsible approach to the sociology of modernity. And its treatment of those authors is remarkably and appropriately balanced. It does take Marxism very seriously, as it should, but it also takes Durkheim and Weber at least equally seriously and one would be hard-pressed to find any expression of a clear preference. At one point, for example, it concludes that, I'm quoting now, "Weber produced a model of class structure which allowed for infinitely more complexity that Marx's polar model." It also says, for example, that Stalinism identified as one of the great horrors of world history, "is not simply an aberration of the Marxist project, rather, it is an outcome of the deep structure of Marxist categories." The book is filled with sharp criticisms of Marx and is filled with deep admiration for Durkheim and Weber.
Horowitz says the book is an ideological Marxist tome. Well, there are plenty of ideological Marxist tomes out there, but believe me, this isn't one of them. It's not even close. There's just no connection between what Horowitz says about the book and the book itself. He's made it up. Why would he do this? It's just impossible to believe that anyone could read this book and conclude that it is an ideological Marxist tome. The only explanation I can think of is that he is indeed a political warrior, who will say whatever it takes to win and the truth be damned.
In order to make his point about one-sided leftwing courses at liberal arts college, he just decides to make things up, tells a lie, a lie that I myself would never have discovered without having taken the time to obtain the book and read it.
Everything that I've read by Mr. Horowitz, and certainly I haven't read nearly everything, is of this nature. This is not responsible political commentary. It is a kind of political pornography. Like pornography, it is titillating. It is debasing. It is adolescent and it has rather little connection with reality. Horowitz's view of political reality is about as accurate as a pornographer's view of real human sexual life.
So what about academic freedom? Again, a personal preface. For thirty years, I've tried hard, and I think pretty successfully, to maintain an utterly depoliticized classroom. And I do teach political philosophy. It's something I strongly believe in. My students do not know what my political views are. They may think they know, but they don't. I teach through a process of devil's advocacy and I want the atmosphere in my classroom to be as free as possible from any and all political preconceptions on my part. Preconceptions that might skew the conversation.
I'm also on record, by the way, as a strong and vocal supporter of Reed College's institutional neutrality with respect to political issues. Many years ago on the floor of the faculty, I strongly opposed a policy of divestment in South Africa and I currently oppose efforts to establish a policy of socially responsible investment, all in the interest of institutional neutrality.
In these respects, many of the words of the Academic bill of Rights are words that I not only endorse, but actually define an important part of who I am. There are, however, three problems.
First, the document doesn't simply argue on behalf of academic freedom understood as the protection of political and religious beliefs. Rather it asserts that fundamental questions in the humanities and social sciences are uncertain and unsettled and that this requires colleges and universities to foster a plurality of methodologies and perspectives. Sounds pretty good. The problem is that not everything in the humanities and social sciences is unsettled and thus, what constitutes a suitable plurality is unclear. Not every perspective, not every methodology is legitimate, not every viewpoint merits protection and inclusion. Should we protect the freedom of academic Holocaust deniers? Or of extreme racists? Or of political pornographers? I don't think so.
Now, you might argue that the document gets around this problem, since it says that all faculty should be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of competence, and appropriate knowledge of the field of expertise. Presumably this would rule out, say, Holocaust deniers or extreme racists. Notice the problem, however. When you say that no one should be hired or fired on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs, but only on the basis of competence and expertise, you have said all that you need to say. There's nothing more to be said if you're interested in academic freedom.
But when you go on to say, as the document does, that a college or university should foster a wide plurality of views; when it says that a faculty should reflect more or less the full spectrum of political opinion, then this in fact contradicts the first principle, since it insists that at some point, there is and should be a political litmus test. In other words, it's not enough that we base decisions on intellectual quality, rather decisions should be deeply informed by political considerations so as to achieve intellectual diversity.
In some circumstances, then considerations of quality and competence should be trumped by considerations of intellectual plurality, that is, by political considerations. We should not hire the strongest candidate always, but rather the perhaps conservative candidate. The candidate whose conservative views would help achieve what could not possibly be other than a tendentious and highly politicized concept of intellectual plurality. That directly contradicts the view which I endorse, that faculty decisions should be based on political considerations.
There's also ample evidence to suggest that the Academic Bill of Rights is just another act of political warfare. There are a number of things I could say about that, but I'll focus on one. This is an astonishing feature of the Academic Bill of Rights. I quote, "These principles fully apply only to public universities and to private universities that present themselves as bound by the canons of academic freedom. Private institutions choosing to restrict academic freedom on the basis of creed have an obligation to be as explicit as is possible about the scope and nature of these restrictions."
So, for Horowitz, academic freedom is really, really important; really, really central and absolutely necessary, unless you don't care at all about academic freedom, in which case it's perfectly okay to trash academic freedom, as long as you say that's what you're doing. Notice, moreover, the practical implications. Obviously all religiously affiliated colleges and universities are creed-based. Hence, are in principle, exempt from the Academic Bill of Rights, if they want to be. Notice also that the overwhelming majority of such colleges and universities are associated with creeds that are identified in large part, correctly identified, in one way or another, with conservative political positions.
Notice finally that we're talking about a massive portion of the American academic community. It would include, for example, the roughly 200 or so Catholic colleges and universities, all of whom were ordered by the Pope, not too long ago, to ensure that their teachings are consistent with and supportive of orthodox Catholic doctrine. I know a little bit about this, since I myself am a graduate of Catholic university.
Also included, of course, are the vast number of colleges and universities associated with various Protestant denominations, including very large institutions like Brigham Young, Baylor, Southern Methodist, Texas Christian. In the Pacific Northwest alone, there are numerous such colleges: George Fox, Whitworth, Seattle Pacific, Motonoma Bible, Pacific Lutheran. Many others, all of which are reputable, fully accredited institutions. All of which serve substantial numbers of students, students who go on to become voters and citizens and all of which are institutionally committed to doctrines that, in one way or another, support-I think it's fair to say-the social agenda of American conservativism.
Consider the mission statement of Seattle Pacific University. At Seattle Pacific, "We seek to ground everything we do on the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. Such a claim is both personal, a commitment by each member of our community, and institutional, a corporate aspiration that has guided this institution from its founding. We anchor our faith on the person of Jesus Christ, the authority of Holy Scripture and the tradition of the Christian church throughout history."
So, we have an Academic Bill of Rights that would make the world uniquely safe for conservatives to ignore entirely any considerations of academic freedom.
But, third, and most important is the problem of outside interference. Mr. Horowitz tells us that legislation endorsing the Academic Bill of Rights has been introduced into the United State Congress and in state legislatures. Why is this a problem? Well, let me draw an analogy between an institution of higher education and a religious institution. Both such institutions are dedicated to pursuing what each conceives of as the truth, to developing doctrines to formulating and contemplating and promulgating ideas. They do so in radically different ways and I'll say more about that in a few moments. But, as truth seeking or idea promoting entities, they are both protected. Religious institutions by religious freedom, academic institutions by academic freedom. In each case, that freedom presupposes that each institution pursues its ideas on terms that it prescribes to itself. It uses its own standards, its own procedures, its own methods, its own values. Religious freedom is nothing other than respecting, protecting, and not interfering with religious institutions as they adopt and implement their own standards, procedures, methods and values. That's just what religious freedom is.
So, consider, for example, the Catholic Church. There are certainly thousands and thousands of serious, devoted, devout, practicing Catholics who dearly wish that official Church policy would change with respect to such issues as contraception, abortion, the ordination of women and the like. They wish that their priest would present a more pluralistic and diverse account of Catholic doctrine. They wish that the Church would embody and present a greater diversity of views. But imagine what it would be like if the U.S. Congress passed a resolution requiring or even urging, as a matter of principle, the Catholic Church to do this. To change its teachings, to change its practices. This would be by definition a violation of religious freedom. For what goes on internal to the Catholic Church is none of Congress' damn business.
Again, that's what religious freedom means. The freedom of a religion to make religious decisions on its own grounds as it interprets those grounds.
I should add, by the way, that I myself happen to have views about orthodox Catholic teaching. I happen to think the priesthood should be more diverse and that Catholic teaching should be more diverse. But I'm not a Catholic. I'm not part of the Church. I'm a complete outsider and what that means is that my views are literally irrelevant. I'm entitled to have my opinions but what goes on in the Catholic Church is none of my damn business.
The analogy applies precisely to colleges and universities. For Congress to require, even officially to urge colleges and universities to be more or less pluralistic, to teach this or that, to insist, for example that we offer a certain range of conservative views. That we should teach, say, creationism or intelligent design. Or the social, scientific and humanistic equivalent of such doctrines, and there are such things. Would by definition be a violation of academic freedom.
As I've indicated, I myself hate the idea of politicized classroom. I hate the idea of colleges taking controversial political stands. I hate the idea of one-sided, bias, ideologically based education. Just as many loyal Catholics are unhappy with certain features of Catholicism, so I'm unhappy with certain features of the academy. But academic freedom requires that those issues are to be decided internal to the academic institution. They are issues for academics to decide on academic terms. That's a crucial part of what academic freedom means. This is none of Congress' damn business and none of state legislatures' damn business and, with all due respect, it's none of David's Horowitz's business, either.
Let me finally say a word about why so many professors are liberal. First, I'm not sure just how true this is. I don't know how liberal faculty members are at places like Seattle Pacific and George Fox and Motonoma Bible and Brigham Young and Baylor and Texas Christian and the hundreds and hundreds of similar institutions across the country. I honestly don't know. But it's certainly true that faculties of the most prestigious universities, the Princetons and Berkeleys and Amhersts and Reeds, are overwhelmingly liberal. Critics like Horowitz bitterly resent this. However, they overlook the possibility that there may in fact be very good reasons for this, reasons having to do with academic freedom itself.
Again, let me suggest an analogy. At the top academic institutions, you will find very, very few scientists, almost none, who believe in creationism or intelligent design. The reason is simple. The current evidence in support of some version of evolution is massive, overwhelming, titanic. The current evidence in support of creationism, intelligent design is exactly zero. Thus, academic freedom-hiring and promoting on the basis of competence-means that virtually all sciences at top colleges will be one or another kind of evolutionist.
The analogy with social and political and humanistic questions is much closer than one might think. First, with respect to the social agenda of the American right wing: abortion, the separation of church and state, the right of homosexuals, things like that. It's crucial to remember again that academics are, by definition, people of argument and evidence. By definition, an academic is someone who refuses to accept anything on mere faith alone. We demand of our students that ever significant assertion or claim is backed up with evidence and we demand this of ourselves as well. That's what makes an academic an academic.
But notice what this means. By definition, academics would be uncomfortable with, they will tend to reject a social agenda that is rooted primarily in faith-based considerations. Considerations having nothing to do with argument and evidence. If academics didn't do that, they just wouldn't be academics. It is inherent in the nature of academia, in the very best sense, that it will be unmoved by prejudices that reflect not argument and evidence, but essentially faith-based doctrines.
As for economic issues, liberalism is-I'm going to oversimplify somewhat-but roughly based on two principles. The first is that at least some, perhaps not all, perhaps not most, perhaps not much, but at least some of what happens to us in life, at some of our successes and some of our failures are due to luck. They're due to factors beyond our control. We are born with a lot of natural talent, or without a lot of natural talent. We are lucky to have the parents we have, or are unlucky to have the parents we have. Some of us are beautiful, some of us are not. Some are smart, some are not.
Since these are things over which we have no control, they're things for which we can't take credit and for which we can't be blamed. Included here would be hierarchies of class, race, and gender, in which we happen to find ourselves. Hierarchies that have enormous consequences for what happens to us in life. Mr. Horowitz denies the existence of such hierarchies but no observer could possibly deny them. Hayek, one of Horowitz's heroes, would never think of denying them. Even a casual reading of the Road to Serfdom shows that he's well aware of, as we all are, hierarchies of class, race, and gender. They are real, they are powerful and they make a huge difference in our lives.
So the first liberal principle is that a lot of what happens to us, happens through luck.
The second principle is that we should collectively do something to mitigate or soften the undeserved inequalities created by all of this luck. We should sand down some of the rough edges, some of the vast inequalities that are a product of factors over which we have no control. Now, here's where serious conservatives come into play. Serious conservatives reject the second principle and they do so for a variety of reasons. Interesting reasons. They worry about the implications for property rights. Or they believe that governments are inherently incapable of achieving what liberals want them to achieve. Or they believe-here's where Hayek comes into play-that the unintended costs of addressing such problems: economic costs in terms of inefficiency or political costs in terms of the threat to freedom outweigh potential benefits. These are interesting, intelligent, important, complex, and serious arguments. They command our attention.
The fact that a great many academics reject those arguments almost certainly reflects a powerful moral intuition: namely, that undeserved inequalities are so vast, so egregious, so devastating, that we have a moral responsibility try to do something. That's the viewpoint about which legitimate debate is possible. But it's a viewpoint that is underwritten precisely by, and reflects the natural consequences of free and open academic debate. Academics, creatures of argument and evidence, tend to believe, on the basis of argument and evidence, that luck is huge, luck is undeserved, luck is unfair and that we can and should try to do something about it. That's what the preponderance of the current evidence says. The current evidence could be wrong. But the result of this, of real academic freedom, is that lots and lots of academics will not be especially conservative.
For all these reasons, then, the Academic Bill of Rights doesn't make sense, except as an act of political warfare, which I think is exactly what it is. A cynical effort of a political warrior to take a noble, beautiful, important, chaste idea-the idea of academic freedom-and debase it by using it for political pornographic purposes. Pornography wrapped in a brown paper bag is still pornography.
I have been tough. But Mr. Horowitz is a guest. We invited him here. Morally this doesn't mean we have to take his ideas seriously, but morally it does mean that we are absolutely required to treat him with the kind of civility and respect that any human being deserves. Thanks for listening.
Horowitz: Well, thanks for the civility and respect. Did I mention that liberals are incredibly bad-mannered? I like it when somebody starts off and said, "I didn't expect to be the villain of this piece," and then pulls out a 30-minute written, something he worked on for a week, personal, vicious and totally mendacious attack. And I take back what I said that your children are in good hands. This is the dean of the school that has done this. This was about-excuse me? There isn't a person laughing or applauding who has read any of my books. It is so easy to misrepresent what's written and I am going to, I've got to deal with a little of this. I'm not going to deal with all of it.
But, you know, the bottom line is, conservatives are what? They're intolerant. They're not in the modern world. They can't manage rational argument and that's why we don't have any here. Baloney. They're not here because there's an informal blacklist of conservatives in every university faculty in this country and you can show it by statistics which show that over the last 30 years, in each 10-year period, the number of conservatives has diminished on college campuses. The tenured conservatives that I have met are all white-haired and that's because the radical generation came into the faculties in the 1970s and started institution their political program, which is so completely ignorant of what conservatives believe and think.
I did write a book called The Art of Political War. First of all, I am not engaged in the kind of politics that that book is about. I got engaged in the 2000 election. The politics of our public life, as everybody knows, is very low, the quality of it is very low indeed. I don't think there's a person in this room, conservative or liberal, that isn't disgusted by the level of political debate. And you can see people lying all the time in politics. And, yes, this was advice to Republicans because I think that Democrats-and I take this as a personal point of view-Democrats are superior in every way in viciousness and in mendacity in the political arena.
I had a very interesting experience. I have a group of conservatives in Los Angeles which is like the World Affairs Forum. And so we invite speakers and I invited Leon Pineta, who was Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff, to speak. And Leon Pineta's now out of politics and he has got an institute for statesmanship in Monterey. And he gave a speech about civic responsibility. He was critical of Republicans. He was critical of Clinton. He was critical of Gore. My Southern California conservative audience loved him and I thought what he was saying was terrific. So I went up to him afterwards. I said, "Mr. Pineta, when you were Chief of Staff, I used to see you on the tube. I wanted to throw my shoe at the set. But what you said was marvelous. What happened?" And he said, "Oh that was just the partisan thing." And that was an illumination for me, because I had only known this man in that political mode.
And that told me how important it is for Americans as a community to come together over this political clash that we have. And I think that universities are the place where this should happen but it cannot happen with deans with the kind of attitudes that you just heard. If you read, it's a little booklet, The Art of Political War, it basically says that Democrats understand that politics is warfare by other means and that's how they conduct it. And Republicans need to learn this. I didn't say that every book that I have written as an intellectual, I just make things up to win an election. That's idiotic but that's what you heard here. My books are available. They're probably not available in the bookstore here because there are no professors-they are? Thank you. Well then go read them and make up your mind for yourself.
Hierarchies and Oprah Winfrey. Hmmm. I marched in my first civil rights march in 1948. 1948. I have been in the civil rights struggle, particularly for the rights of black citizens in this country, for what does that make it? It's nearly 60 years. I never have said, ever, or thought-my grandchildren are black. I have never said that people weren't disadvantaged in this country. Or that children who grow up without a father in inner cities, in fact, you could hear the passion when I was talking about inner cities. So, it's just a complete, I will call it a misrepresentation. I mean there's certain, what kind of civility is it when somebody is invited to a campus and a dean of students prepares such a vicious personal attack on him? How have I inspired this in this gentleman? So that we can't now talk about academic freedom.
Let me just say something about the partisan nature that's supposed to be in this Academic Bill of Rights. When I originally drafted the Academic Bill of Rights, I took it to three academics. All of them on the left, all of them radicals. Well, I wouldn't say that Stanley Fish is a radical. Stanley Fish probably the most famous leftwing academic in the country and a dean at the University of Illinois. Todd Gitlin, who was president of Students for a Democratic Society is a professor at Columbia and who doesn't like me, to put it mildly, okay? I sent it to Todd and I sent it to Michael Berube. And I asked them what they objected to in the Academic Bill of Rights, as I proposed it. And anything that irritated them, I took out, because I wanted this to be a nonpartisan campaign. Because this is very out of what I experienced at Columbia in the 1950s and my gratitude for my professors, who didn't do what Professor Steinberger has done and I trust that he [first tape ends here]
[second tape begins here] and make it a bestseller. People respect a black woman who's the great-granddaughter of a slave, who grew up in segregated Mississippi. That means there are no hierarchies in America that you need a revolution to overcome. That means that everybody in America, given the opportunity, not in the public school systems that the teacher union Left have destroyed, but given an opportunity, given a two-parent family, given a high school education, everyone in America-there are no inherent barriers that prevent you from succeeding. And we should know now that our Secretary of State is a black female who grew up in the segregated South and her little friend was blown up in Birmingham. And what I find unconscionable in the Left is that it will not recognize the achievements of this country. It is only intent on diminishing who we are and what we are and making us vulnerable to our enemies as a result. That is what I said about Oprah Winfrey. My book is not just called Hating Whitey. It's called Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes. The original title just occurred to me one day. I wrote the book for the title, was that it has become politically correct in America, it is a politically correct idea to hate white people. That was what that book was about.
Now, I am not going to spend a lot of time on the book Modernity, and his view of it and my view of it. But I will tell you, and he knows because he's read the article in my book, that I audited this class and I watched this woman teach about, she was teaching this book which is edited by the editors of New Left Review, which is a Marxist magazine. You know, Leftists are very clever. Leftists, they're anti-Communists now. They're anti-Marx, or critical of Marx now. But they still maintain the same paradigm: that there are race, gender and class hierarchies. Nonsense. Just nonsense! No group in America is oppressed. You've been taught well. You tell me this. There is no group that has been more discriminated against or suffered more damage than black Americans. But if black Americans are oppressed in 2005 or 2000, you tell me why all those Haitians want to come here. To be oppressed? You have contempt for black people if you think that they come here, stupid enough to come to a racist country that oppresses them. They come to America because they have more rights, more privilege, more respect in America, despite bigots here and there, than they do as black citizens of black-run Haiti, which has been run by black people for 200 years. And the reason for that is that America has a founding set of principles which has allowed this country to develop into the freest country on God's green earth and an inspiration to minority peoples everywhere. Who do you think is coming here? You had Ward Churchill here a while ago, who says America's genocidal nation and exterminating minorities today. Well, those Mexicans must sure be stupid to come across a border, risking their lives, to be exterminated. You are fed such nonsense in these institutions and it's presented to you like it's reason itself. Like, the only reason you don't have conservatives here is because they're stupid, prejudiced, intolerant and operating out of faith instead of out of their brains.
If people of faith are unwelcome on this faculty, you know, that just excludes what? Thomas Jefferson. George Washington. Every founder of this country who had a faith.
Charlie Hinkle: Mr. Horowitz. Let me interrupt you.
Horowitz: And I'm going to finish these two.
Hinkle: No, no, you're not.
Horowitz: Yes I am.
Hinkle: No, I want to make a personal statement and then you can finish. I was requested by Reed College a month or so ago to come and moderate a discussion and a discourse about academic freedom. I feel that I have been abused this afternoon. I have no intention of staying to listen to any more of this diatribe and I assure you I will not accept another invitation from this college to come and attempt to preside over this kind of affair.
I was the one who told Mr. Horowitz before we started this afternoon that I would give him five minutes' rebuttal. He's now had 20 minutes rebuttal with no end in sight and most of it, a great deal of the discussion on, I must say, on the part of both speakers has absolutely nothing to do with the topic that I thought I was coming here to hear about.
I had some questions prepared for both speakers but my part of the afternoon is completed. Thank you very much.
Horowitz: You know, I accept no responsibility for the degeneration of this discussion since I didn't initiate it. This could have been a civil discussion about the Academic Bill of Rights. It's lost its civility but I didn't do it. I want to just deal with the intelligent design and the legislation issue.
My position clearly stated in the Academic Bill of Rights is that a university curriculum should be open to the spectrum of significant scholar opinion. Intelligent design is not a scientific theory in the view of the scientific community, which is the only community qualified to judge that. I think it would be interesting for students of the philosophy of science to read some of the books by eminent scientists on intelligent design. And it's a big discussion outside the university, fine. But it has no place in a biology course. Not until it persuades the scientific community. So that's just a red herring.
I'm happy to take questions. I would like Paul Gronke to come here and moderate this. Oh, great.
Steinberger: Let me response to Mr. Horowitz and to Charlie Hinkle. And I'm sorry Charlie Hinkle's upset. But I'll say two things: Hating Whitey, page 178 to 182, pick it up yourself, read it, and decide for yourself whether I've misinterpreted, misrepresented what Mr. Horowitz is saying. It's up for you to decide. I don't think I did. In fact, I know that I haven't and it certainly was not any intention.
As far as Charlie Hinkle is concerned, my view and continues to be my view and that is the Academic Bill of Rights cannot be understood apart from the largest context of work out of which it emerges. That's why I pursued the arguments that I pursued.
Moderator: I'd like to take a question from over here.
Unidentified Man 1: First off, thank you, Mr. Horowitz for coming to Reed College. We appreciate you being gracious enough to come to this liberal institution. I know that must be somewhat unusual as a fellow traveler.
My question was, I am the son of immigrants. My dad came here from Peru. I'm an econ major and I'm a staunch capitalist. My question is, if you pass an economic bill of rights, my econ class so far at Reed has been taught by a dedicated capitalist. She's very eloquent. She's excellent at teaching it. But my question is, if you have that Academic Bill of Rights, what is to prevent that from say a Marxist student complaining that it is not a balanced class. How do you prevent things like that from coming into it.
Horowitz: That's a good question. I have never, I never used the word "balance," because, the intellectual life cannot be subjected to quotas like that. I actually haven't innovated any of these principles of the bill of rights. They're all part of the AAUP tradition. The only thing that I've done is said, if faculty has a responsibility to observe the principles of academic freedom, then students have a right to expect it. That's my innovation. That's the only thing I've done. So professors have a right, a Marxist professor could teach in a course from a Marxist perspective. I just think that, in your teacher's course, it would be hard not to be aware of Marxist critiques of globalization or development theory and so forth. But a professor should provide, he should be aware of what the critique is. That's just part of the education. It's simple. It's not complicated.
If there were good will, this thing would be solved overnight and I meant, the only reason for legislatures is because of attitudes like this. I could get to first base. First of all, they don't affect Reed or private colleges. Secondly, let me give you a specific case. I went to the president of Colorado University, Elizabeth Hoffman, two years before the Churchill incident. And I said to her, I said, "President Hoffman, you have a problem. Ninety-five percent of your faculty is Leftist. We're in a war on terror. One of these days, some of your radicals are gonna go over the edge and they're gonna cause an adverse public reaction which will damage your institution." It's cost, by the way, the University of Colorado tens of millions of dollars, this Churchill affair.
I said, "The public, if you want to insulate your university, embrace the principle of intellectual diversity, get some visible conservatives, you could invite, you know, there are plenty of people around as visiting this or that. Because the public will understand that the university should be a marketplace of ideas and people on either end of the spectrum are gonna drop off. But they won't understand a leftwing faculty and, of course, hundreds of professors signed petitions for Churchill, you know, where people do things like he did." And she said to me, "David, we have no problem." Ha.
I went from her to the legislators. The minute that bill passed the education committee, I don't want legislatures governing universities. I just want to get their attention. The minute it passed on a 6-5 vote, the education committee, Elizabeth Hoffman herself went to the legislators, the guy who's sponsoring my bill, and said, "If we will put this in place, will you withdraw your legislation." And we said, "of course." And there was a memorandum of understanding and the colleges actually put it in place. What's the difference? The difference is, Elizabeth Hoffman can't go to her faculty and say, "David Horowitz has a wonderful idea that we want to implement." Because she will be attacked the way I was attacked. They'll just drag out, you know, they'll do their thing. But she can go to them and say, "The legislatures and David Horowitz, all those right-wingers, are going to impose this on the university. I can save us by agreeing to do it the right way."
So I changed the dynamics. Unfortunately that's the way politics works in this country. That's all that that's about. It's another red herring.
Moderator: On my left.
Unidentified Female: First of all, I want to thank you for coming and I want to let you know that I personally support academic freedom in all its varieties. But my only concern is it seems to be that all the people who are advocating for academic freedom in the same breath seems like that they betrayed their true agenda. Now, on your website, Front Page Mag, which is put out by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, which you apparently are greatly involved in, you link prominently to a T-shirt website which, on the front of your website, has the following erudite pronouncements of intellectuals, from Those Shirts.com. "Hippies smell. Ann Coulter's Tolerant Pronouncement of the Importance of Religious Diversity in the wake of September 11: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." And a take off on John Lennon's "Imagine" Imagine this shirt implores this reader: Imagine no more liberals.
And also there was a conference on your website about leaving the political faith and every person had left liberalism for conservativism. Now, personally, I left conservativism for liberalism. How can you stand here and advocate for academic freedom when, in your own organization, you do not support similar values?
Horowitz: All I can say, I'm always bewildered by this kind of attack. This is like guilt by association. A T-shirt company buys an ad on my website, buys space. I'm accountable for every T-shirt that they put out? Oh, come on. Completely ridiculous. Yeah, we had a symposium. I can't remember all our symposiums. But I have posted Leftists on the war on my website and so forth. I'm not going to apologize for a symposium of four Leftists who left and I don't see this as a conflict at all with these principles. And, you know, think of the Pineta story. In everything I do is not in the same kind of plane of whatever you call it. Of discourse. This academic freedom campaign, I have made every effort to reach out to the Left. As I say, I tried to include Fish, Berube, Todd Gitlin. I have defended the leader of the anti-war movement at Foothills College who was being abused by a conservative professor. I have made everything that I do in it viewpoint neutral.
I have a website, Front Page Mag.com, which is called "The War at Home and Abroad." And I do another thing there.
Moderator: Question over here on the right.
Unidentified Man 2: Before I say anything, it is a bit disheartening that we kick the public policy lecture series talking about academic freedom but then no one actually talks about academic freedom. But to Professor Steinberger, you said that the reason why there aren't more conservatives or at least rightists in academia, is that there are two main points on which liberalism stands on and that the first one has to be acknowledged in order for a conservative scholar to be reputable. And I agree, Hayek, Mises, all these people agreed that there are hierarchies and that we need to accept them.
Then you said that the second tenet is that some sort of action needs to be taken to correct these overwhelming odds. And you said that the reason that there aren't more conservatives is because, in order for them to be considered reputable, they have to accept the evidence for either case. Such as, the reason that there are only people that accept evolution is because of the evidence. So the only reason that people accept interference is because of the evidence.
But wouldn't you say, based on the work of reputable economists that there is a lot more to interference and there's a lot more to that second tenet that needs to be explored before we can just dismiss as the evidence we currently accept is the evidence for that tenet.
So basically the question is, "How can you say that it's logical that there aren't more conservatives in academia because of a second principle that you accept to be almost universally accepted when there isn't. There has to be another reason that I don't think you offered."
Steinberger: Let you remind you about what I said. I described conservative views and I said these are interesting, intelligent, important, complex and serious arguments. They command our attention. I think most academics, being creatures of argument and evidence, believe-perhaps wrongly-that the preponderance of evidence suggests that luck and factors associated with that are huge and that the preponderance of evidence suggests that we can possibly do something about the resulting inequalities, and that we can do so in such a way as to avoid the terrible results that Hayek and people like that described.
I think that's where the preponderance of evidence goes. That could be wrong. Serious conservative criticisms of that, as I indicated, are serious and they are profound and they plausible and they need to be understood and we need to pay attention to that. In fact, I think it'd be a fine thing if we had more people in academia that articulated those views. I happen to agree with that. The fact of the matter is, academic freedom, however, properly understood at this particular point in time, doesn't lead in that direction.
Unidentified Man 3: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Mr. Horowitz, I'd like to commend on your bravery. You've shown a tremendous amount of courage in lecturing in front of a room full what can no doubt be called your opposition. I'd like to ask you that, aside from liberating oppressed conservative students from the politics of fear of the liberal academic conspiracy, what the benefit for the students, who I assume are the true players in academic decency and integrity or diversity, what they really benefit from and what it is you expect them to gain from the changes you're proposing. Thank you.
Horowitz: Well, I think it would be nice if students could attend a debate or a discussion on a university campus between a liberal academic and a conservative intellectual-whose books, by the way, have been praised by Francis Fukuyama and Richard Pipes and other august academic figures-without their being the kind of ad hominem attack and disrespect that you witnessed this afternoon. I can't imagine, perhaps there is somewhere a conservative that would be considered professor material by someone with the attitudes of Dean Steinberger. But I would be hard put to find one.
I am an aggressive conservative, that's what the Art of Political War was about, and I pay this price, although this extraordinary. I've never been subjected quite to this kind of attack, although I'm going to debate a leftist professor at St. Xavier, so I'll probably get it there. But, even Roger Bowen, the executive director of the AAUP and a historian, was more respectful that this.
But, it will benefit all of you. You would have had a better afternoon, well, it wouldn't have been as entertaining, I'm sure, if we had actually discussed, as we did over lunch, the principles of academic freedom. My lunch discussion partners who were students here, I don't even know what their politics were. One of them identified sort of as a Chomsky leftist and another as a conservative. But we had an intellectual discussion. It really is irrelevant. I don't care who this professor votes or that one or whether they think that government is absolutely necessary to create a more equal playing field or not. I want to discuss the intellectual issues on their merits. And I think that every student at this university, you're all very bright, would benefit from that. You need to have more conservatives so that you get used to these ideas. Again, I always come back to that Pineta example because I'd really hated him when he was on the tube and I think is quite a wonderful public servant when he's not in the political arena.
Moderator: Peter you want to say something?
Steinberger: Yeah, let's be clear about this. People who know me know that I teach, admire, revere and have tremendous respect for serious conservative thought. Three of my favorite authors are important 20th century conservative political theorists: Leon Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Michael Oakeshott. People who know me, who know me, who know my work, who know my teaching, know my thinking, know that those three individuals have had tremendous influence on my own thinking. Hannah Arendt's Human Condition and Michael Oakeshott's Experience and Its Modes are two of my favorite books in the world. I commend them highly. The notion that I am prejudiced in that way is patently absurd to anybody who knows me. This semester, I'm teaching Hegel and Marx; seven weeks on Hegel; six weeks on Marx. And my preferences happen to be, theoretically, for Hegel, a moderately conservative defender of constitutional monarchy and absolutely sovereignty of the state.
To think that Mr. Horowitz has been attacked by a knee-jerk liberal leftwing academic is wrong. You've got to be clear about this. With all due respect, Mr. Horowitz, you've got to consider the consequences of your work. It is inflammatory, it is hostile, it is provocative and it does not rise to the level of intellectual standards to which we expect of serious first-rank conservatives. That is simply a fact.
I don't go in for gratuitous attacks on individuals. I don't do that. But I've picked up that stuff. I did not know who David Horowitz two months ago. I honestly did. I have never visited a blog in my life. I don't watch talking heads on television. I know who some of them are, I surf through them and I know who Bill O'Reilly is and Ann Coulter. I've never run across David Horowitz. I didn't know who he was. Everything I said was based upon my reading of his material and that material, you can check it out for yourself, but I defend everything said about it. It is not serious political commentary and the notion that you are hurt and offended by my reaction to that is surprising, given the tenor and content of your own writing.
Horowitz: I think the people will remember that I praised Dean Steinberger before I started and I actually acquainted myself with his curriculum vitae. I never for a moment thought he was a radial leftist and was really taken aback by this attack. As an academic, he should know, you don't just pick up, what you did, was you picked up two of my polemical works. One of them is specifically political advice to people in that awful political arena that we all have to dip into, some of us luckily only once every two or four years, but many of us more. And you have confused it with my intellectual output. I will send you a copy of my autobiography, Radical Son, if you care to read it and you will see that the tone and everything in it is quite different from those two books.
Steinberger: Mr. Horowitz, just a small point. I'm sorry, sorry to interrupt.
Horowitz: Yeah, but you say, it's interesting how you have your interpretation of those two books without having acquainted yourself with who I really am and you say your opinion is a fact. That's a problem.
Steinberger: Mr. Horowitz, one small point. Modernity, Stuart Hall's edited book, Modernity. What were you doing there? How could you possibly say what you said about that? You can't be hurt by my comments. How can you, there's no connection between what you-that book is floating around. Make sure I get it back, by the way, it's a library book.
Moderator: Gentlemen. We have people asking to ask questions and we really only have time for one or two more questions. Can I ask that we hear some more people? Prof. Seagal has a question right now.
Seagal: Mr. Horowitz, I'm Edward Seagal, professor of history among the various courses in diplomatic history that I teach, our courses on the Cold War and the Vietnam War. I knew who you were because, for some years, at the beginning of each semester for the Cold War and the Vietnam War classes, I play a tape for the class of a paper you delivered at the American Historical Association Convention in December 1973. It was a strident, polemical, highly moralistic defense of what is called "revisionist Cold War history." That is to say, a defense of the left-of-center view that the United States was mainly responsible for the Cold War.
The paper was also a bit abusive, because it referred to, among some of the teachers I have had in my academic career: William Langer, Raymond Sontag, as "scholar spies," your word, because they had openly worked for the OSS during the Second World War.
The one consistent thread I find between your views then, 30 years ago, and your views now, is that you insisted then that the academy was dominated by conservatives and that people on the Left, like yourself then, revisionists like yourself then, could not get a fair hearing.
It seems to me you're saying the same thing now, only the switch has been flipped, so to speak, 180 degrees. It is unfair to conclude that perhaps you've been developing, all through your career, some of persecution complex to reinforce a kind of political garrison mentality for the first part of your career, on the Left; now, on the Right, in other words, accusing those with whom you disagree of being unfair, discriminatory, biased and not giving your side a fair shake.
Horowitz: I'd like to say, I cannot believe these are professors, but sure. You pick a paper, well, I mean, this is a political argument we're having now. These people don't like me because I am an outspoken conservative. That's why they don't like me. I don't even remember having been at the American Historical Association and it's quite possible that I wrote this paper, I don't remember ever having mentioned Sontag, but it's quite possible. I was a radical Leftist. I was a Marxist. I considered myself a revolutionary at that time and, you know, wrote that way. I have explained, I wrote a book called The Politics of Bad Faith. As I say, you read it, you'll see it praised to the skies by Richard Pipes, by Francis Fukuyama, I can't remember the others, but plenty of academic people who would not do what you're doing to me. In which I have explained how a change in perspective changes those views.
I have said many times on this platform today that I have polemical writings. If I am confronting any one of the Leftist hit men, whether its from Media Matters or the Podesta outfit or so forth, I give as good as I get. And I wouldn't stand by any of that writing as an academic exercise, any more than Ann Coulter would pretend that her writing is a contribution to, say, academic history. It's part of a political battle. You can't pluck things out a political battle and then apply to a life's work without having any inkling of what's in that work. I am happy to send you a book and receive your critique of it, of something that I've written now that I regard as part of my intellectual output. But to pick something that a young man said in the heat of the Vietnam War, inflamed by the passions of that time, and then just try to wipe out all of my work today because of something that, I guess, Professor Steinberger has said, plucked out of context out of books that you've haven't read. What is this? What is going on?
Moderator: Folks, it's 4:38 by the watch up here. I think we've had plenty of time for this. I think that the speakers today thank you for your questions. Good afternoon.