The Indoctrination System · 30 March 2007

By Herb Denenberg
Filed under: Press Coverage
The Evening Bulletin


Our economic survival and the strength of our military machine and national defense capability depend on an educated workforce. Without that, our economy will not be able to compete in the competitive global marketplace, and our military will not have the capability to defend the U.S. in an increasingly dangerous and threatening world. In age of technology and information, a mediocre education system spells decline and death of an economy and civilization.

It is clear our educational system is now incapable of continuing to provide that educated workforce of the technologically advanced 21st century. Our failings in education are clear and have been often documented from kindergarten on up to the most advanced graduate studies. In Philadelphia, the pubic schools have to worry about preventing murder and mayhem in the schools rather than educating the students. That's how bad it has become.

Philadelphia is an unfortunate symbol of the K-12 educational failures and we have growing evidence of the problems in institutions of higher learning. This column addresses one problem, recently documented in an important new book from David Horowitz, Indoctrination U.: The Left's War Against Academic Freedom (2007). This is an issue that Horowitz has been working on for decades, and on which he has become one of the foremost authorities. You'll recall this column has made many references to one of his earlier books, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (2006), which documents how many of our colleges and universities have become centers of anti-American, anti-capitalism, anti-military, anti-conservative, anti-family-values, and even of outright bigotry of various forms.

Horowitz has to be credited with a rare and important achievement. He has not only documented important problems with our educational system, but has also set out to make needed changes. He is beginning to score important successes, the most noteworthy of which occurred in Pennsylvania. These will be discussed later in this column.

The theme of his new book, Indoctrination U., is that our educators are often indoctrinating their students instead of teaching them to think and reach conclusions on their own. Indoctrination has replaced education. These professors, which he estimates to be a small but influential minority of "10 percent of a given faculty," meaning they number 50,000 nationally. Horowitz says they are concentrated mainly in the humanities and social sciences where they often hold sway.

These professors typically try to indoctrinate students with their far-left ideology, their political views extending even to their choice of political office holders and candidates. They also perpetuate their views in colleges and universities by selecting the like minded as new faculty members. Howowitz makes it clear that he is not interested in whether a professor or teacher is liberal or conservative; he is interested in whether they teach or indoctrinate.

Horowitz writes, "At universities like Duke, American students are being taught to despise their own country, and are barraged with paranoid delusions about America as an oppressive empire and a society pervaded by 'institutional racism.'" Horowitz names names and cites case study after case study, one more astounding than the other. As you read one example after another, they are so outrageous you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

This anti-American bias, which these academics try to brainwash their students into believing, is a particular outrageous bit of malfeasance when this country is at war with Islamic/fascism/terrorism.
Horowitz also rebuts the bias, the claims, and the propaganda, which flood forth from our institutions of higher learning, including the most prestigious of the lot. He writes, "There has never, in the history of the world, been a country like America. Unlike the mythical oppressor whose 'history' is presented to students at Duke, this is a country to be proud of. And it is important to be proud of your country, in an hour when it is at war. Because if you are not proud of your country, you cannot defend yourself."

Horowitz documents the nature of the textbooks used at these universities. For example, one widely used textbook, Peace and Conflict Studies, justifies "communist policies and actions and puts those of America and Western democracies in a negative light." Horowitz also quotes passages from the text that justify and defend terrorists, including those responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He shows that Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado was more of the rule than the exception.

The text, Peace and Conflict Studies, states, "Terrorists are people who may feel militarily unable to confront their perceived enemies directly and who accordingly use violence, or the threat of violence, against noncombatants to achieve their political ends." Horowitz responds, "If one is weak, apparently it is all right to murder women and children if it advances one's cause."

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the book is the documentation of how indoctrination has now become widespread even at the K-12 level, with the same kind of anti-American, anti-capitalism agenda coming from teachers and textbooks.

Horowitz has fashioned a campaign against those who believe in indoctrinating students with their own ideology, instead of teaching them to think and to formulate their own ideology. He argues that this kind of indoctrination and what goes on in class is already condemned by all kinds of controlling academic pronouncements at the national level and by the policies of the colleges and universities in question.

One of the highlights of the book is how professors, teachers, and their unions have denounced as dangerous and radical Horowitz's proposals to end indoctrination in place of education and to end the denial of academic freedom to students. Yet these academics and unions are denouncing what has long been accepted as controlling principles promulgated by prestigious organizations such as the "1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure" of the American Association of University Professors. That statement says, "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 their subject."

Horowitz has waged a national campaign to force colleges and universities to pay attention to their own principles of academic freedom, which are now more often honored in the breach rather than the observance. In this battle, he achieved his two most noteworthy successes in Pennsylvania.

Horowitz had the help of Representative Gil Armstrong, who served as a Marine in Mogadishu before entering politics. Working with Armstrong, Horowitz succeeded in getting the Pennsylvania legislature to create a "Select Committee on Academic Freedom in Higher Education in Pennsylvania." The Committee held a series of hearings on these questions, which, Horowitz writes, "led directly to the first university adoption of an academic bill of rights."

In May 2006, the Faculty Senate of Penn State University included students under existing academic freedom rules. This move "enjoined professors from using their authority to indoctrinate students, or persuading them to adopt the professor's personal viewpoint on matters that were controversial. Under the old policy, professors were expected to follow these professional restraints, but students had no right to object if they did not."

Then in July 2006, trustees of Temple University announced the adoption of new policies that would protect students from political abuse and indoctrination in the classroom. At hearings, there were many stories of how professors pressure students in the classroom to adopt controversial views via indoctrination. To give you the flavor of the kind of complaints students lodged, consider this typical example:

"This professor always had something negative to say not only about the Bush Administration, but about conservatives in general. She stated on one occasion that it is impossible to be a moral capitalist. She stated the U.S. does not have the right to say anything about the Taliban's record of oppressing women because the U.S. oppressed women too... I began to feel physically sick from her misrepresentation of facts, and on numerous occasions I stood up to her and tried to advocate my opinion. She'd cut me off in mid-argument."

There is a long way to go despite those two triumphs in Pennsylvania.

Horowitz concludes: "'Intellectual pluralism and academic freedom,' in the words of the American Council on Education, 'are central principles of American higher education.' In the liberal arts faculties of American universities - in particular those departments and fields that form the core curriculum of a civic education - these principles are no longer honored. Yet the future of this nation as a free society depends on their being so honored."

Herb Denenberg, a former Pennsylvania insurance commissioner and professor at the Wharton School, is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences.