Who would you believe -- an Iraq war vet or a professor? · 22 November 2006

By David Horowitz
Filed under: Commentary, Pennsylvania

In his hatchet job on the results of our academic freedom campaign in Pennsylvania, Scott Jaschik misreports an incident that took place at Bloomsburg University this fall in an attempt to discredit me (once more) and the students whom I met there, two of whom happened to have been Iraq war vets.

I spoke at Bloomsburg this fall and met with about 8 College Republicans for dinner. One of the students, Jason Boyer, told me that he had been given a final exam in political science by Professor Diane Zoelle which included a required essay on the topic: Explain Why the War in Iraq is Morally Wrong. For the record, I don't have the exam in front of me and therefore this wording may be imprecise. However, Jason told me that he had to write that the Iraq War was wrong. Instead he wrote that it was right. He got a "D." Jason is an Iraq War veteran. Naturally I was outraged at this. When I spoke that evening to 600 students I named the professor (whom students told me regularly indoctrinates her classes, presenting only one side of controversial issues, and grades students down if they disagree with her) and said it was a disgrace and unacceptable. The president of the university was on the platform with me when I said this.

The local press reported my remarks and the Political Science Department was flooded with calls. In response, the students were summoned to a meeting called by faculty to discuss their "breach of academic integrity." Apparently, exercising your First Amendment right to discuss an exam question at dinner is verboten among some faculty at Bloomsburg. No surprise here. The opponents of academic freedom have a totalitarian streak which is prominent enough to make them fear our academic freedom reforms. When another member of the group, and also an Iraq war vet, Jason Walters called me, I told them not to go to the faculty meeting. "It's a hanging party," I said. But these were Iraq War vets, and they went.

The meeting had an unexpected and welcome result. A philosophy professor named Kurt Smith, who wanted the students hauled on the carpet was himself reprimanded. Professor Zoelle apologized for her exam question. The students were released from the threat.

In InsideHigherEd.com Scott Jaschik tells a piece of this story and quotes me as saying I could not confrim the entire episode. This is because I am in California and I have to rely on what I was told about the end of this sequence of events by students who were there. I also did not see the exam. I knew Jaschik was gunning for me so I asked him if he thought all these students were lying. I gave him the students' names expecting that if he wrote about the story he would get their side, indeed get all sides of the story before reporting it. Instead of doing his journalistic job. Silly me,  The only person he called was Professor Diane Zoelle.

Scott Jaschik could have called the university president, who knew this story because I told it to her personally before I re-told it from the stage. He could have called the professors who were present at the meeting who I was told supported the students. He could have called the students. But Scott Jaschik was not interested in the truth. He was interested only in serving his leftwing friends in the teacher unions and discrediting me. Even though I have been the target of vicious and unprincipled attacks like this ever since I started the academic freedom campaign three years ago, I never cease to be amazed by the level of mendacity and vindictiveness and the lack of concern for students who bear the brunt of these abuses on the part of academics like Diane Zoelle and their union supporters. And I never cease to be shocked when journalists like Scott Jaschik don't have the simple decency or professionalism to do their jobs.