The Paula Zahn Show Debates Academic Freedom · 22 November 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

Transcript from CNN, 11/19/04, featuring David Horowitz and Sara Dogan

ZAHN: Liberal arts, liberal education now have some new meaning on America's college campuses according to a new study published today. Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by a margin of 7 to 1. And humanities and social sciences and many on the right says that backs up their contention that conservative ideas aren't welcome on college campuses. Here's Tom Foreman with that part of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Campus police are still sorting out what happened election week at San Francisco State. What they know is that Republican students were handing out literature when an opposition crowd of 250 others gathered around yelling insults, driving them away.

CHRIS ANARELLI, JUNIOR: We were assaulted, threatened, harassed.

FOREMAN: Now the Republican students say they do not feel safe.

LUCIA VANDENHOF, SF STATE COLLEGE REPUBLICANS: Had there been a group saying homosexuals off our campus, it would have been an outrage. The administration would have done something about it. To me, I can't even understand why this isn't being treated the same.

FOREMAN: Campus police did protect the young Republicans. And the administration says students may be disciplined. But the new national study from a Santa Clara University researcher shows Democratic professors outnumber Republicans three to one in economics. 28 to one in Sociology and 30 to one in anthropology. So some Republican students say they're being silenced by a litany of leftist propaganda.

SARA DOGAN, STUDENTS POR: President Bush is a coward, Cheney is a coward. The war in Iraq is evil. It's all about oil. Students hear these comments day after day in the classroom and if you're a conservative student hearing that, there's no chance you're going to speak up and express your viewpoint.

FOREMAN: Nonsense, Democrats say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we could come up with those stories as well.

FOREMAN: The Young Democrats of America cite their own studies showing $37 million was spent in 2002 by conservative groups spreading their message on campuses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don't think that's the case. There's a lot of healthy dialogue on campuses, both conservative and liberal of young people and where they stand on issues.

FOREMAN: Academics also take exception to these accusations of bias. Even if some colleagues go too far, they say their own ethics keep most within reason. Back at San Francisco State when there are complaints...

PROF. ROBERT CHERNEY, SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIV.: Students need to bring that to the attention of department chairs and deans so that something can be done about the situation.

FOREMAN: But some conservative students insist lessons in life are making them skeptical.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: That was our Tom Foreman reporting. Joining me now from Los Angeles, someone with a lot of experience in campus politics, David Horowitz, who was a left wing activist in the 60s. But something happened along the way. His intellectual journey led him to neoconservatism. His books include "Unholy Alliance," "Radical Islam," and "The American Left." Always good to see you. So let's say we buy into those numbers. You're not telling me that every professor in America intentionally spreads his or her Democratic beliefs on their students.

DAVID HOROWITZ, NEOCONSERVATIVE WRITER: No, of course not. Perhaps the majority are honest people and scholars. The reality is that somebody has caused conservatives to disappear from college faculties. When you have figures like 30 to 1, you know you have an informal blacklist going.

ZAHN: A lot of people say it's actually more simple than that that only left wingers or liberals would be drawn to a profession where they're basically starving and they'll tell you that's not where Republicans and conservatives tend to be drawn to.

HOROWITZ: Professors are making $100,000, $200,000 -- Cornell West probably makes $300,000 a year. They work nine months out of the year. They work six hours a week in the classroom. They get seven months' paid vacation. There are plenty of conservatives. All the conservative think tanks are individuals who are well qualified to be on university faculties but can't get hired because of this blacklist. The blacklist has a corrupting influence on what goes on in the classroom. Professors now very frequently -- and you heard Sara Dogan, who is the national coordinator of Students For Academic Freedom say this, use the classroom as a political platform. There was a Spanish professor when I spoke at Rippon (ph) College who the class was translating "Long Live the King" in Spanish. And she blurted out, "I wish George Bush were dead" in the classroom. What kind of impact does that have on her Republican students?

ZAHN: But aren't there also left wing professors that are helping you and trying to get this academic bill of rights through...

HOROWITZ: I have one. I would welcome others. There are honest people everywhere. First of all, it's unhealthy for our body politic to have a university system under the control of one political faction. You can't get a good education if they're only telling you half the story, even if you're paying $20,000, $30,000 a year. In America, there's got to be two, three or four sides to every story. The exclusion of libertarians, religious people, and conservatives from college faculties is unhealthy. And something needs to be done about it. I have an academic bill of rights which would commit states to intellectual diversity that is ignored but should not be on college campuses. We have gotten the whole state of Colorado to adopt it. I have legislation moving in 19 states. This is an idea whose time evidently has come.

ZAHN: Well, we will follow the debate from here. We should mention though at the same time, Dave, we can't ignore the fact that some $37 million were spent by conservative groups on college campuses in 2002. I just read their message. David, I've got to leave it there. I'm going to bring you back another time. Plenty to talk about.

HOROWITZ: The left spends hundreds, hundreds of millions compared to those 37.

ZAHN: All right. Thanks for your time. Take care. Well, it's way too early to think about the next election, unless you're thinking about running for president. Next, some of the familiar faces who may be doing just that.